Rick Buckler The Stick Master.Written by Matteo Sedazzari
After being absent from the public eye for over a decade, Rick Buckler is back where he rightfully belongs. Playing the drums with a new band called The Gift. A live outfit that perform hits from Rick’s former band The Jam.
The press and public’s attitude towards The Gift is divided. Some are claiming it is a rehash of the glory days of The Jam. Whilst others areturning out in their droves to hear the powerhouse sound of the Woking trio once more.
The Jam, Rick Buckler (drums), Bruce Foxton (bass guitar & vocals) and Paul Weller (guitar & lead vocals) came to prominence in April 1977. Then their debut single ‘In The City’ stormed into the charts on an unsuspecting public.
The Jam rose from the ashes of the 1976 punk movement, after learning their trade from the workingmen’s clubs of Surrey in the early seventies. From this fascinating foundation, The Jam went on to became one of the biggest and best bands the UK has ever known.
The Jam’s reign lasted from 1977 to1982. A five-year period in which they achieved four number one singles, five top ten albums and numerous sell out tours. World domination seemed to beckon, until founder member Paul Weller called it a day in the autumn of 1982.
The fans were devastated. A band that had meant so much to a generation would be no more. The party was over and for a while, the UK charts seemed bland without the sound of The Jam.
So what made the Jam special? Top of the list, the music. Well-crafted, melodic and anthemic tunes that captured the essence of youth and the frustration of living in the modern world. The battle cry of ‘All around the World’ is a perfect example of their pent up anger.
The Jam sung haunting ballads of undeclared love for beauty, the sensitivity of the song ‘Fly’ will move you close to tears. They blasted out tunes like ‘A Town called Malice’, a soulful and poppy number with acute observation, which gave mundane existences meaning. The Jam provided no answers they only raised questions.
The music was backed by The Jam’s respect for the Mods of the sixties. A counter culture driven by sharp and dapper clothing, speeding at all nighters with a love for soul music. Mods would bomb around town on a Vespa or Lambretta scooter, in their trademark fishtail parkas.
Paul Weller discovered the Mod identity at the tender age of fifteen, via a K-TEL album containing the track ‘My Generation’ by The Who. From this moment onward, Paul Weller used Mod as The Jam’s template and driving force.
Incidentally Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton did not share Paul Weller’s enthusiasm for the Mod culture. However, the rhythm section soon realised, by dressing as a stylish gang who cared about their appearance, the songs were given more substance. The Jam became a force to be reckoned with.
The fans were only too happy to appreciate the original Mods. Soon up and the down the UK kids were turning to the clothes and the music of the sixties for inspiration. With The Jam gigs becoming their Nirvana.
Three young men on stage, taking on the whole world. Performing each song like their life depended on it. Paul Weller playing the guitar and singing with guts and anger, Bruce Foxton leaping about and driving the crowd into a frenzy. All backed by the powerful and dramatic drumming of Rick Buckler.
A beautiful tension filled the venue, as The Jam connected on an ‘aggressive spiritual’ level with their loyal fans. Many fans donning the parkas of their predecessors, a Mod revolution was happening for one night only.
Fans would leave the gig drenched in sweat, cooled down by the breeze of the night. With The Jam’s encore ringing through their ears as they faced the possibility of an ambush by Skinheads on the journey home. An unforgettable evening, not for the faint hearted.
When The Jam officially spilt in 1982, Paul, Bruce and Rick went their separate ways. It has often been said that every fan can remember where he/she was when they heard the news.
Since 1982 only Paul Weller’s career has flourished, with The Style Council and his solo act. Whilst Bruce and Rick have been in a variety of bands, they never again attained the success of The Jam. However Bruce is playing bass with Stiff Little Fingers and Simon Townsend’s new band The Casbah Club. Whilst Rick has gone back to where it all begun, a band for the new and old fans, playing Jam songs. A gift, hence the name, The Gift.
At ZANI, we thought it would be perfect to chat to the unsung hero of the best fxxkin’ band in the world, to see what Rick Buckler has to say about his life, The Jam and The Gift.
ZANI - I understand that you are now playing the drums in a Jam tribute band, The Gift, named after the Jam’s final album. How’ s that going?
