“I could’ve been a contender,” lamented Reverend and the Makers frontman Jon McClure on their debut single, Heavyweight Champion of the World, and that Marlon Brando reference has come to seem curiously prescient since then.
That also-ran’s grumble turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy as the band, formed in Sheffield in 2005, have seen their fortunes slide downhill ever since.
They might have been strangers to the top 10 since that single reached No 8 in 2007 and the album it came from, The Shape of Things, made it No 5 that same year, but their career never fully unravelled, however.
Now, they’re back with album No 5, called Mirrors, and McClure reckons it’s their first real contender since their second LP, A French Kiss in the Chaos, a No 19 hit in 2009.
The 33-year-old admits that the two albums that followed their second one – @Reverend_Makers, a No 16 in 2012, and Thirty Two, a No 13 last year – were patchy and prone to bandwagon-jumping, but their latest one, out on Friday, October 9, is just champion, he says.
“I’m at ease with the fact that I can’t be Bob Dylan every day. Sometimes I’m great, sometimes I’m awful,” he said.
“I’m content to be a small annotation in the margins of the rock’n’roll story.
“I began to see for perhaps the first time since the debut album that it was about the music we make.
“I became resolute to make a record that we loved. Why not? Every album we make goes to about No 13 in the charts anyway.
“Why not indulge the overwhelming urge to not play games anymore and set about making some art we are actually proud of rather than the release-tour-festivals-repeat cycle we’d been on since forever?
“The result is the best thing we’ve ever done, in my opinion.
“The reaction when I play it to people is like nothing I’ve seen before, except maybe the first album. Sometimes I wish it were our debut album.
“Whether it’ll convince the people who’ve long since made up their mind about us is neither here nor there. What matters is the music and the art we leave behind.”
North-East fans of the band will be able to judge for themselves next month whether McClure still has it in him to be a someone as they’re playing at Think Tank’s Riverside venue in Newcastle on Wednesday, November 25, supported by the Sherlocks.
Tickets for the show, part of a 12-date national tour, cost £15.40. For details, go to www.reverendmakers.com
That will be the band’s second show in the region in a matter of months as they were also on the bill for the inaugural Lindisfarne Festival, at Beal in Northumberland, in September.