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INTERVIEW: Jim Jones Talks The Sonics + More
Patrick Clarke , October 3rd, 2018 18:16

As Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind prepare to support the legendary The Sonics at The Garage this week, we catch up with Jones to talk his love for the garage rock veterans, running two groups at once and more

Photo by Steve Gullick

Tomorrow night (October 4) Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind will play live at The Garage in London, in support of one of garage rock's most legendary outliers, The Sonics. To get your hands on one of the few remaining tickets click here.

It's one hell of a line-up, one that sees Jones share the stage with one of his formative bands, and another part of what has been a typically prolific year for the musician. In addition to a reformation tour and anthology box set release for his infamous old band Thee Hypnotics, he's kept his current band The Righteous Mind steaming forward as strong as ever, Kickstarting their new album CollectiV as they go.

To find out more about what's been yet another monumental year, and to preview a special gig, tQ caught up with Jones to talk The Sonics, the travails of tour managing, and becoming politicised.

You're playing live in support of The Sonics soon, are you a fan of the band?

Definitely, I have been from quite a young age, my late teens, the pot smoking years! We’d go round each other’s houses and bring records, and the Sonics were in amongst that stuff first on various compilations, then buying the albums Boom and Here Are The Sonics. They’re one of those bands where you can play their music anywhere, in a car, in a club, at home, it always cuts through. More than anything else, they’re head and shoulders above for the garage thing, I think they’re the best, the closest to Little Richard but with integrity.

What exactly sets them apart so much for you?

Well, the sound for one thing, they have the rawest sound, the grooves on all the tracks, everything’s incredibly ahead of the beat. I’ve never heard anyone come close to the way they play ahead of the beat, the snotty white punks of the 60s doing the Little Richard thing. The rest of the bands sounded like they were copying the Rolling Stones and don’t get me wrong I love most of that stuff, but the Sonics had their own sound. There’s only a few people I’ve heard about putting holes in the speakers of their amps. One is Dave Davis, one is Link Wray, one is Ike Turner, and one is The Sonics. All of those groups have the best guitar sounds, and it’s quite a commitment! They set the bar for how good it can get in that kind of music, raw, rip your face off rock ‘n’ roll. There isn’t much music that just gets better as time goes on for that specific thing.

Have you met them before?

Ages ago when they very first played in London some friends of mine were on the bill opening for them and asked me if I’d like to play harmonica for them. Despite my reservations about playing the harp live I jumped at the chance just so I could meet them in the dressing room. This gig kind of came out of the blue, The Garage is a great venue.

It’s been under threat, of course…

I know! Apparently they’re thinking of knocking it down! It’s like Denmark Street somehow being in the way of Tottenham Court Road… It’s happening all over the world, people would rather put stuff in a glass case than have it function as a living thing. In Memphis they knocked down the Stax museum then rebuilt it once they realised it was a tourist attraction, brick for brick a bit further down the road.

How has it been returning to Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind after Thee Hypnotics?

I’ve actually kept them running at the same time, I don’t think there’s been a two-week period that’s gone by without doing something with The Righteous Mind. I’ve been working extra hard rather than doing one thing instead of another. The Thee Hypnotics thing was quite interesting, like a weird school reunion mixed with laying down in an old puddle of piss. I played a set at Wilderness festival with The Righteous Mind then out to a biker festival in Belgium with Thee Hypnotics the next day. For me Thee Hypnotics is a walk down memory lane, so it’s nice to do a few shows, but I’m a bit more concerned with moving forwards. Playing some of the stuff was a reminder of that journey though, of where I was in my life and in my mind.

You’re often called a hardworking musician, is this the hardest you’ve ever worked?

I have to say, it’s the most plates I’ve ever had spinning! Keeping everything together is really hard. I booked the Thee Hypnotics tour myself, and I realised that being an agent is actually really hard. It’s one thing putting together a couple of shows, it’s another to line up 20 dates in a row and make it work. There’s a lot more to it. I was booking, writing, recording, and running a Kickstarter for our new album which is a lot of work in itself. We got double what we asked for, and then we realised you’ve got to deliver on all those pledges! A couple of the guys from The Righteous Mind don’t live in London so it was about working out when they’re free… I’ve been really busy in that sense. I’ve started doing transcendental meditation to keep my mind in order. I think the hardest work I’ve ever done was seven years of back to back touring with The Righteous Mind, though. We played a lot, every night for six weeks at a time. You really feel productive, I do miss playing that often…

You’ve said that you’re getting more politicised, is that working its way into your creative output at all?

I can’t help it, it kind of goes in. Some of the records that really inspired me when I was younger were like Kick Out The Jams. It’s not directly telling you who to vote for, but it is a political stance. If you look at British politics, a lot of the MPs in Labour are as bad as the Tories, careerist fucking scum who don’t really give a shit about the people they’re supposed to be representing. I don’t have any direct feelings of ‘you should do this or that’, but the one thing is to try and get people together, the opposite of divide and conquer. That is going into the music, but it’s not like that old 70s punk thing. It’s a bit more general, to stop listening to people that don’t give a fuck about you. I don’t know anyone personally that if they stop and think about it hasn’t been affected by this ongoing fake austerity.