Rick Buckler - Let me stop you there for a second. You could say that Paul Weller is a tribute band as he plays Jam’s songs. If that is the case then fair enough, we are a tribute band. Since I was a member of the original band, I don’t see that I am paying tribute to myself. Many people are labelling The Gift as a tribute band, as it is the easiest tack to take.
ZANI - OK, let’s rephrase the first question. You are now playing Jam songs without Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller. How does that feel?
Rick Buckler - Well, I am used to that. It has been a long time since the three of us have played together.
ZANI - How did The Gift come about?
Rick Buckler - Two things have been bugging me for a long time. First, when I was playing the Jam’s final concert in Brighton. I was mentally ticking off the songs as we played them, thinking this is the last time I will be playing these numbers. Second, I have been hassled by people to start playing the drums again. I haven’t played them for twelve years One day I gave into my friend Johnny Warman, and asked him to book a rehearsal room. The rehearsal ignited the fun element of playing. I started to get itchy feet to gig again.
ZANI – The Jam’s music has been kept alive, thanks to numerous CD’s and websites of the band.
Rick Buckler - I used to put on gigs for The Jam website I run, mainly around the Guildford and Woking area. It’s from these gigs that I met The Gift’s front man Russell Hastings. We both thought it would be good for the fans, for me to go out and start playing Jam songs again.
ZANI - Even though the original band spilt in 1982. There are many tribute bands of The Jam around, which captures the live fortitude of the band.
Rick Buckler - Some of the tribute bands are playing the songs well, and some are playing the songs not so well.
ZANI – What Jam tribute bands do you like?
Rick Buckler - The first time tribute band I saw, was The Jamm. The original line impressed me. Even though I was at every Jam gig, I never saw The Jam play. I have seen The New Jam Age and the American tribute band All Mods Cons.Which I find it a bit strange having a tribute band from the States, as The Jam never cracked the States.
ZANI – What do you have planned for The Gift?
Rick Buckler - There are many plans, but none have been confirmed. We have an agent now and for the foreseeable future, we are trying to get as many gigs as we possibly can, just keep your eye on the website for gigs. We may be coming to your town, very soon.
ZANI – What Jam songs do The Gift play?
Rick Buckler - Loads, it’s an hour and a half set. Going Underground,Funeral Pyre, Man in the Corner Shop, and Dream Time. You’ll have to come to one of our gigs, and see for yourself. It’s a great show.
ZANI – Is The Gift receiving a warm reception at the gigs?
Rick Buckler - It’s been brilliant and I am enjoying it.
ZANI – You stated earlier you haven’t played the drums for twelve years.What were you doing during this time?
Rick Buckler - I was restoring antique furniture, which I enjoyed.
ZANI – Do you still restore antique furniture?
Rick Buckler - No, I don’t, but I still have a workshop and all the tools. I have always liked carpentry. I built my first drum kit whilst at school, but it didn’t last very long.
ZANI – Due to intensive playing?
Rick Buckler - No, they were poorly made.
ZANI – How did your website for The Jam come about?
Rick Buckler - I saw many Jam related websites on the Internet A lot of them didn’t have all the information on their site. As I had all the information on The Jam, I thought it would be fitting to have my own website for the fans.
ZANI – There is a lot of rare photos, backstage passes and other odds and sods on The Jam on your site. It’s good.
Rick Buckler - Thanks. I taught myself how to design a website. A few people saw my site and asked me to design their web site.
ZANI – You’re a web designer?
Rick Buckler - Yeah, I done that for about four to five years. However, I got fed up with web design. Even though it’s quite creative, you don’t do anything. You just sit there all day long in front of a PC, I was starting to put weight on and chain smoke. The money was good, but it became very tedious in the end. This brings us back to the itch I was getting to play the drums again.
ZANI - Now you are going back to the grass roots of gigging?
Rick Buckler - That’s right. The first gig that The Gift done was in Southampton, which was obviously my first gig in twelve years. I was very apprehensive about playing that night. I did not know how we would go down. I knew that there would be scepticism about me playing Jam songs. On the other hand, I really didn’t give a shit about what anyone thought. I was just going to play to the best of my ability and enjoy the gig. With the way the gigs have been successful, we would like to include our own material in the set.
ZANI – Are The Gift looking for a record deal?
