The Jesus and Mary Chain began as a partnership between brothers Jim and William Reid. Inspired by Sex Pistols, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The Beach Boys, The Shangri-Las and Phil Spector, their first album Psychocandy combines simplistic song structures with jarring noise and feedback to create an unmistakable sound. Later albums reduced the noise and experimented with drum machines.
Throughout its history, the band has been the Reid brothers joined by ensembles of drummers, bassists and other supporting members on an as-needed basis. In the early days, this constant rotation meant the band had a limited repertoire for most live shows and consequently played only 20-minute long sets.
At the North London Polytechnic in March 1985, The Jesus and Mary Chain showed up on stage an hour late and then played for only 20 minutes. Fans were enraged and destroyed the amplifier equipment onstage. This wasn’t the first time violence erupted at a concert for The Jesus and Mary Chain. In fact, the band’s live shows had earned a reputation for rowdy behavior.
In December 1984, national newspaper The Sun published an article depicting the band as “The new Sex Pistols” after bottles were smashed on stage during their concert at ICA Rock Week. Band members themselves only added fuel to the flames- in November 1987 Jim Reid bopped several confrontational audience members with a microphone stand during a show. After that incident, the band’s publicity managers worked hard to rectify the band’s image and effectively stopped the violent behavior that had come to characterize The Jesus and Mary Chain performances.
The band broke up in 1999 but reunited in 2007 and continues to stay relevant in psychedelic, alternative and indie rock circles today.
Interested in seeing this band perform live in Austin, Texas in May? Purchase your Austin Psych Fest passes here.
By Nicholas Randall