He may have been bestowed with a title of the religious order, but Jon McClure ain't no man of the cloth. He's a preacher, sure - giving sermons to thousands of converts at gigs in his hometown of Sheffield – but his urban street tales have fuck all to with the word of any God. Ask any of his flock about this strapping, mad-eyed 24-year-old and, Lord, they will tell you: he's the don of the Sheffield music scene. A passionate punk poet. The Reverend.
"It's a nickname my mates gave me. They said to me 'you're like a teacher man, you're like a preacher man'" he explains. "It comes from the way I talk and get right passionate about things. It just sounds like...respect"
After spending his formative years playing music with people who would go on to form some of Sheffield's most important bands of the decade, McClure assumed his new moniker in mid 2005 and set about a new musical direction. But he wasn't going it alone. First, he set about assembling his backing band The Makers – a talented crew of Sheffield musicians. Next, an array of eager collaborators - the likes of Alex Turner, Bromheads Jacket's Tim Hampton and his hero, punk poet John Cooper Clarke – were sought and a clutch of demos recorded with "Sheffield's Martin Hannett", producer Al Smyth.
"In white guitar music there's a real pride thing - like 'we can't have anyone else on our records, it'll take the shine off' and it's bollocks," he frowns. "But in reggae or hip-hop it's not like that – for example, on 'Still DRE', Dr DRE thought nothing of having Snoop come in and drop a line. He's like 'that's cool, that's wicked'".
The results, put up for download on Reverend's website, were a clutch of tunes influenced by the funk, reggae and 60's psyche he grew up with (Sly & The Family Stone, Bob Marley, George Clinton, Count Five, 13th Floor Elevators) – and his modern day heroes (James Murphy/LCD Soundsystem, Klashnekoff) – but sounding like nothing else but Reverend & The Makers. Urban street tales inspired by the ebb and flow of life itself, played out by a motley cast of recognisable characters. Songs about local tittle-tattle ('What The Milkman Saw' - sample lyric: "Johnny reckons that he saw her in the chemist buying oral contraception/Can't be for her husband coz he can't get an erection"), blowing all your hard-earned on fruit machines ('Bandits') and boozy package holidays ('18-30').
"Everyday I meet different people and that's real. You don't listen to one person all day, or only talk to one person, or hear one sound or smell one thing. You've got to reflect what life's like. That's how a record should be - different sounds, different voices."
By January 2006 fans were rabidly swapping these tunes on internet message boards and even turning up in their droves for a glimpse of rehearsals. By the time summer swung round, the buzz had grown to such a degree that the band had sold out the thousand-plus-capacity venue The Plug in Sheffield.
Buoyed by the success, the band embarked on their debut UK tour, supporting fellow Steel City guitar slingers Arctic Monkeys. Jon then spent the rest of year curating his Reverend Soundsystem clubnight, before signing to the Wall Of Sound label then disappearing into the studio with The Makers and producer Jagz Kooner (Primal Scream, Kasabian ) to fully realise his musical vision.
And so here were are. There's plenty more to tell about Jon McClure and his Makers, but that's for another time. For now, all you need to know is this: he is the Reverend, and he'll tell you about the state of things.
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