Jim’s big workout

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
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THERE may well have been a few disorientated Human League fans in the Belgian capital after last weekend courtesy of this lot.

THERE may well have been a few disorientated Human League fans in the Belgian capital after last weekend courtesy of this lot.

When we caught up with untamed blues outfit The Jim Jones Revue they were en route to a festival in Brussels where they were due to share a bill with the likes of Phil Oakey and Crystal Fighters.

“Eclectic is the word - you’ve got to take it as it comes and enjoy it,” says guitarist Rupert Orton, a man used to seeing startled faces when his band strike up.

“There’s an initial reaction of surprise and shock but once they’ve got over that they loosen up and get into it. That’s the normal pattern our gigs take when we play somewhere we haven’t played before.

“For the first numbers people are like rabbits in the headlights. They get used to the volume and by the end they’re dancing and enjoying themselves.”

TJJR formed when former Hypnotics frontman Jim met like-minded soul Rupert at Not The Same Old Blues Crap, the club he ran for folk with grittier blues tastes.

“I didn’t like the more pedestrian blues that revolves around guitar virtuosity; most bands I was bringing over were from Mississippi. I was familiar with Jim and wanted to promote his band at the time, Black Moses.

“We struck up a relationship and would discuss the kind of music we loved and early ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll was something we shared love for. When Black Moses were no more we decided to work together.”

So far that has produced full throttle albums including last year’s Burning Your House Down produced by Bad Seeds/Grinderman member Jim Sclavunos.

“He was someone we’d known for a while, was aware of the development of the band and was in a good position to work with us.

“We were big fans of the first Grinderman record, a good example of an exciting, contemporary rock ‘n’ roll album that wasn’t necessarily stuck in the past. He brought elements of that record with him which really suited our sound.”

While TJJR take their cue from the raw energy of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, Rupert is keen to stress they’re not stuck in the past.

“It’s not contrived. An explosion of wills seems to go into these songs. It’s not like we sat down and said ‘if we do this and do that’; I don’t think you can do that with the kind of music that we do.

“It was quite a conscious decision we strip away all the kind of rubbish that has accumulated over the last 30 or 40 years. You boil down any modern music you’re always going to end up going back to the blues and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll.

“But it was pretty much a natural evolution of the band; right from the first time we rehearsed together there was a spark, a natural chemistry. Each member brings their thing and we’re strong as a collective.”

And collectively they cite Jon Spencer as an influence alongside The Stooges, MC5, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Gun Club and The Birthday Party. Among the descriptions of their shows one said it was “like a gang fight set to 12 bar blues”.

Bear that in mind if you go to see them make their Sheffield début at Plug tomorrow.

“It’s great when we play to people who know our stuff and they’re getting it from the first song but sometimes it’s a lot of fun when we play to a crowd that don’t know us. You’ve got to work it.

“Normally we turn it around and it’s always a good sense of satisfaction when you get the whole house jumping by the end.

“We obviously use the ‘50s as a stand point, but we encompass pretty much every element of rock ‘n’ roll to try to create an exciting show.”

And with Sheffield’s Richard Hawley a confirmed fan prone to the odd stage invasion (Weller and Elbow at the Arena this year), Matilda Street could get messy.

“The word on the street is he’ll be there and he’ll be very welcome,” says Rupert.

“We’re entirely focused on the live performance, though. It’s the raison d’etre of the band, everything we put into it.

“We’re a bit too long in the tooth to keep living the clichéd rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. I separated the rock ‘n’ roll from the lifestyle a long time ago.

“Live is a complete blitzkrieg but we put a lot of effort into making sure the show is as tight and loud and exciting as possible. If people come along they’re gonna be pleasantly surprised.”