Mention Jim Jones Revue and you immediately think of their loud, highly charged live shows which have become legendary over the past few years and gained them an ever growing fanbase across Europe, which includes The Clash legend Mick Jones, who has simply said “there is no band bigger than The Jim Jones Revue.” When seeing them live, you have to stop yourself checking the side of the stage to make sure Little Richard hasn’t joined them for a spot of piano gymnastics, putting to one side the recent hip surgery of course…
Anyway we digress, London’s Jim Jones Revue really do epitomise all that’s great about the early rock n roll that they so passionately champion, showcased brilliantly on their eponymous debut album which was released last year. A record of relentless power, their exhilarating old-school rock n roll is best realised on ‘The Princess & The Frog‘, which really should come with a ‘best enjoyed with Jack Daniels’ sticker and is filled with such un-abashed energy and glee that it would be a perfect track for the BBC to play this summer following England’s inevitable World Cup Quarter Final exit on penalties; if that doesn’t lift the nation’s spirits nothing will. So while Little Richard might not be able to join them in a spot of piano dancing anymore, he can be content in the knowledge that the spirit of true rock n roll is alive and well in the Jim Jones Revue.
We had some time with the group’s leader, Jim Jones, recently to discuss their first experience of the US at the recent SXSW festival, the origins of the band and which current groups they’d like to work with.
L4E : When did Jim Jones Revue actually form and exactly how did you all meet?
JJ : Through gigs with my previous band Black Moses, I had been working a lot with Rupert Orton … well known as a booker & the kingpin of Punk Rock Blues on the London music scene . Rupert & I often spoke about our mutual interest in 50s Rock n Roll … mainly the piano driven sound of artists such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. When Black Moses finally bit the dust & I was looking for something new, it seemed obvious that this should be the first area to experiment in musically … for a breath of fresh air ! After a short time of trying to find musicians, Rupert suggested Nick Jones for drums & after meeting at some Jazz soirée we went ahead & booked a rehearsal room . I had met Elliot Mortimer about a month or two before that, & when the question of piano came up, he was the first choice . Gavin Jay, we head hunted from another band. We all came down to the rehearsal session & that was that ! The first time we played together was like catching a tiger by the tail . We all knew straight away, that we better hang on !
L4E : Can you describe how your ‘sound’ and general style developed? Was it something you decided before The Jim Jones Revue formed?
JJ : The sound is it’s own thing & does it’s own thing, but the inspiration was the piano driven RnR of the mid 50s … when we first got together nothing was too precious … We just wanted to see what would happen if we took a taste of that original Rock n Roll recipe, No cocktails, just raw …
Princess and the Frog
L4E : How long has it taken the band to reach this level of success?
JJ : Two years of pretty hard but rewarding work.
L4E : Are you all London born and bred?
JJ : We all live in central London, North, East, & West. Me, Rupert, & Elliot were born here, Nick was born In Scotland, Gavin in Newcastle.
L4E : You are currently in the running for a Mojo Award for Best Breakthrough Act, what would it mean to you to win it?
JJ : Mojo is one of those magazines that we all have always respected, & Phil Alexander is a bit of a National Treasure. Winning against acts who have substantial major label backing is the David & Goliath dream. At the end of the day it’s the kind of thing that can really help to lift a band up to the next level.
L4E : How do you feel about Award shows or fan polls in general?
JJ : This is the first time anything like this has entered my life, it’s quite flattering really !
L4E : You recently blazed through Austin, TX… Was that your first visit to the US?
JJ : Austin was great, there really is something in the air. It was the first trip to the States for the band & it went just about as well as we could have possibly hoped for.
L4E : How did SXSW measure up to your expectations?
JJ : I’ve been a few times before with previous bands etc & had experience of how it works. We had a great time & our showcase was a dream, which I know isn’t always the case at SXSW … it can be a bit of a lottery.
L4E : How about SXSW 2011? Do you think you’ll make it part of your future plans?
JJ : If we can fit it in, then we’ll be there for sure !
L4E : After experiencing SXSW, how would you say the music scene you encountered there compares to the scene back home?
JJ : I guess it has a lot of similarities but on a much bigger scale, SXSW is pretty different to anything though.
L4E : Would you say you were well received by the American crowds? How do you think they compare to the UK/ European fans?
JJ : We got a great reception, most people, wherever we go, get this band straight away … it RnR dance music with a driven backbone, it’s pretty easy to understand.
L4E : What country / city or venue sticks out in your minds from everywhere you’ve played? Is there a favorite?
JJ : Don’t have a favorite per se … Our fans are great wherever they happen to be. They’re Our People ! We’ve had some amazing, & mad nights in some of the most unlikely & likely places, but things do tend to go to the next level in the Basque country. They certainly know how to boil the blood !
L4E : What’s currently on your play list? And, what was the last song you pressed skip for on your mp3 player?
JJ : I’m listening to & loving Chuck Willis: Okeh Recordings 1951-1956 … I like to imagine young Elvis & Little Richard, checking this stuff out ! I don’t skip tracks, I don’t use an mp3 player, I’m not really into headphones.
L4E : What other up and coming bands would you admire?
JJ : I’m loving Kings go Forth … discovered them at SXSW … heard this great sound coming out of a venue, ran over there & it was them. SupaMFcool !
L4E : Early Rock n Roll icons performed with such amazing energy – was that something you had to work on hard to replicate or did it come quite naturally?
JJ : We have to keep fairly fit to put it over, it’s not lazy mans music.
Cement Mixer Live (Canal +)
L4E : We also got some questions from fellow rock n rollers The Minutes in for you :
(Tom) Best show you’ve played this year and why? We were all at the Dublin show and Cement Mixer blew our balls off… It always gets the crowd going (especially those due into work the next morning)… Is this your favorite song to play live from 1st album?
JJ : Dublin, cos you were there ! Seriously though, Dublin was great ! Cement Mixer is a firm favorite in the set, Also Rock n Roll Psychosis, Another daze, 512, & Princess & the Frog.
(Mark) Your really loud. Any deafness yet ? JJ : I’m sure we all have to some degree. It does get hard to sleep some nights with ringing ears, but usually we’re exhausted enough from strains of touring to pass out !
(Shane) Your first record sounds really really great! Heard you recorded it live to two track tape like back in the day? Did you use the same technique for new album?
JJ : The first record was done really fast & simple (we had no money). Some people had been saying they’d like to hear more depth in the sound, so the next record has a bit more of that … we’ve kept it as rude & punchy as you’d expect too !
L4E : Last but not least: If you could collaborate with one band / artist, who would it be and what’s next for the JJR?
JJ : We played with Jack White’s Dead Weather recently & that was cool … it might be nice to do something over at the Third Man place in Nashville, or maybe something with the Eagles of Death Metal guys, Dave Catching’s place maybe? Right now we’ve got festivals here there & everywhere. We’re playing a few shows in & around in NYC towards the end of July … a few weeks break & then the New LP is out … & here we go again !
L4E : Thanks a lot for chatting with us . We’ll be looking forward to seeing your energy packed shows coming to the Big Apple in a few weeks!
New York City Dates:
MERCURY LOUNGE JULY 22 (w/ HUNTERS)
MAXWELLS JULY 23 (w/ RIBEYE BROTHERS, SHILPA RAY & HER HAPPY HOOKERS)
KNITTING FACTORY JULY 24 (w/ STALKERS, DES ROAR)