Rick Buckler - Sort of, I would like to document what The Gift is doing. We are going to record the next two gigs that we play. Mix them up into an albums worth of material and put the songs out onto a CD.
We have serious interest from management now, which may do something for The Gift. But it is too early to discuss. However, to clinch a record deal, having our own material would be a huge benefit.
ZANI – Who will be writing the songs?
Rick Buckler - The songs will be written between the three members of The Gift. It will be a democratic process, as opposed to what The Jam was. All though Bruce and me contributed heavily to a lot of The Jam’s stuff. We never were paid for it and we were never credited for it. This is a real shame. There are only one or two tracks that Bruce and I ever got writing credit for.
ZANI – Funeral Pyre being one of them.
Rick Buckler - That was unavoidable. Bruce and me wrote the backing track first, before the vocals were done. Me, Bruce and Paul Weller, did most of the arrangement on The Jam’s stuff. Yet, Paul copped most of the writing credits. At the time, Bruce and me just let it go.
ZANI – Do you regret that now?
Rick Buckler - In a way, not totally. It would have been nice if Paul had given us the credit I think we deserved. With The Jam we were always into pushing the limits, and to see what a three piece could do. There were all sorts of musical experimentations in The Jam. Be it a steel band or a horn section. When you look at a set of credits on an album by The Jam. You see Paul’s name against all the song-writing credits, it’s easy for someone to assume that it must have been Paul Weller who wrote all the songs. That couldn’t be further from the truth. However, most of The Jam fans know this. It’s a bit frustrating for me, probably a bit more for Bruce. However, things have turned out that way.
ZANI - Moving onto the early days with The Jam. You joined the band in 1973. What music were you listening to around this period?
Rick Buckler - Deep Purple, Zeppelin, David Bowie. Heavy rock I suppose. When I joined The Jam, it was Paul, who turned me on to people like Chuck Berry. As that was the sort of music The Jam were playing in 1973.
We were playing mainly covers in the working men’s clubs around the Woking area. There would be a few Kinks numbers here and there. Paul Weller was really getting the bands of the sixties. He didn’t care much for the mega rock and glam rock bands around at the time, neither did the other members of The Jam.
ZANI - Was your first meeting with Paul Weller, really at a train station when he was stoned with early Jam member Steve Brooks?
Rick Buckler - They were probably stoned, but I don’t think it was a train station. We used to hang around together, as we used to take over a music room at Sheerwater Comprehensive. Anyone who could play an instrument would turn up and play along.
ZANI – A Jam?
Rick Buckler - Exactly, that’s how I met Paul. You jammed with the people who had similar tastes in music. I think we hit it off musically. There was a rock guitarist at these sessions. No one wanted to play with him, so he would sit in a corner jamming on his own.
ZANI – Were you and Paul Weller ever tempted to jam with him?
Rick Buckler - No.
ZANI - In the early days of The Jam, the band had several line up changes. Steve Brookes, Dave Waller, and Neil Harris, to name a few. Why was that?
Rick Buckler - Every signed or unsigned band goes through line up changes. At one point, The Jam even had a piano player. Originally, the Steve Brooks and Paul Weller duo would play acoustic guitars and do cover versions around Woking. They got a drummer in, Neil ‘bomber’ Harris. However, that didn’t last too long.
ZANI – How come?
Rick Buckler - Neil Harris decided to go on holiday, and they had Sheerwater youth club booked for a gig. This gig meant everything to Steve and Paul, and it does when you’re a teenager. As Paul knew me from the lunchtime jam sessions at school, he asked me to play the gig. Neil Harris got back from his holiday to find himself out of a job.
ZANI – How did Bruce Foxton join the band?
Rick Buckler - Bruce joined a year after me. He was asked to join the band by Steve Brooks and Paul Weller, as a rhythm guitarist, whilst Paul was playing bass.
ZANI – In The Jam’s early days, the band had a regular slot at a club called Michaels in Woking. Was it The Jam’s equivalent to The Beatles and The Star Club in Hamburg?
Rick Buckler - I suppose you could say that. Michaels was a drinking hole, full of lively characters. We turned up one day to play and found that an unhappy punter had shot off the front door. Behind the stage was a gambling den and downstairs was a strip show. It was an eye opener for us kids. We used to look forward to playing at Michaels.
