Jim Jones and Rupert Orton took time out from their busy summer schedule to tell RICH DEAKIN about THE JIM JONES REVUES' whirlwind of a year and their plans for the forthcoming months.
Shindig!: Following a year that’s seen another critically acclaimed album, SXSW in Texas [again], Big Day Out in Australia, Glastonbury and now a Mojo Honours List nomination among other things, what’s been the highlight of the last 12 months for you and why?
Jim Jones: Playing in Australia was amazing. We really had a great time there: hanging out with Grinderman, The Stooges, Primal Scream and Wolfmother, and playing to the Aussie crowds… it was a blast!
Rupert Orton: Playing Later is a real milestone for any UK band so that was pretty incredible… selling out first the Scala then Koko was mindblowing. Big Day Out in Australia was astonishing: getting to meet and play with Iggy & The Stooges, Grinderman and the Scream.
SD: It must have been a real shock when Elliott Mortimer left the band earlier this year. What’s the story there then?
RO: Elliot had been unhappy with our touring schedule for some time and it came to head on our European winter tour last year, and he left at the end of the tour in December so it wasn’t totally unexpected but was still a blow.
SD: Henri Herbert’s done a fantastic job since he took over on keyboard from Elliott. How did you find such an ideal replacement?
RO: When Elliot left we were committed to a lot of live work in Australia, US Europe and we were still only half way through the promotional cycle for Burning Your House Down so we had to move quickly to find a replacement. Soon as we got back from the last date on the European tour in December I got on the phone, internet, anything I could find and checked out every keyboard I could across three continents! In the end we decided on three brilliant players which were Clayton Doley who did The Big Day Out tour in Australia, and New Zealand; Andrew Higley who did the US and Henri Herbert who was initially just going to do the UK and Europe. Henri was a recommendation from Dom Pipkin (Paloma Faith’s keyboard player), Dom was originally going to do the dates but had to go to New Orleans, so I contacted Henri. Henri ended being a perfect match so we offered him the gig full time and he accepted.
Losing Elliot was hard but with Henri we’re now stronger than ever and we’re really looking forward to writing some new material with him. And live as you’ve seen Henri is just a force of nature!
SD: With all the excitement you’ve generated recently, have you had any interest from major labels?
RO: Yeah, we’ve had a few sniffs here and there but nothing to jump up and down about. We’re very much independent in the true sense of the word- we’re still self-managed and self-released but with just a few more people to help out now!
SD: Being so busy touring so much have you had a chance to write any new material since Burning Your House Down?
RO: We’ve already started writing new material but it’s very early days at the moment. We’re going to wind down the live schedule in the autumn to really get stuck in with writing and recording. But winding down for us still means doing a three week US tour and 10 dates in France, plus The Shepherds Bush Empire on October 27th!
SD: Can you tell us a bit more about US tour?
RO: We’ve been to the US four times in the last 18 months and the reaction has always been brilliant. Our first shows in the US were at SXSW last year and despite some initial trepidation of taking coals to Newcastle the shows were great. At our official SX showcase it was like walking through a portal into CBGB’s in the '70s – Sylvain Sylvain, Cheetah Chrome, Clem Burke, Bob Gruen, Lenny Kaye, BP Fallon and Kid Congo all came to check us out which was pretty scary but the show went really well. We went back to SX again this year which also went really well and we hooked with a US manager and distributor and took the decision to release Burning Your House Down in August with a tour in September. Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds are playing with us on the East Coast leg of the tour which is going to be incredible. We also play our first shows in Canada in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto which I’m really excited about.
SD: You seem to play a lot of gigs in France too. You must be very popular there?
JJ: We love playing in France. France was the first country that got it, understood and really embraced us.
RO: Right from the release of the first self-titled album in 2008 France jumped on us and we’ve played there regularly ever since. A few years ago when at the time we couldn’t get arrested in the UK playing shows with 30 punters we were hopping over to France to play to 30,000 people at festivals which was pretty surreal. The UK caught up since the release of Burning Your House Down which is great as it’s where we’re from, but France is still very special to us.
SD: What next for The Jim Jones Revue after The Shepherds Bush Empire gig at the end of October?
RO: We’ll be recording our new album which is tentatively slated for release in spring/summer next year. Then at the end of December we go back to Australia to play The Falls Festival in Victoria and Tasmania.