Thank you to Fiona Cartridge of, The Sign of the Times, shop in Kensington Market. She sweet talked Weller into talking to us. It caused a sensation to the point, that in an attempt to try to get the interview off me, "The Face", invited me to their office. I am still proud to this day to say that I turned them down. I went on to write the sleeve notes for , The Greatest Hits of The Jam. Then Paolo Hewitt stepped in, becoming the official sleeve note writer for, The Jam, and the, Style Council, compilation albums......fair enough.
Remember, Paul Weller's career at this point was in limbo. I like to think the affection and understanding of fans, like the Boys About Town fanzine and myself, contributed slightly in Paul, re-launching a highly successful solo career. Please note, Weller mentions, The Soul Stylist book, this didn't actually surface for another 12 years. Enjoy this great piece from the Positive Energy of Madness archives.
Over the last 13 years Paul Weller has been as a contemporary artist. Once nicknamed by the music press as “the spokesman of a generation” due to his concern and interest for young peoples’ welfare. Weller was founder member, lead singer and main songwriter of The Jam. One of Britain’s major bands, their songs were full of gutsy lyrics, backed up with a defined rhythmical guitar sound, riff style bass –lines and powerful drums.
They sang about England, the class struggle, nuclear war, egoists love affairs, racism and unity. These topics have to be sung with caution. If they are not handled with care, they come across as very corny. However Paul Weller sang the songs with a pure honest sound (an English soul voice) backed with the Jam’s stylistic approach to the music world, clothes, attitude and outlook. They not only became a band but a phenomenon across the UK. A YOOF EXPLOSION! The Jam gave an intelligent argument.
Young people were not just listening to lyrics of pointless love affairs or how wonderful they were, but instead they showed an understanding of the world. Their gigs were in my personal opinion religious – like ceremonies. They gave their fans a personal feeling of achievement. When The Jam reached No.1 (which they did four times) it gave a Jam fan a feeling of pride, a kick in the guts to the sloppy music world. I remember when “A Town called Malice” reached No.1 , I walked to school with my head in the air , thinking this means more to me than a good report.
A feeling of unity was felt amongst The Jam Fans, a feeling of optimism. We had a desire to question our surroundings, a taste of style , my first lesson in real modernism. Then at their peak –“The Beat Surrender”- THE END, all over in the UK.
Tears rolled down the fan’s faces but there was an understanding that their career would come to an end, leaving a mark in the UK’s history, as one of the best bands ever.
That was in 1982, and shortly after, Paul Weller emerged again, teaming up with Mick Talbot to form The Style Council. It was break away from a rock’n roll/ new wave line up and a move into a more soulful, jazz, funk, rhythm and blues. The lyrics were still strong as ever. Again causing a reaction throughout the music world. Paul Weller’s feelings are positive on the success of both bands.
“The Jam were a good band however I feel that the Style Council were better. A lot of people I know will disagree with me. Some things we did with The Style Council were misinterpreted or over their heads”@Paul Weller’s success lay on a number of factors. His musical abilities (such as his unique guitar playing) His conscientious lyrics, youthful looks, honesty, outspokenness towards issues which a majority of people would reserve their opinion and his separation from the rest of the musical world.
Due to circumstances involving the rejection of the Style Council album , they spilt. Their last ever appearance was July 1989 at The Royal Hall, which caused a mixed reaction amongst fans and musical press alike. It was a concert that was a breakaway from the norm. an adventurous dance project, instead the fans wanted to hear “ Walls Come Tumbling Down”
Over the last 18 months no one has seen or heard Paul Weller’s actions. He has not done an interview for two years.
His onetime aggressive teenage fans, who are now in their 20’s felt that something was missing. When PEOM tracked him down, the man confessed all.
“I’ve left Polydor and my publishing deal. Polydor dropped our last album, which was called “A New Decade of Modernisms”. They have always been out of date and they felt it was too housey. Maybe it was a good thing it was dropped. But I feel they don’t understand. Their dance label “Urban” is just a token gesture”
Paul Weller feels bitter with the last remaining years of the Style Council.
“The Style Council should have ended 2- 3years ago, it was dragged on. I don’t know whether it was laziness, maybe I fell into a routine. The fire was missing. A good band should make a record because it wants to, not because it has to. I was pleased with the last released LP “Confessions of A Pop Group” however there seems to be a little magic missing on side 2.”
So with the Style Council dead and buried. Weller seems to me to have stopped, looked in the mirror and begun a fresh start.
“I’d like to think that I’ve changed for the better. Recently I’ve been playing on my strengths. I have realised that I am a good songwriter. There have been times in the past, when I didn’t like my voice. Recently I’ve felt very proud of it. I’m also proud of my guitar playing- not a formula but a natural style. I’m a musician , it’s in my blood. Growing older had made me see my faults, that is the beauty of age, you become mellow and wiser. Since my departure from Polydor, I’ve been time to breath. I’m not stuck in my compound.”
Paul Weller has always been known for an interest in other projects, such as producing. My personal feelings are that he might become more involved in the background work.