ZANI - When you joined, did you think that The Jam would become one of the UK’s biggest bands?
Rick Buckler - Everyone who joins a band dreams they are going to make it big. I was no different.
ZANI - Things started taking off for The Jam in 1976, around the punk rock explosion. Did you like the energy of this movement?
Rick Bucker - What I liked about punk was that it bought music back to the smaller and local venues, gave them life again. DIY music if you like. People started to look in their own backyard for a good band.
ZANI – Could The Jam sense there was an energy coming from other bands in 1976?
Rick Buckler - No, we were oblivious to it. The Jam was doing what every young band was doing at the time. Sending out demo tapes to the record companies and getting no reply. We knew our cassette was in the A and R guy’s bin, because he was looking for the next Genesis. The Jam would never be that.
As well, as going through line up changes, our sound changed a lot over the years. The early stuff we were writing when Steve Brooks was in the band was very twee early Beatles sounding music. We were going round in circles, we needed to find something fresh and exciting. Out of frustration, we thought we would gig in London and stop playing the working means clubs in Surrey.
Then we realised there was no money in the London gigs, but it was good for prestige. Paul saw the Pistols one night and he was going to start writing a different song for himself. And his song writing changed a great deal from that moment onwards. The Jam started to take shape. Co founder of The Jam, Steve Brooks had left by now. As had other members of the band. The Jam in 1976 was me, Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller.
Bruce had been playing rhythm guitar, but when Paul found out he couldn’t sing and play bass at the same time. Paul and I persuaded Bruce to play bass and Paul took up the six string.
ZANI – It was a long journey to get to The Jam, that we now remember.
Rick Buckler - It certainly was.
ZANI – Was it the gig at Soho Market in 1976 that got The Jam signed and was the Clash in attendance?
Rick Buckler - The Clash were there, they lived in a squat nearby and strolled past as we were playing. The Jam went to Soho Market with the sole purpose to be arrested. Which would lead to some coverage in the papers. No one was writing anything interesting about The Jam. The NME, Melody Maker, and Sounds, they saw us as just another band from the punk rock scene.
We set up and started playing. Hoping it would annoy someone so much that they would complain and we would be nicked. The Old Bill did turn up, but they just watched the show. They didn’t even ask us to turn the music down. We had to play our set twice, as we ran out of numbers to play. So, we got fed up, packed up and went back to Woking.
ZANI – A barrel of laughs on the journey back?
Rick Buckler - Not really.
ZANI – Chris Parry from Polydor didn’t sign The Jam straight after the Soho Market gig?
Rick Buckler - Shortly afterwards we signed with Polydor. It’s a myth that we were signed because of Soho Market. Even though The Jam didn’t have much press at the time, we had interest from record companies such as CBS, Chiswick and of course Polydor. Chiswick offered us £600.00 and free use of the PA. During Punk, all the major record companies were under a lot of pressure to sign acts. With or without punk, The Jam still would have been signed.
ZANI – Why?
Rick Buckler - It’s simple. The Jam were a good band.
ZANI - The Jam’s first album ‘In the City’ was well received, in terms of sales and critical acclaim. However, the follow up album ‘This is a Modern World’ had mediocre success. Polydor rejected the demos for The Jam’s third album. Did you think at this point, that The Jam might be over and you could be looking for another band to join?
Rick Buckler - No, I was going to stick with The Jam, through thick and thin. It was strange times around the recording of the third album. Making ‘In the City’ was a stroll in the park. It was just a matter of recording the songs we had been playing live on the circuit in 1976 and early 1977.
With ‘This is a Modern World, Paul reverted to The Beatles’ style of music. He started to write in a similar manner. I don’t think people were expecting songs of this ilk, after ‘In The City’. In retrospect, I think ‘This is a Modern World’ is a great album. There are many good songs on it. At the time, Polydor would have been happier with another ‘In The City’ type sound for the next album.
ZANI – I love ‘Life from a window’ from ‘This is a Modern World’. An underrated Jam song.
Rick Buckler - My point exactly. After ‘This is a Modern World’, it was vital that we got the third album perfect. “If a band doesn’t make it by their third album, then they are never going to make it.” The pressure was now on. We recorded some tracks for the third album. Chris Parry, the man who signed us for Polydor, took us to one side and said it was a load of shit. We knew in our hearts of hearts, he was right.
