Glasgow Music City Tours and Monorail Music present the launch of Psychocandy by Paula Mejia. Part of Bloomsbury’s popular 33 1/3 series, Mejia’s Psychocandy is a fairly forensic study of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s iconic, worldbeating Psychocandy album. She will be joined by Douglas Hart, now a film maker, then the group’s bass player, and Alison Stroak from Glasgow Music City Tours.
“The Jesus and Mary Chain’s swooning debut Psychocandy seared through the underground and through the pop charts, shifting the role of noise within pop music forever. Post-punk and pro-confusion, Psychocandy became the sound of a generation poised on the brink of revolution, establishing Creation Records as a tastemaking entity in the process. The Scottish band’s notorious live performances were both punishingly loud and riot-spurring, inevitably acting as socio-political commentary on tensions emergent in mid-1980s Britain. Through caustic clangs and feedback channeling the rage of the working-class who’d had enough, Psychocandy gestures toward the perverse pleasure in having your eardrums exploded and loudness as a politics within itself.
Yet Psychocandy’s blackened candy heart centre – calling out to phantoms Candy and Honey with an unsettling charm – makes it a pop album to the core, and not unlike the sugarcoated sounds the Ronettes became famous for in the 1960s. The Jesus and Mary Chain expertly carved out a place where depravity and sweetness entwined, emerging from the isolating underground of suburban Scotland grasping the distinct sound of a generation, apathetic and uncertain. The irresistible Psychocandy emerged as a clairvoyant account of struggle and sweetness that still causes us to grapple with pop music’s relation to ourselves.”
“Back in early 2014, when I was writing up the proposal for what would become my 33 ⅓ book about The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy, two things drove me: One was my love for this band, and the second was their strangely sweet debut album that shook the pop world upside-down. With Psychocandy, this group had subverted the pop canon while becoming a standard, and I was curious to understand how that happened.
Once my pitch for the book was accepted in the spring of 2014, going to Scotland became a priority. I’d never been before, and, to me, seeing where the Mary Chain hailed from was critical to understanding the context for the album’s creation. I wanted to walk the streets where the band once roamed, staking out how they would become the perfect pop band. And the fact that the band had just announced the first leg of their Psychocandy shows, which would pass through Glasgow and London later in 2014, was more than serendipitous. I booked a ticket almost immediately.
In Glasgow, I let myself be taken on a tour by a friend and local, Finn Maclean, who was studying there at the time. We were blessed with unusually good weather for November, and with him, I went on winding walks throughout the city, to pubs, dives, small venues, record stores, comedy clubs, and a cèilidh. I spent perhaps a bit too much of my allotted travel money on records at Monorail, but it was worth it. On my own, I made pilgrimages to George Square, where the likes of Bobby Gillespie and Rose McDowall danced and reveled at the short-lived (but massively influential) Splash One party back in the mid-1980s.
My trip culminated with a venture to the stunning Barrowland Ballroom, where the Mary Chain performed Psychocandy in full. Under that starry ceiling, where the likes of luminaries like David Bowie and Blondie had once strutted, the Mary Chain performed the album top to bottom, with the crowd going mental to cuts like “In a Hole.” It wasn’t as, erm, eventful as their early shows. But the mood was festive, and it felt like a kind of homecoming. I was lucky to have been a part of it.
I’m floored to have the chance to come back to Scotland again to chat with the band’s former bass player, Douglas Hart, about how the album came together, and its resonance now.”
Hey, really looking forward to this one, see you there.