Fusing indie rock melody and attitude with dance rhythm, Reverend & the Makers were formed by vocalist and songwriter Jon McClure, who at the age of 25 was already a fixture on the music scene in Sheffield, England. Previously a member of the short-lived bands Judan Suki and 1984, McClure had a reputation in Sheffield as both a songwriter and a poet, and was something of a mentor to Alex Turner, who would become an overnight sensation as the leader of the group Arctic Monkeys (Turner mentions McClure's 1984 in his song "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor"). When Arctic Monkeys began developing massive buzz on the basis of Internet circulation of their demos, McClure was offered six-figure deals by record companies to put together a band that sounded just like them; however, even though he was out of work, he opted to follow his own muse and instead formed Reverend & the Makers with guitarist Tom Jarvis, Ed Cosens on bass, keyboard players Joe Moskow and Laura Manuel, drummer Richy Westley, and Stuart Doughty on percussion. The band made their live debut in 2005, and in the spring of 2006 Arctic Monkeys took McClure and his band on the road as their opening act. In time, Reverend & the Makers developed a loyal following and sold out 1,000-capacity clubs in their Sheffield hometown; Mark Jones saw the band and was strongly impressed, promptly signing them to his Wall of Sound label. Reverend & the Makers' first single, "Heavyweight Champion of the World," appeared in May 2007, and included an appearance by one of McClure's lyrical inspirations, John Cooper Clarke, on the B-side, "The Last Resort." A second single, "He Said He Loved Me," followed, with the group's first album, The State of Things, appearing in shops in September 2007.
During 2008, rumors were rife that the band had split up, McClure confirming and then later dismissing these claims. There were, however, a number of lineup changes, beginning with drummer Westley, who left to form his own band Strange & Partners; guitarist Tom Jarvis followed, replaced by McClure’s good friend and ex-Milburn guitarist Tom Rowley. With a renewed lineup and a refreshed outlook, the band bagged a support slot on Oasis' sold-out summer tour in 2009 and debuted a new song, "Silence Is Talking." Their second album, A French Kiss in the Chaos, focused primarily on politically charged subjects and highlighted many unspoken issues, including the conflict in Iraq, consumerism, and global warming. Often outspoken and brash, McClure wasn’t afraid to confront the difficult subjects that formed the heart of the record.
The band went on a hiatus following their second release and returned in 2011 with former Arctic Monkeys' bassist Andy Nicholson in a further lineup alteration. In August they posted a YouTube video entitled "Riot" in response to the chaotic scenes of the riots that took place across England that summer. Produced by Jason Cox and Jason Dring (Gorillaz) and Youth (the Verve, U2), the third album @Reverend_Makers was released in 2012. It proved a return to the band's electronic-inspired indie rock, typified by the dancefloor-focused synth melodies of single "Bassline" and the frantic guitars in the rasping track "Noisy Neighbor."
In 2014, the band released their fourth studio album, ThirtyTwo. Decamping to Geejam Studios in Jamaica with producer Dave Sanderson, the band began recording their fifth album, Mirrors. With additional production from Youth and Alan Smyth, the group finished the album back in the U.K., in their hometown of Sheffield. Released in October 2015, the album hit the U.K. Top 20 and received praise from the press and fellow musicians Noel Gallagher and Carl Barât.
The year 2016 saw the group once again moving abroad to record a follow-up, this time to Thailand and its Karma Sound Studios, again with Sanderson. The resulting album, The Death of a King, appeared in mid-2017 and saw the band refining their take on British indie rock. ~ Mark Deming & Scott Kerr