We knew we had to get our act together and from that point, all three of us pulled together like hell to get a decent album out. Bruce and me started doing a lot of work on getting the musical arrangements right. Being in a three-piece band, there isn’t a lot of directions you can go in. It’s OK having a song, but you have to make a three-piece band work to maximum effect.
This is hard to do. Bruce drew on his rhythm guitar influences, bringing his style of bass to the forefront. His bass sound started to shine out, and still does. The pressure wasn’t just on Paul Weller to write the songs. All three of us had to come up with something that sounded fantastic. There was a lot of soul searching and hard work, it paid off. Chris Parry done us a massive favour by telling us the demos for the third album were shit.
ZANI – One famous song from the failed demos was ‘ I want to paint’. Does the song exist?
Rick Buckler - Many of those songs were reinvented. The musical parts were rewritten and the titles changed.
ZANI - After the success of ‘All Mod Cons’, would it be fair to say that Polydor shifted their marketing attentions from another Polydor act Sham 69 to The Jam?
Rick Buckler - At the beginning, Sham 69 were what you might call the ‘gimmick single’ band, aiming for the charts. The Jam were never interested in the gimmick single just for the sake of getting into the charts.
For instance, when ‘Tube Station’ was released as a single. We chose it on the basis that it was the song we would never choose as a single. We wrote a list of songs that we would like to release, like ‘Billy Hunt’. One track that was constantly left out was ‘Tube Station’. We said that is the single. Anti thinking from The Jam.
ZANI – We are pleased that you did. Another great Jam single from the late seventies was ‘Strange Town’.
Rick Buckler - The live version of ‘Strange Town’, was probably the best thing that we ever did. I have great memories of The Jam playing live.
ZANI - The Jam live was a truly momentous occasion. Did you enjoy touring and what was life like on the road?
Rick Buckler - It was good fun. The day times were a bit boring, getting over hangovers, being grouchy. Getting Paul out of bed and out the hotel was always a problem. Paul would get on the tour coach, hung over and fall asleep. He didn’t want anything loud or noisy going on.
All you could hear in the back of the tour coach was Bruce opening a bottle of Pils lager. Paul and Bruce would drink all day long, I couldn’t drink in the day. At the end of the gig, I had some catching up to do. I would down two bottles of red wine, then head to the bar to join the rest of the band.
ZANI – The Jam liked a drink then?
Rick Buckler - Oh yes.
ZANI - What was your favourite tour and why?
Rick Buckler - Touring Britain was a lot more fun than aboard. It was nice to go abroard and see the sights. Going to Japan and the States for the first time was brilliant. We always loved coming back to Britain. The British audience were the best, especially in the North. Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, but not so much London. There was always an element of snobbery in London.
ZANI - What used to go through your head when you were sitting behind the drum kit at a gig?
Rick Buckler - Enjoying what I was doing and trying to get it right every night.
ZANI – With the Gift, do you still do your trademark of throwing the drumsticks into the crowd?
Rick Buckler - No, I had a couple of nasty experiences with that, people clocking a drumstick on the head. I don’t fancy getting sued.
ZANI - ‘All Mod Cons’ was released in 1978, and two years later The Jam got their first number one single with ‘Going Underground’. The Jam were touring in the States when this happened. Was there euphoria amongst The Jam’s entourage that night?
Rick Buckler - It was a shock when we got to number one, otherwise we wouldn’t have been in the States. We knew Going Underground would do well. We had a good drink that night. However, everyone wanted to be back in Britain. We made out we had all come down with a virus. We cancelled the rest of the tour of the States. We flew back to Britain on Concorde, to record ‘Going Underground’ on Top of The Pops for the following week.
ZANI – The famous Jam appearance with Paul Weller wearing the apron. Please tell us why the apron?
Rick Buckler - I really don’t know why the apron. I don’t think we will ever know.
ZANI – Was it now The Jam’s agenda to be number one with each new release?
Rick Buckler – That was a frightening concept. Once we got to number one, we thought where the hell does it go now? We quickly concluded, who gives a fuck. The charts were OK, but it is just a pat on the back gesture.
ZANI - Before the days of MTV and reruns of music shows. The Jam’s appearances on Top of The Pops were religiously watched by countless youths across the UK. What was your favourite TOTP appearance with The Jam?
