Reverend and The Makers unleash their 'Best of' as they return to The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
With six consecutive top 20 albums under their collective belts, the time has come for Reverend and The Makers to release what is usually a watershed moment in a band’s career: a best of.
But as frontman Jon Mclure would have it: ‘We would have called it a greatest hits, but given that we’ve had zero hits, that would be a bit of a silly thing to call it.’
That’s not entirely true – back in 2007 the Sheffield band’s first two singles, Heavyweight Champion Of The World and He Said He Loved Me, made the top 10 and 20 respectively, even if none has troubled the charts lately.
However, their albums have all performed respectably and they have a well-deserved reputation as a formidable live act. Jon says: ‘We’ve done six albums, so if you were a fan of the early stuff, then we had a bit of a drop in the middle period of the band when it all went a bit wrong... and then the last few years it’s gone really well, better than ever in a lot of ways.
‘I kind of think there are fans who got on board in the last few years who aren’t aware of the earlier stuff, and maybe there are some older fans who haven’t engaged with the more recent material, so it’s a chance to pool all of that together really.
‘Stylistically they jump around a lot, so it’s a chance to celebrate the first phase of the band and still being around, and to draw a line under it because we’re moving on to something that‘s pretty mental in the new year.’
Jon is a bit vague about their future plans, saying: ‘You’ll have to wait until the new year,’ to hear more about it, but he does tease us with this: ‘We’ve been working with the University of Sheffield on some artificial intelligence stuff which is a bit bonkers and very futuristic, so I wanted to end this first period of the band in a nice way – have a party and give everyone a good time and move on.’
The best of is split into two discs: Uppers and Downers.
‘I’m a bit like that as a person – I’m either full of beans and really enthusiastic, or I’m like, “Woe is me, the end is nigh”. It reflects the two halves of my brain.
‘When we play live we do play a few ballads, but if you only see us at festivals, you’ll probably think we’re one of those bands that just makes everyone jump up and down and go nuts.
‘We are that band too, but there’s also something else to us as well. Some of the ballads may be a bit lesser known, but it’s good to let people know more about that side too.
‘As much as I love being that band which makes festivals bounce, it’s good to have a bit of balladry, isn’t it? I don’t want people to think I’m a one-trick pony, I’ve got a lot of strings to my bow.’
The Makers’ management have recently started working with Britpop stars Supergrass who have just announced a comeback tour.
‘My wife’s a mad keen Supergrass fan, so we had that Supergrass Is 10 (their greatest hits) on the other day, and I’m like, “There’s not a bad song on this!” What a band.
‘Sometimes it’s only when you reduce it to its lowest common denominator and you trim all of the fat off that you can appreciate a band’s output.
‘So I was listening to our album, and thinking, you know what? this is alright, I’m proud of this. It’s a good listen.’
And Jon is happy to admit that most fans aren’t going to be die-hards who’ve scrutinised every step of their career.
‘It’s a bit of an idiot’s guide, a best of, isn’t it?
‘Most fans are casual fans, they’re not obsessive, so it’s a good jumping off point for them to then explore what we’re about and move on to the next chapter with us.’
There’s also a couple of new songs on the compilation, one of which is Elastic Fantastic.
Jon is married to Laura, who plays keys and trumpet in The Makers, so making the video for Elastic Fantastic became a bit of a family affair.
‘We had our two sons on the video shoot and all they wanted to do was wrestle. The two-year-old just sings “elastic fantastic” all the time, it’s sweet man, he loves it, but we’ve had to wean him off thinking he’s a wrestler.
‘He’s just moving on to being Elsa from Frozen – so he’s gone from being a seven-foot wrestler to a cartoon princess, which is cool man, why not? He refuses to answer to anything other than “Elsa” now.
‘We had a local wrestling company called Breed Wrestling who were up for doing mad stuff, so we went into an old working men’s club and pretended to have a scrap. It was lots of fun.’
For those more casual fans who think they have The Makers pegged as a regular indie band, they might be surprised to find how much stylistic variety there is in the band’s back catalogue.
And as Jon admits, the way they get lumped in with other bands he feels they have little in common with probably hasn't helped in that respect.
‘I like to surprise people and let people think: “Oh, did I have this band wrong?”
‘Getting put in a lane with other bands I don’t particularly care for – it bugs the hell out of me.
‘But it’s not like we’re starving, we’ve got a nice house, we make a decent living, everything’s good really.
‘Would I like to be more famous or more successful? Yes, I would.
‘Would I like radio stations to take notice of how good we are? Of course I would.
‘Would it make any difference? Probably not, I’m fairly philosophical about it…’
While Jon has occasionally delved into politics in the band’s music and is notoriously outspoken in his opinions, it’s not The Makers’ driving motivation.
‘I don’t want to be Billy Bragg – I don’t want to be defined by it.
‘I’m fundamentally an entertainer, people come and see us because they want to let their hair down.
‘It’s become a bit trendy of late, to talk about politics though, hasn’t it? If you voted for Brexit, I’m not going to lecture you at a gig, I’m just going to make you dance, y’know what I mean?’
Jon tends these days to keep his more political views to social media rather than in song.
‘Some people take it very personally. If you don’t agree with my politics you can still listen to my music.
‘Do I agree with everything Joe Strummer ever said? No I don’t. Do I agree with everything John Lennon ever did? No, I don’t. But do I love them? Yes!
‘And no, I’m not saying I’m as good as them, because I know I’m not!’
That aside, they’re looking forward to returning to The Wedge, a venue they know well.
‘It’s a bit of a legendary venue, sin’t it? And I love having a wander up and down Albert Road with all them great bars and shops.
‘When you see all the people who’ve played there, you can go: “Yeah, man, this is proper”.
‘We always have a great time when we come to Portsmouth. We played at Victorious last year and had a great gig there too, so we’re looking forward to coming back.
‘We debated doing the next venue-size up, but we said, you know what, leave it where it is, because we always have such a good time there.
‘Maybe next time.’
REVEREND & THE MAKERS
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Friday, October 4