The Making of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy

The Making of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s <em>Psychocandy</em>
The Jesus and Mary Chain by Ross Marino

The Jesus and Mary Chain released their landmark debut album Psychocandy way back in November 1985, which means despite putting together a remarkable career and releasing a number of good to great records, Jim and William Reid have been talking about Psychocandy for over 35 years.

I went down this particular rabbit hole after seeing this piece at Happy Mag from last year, which sought to break down the raw ingredients the band used in their north London studio in the Spring of 1985 by sifting through a variety of interviews with the band, many of which I’ve tracked down below. It’s not a massively technical piece – this wasn’t making Sgt. Pepper – but it’s a decent synopsis of how the brothers created something so uniquely them on the first go, though if you want the tl;dr, it’s “reverb, Shin-Ei Companion Fuzz, anarchy”.

As for first-hand accounts of the making of the record, there’s a few. Spin’s 1985 cover story on the band was posted online in 2019, and is an interesting time capsule though less about the making of the record as documenting the band’s first tour in America:

The Jesus And Mary Chain: Our 1985 Interview @ Spin

In 2010, The Von Pip Musical Express got ahead of the game and celebrated the record’s quarter-century birthday with an interview with Jim Reid:

The Jesus And Mary Chain-Psychocandy 25th Anniversary-Jim Reid Interview @ The Von Pip Musical Express

The Quietus’ 2011 piece about the occasion takes an expansive sit-down with Jim Reid and bassist Douglas Hart to document the musical and cultural landscape in Britain that they dropped their sonic atomic bomb of a debut into, and recall in great detail how they went from bedroom demos on a cassette four-track to recording and releasing Psychocandy. Honestly, if you only read one of these pieces, this is probably the one. Assuming you can manage The Quietus’ tiny tiny fonts.

Brown Acid Black Leather: The Story Of The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Psychocandy @ The Quietus

It was with the record’s 30th anniversary that the band chose to celebrate with a massive and expansive world tour that lasted a year a half, from November 2014 through March 2016. Obviously with this much time on the road, there was a lot of press, mostly covering the same ground. But if you like reading the same story told in many slightly different, ways, buckle in.

The Guardian spoke to both Reids, Hart, and Alan McGee for their feature piece at the start of the tour in October 2014:

The Jesus and Mary Chain on Psychocandy: ‘It was a little miracle’ @ The Guardian

In April 2015, Rolling Stone talked to Jim Reid ahead of the American dates on the tour, and asked about the concept behind their “Just Like Honey” video:

I don’t remember much. All of our videos at that time – It seems a bit odd to say it – but we wanted to make videos like the Monkees. There’d be an episode of The Monkees, and then there’d be one of their songs and it would be a little film clip. That was a blueprint for all of the Mary Chain’s early videos.

Jim Reid, Jesus and Mary Chain Look Back on 30 Years of Psychocandy @ Rolling Stone

Spin also published their interview with Reid at the time, and got his feelings on Psychocandy from a distance of three decades:

I am very happy that it happened and that we made it, but it is a complicated thing. You’re making an album. The further you get from the actual record, the kind of stranger it seems to you. It’s a photograph of what was going on inside a person’s head — of me and William in 1985 — Psychocandy is it. It’s like looking at an old photo album of your life back then and you smile a bit and think about how much you have changed. But it’s a nice feeling to go back and revisit that time.

Jim Reid, Some Candy Talking: The Jesus And Mary Chain On Psychocandy Turning 30 @ Spin

Stereogum posted their Q&A with Reid in May of 2015:

Vogue talked to Reid – who was apparently handling the bulk of the media requests – in the Summer of 2015, with the anniversary tour in full swing:

The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid on the Making of Psychocandy @ Vogue

Under The Radar ran two features on the record’s anniversary in the Fall; one with Reid and McGee covering the well-worn ground of the making of the record, and one with Reid alone about the process of reviving it for live performance:

The Jesus and Mary Chain on the 30th Anniversary of “Psychocandy”
Jim Reid And Alan Mcgee On Psychocandy @ Under The Radar

Sweet Simplicity: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Jim Reid on Touring Psychocandy @ Under The Radar

And in November 2015, Observer took the angle of talking to musicians influenced by the record, including Jasamine White-Gluz of No Joy, Swervedriver’s Adam Franklin, and former Lush bassist Phil King, who was actually playing bass for JAMC on the tour:

Okay, that’s enough of that.

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