Rick Buckler - None, we didn’t enjoy any of them. We loathed Top of The Pops, because the show was and still is, only based around single sales.
ZANI - The Beatles had Brian Epstein, The Stones had Andrew Oldham, and The Jam had John Weller. All three are amazing and charismatic managers, and without any doubt their respective bands owe a great deal of success to them.
The Jam fans adored John Weller, for his famous intro “Put your hands together for the best fucking band in the world, the Jam!” What was John Weller like to work with?
Rick Buckler – Difficult question to answer. John wasn’t a professional manager, he was with The Jam purely on the fact that he was Paul Weller’s dad. When we first signed to Polydor, Polydor turned round to John and said, “We don’t want you managing the band.” This Statement shocked all of us. Out of loyalty to John, we refused to sign to Polydor unless John Weller was The Jam’s manager.
Before The Jam were signed, John Weller had been with the band for the five years. John was the man who would get us the gigs, the van, and the musical equipment. We were not going to dump him on the advice of someone from a record company, who we didn’t know from Adam. Polydor agreed, but issued us with who they wanted to act as the lawyers and accountants. John Weller took the advice from these people on what we should and should not do as a band. I am pleased that he did, as John, Paul, Bruce, and me knew nothing about the music industry. We were just a bunch of lads from Woking.
ZANI – What was your favourite Jam Album to work on?
Rick Buckler - Maybe Setting Sons, Bruce and I would spend hours every day working out arrangements. If you listen to the arrangement on ‘Burning Sky’, so many changes to a different rhythm or bass line. I think at this point The Jam were getting a bit too over complicated.
Setting Sons was a great album to do. The songs were a lot more crafted than previous albums. A lot more thought went into the songs, maybe too much thought in some respects.
ZANI - Was The Jam becoming self-indulgent at this stage?
Rick Buckler - You could say that. The next thing to do was to walk away from that and go back to something simpler. Which we done with the following album, Sound Affects.
ZANI - The Jam had a special relationship with their fans. You used to let fans into sound checks and some of your recording sessions. Why do think that was or what fans really stand out for you?
Rick Buckler - Nearly all of them. A lot of them wouldn’t just go to theirlocal gig, they would follow the band around. I remember four or five guys from England flew over to the States to see us, with every penny they had managed to raise. Bruce and me used to let these guys sleep on the floor in our hotels rooms.
They went to every gig we done in the States and by the time we were at Los Angeles, they had run out of money. The Jam paid for them to get home. We got to know many of the fans on a personal level. We could go out and we were never bugged. The fans would just come up to us and chat. There was never a ‘them and us’ attitude, with The Jam and the fans. That was fantastic.
With the sound checks, it was a bit of a chuckle to let the fans in for nothing. We knew the venue owner and the promoter didn’t like it. The fans would hide in the toilets, waiting for the gig to start. The venue owners would go in there with a broom to sweep them out.
ZANI - If The Jam had a fourth member, who was it?
Rick Buckler – That’s a difficult question. There were many people in the background of the Jam on tour, who were equally as important. There was more of a team spirit within the tour staff, as opposed to having a fourth member of The Jam.
ZANI - In 1982, The Jam were the biggest band in the UK. Was it a shock to the system when Paul Weller decided to call it a day and split The Jam up?
Rick Buckler - Yes, It was a shock. We had spent 10 years getting to where we wanted to be. The graft was beginning to pay off, money was starting to come in. Up until this point of our career, The Jam was never a rich band.
Prime example, we had just recorded our first number one with ‘Going Underground’ at the Top of the Pops studios in Shepherds Bush. After the show, I drove home in an 11-year-old Volvo. It broke down outside their main entrance. I tried to fix it, but had no luck. I went to back to the studio, covered in grease, asking to borrow the phone. It was embarrassing, there was I with a number one record, and I couldn’t even afford a decent car.
ZANI - You wasted no time after the demise of The Jam, by forming Time UK with singer/songwriter Jimmy Edwards. Did you enjoy being in Time UK?
Rick Buckler - Yes I did. It was strange working with different musicians. Exciting times mixed with trepidation, Time UK done reasonably well. The trouble was when Time UK formed in the early eighties. The whole music industry had changed. There was a preference for keyboards and synthesizers, as opposed to the traditional Pop combo.
