Jesus Jones were one of my favourite bands of the 1990s. Pre Britpop, they came along in a wave of acts like Pop Will Eat Itself, The Shamen and Carter USM, fusing rock guitars and dance beats with sampling and new technologies.
It helped that their singer Mike Edwards was cute.
I had their song International Bright Young Thing on a travel compilation I made for myself when I left the country at 21. But you might remember them for their best known track Right Here Right Now, which was used to promote Brisbane’s Treasury Casino, as well as Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and was a No. 1 hit in the US.
They came to Australia in 2011, performing with other ’90s favourites the Wonderstuff and the Clouds, and had such a good time they’re returning to play Brisbane at the Zoo on March 12.
So now I’m chatting to Edwards, my teenage crush, who at a surprising 50, still looks the part. He spent his post band years reinventing himself as a fitness instructor and now runs cycling tours abroad. He might not have the sexy long hair he once did, but then, I’m not 21 anymore.
The album that made them international stars is called Doubt and it’s that they’re playing in full on this latest tour. Released in 1991, it came with a noise warning: “This album contains extreme sounds which could damage musical equipment.”
“It was by far and away our most successful album,” says Edwards. “It sold 2 million copies around world and entered charts at No. 1 in the UK. It was massively significant for us, and by and large I’m sitting in a house that was pretty much paid for by that album.”
Performing the album in full also means revisiting some of their lesser known tracks.
“Some of those songs I hadn’t listened to in years and when I did so I realised why,” says Edwards. “So for the live shows we’ve completely reworked them, which is great for us and for audiences as well.”
In the early 1990s, Edwards was a floppy-haired 20-something living in a rented flat in London opposite a railway station. A skate fan, as well as a music enthusiast, he was very driven.
“I knew what I wanted and was out to get it,” he says. “The flipside to that is if I met myself from those days on the street now I’d probably want to give me a bit of a slap.”
On the ball and ahead of their time, the band were always interested in technology, not only sonically, but lyrically, with songs such as Info Freako and Zeroes and Ones. Interestingly, I owned Doubt on cassette and CD, which shows the era it straddled.
“The rate of increase in information technology is exponential and it’s racing ahead so much that these days I feel less like I’m interested and on top of it, and much more like I’m just racing to keep up,” says Edwards. “I do feel like we’re living in the future. But I feel that it’s run away from me. It’s like a horse that has thrown me off.”
With a body of work including albums such as Perverse, Already, London and Culture Vulture, they’ve got a lot to proud of. So I thought it would be fun to ask these magazine cover stars and international bright young things some questions from an old Smash Hits from back in the day. Edwards was up for it.
Q: What’s your room like?
1990: It’s cluttered. It’s got a load of recording stuff and skate stuff in it.
2015: These days very well tidied by my partner.
Q: What’s your favourite word?
1990: I’m usually an articulate person, but this’ll be something very unarticulated. Em, unarticulate! Inarticulate even! Thwack is a good one. Thwack! It’s got to be something onomatopoeic.
2015: Blimey. At the moment it would be digame, which is a Spanish word for when you answer the phone.
Q: Are you in love?
1990: Yes. Totally. With my girlfriend.
2015: Oh yes, my answer about how tidy my room is reflects that.
Q: Do you like yourself?
1990: No, not really. I don’t really like photos of me. I don’t often like the way I’ve treated people. I often look back and I think I could have done better. I’m going to look back on this in two hours’ time and think, ‘Damn! I could have shone I could have been brilliant!’
2015: Hmmn… Some days. Always room for improvement.
Q: Who do you get on with best in the band?
1990: Probably Gen because I’ve known him for so long. He lives in the flat with me and my girlfriend.
2015: All of them. It’s the same line-up that we had at the very beginning – so after 25 years there’s got to be something there.
Q: Tell us a secret about one of the others?
1990: Jerry de Borg is a Satan worshipper. He sings Paul McCartney songs in public and makes no secret of it.
2015: Alan doesn’t have any secrets, he’s loud and proud, but he has found himself arrested on a number of occasions in the most ludicrous situations. Usually in Japan. He’s been arrested for riding a moped without a helmet going the wrong way down a one-way street in Japan. And waking up wearing someone else’s business suit in a duck pond in the Imperial Palace gardens in Tokyo.
So now for your listening pleasure and mine, the gang are going to be bringing it all back to a jumping night at the Zoo. Edwards is thrilled to be doing this again.
“It was a real privilege to be able to come to Australia and play and I absolutely loved it. It was like the Spinal Tap quote – we’re having a good time all the time.”
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