1. Don't over think it
An artist calling their latest album the best they've ever made is no great shock. It would be an incredibly honest individual to give any less of a backing while promoting their new work.
But, when Jon McClure, the unspeakably northern frontman for Reverend and the Makers, tells MusicRadar that Mirrors, the band's fifth long player, is their finest to date, we're inclined to believe him.
“It's the best album we've ever made,” he beams. “The response from people that have heard it has been amazing. Long may it continue.”
And it's not just McClure that thinks highly of Mirrors, the band has a real buzz about them for the first time since they broke onto the scene in 2007.
“It's really weird, we're getting played on the radio and people that didn't want to talk to us before all of a sudden want to interview us. That's all you can hope for from your music, for it to reach a wider audience.”
So, with a career-defining record in the can (and set for release on 9 October), we grilled McClure on just how you go about making the best album of your life.
Don't over think it
"We decided to go in and mess around with just me and Ed [Cosens, guitar]. Three weeks later we had an album. I've laboured over albums for ages, it's taken a year and has turned out shit anyway. This just fell out in three weeks.
"I think in the past I fell into the trap of making music to order. Thinking I had to make an album sound like how we were supposed to sound. It was also a little bit, being dead honest, thinking I wanted to get back on the radio so we ended up writing just shit.
I would love to tell the 18-year-old Jon McClure that. But he would have just told me to f**k off
"The last album is a bit patchy. There's one or two good tunes on it but I don't really dig it. Where as this one you can hear how good it is. The weird thing is that the moment we stopped trying to get on the radio we got on the fucking radio!
"Forget the radio, forget the press, forget what you think you're supposed to do. If you know it's good, pursue it. I would love to tell the 18-year-old Jon McClure that. But he would have just told me to f**k off."
2. Mix it up
"The tracks on Mirrors merge into one another so it just dictated what would happen next. We didn't start out trying to make an album that never stops but the first track had this loop at the end and we thought we'd just go into another song.
"Then the next song ended in a certain key and we put a drone in the same key and after a bit we had six songs that just flowed into each other so we decided to make the entire album like that.
"We didn't want there to be any rules, it didn't have to sound like Reverend and the Makers, I didn't have to sing all of the songs, all of the band sing lead vocals on certain tracks. It's a mixed bag.
"We wanted it to have a classic sound. With the way it merges in it was a little like the second half of Abbey Road or psychedelia from the 60s. We just made it though. That sounds a bit arty, but we didn't think about what we were doing we just did it. It was an accident, really."
3. Be artistic
"We went into the studio and then took the files out to Jamaica and decided to make a film to give with the album as well. It was nice to be artistic again.
"Back in the day you could be an artist and make a living. You're not afforded that luxury these days so there's pressure to come up with stuff.
"With this album we managed to disengage our brain from that and do something artistically different and the result is amazing."
4. Realise not every song will be great
"We've been doing this 11 years and we have such a great reputation as a live band. We've got to keep doing it, I live in a terrace house, I've got to earn money. There's the pressure of earning a wedge.
"Once you've been doing it for 11 years though you become alright with the fact that you've written some tunes that aren't that good. I think about Bob Dylan who is a legend. He's wrote some fucking terrible songs over the years.
"Once you dispel the myth that you have to constantly come up with genius work you realise that you can make rubbish albums and great albums and that's alright.
"I'm strapped into a career here, 11 years in"
"I'm strapped into a career here, 11 years in, I'm 34 in December and you think, 'Hang on, I can do something artistic.' It's eureka moment for me, you can do something different and if it's good enough then it'll be fine.
"I wish I could have told myself that sooner, I wish I could have said, 'Just chill out mate, it's all good.' You don't think like that when you're young. It's not glamorous to say but when you're young you smoke loads of weed, your head's full of nonsense and you end up doing stupid things.
I don't really trust people that weren't a bit of a nob in their 20s.
"I don't really trust people that weren't a bit of a nob in their 20s. These people that fall out perfectly formed, they've been media trained, they're too smooth and I don't trust a word they say. People that were nobs are real and I like that.
5. Write about your life
"This album is just about relationships. I'm always interested in the ways people interact with each other. It's an endless source of material.
"People ask me why I don't talk about politics anymore. It's because I don't want to be Billy Bragg. As much as I admire Billy, I sometimes look at him and think, 'Do you not ever want to have a guilty McDonalds and a wank, Billy?'
"I've been very earnest in the past, but what's the point in continuously hammering home the same old points? My politics aren't going to change and I don't feel the need to reiterate them on record.
"I want to sing about where I am now, I don't want to sing about being 21 and going out taking drugs, I don't want to sing about fucking Cuba, I want to sing about what is real to me.
I've been very earnest in the past, but what's the point in continuously hammering home the same old points?
"I think that's why people will like the record, it sounds honest and it doesn't sound contrived in any way. When I sang, 'Everybody is making babies, what about us?' I finished that demo, went outside and my wife told me I was going to be a dad. Amazing. You need to reflect your life in your records.
"I feel like some of our other records weren't honest, particularly the last one. That was me trying to re-create what I think someone should be doing, it sounded like I was trying to be who I was when I was 20.
It's a myth that you come out at 17 and that's the best you will ever be
"Look at Nick Cave and people like that, it's alright to be older and make music. Being older will suit me, I used to be a bit of an idiot, to be honest. I used to say things, like someone would ask me questions about Arctic Monkeys so I would compare Johnny Borrell to Hitler to throw them off the scent. That's a nonsense and I know that now. I realise that now that I'm older and there's a bit of grey in me beard.
"Look at Wayne Coyne. People go on about how they've always liked the Flaming Lips. Alright, but they were shit until they were about 40, weren't they? They just made a load of psychedelic nonsense until they were 40 and then they made three unbelievable good records in a row.
"It's a myth that you come out at 17 and that's the best you will ever be. It takes some people years to get good and I think that's true of us. Live we were terrible until four years ago and now I think were as good a live proposition as anyone. It's the same on record, I feel like I'm in a place now where I could go make four or five great records."
6. Don't worry about the next album
"You can't recreate an accident. The key maybe is to do something completely different.
"I admire artists that do that, people like Primal Scream and Beck, they just think, 'I'm going to do this and if you don't like it you've still got all my bangers from my past that you can listen to.'
"You need to keep moving forward. Bands get locked into trying to endlessly recreate their debut album and it's ever-decreasing circles. The greatest artists continue to move and evolve and that is what I will try and do."
7. Take it on the road and party
"[The live show] needs to be a party. I used to try and do poetry and make the audience listen to the message. It's Friday night, they've been working all week and they want to dance and sing along. Save the nuance for the record. Save the deep and meaningful stuff for another time.
"People want to have a good time. Once I grasped that concept our festival performances particularly went crazy. That helped us in the total absence of media coverage and the absence of any radio play for the last seven years.
It's like being in the f**king Commitments or something. It's great
"We've bizarrely gained popularity in that time even though no one has been talking about us until this album. Even so we've done dead well in the last few years through just playing life. That's weird in this day and age, it's like being in the f**king Commitments or something. It's great."