ZANI - How would you describe Time UK’s sound?
Rick Buckler - A guitar based band. We didn’t have the time to evolve into anything else.
ZANI - You, Jimmy Edwards and Bruce Foxton formed ‘Sharp’ after Time UK. Was it nice to work with Bruce again?
Rick Buckler - It was OK. However, things started falling apart for one reason and another. Other things started to become a priority, mainly my family. I became down with the whole process of being in a band. I wanted a break from the music industry. It was good for me to walk away from that scene. Maybe I have been away a bit longer than I originally planned.
ZANI - Are you still in touch with Bruce?
Rick Buckler - Yes. I went to his 50th birthday party. We will always be mates. It’s odd that Paul Weller will not talk to us anymore. Considering all the time we had spent together before the spilt. Unfortunately, Bruce and I had to take John and Paul Weller to court after The Jam spilt, over unpaid royalties. We didn’t want to go to court, but it’s water under the bridge now. Time to move on.
ZANI – Would you like to speak to Paul Weller again?
Rick Buckler - I don’t care about him anymore and it’s obvious he doesn’t care about us anymore. Especially when Paul Weller says things like “We were never mates”. I would like to know what Paul Weller’s definition of the word ‘mates’ is? The Jam were great musical mates. When we were on stage, we got on brilliantly. Even off stage, we got on. We had disagreements, but who doesn’t? Nevertheless, we always sorted it out. The main thing on our minds was the band and the music. Everything else was bollocks. That is what kept The Jam going.
ZANI - Did you know that there is Jam bootlegs of early demos from 1975 to 1976, going around?
Rick Buckler - I am always getting Jam bootlegs sent to me. I am in favour of them, as it keeps the band alive.
ZANI – Great for the fans to hear rare gems, such as ‘Left, Right and Centre’, ‘Soul dance’ and a pub rock version of ‘Non Stop dancing’. It gives the fans a better understanding of how The Jam sound developed.
Rick Buckler - Exactly.
ZANI - Finally Rick, what is your fondest memory?
Rick Buckler - I have many fond memories. One in particular, when I was living at home with my mum and dad, and John Weller phoned me to say that we had a record deal. There were many moments like that in The Jam.
I also cherish the first time moments.
Getting to number one for the first time.
Going to the States for the first time.
Going to a recording studio for the first time.
Dumping my eleven-year old Volvo and buying a new car in cash for the first time.
The Jam was always on the way on up, never on the down, right up until the spilt.
Beautiful Rick, beautiful.
Before this interview, colleagues had informed us that Rick Buckler was a ‘good bloke.’ And we can gladly confirm that their analysis is correct. Rick, to use layman terms is ‘the salt of the earth,’ an interesting, intelligent and insightful individual.
He turned his back on the world of music and sought a new career. That takes strength and courage. However, like the man said himself, he got itchy feet to return to his passion of playing the drums and being in a band.
At first ZANI were dismissive about The Gift. However, since conducting this interview, rereading Paolo Hewitt’s Jam biography ‘ A Beat Concerto’ and listening to countless live bootlegs of The Jam, curiosity and nostalgia has the better of us. Therefore, the next time The Gift is playing near our town, we shall be there and post a review on ZANI. Is there anything wrong in spending a night listening to great music of a great band, performed by one of the original members? No, is the simple answer.
Of course The Jam has officially ended and the likelihood of a reform seems impossible. For the record, ZANI do not want The Jam to reform. Yet with Jam-related websites, biographies, tribute bands, bootleg CD’s, Polydor’s umpteenth Jam compilation releases and Paul, Bruce and Rick performing Jam song’s respectively in their new projects, the soul and the spirit of The Jam lives on.
However, the final chapter of The Jam is sad. Three men that once produced great songs are no longer talking to each other. Well, Bruce and Rick are talking, but Paul has not spoken to the others for over twenty years. During this period, there has been a bitter and heated court battle. This may have burnt whatever bridges they had remaining. We do not know what went on behind closed doors, we will probably never know. Moreover, if we have too much information, the magic fades away. Because all we need to know about The Jam, is top of the list on what makes The Jam special, the music.
©Matteo Sedazzari / ZANI