Jesus Jones first came together back in 1988, and their distinctive brand of sample-heavy pop found an instant and receptive audience. Throughout the early 90’s the band enjoyed phenomenal success, particularly in America, where their single Right Here Right Now rose to number one, and their second album doubt sold over a million copies.
2016 sees the band still at the top of their game, releasing a new single. How’s This Even Going Down? and currently undertaking a series of UK dates which brings them to Bristol’s Fleece on Monday evening. Andy Howells recently put questions to Mike Edwards of the band.
Did you think when first starting out with the band in 1986, you’d still be performing 30 years on?
Of course not! I was 22, I hadn’t thought beyond being about 25. I would have been amazed that I was still gigging and recording in 2016, in part since in that era we were expecting to face a nuclear World War 3 or be overrun by aliens or all emigrate to Mars.
Where did the band’s name originate?
I think this question is one that the band can use as a gauge of our resistance to dementia since the story should be more familiar than our own names. Sadly, that makes it sound like a terrifically memorable tale but the fact is the alliteration was appealing, as well as the clash of the mundane with unusual in the surnames. Our guitarist Jerry claims to have invented it while I can clearly recall thinking it through to creation. Maybe the dementia has already begun.
Looking back at the early 90s you had immense popularity with Right Here, Right Now and International Bright Young Thing; did it take you by surprise when those tracks became so popular?
International Bright Young Thing wasn’t really a surprise because we had been working towards it for a while and it was the next logical step. It would have been surprising (and crushingly disappointing) if it hadn’t have been a success.
Right Here, Right Now was different though. It’s one of those strange music business stories: when it was released in the UK it didn’t do that well (twice!) but a bunch of American radio DJs picked it up on a trip to Britain. One or two of them started playing it even though it wasn’t released in the US and it snowballed into being a big hit – in the US. The strange thing is that it was never a big success in the UK but the influence of America makes it seem that it was.
What do you think was the bands highlight?
For me it was on an all expenses-paid South American trip where we were miming on an Argentine TV show. Unbeknownst to us, inappropriately clothed young women took to the stage behind us mid-song, as did several very small people dressed in furry dinosaur outfits. At one point I turned around from the microphone to see this and the sight of our guitarist wrestling with a dwarf in a furry T Rex costume. Everything else pales into insignificance. Apart from maybe playing Wembley Stadium.
What lead to you returning to performing on a regular basis again?
Simply, the opportunity to do it again. It’s not like we ever decided to stop, there just weren’t the same chances there were in the 90s.
What can fans expect from the forthcoming Bristol show?
They can expect whatever they like. What they’ll get is a kick-arse band playing lots of songs they either half or fully recall, and some newer ones that bear the same hallmarks. No furry dinosaurs though.
Will you be playing Wales at any time in the future?
The correct answer is ‘yes’ but we just aren’t able to fill in more details yet. I think our track record for playing there is good enough to suggest we will be back.
Beyond the tour is there anything else you are working on?
Yes, I’m doing a lot of work on an album, or really just spending time on a succession of songs that are likely to be collated into some sort of body of work in the next few months. There are some collaborations with artists around the world coming up so I’m seeing a lot of the inside of my home studio these days. There should be plenty more to come from us!