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Interview: Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind

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As the tireless shapeshifter of modern rock & roll Jim Jones has been in and out of several bands reincarnating his musical philosophy through groups including The Jim Jones Revue, Black Moses and Thee Hypnotics.

Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind

At it again, in 2014, just five days after The Jim Jones Revue had made their last appearance in London, the charismatic band leader established Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind.

With regards to this constant turnover, he admits he is often asked why he “can’t just keep one band going”. However, he feels it is necessary to understand that “people have trouble keeping a marriage going, keeping a band on track for a long time is like having a marriage between five different people!”

But it is also true he has “recently come to the realisation” that he should have maybe maintained the same name throughout the journey and just changed the members of the band like several other bands do, “to maintain that continuity, I guess”.

Changing names can be very refreshing though, giving Jim a chance to experiment with varying concepts.

He explains he called his new band “The Righteous Mind” for several different reasons, but mainly out of a moment of inspiration.

“Actually I was just sitting there, writing this new song and working on a piece when I look up and there’s this social psychology book by that name, I just found it fitting.”

The book, written by Jonathan Haidt, portrays the theme of “decent, good people” going to war with each other without really knowing why, a mood Jones was going for, to describe his venturing into new, dark and uncharted musical waters.

This denomination also alludes to one of his musical inspirations, the American garage rock legends the MC5, “I feel like it is a reference to their very punk/underground spirit.” Jones explains he is highly affected by the politically influence of Marxism in the Black Panther Party that was also a major interest on the Detroit proto-punks.

“To me they completely were the progenitors of rock, and because of what they stood for, “righteous” was always a term high on the menu.”

In fact, as it can be gathered, the Righteous Mind feel very strongly about political conflict and the chaos in the world that surrounds us.

Jones explains how, just recently, talking to a friend, he was “just swept over by this horrible feeling”, asking himself whether maybe the 20th Century was the most peaceful, socially tranquil period in time and, from here, everything goes downhill back into the medieval ages and violence and brutality.

When asked about his opinions regarding the American presidential elections, the singer boasts some very stern opinions.

“I just honestly cannot understand how anybody that has a brain in their head can vote for anybody but Bernie Sanders. Plus, he was underestimated, they didn’t really count on him being legit.”

His views regarding this topic encompass his judgement of modern culture as a whole, as he accuses society and modern media of a “blackout” that led to encouraging this muddle.

“I ask myself, how uninformed, lazy and spoiled have we become? It is ridiculous. Now, I am part of an unspoken fraternity, I believe in cynical world run by the rough, but even I understand that you have to do something, anything, or you’ll just be part of the problem! Even if you’re just another fly in the ointment.”

Even though he does mention the power of the media as a negative political influence, he describes he’s still in two minds regarding the medium. “I know it is a good tool, but it still is a double-edged sword. It’s great because everything is out there, but, come on, now everything is out there. You stop getting a degree of anything that has any gravitas.”

He recounts how he used to go to record stores and ask for advice, whilst now everything is so mechanical and impersonal. He makes a comparison between genetically modified organisms and the musical industry in this day and age: “Everybody is so scared of Monsanto and Co, but at the end of the day the computer is not as good as the real thing, it’s sequenced, packaged.”

He concludes his excursus regarding modern society and the media by giving one piece of advice to everybody: “Just throw your television out the window! And I’m not saying this because I’m trying to be all rock & roll, I’m just saying this because it is so refreshing, so liberating. I got rid of my television years ago, I see it like when women used to throw their bras in the air!”

Spiralling off from this, I ask Jones if he therefore regarded his band and his work as fairly “traditional”.

“I don’t think we’re traditional, because traditional sounds revivalist and I feel like it associates with role playing, pretending we are back in a decade we’re not, putting on somebody else’s costumes. You just lose the message, it’s much more like they’re acting.”

In his soothing voice, he adds he would describe his band as much more “organic”, having roots in a historical context and specific genre but developing in something relevant now, something probably a little more authentic.

From here, Jones says a little something about his work to come. While delivering this very interview, he is on a break between directing/producing a music video for their new single, coming out just 1st April.

“We are very much cottage industry I would say, but this is the first time I ever take the whole of the video production in my hands.” This one video is just the first of a series that will probably be ready in September 2016, together with a batch of exciting, very deep and unusual pieces. “The mood is always the same, I attempt to express everything that I feel life is about, I like looking for answers, investigating and reflecting on what it means to be alive, the way we experience the world around us.”

When asked what his hopes for his new work are, and what he thinks about his future with this newly born band, Jim Jones concludes by admitting he hopes they will be “Organic enough to be nutritious”.




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