March/April 1993 issue of "What! A Magazine" out of Manitoba, Canada. Iain Baker.
Brave New Worlds:
The Universe According to Jesus Jones
by Cathy Wawrykow
per verse / 2a: obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable or accepted...
Sounds like Jesus Jones, all right. Perverse, the title of the group's latest release, clearly reflects Jesus Jones' attitude toward the mainstream music industry. This band thrives on constructive conflict, and the friction between Jesus Jones and critics only fuels creativity. Omnipresent keyboardist Iain Baker says today's music press are so
concerned with nostalgia, they're looking backwards all the time. "We're not about that, we're all about looking forward, looking into the future, taking note of the fact that there's technology around which can make rock music interesting all over again.
Jesus Jones begins touring the U.K. in March and should hit Canada by April. The group could be looking forward to hitting North American shores as Perverse has been well received here while receiving only lukewarm reception at home.
Because of a stubborn insistence on forgoing its own style instead of following music trends, Jesus Jones is snubbed by the British press. Baker wears that disdain like a badge of honour, vowing that it is very
important to be hated by the right people.
"We're not a retrogressive '70s band, we don't sound like David Bowiedid 20 years ago, any of those things. I breathe a sigh of relief at that. I wouldn't want to be praised by the same people that are praising
And for heaven's sake, don't get Iain Baker started on the "unplugged music" trend. He gets positively fierce about it. Suffice to say, Baker finds the music nostalgia cult very worrying. In the 1980s people reminisced about the '60s sound, but freely admitted that it was a style popular two decades previous. In the 1990s, Baker sees danger in the fact that a generation of young listeners is being fed the sounds of the '70s, but not as nostalgia.
"They're saying, 'hey, isn't it great, all this '90s clothing and they're being told it's the '90s and they don't know any other time," he explains. "That's exactly what 'The Devil You Know' is about. They think it's a time of their own, but it's a time that's actually been lived before."
So what's Jesus Jones going to do about it? Present something so in-your-face and progressive that it couldn't have been made any other time than (pardon the pun, it's just so fitting) right here, right now.
The liner notes of Perverse speak of frequencies instead of instruments and mention sequencer titles alongside song titles. The group has immersed itself in technology so completely, the computer has become just another
instrument. Healthy irreverance is how Baker describes Jesus Jones' relationship with the computer. None of the Joneses were computer literate by any stretch of the imagination before they started doing what they now do so well. Currently, they're at the forefront of computer-generated music and the question must be asked -- is Perverse an album or a computer program? "It is a computer program in a way," Baker ventures cautiously. "It existed
on floppy disc. It was certainly, at one point, no more than a stream of computer data."
And, of course, like any instrument the computer can have its problems. Jesus Jones has lost arrangements as well as having computers crash onstage. It's just like breaking a string on an electric guitar, you patch it up and
Most of Perverse was recorded in lead singer Mike Edward's home in a room about ten feet by seven feet in diameter. From Baker's account it looks more like a home office than a musician's pad: a couple of mixing desks, some keyboards, a computer, several samplers and midi instruments.
Without knowing how Perverse was made, it could easily pass as a good pop album. Baker says that Jesus Jones has a point to make by mentioning the instrument frequencies and noting that everything was recorded at Mike's place.
We are trying to make the point that a rock album can be made using the influence of computers and can be made to sound different and fresh and exciting."
Jesus Jones remains firmly plugged into technology, and not just in music. Some people watch documentaries on virtual reality and wistfully remark that it would be nice to see such technology one day. Baker contradicts that
passive attitude, saying it's happening now. Virtual reality games and movies like The Lawnmower Man have had no small influence on Baker and the band.
"When people think about the future, they don't realize that it's actually happening now, it's going on as we speak," Baker insists. Talk of virtual reality and cyberspace strikes a responsive chord. Baker talks of phone lines that could some day take the speaker's image and place it in a cyberspace environment, to stand in front of a computer represention of the person they're speaking to -- in that same cyberspace. "We could be in a room facing each other. We could be facing each other, we could be touching each other," Baker describes. "We could be doing anything we want in cyberspace, but not actually in any real sense."
This brings up another interesting question: in cyberspace how do you know what's real? What's the possibility of cybercrime? Baker theorizes that a hacker could find the location of our cyberspace and crash into it with their
"We'd be sitting there in this cyberenvironment and all of a sudden a figure would come in with a gun, shoot us and disappear, having killed us -- but not having killed us," Baker visualizes. "Committing a crime that never
Hmmm... interesting dilema, but it's just an example of the way Jesus Jones wants us to think. Be imaginative, don't shut anything off. Keep yourself plugged in.