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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Reverend preaches the power of pop
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

With an acclaimed debut album, a flat with the Arctic Monkeys singer and some of the biggest opinions in pop, Reverend and the Makers frontman Jon McClure is on a mission to convert the world.

Reverend and the Makers singer Jon McClure
Jon McClure says his debut is "one of the first 21st Century records"
Jon McClure is not called the Reverend for nothing. When he speaks, the words come out with such speed and conviction that it is difficult to not to get swept up by his evangelical zeal.

Questions of right and wrong, moral codes and social justice take up more time in his passionate sermon than talking about his band's music.

And when he does discuss his impressive debut, he does so with an unwavering confidence not seen since Liam Gallagher first reared his head.

"My heroes are Lennon and Marley and Strummer and Lenny Bruce," McClure declares.

"The rebels, the lions, the people who stood up against the prevailing trend and had something to say, and I feel our generation is devoid of any lions.

The overriding message is peace and love in what is the most turbulent time in living history
Jon McClure
"Instead, we have a bunch of fashionistas running the music industry. And I want to try and mean something to people."

He clearly puts himself in the same league as his idols. "I'm a lion," he proclaims later.

So does he see himself as a preacher come to save our souls? "It's not preaching - but there's a right and wrong way to be," he says.

"Bob Marley said: 'Rastafarianism is life.' In a similar way, I wrote a poem called See the Truth.

"My brother's got it on his arm and one of the Arctic Monkeys has got it on the back of his neck. It's more of a code of ethics, it's not preaching."

Arctic Monkeys
McClure used to be in a band with the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner
So what is his message? "Essentially it's peace and love, brother, because I wonder what happened to that," he replies.

"It kind of got washed away in the 80s and were replaced by a load of rock stars. We're the people's band.

"The overriding message is peace and love in what is the most turbulent time in living history."

McClure's bravado, and possibly a bit of paranoia, are evident when asked about his connection with fellow Sheffield stars the Arctic Monkeys.

"They used to be my band," he states, before checking himself: "Well, we used to be in a band together, it wasn't my band.

"I do write a song for them guys sometimes, which is cool, and sometimes Alex [Turner] writes songs for me, which is fun for him.

Reverend and the Makers singer Jon McClure
Ian Brown, 3D from Massive Attack, the Dixie Chicks - I feel more akin to those people than I do the Arctic Monkeys
Jon McClure
"There ends the connection, apart from the fact me and Alex live together. However, it's hugely insulting to insinuate I wrote Alex's songs because it does him a great disservice as a fella."

I only asked about how the two bands were connected.

"And any comparisons are quite lazy ones. There are probably a few lyrical comparisons and I think Alex has said previously that I've been an influence on him, which is very sweet.

"But it's just a lazy journalistic thing where they lump you together based purely on geography.

"I feel more of an affinity with Manu Chao and modern day rebels, really. Ojos de Brujo, Ian Brown, 3D from Massive Attack, the Dixie Chicks. I feel more akin to those people than I do the Arctic Monkeys."

The story, to fill in the gaps, is that McClure formed a band called Judan Suki with Turner after meeting him on a bus six years ago.

They went their separate ways, but McClure - who started out as a poet - recruited other local musicians who helped put his words to music, and thereby became known as the Makers.

If we got dropped from our record label - not that we're going to - but if we did, I wouldn't stop making music
Jon McClure
Their debut album, The State of Things, is made up of infectious indie anthems given extra power by some pounding dance beats and the swagger of McClure's vocals.

Many of his songs tell clever and compelling stories of everyday English life - making his band an electronic answer to Britpop or, dare I say it, the Arctic Monkeys.

His Sheffield cohorts may have had a more of an immediate impact, but McClure's crusade has only just begun.

"If we got dropped from our record label - not that we're going to - but if we did, I wouldn't stop making music, I'd put it on the internet," he says.

"I wouldn't split up because I can't be famous or rich any more like what most bands do. I hope to think we're the first of a new breed of bands."

Reverend and the Makers' new single, Open Your Window, is out in the UK on 19 November.


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