IT was shortly after midnight, when an unruly but sparse crowd at Clouds nightclub in Preston town centre, greeted the arrival of the warring Reid brothers, Jim and William, The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Half a dozen songs of feedback fuelled white noise, including Never Understand, one of the great singles of that decade and culled from the album Psychocandy, and they were gone.

At the very fringe of the stage, tiny splinters of a drum kit, smashed to smithereens, lay at my feet while an out of control percussion cymbal careered across the dance floor.

For a few months in the mid-Eighties, the Jesus and Mary Chain briefly rivalled the Sex Pistols for notoriety, as tales of 15 minutes sets, drunken shenanigans and riots set them on a collision course with anybody daft enough to lock horns with them.

"It's funny, we were never really the sort of band that was ever going to play the game and that upset some people," said Jim. "We were the odd ones out. That's going to be written on our tombstones.

"If you came to see the Mary Chain, it was something that would stay with you for a while.

"I remember hearing the Ramones and it was a sledgehammer to the forehead, and that's what those early gigs were like.

"We deliberately pressed buttons, I suppose.

"We knew we were winding people up. I mean, it was a lot less to do with the music at that time, we could hardly play.

"It was as loud as hell because if we turned it down people would be going, "those guys can't play a note.'

He added: "The Mary Chain never really felt like part of anything, though.

"We were always outsiders, even back in the day when we were on Top of the Pops.

"We did feel marginalised and angry and it still feels like that today when I look around at what's going on in the country.

"Everything seems so polarized. It is like we've gone back in a time machine to Margaret Thatcher's Britain."

Now the Mary Chain have returned with their first LP in 19 years, Damage and Joy, and the opener – the hypnotic Amputation – could have come straight from the badlands of 1980s East Kilbride.

"We started to – can you believe? – listen to each other a bit more," explains Jim. "In the last couple of years, we've buried the hatchet to some degree, and thankfully not in to each other.

"Most people who know us would say that we haven't mellowed that much.

"I think it was to do with the fact, dare I say it, that wisdom comes with age.

"Let's live and let live, and let's take each other's opinions into account."

But without that friction, Jim admits, the Jesus and Mary Chain parable could have steered a completely different course.

"To a large extent that was the engine of the band, it was the fuel really and it would have been a whole lot boring without that.

"It was difficult to deal with, but was it worth it? Probably."

Killing Joke's Youth produced the album, out next week, contributing bass and diplomacy to proceedings during sessions in London, Dublin, and Youth's own studio in Granada, Spain.

"I was worried about it as I wasn't sure how it was going to go with William," added Jim.

"I wasn't sure whether the claustrophobic environment of the recording studio was going to be too much, and there would be World War Three between us.

"It turned out not to be that way."

He added: "We never really spoke about it, but from my point of view if we had messed this one up through petty bickering, then it would have been all over for good."

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Manchester Academy, Saturday, March 25. Details from 0161 232 1639