Jesus And Mary Chain Future Uncertain Sans Brother William

Jim Reid says sibling's onstage departure from band still 'too sensitive' to talk about.

If you ask Jesus and Mary Chain guitarist Jim Reid these days about his estranged

brother, chances are he will have little to say about the other half of the ever-volatile

British power-pop songwriting duo.

He's certainly not talking about any reconciliation as yet.

The reason: The matter still hits far too close to home, he said.

"It's still too sensitive and a bit painful to talk about," Jim, 36, said Monday from

a stop in Minneapolis on the band's current tour.

Jim would not say whether or not he'll soon reunite with his guitarist brother, William

Reid -- who recently walked out on the band after a sibling fight at a Los Angeles gig. He

would not even say whether the noise-pop group will reconvene when it returns to

Scotland following U.S. and Japanese tours that are scheduled to continue into October.

Like Liam and Noel Gallagher of fellow Brit-pop band Oasis and Ray and Dave Davies

of veteran Brit-rockers the Kinks, the Reid brothers are bandmates with a long history of

fighting with one another.

With the long-term future of the Jesus and Mary Chain up in the air, now that the brothers

have split up -- for the time being, at least -- singer Jim is less interested in talking about his

brother's recent defection from the band than he is in the concerts the group is

performing without him. If a recent stop in Chicago is any indication, Jesus and Mary

Chain are moving along smoothly.

Jim declined to comment on the shouting match that took place between him and his

brother at the House of Blues in Los Angeles on Sept. 12. That argument cut the band's

set to a mere 15 minutes and culminated with the 39-year-old William exiting the tour

after only two of 19 dates.

Bassist/guitarist Ben Lurie hesitated to discuss details of the L.A. show as well, although

he said he was sad that the split occurred in front of fans who were eager to see the

group support its critically acclaimed sixth album of new material, Munki.

"It was stuff that was brewing for a long time, and unfortunately it just had to happen

onstage," Lurie said Monday. "It's basically a bunch of drunken fools who publicly rowed

with each other."

Lurie refused to speculate on whether the band's future plans will include both Reid

brothers but said that the band will step away from music after the tour. "The next thing

we're going to do is take a little bit of time off, then regroup and see where we're at," he

said.

While the crowd at the House of Blues in Chicago saw an increasingly fiery, 16-song set

from the band Sunday, many at the show didn't know in advance about William's

departure. "I kept wondering where he was," said 24-year-old Trey Gehrt, who described

the 65-minute show as "pretty good."

Before the concert began, longtime fan Hector Prieto, 27, worried that the band might

lose some of its famed effects-drenched muscle without William in the ranks. "Only

William can create that sound, that feedback," he said.

Even without his brother onstage, however, Jim said the Jesus and Mary Chain's shows

have been "pretty much the same old game." Still, the band has focused its material on

Jim's songs. "It's not changed as much as you'd think," he said in a thick Scottish accent.

"It's forced me to pick up the guitar a bit more than what I would've; I suppose that's the

main thing. Ben's gotta do a juggling act on the guitar, but I think it works out very well."

The recent tour-troubles have hit the Jesus and Mary Chain at a time when they have

received praise for Munki as one of their best albums in years, and as some fans

have talked about a rejuvenation for the 14-year-old group.

"We've always felt pretty good about going out and playing, no matter what album we

had out," Jim said. "But if people think the new songs have put a new sort-of breath of life

in the band, then great."

Two songs into Sunday's set, the band did bring out a surprise from the Reid family --

sister Linda Reid, who is joining the band for a week of shows to perform the song "Mo

Tucker," which she also sings on Munki.

Jim said he and William intended to write an entire album for Linda, although that project

has been indefinitely shelved. One of the songs for Linda's album, however, "Goes

Around Comes Around," has made its way into the Jesus and Mary Chain's current

setlist, although Linda herself did not sing it Sunday.

"That one's fun because we just started playing it this tour," Lurie said. "We're still finding

our way with that. It's pretty much different every night. There's no record to follow and

we're just whipping it out as we go on."

Meanwhile, as the band continues its concert schedule, Lurie said he's looking ahead to

several non-Jesus and Mary Chain projects. William has a solo album due out in the

U.K. in January, while Lurie and Jim have recorded some demos with members of

Stereolab for an as-yet-unnamed project that thus far has a country feel, Lurie said.

"Whenever we try to aim in a certain direction, it always gets mixed up along the way,"

Lurie said.