“I’ve co-produced the Style Council’s stuff but when I work with other people. I always feel I could do it better. Maybe I am too moody, too quick tempered. I have no interest in working on re-mixing projects. My next move is to bring out an album and a few dates towards the end of the year, under my name” I was surprised to hear that Paul Weller was pursuing a solo career.“I have always been a keen fan of band names, but I see this a reflection of myself, a new light. (He said with a childlike smile) .Paul Weller has always been known for his interest and understanding towards youth/music movements. His feelings towards the current scene are mixed.
“Well, it is obvious that something like this was going to happen. A natural cycle. I always thought it was strange everyone was taking acid and E in 1988, but it occurred because people got fed up with a scene created for them, not by them.”During this conversation, I asked if he thought there was a revival of new Mods (not 1979) “Possibly” he answered, “There may be aspects of mod spirit, but the late 80’s and early 90’s have a different environment. In the 60’s there was economical pressure”
“People are not afraid of change. Today, people seem to be beaten into submission. The circumstances of the 60’s were not golden. People still stuck in their council houses, still trying to make two ends meet. The drug taking is similar, but more on the negative side. In the 60’s you had hippies falling about on the floor on acid whilst for some people it opened doors. In the 60’s it was more of a movement. The student placing flowers in the gun – barrel”
"I’m not too much in favour of drugs. I’ve lost some very good friends due to drug taking such as Dave Waller. In the old times, when I took drugs I felt like a Catholic whipping myself. I was too intense, too serious. I am more relaxed and more open minded these days. Society is to blame; the pressure placed on people leads them to take drugs as a form of escapism”
“The drug aspect is a small percentage of what is going on. On the more positive side, the rise of exciting DJ’s, new clubs, fanzines, new bands, the remixing of records. Sadly, other creative projects such as actors, playwrights, illustrators have been unable to make a mark in this scene “Paul Weller has studied the development of bands, the music press, DJ’s and clubs.
“I’ve heard a couple of the Stone Roses tracks. I thought they were good but I am going to be biased because they look like Mods. I feel bands like The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays are just a reflection of what is. In the next six months there may be a new generation of bands, but they are yt to come” Maybe it is like the punk movement “I hope not. Punk was a load of crap.” (Weller ripping up the fanzine “Sniffin Glue” and shouting this is your bible and the little scrap with Sid Vicious)
“A lot of these bands have seemed to be a student buff band who gone out and bought their spiritual acid top. A classical case of jumping on the bandwagon. Punk was a white movement and so has this called Indie dance. The white rock press, who hated the club scene 2-3 years ago, now write it about. Now it’s their biggest selling point.” “Answer me this?” he says, pointing his finger at me in an aggressive manner. “The club scene is dying for a band. The music comes from black roots but why are the bands white with a Euro-white audience?”
“The club scene is good but personally speaking, I am more into the jazz scene. I feel it has more expression. I like high on Hope, Norman Jay, Giles Peterson. The club DJ’s such as Terry Farley, Andrew Weatherall I haven’t heard them yet. I went down to Shoom once expecting to see young people on acid, listening to “Kraft work” but I instead I enjoyed the club. I’ve heard Danny Ramplng on Kiss FN but only bits and pieces so I will reserve my opinion.
Something that is talked about is the influx to me. Rap is one of the musical banners which contains worthwhile lyrics” At this point in the discussion, a heated debate started up, when I stressed to him that I thought Rap contained a lot of racist and sexist lyrics. “Not true, from the new school of RAP such as Del La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, their lyrics are positive optimisms”
“Now the charts are dominated by dance music, but I feel this is a token gesture. Occasionally a racial song may filter through the net, but the charts are the lowest common denominator. There is a growth in the independent labels but in time the major will swallow them. They wish to have a monopoly on the record buying public” Weller raised the point that the charts were the lowest common denominator. Didn’t he feel that the charts have given him recognition as a songwriter? “Before “Going Underground went to No.1, I had recognition as a song writer. To me and The Jam it was a commercial success” Paul Weller and his 2 bands have never been great lovers of the lime-light and his relationship with the media ended some 2 years ago.
“I feel I have nothing to say to them anymore. The NME is purely a comic. I won’t fit into them and they won’t fit into me. I don’t know what I have in common with you (Meaning PEOM) but the girls in “Sign of The Times” persuaded me to do it. But your fanzine is a point of view from someone within the scene, not the outside. I would like to do something like Red Wedge again, but not for the Labour Party. I became disheartened with it all. I still have the same views, but how do you go about it?”
A few years back, Paul Weller started Riot-Stories (a publishing company) is there a likelihood of other projects? “I went a few publishing companies for a book called The Soul Stylists, It was going to be a chronicle history of counter-culture stemming from black music. From Mods to today. But the publishing companies didn’t think there was a market for it. But it would appeal to a widespread readership from first generation Mods, 70’s skinheads and today’s 18 year olds. But is this not a long cause. It is still in the pipeline. I feel intelligent enough to put my mind to other projects although I am rather lazy in that respect. I haven’t read a book in about 5 years”
So after an in depth chat with Paul Weller, he seems as strong as ever. Excited about his new projects and an objective of moving forward and not clinging to his past. Not moaning or becoming a beer-gut musician singing “In The City” at 50. I will leave him with the final words.“We must learn to live together, with the Gulf War crisis. People are aware of this factor, but we forget that 20 years ago we were supplying them. Peace is not a hippy liberalist view, but a point of survival”. Matteo Sedazzari/ ZANI