Burning Down The House

Published

Ironic veneration of the past; don’t it just make you sick? Especially when you consider the possibility that current levels of retro-worship in all its tiresome, shallow forms might actually be distorting the efforts of the numerous outfits out there that have tastefully incorporated elements of the past into their sound, with the greatest sincerity. There’s a ton of examples in practically every genre, and the Jim Jones Revue are a fairly blatant one. Currently touring Europe, they’ve recently released their second LP, Burning Your House Down. ‘Raucous Blues’ doesn’t quite cover it, nor some poorly thought out analogy involving any number of over-generalized influences (although those are quite fun to write. I’d of gone with Nick Cave smashing up Little Richard’s bathroom with a sledgehammer, much to the delight of the Sonics, who are having a grand time in the corner rifling through a record collection which someone has labeled ‘Good Time Tunes’. In six foot letters of blood).

We went to talk to guitarist Rupert Orton to see if he had any idea what was going on sonically. ‘D’you wanna sandwich? We’ve got loads’.

I was looking at your touring schedule, you’ve just gotten back from the States, now you’re here, and soon you’ll be in Europe. You must be one of the busiest bands in the UK. Noticed many differences?
It’s intense innit. Every country’s slightly different, we were quite surprised with America, first proper tour we’d done there, three weeks straight… we were a bit anxious because, y’know, we’re playing what’s essentially American music, but there’s clearly still a soft spot for UK artists going over there and giving them our interpretation or whatever. France is always great, they go wild for it over there.

American music, yeah, I mean arguably there’s a nostalgic element in your songwriting, particularly that rattling piano that features quite prominently. D’you you view yourself as part of a revivalist movement?
Naw, absolutely not, I completely reject that, I mean undeniably we take an inspiration from fifties music, because when me and Jim would sit down to talk about the music we loved, we came back to the fifties again and again, it was more to grasp the raw punk rock energy of like, y’know, what people like Little Richard were about… I mean just imagining what it must have been like to see little Richard in the mid-fifties in the deep south, like a man wearing make up, wearing pink suits, bashing the fuck out of pianos, screaming about wanting to fuck your daughter when really he’s looking at your son, d’you know what I mean? It’s just, astonishing, and we thought if we could just get a little bit of that…

Naturally because so many people associate you with an ‘antiquated’ genre a lot of names get thrown around, but who are your real influences?
Well you’ve got MC5 and the Stooges from the 60’s, in the 70’s you’ve got New York Punk Rock like the Ramones, the New York Dolls… in the 80’s you’ve got some really incredible bands like The Birthday Party (Nick Cave’s original band), and The Gun Club especially, absolutely revolutionary how they married Punk Rock and Blues, I mean that’s how I got into listening to the original blue’s records by listening to their Robert Johnson covers…. More recently I suppose you’ve got Grinderman, first album a couple of years ago was just mind-blowing, in that a bunch of guys in their fifties could make such an incredibly powerful record that’s so stunningly relevant. The lyrical content doesn’t focus on pink Cadillac’s or driving to the prom, it’s about Jim’s live in London.

On Nick Cave, how was it working with Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman, Bad Seeds) on the new album?
Fantastic, the first album was very, very raw, recorded in a rehersal studio, two days, no overdubs, live to mic, exactly what we wanted, but it’s just SO raw, that when you turn it up four or five notches on your system it turns to white noise, which I actually quite like! But there’s only so far you can take that without creating a whole record of white noise… we were doing a show in Helsinki last year, sold out, everyone going nuts, and they liked it so much they played the first record over the P.A when we were done. And it was just, wow, I’d never heard it on a club system before! Just, noise! Quite astonishing! And I want my records played in clubs, in which case they need to retain their definition! And I hope and think that’s what’s happened with the new record. You can turn it up to ten and whilst it’d still blow the doors off, it’ll retain that clarity.

So enjoyment is something you like to see at your shows?
Absolutely, definitely, I mean what we’re playing is high-energy rock and roll, and whilst some might concieve that as some violent, I actually view it as something quite cleansing. So we’re pretty psyched that we’ve managed to sell out most of our tour, especially Glasgow! … Last time we played here we were playing some vegan restraunt (Mono) in front of twenty people, but it was still a full on show, and we love it.

‘Burning Your House Down’ out now on [PIAS] Recordings.

Jean-Xavier Boucherat