The mu­si­cal mo­ments that s shaped Paul Weller’s life.

Q (UK) - - Paul Weller -

In The Be­gin­ning, There Was The Bea­tles…

“Watch­ing The Bea­tles on the Royal Va­ri­ety Per­for­mance… I can still see it now, that lit­tle screen at home. That was it for me, from then on. I loved ev­ery­thing they did. Wher­ever their heads were at, they were try­ing to take us with them. And it wasn’t just the mu­sic; they opened up my mind to a life out­side of who I was and where I lived. It made me see what the other pos­si­bil­i­ties were, for which I’m eter­nally grate­ful. It was only through tour­ing that I ever trav­elled. The first time I flew was to play a fes­ti­val. The fur­thest I’d been be­fore that was fuck­ing Wales to visit a rel­a­tive. Not just ma­te­ri­al­is­ti­cally, but ev­ery­thing I’ve got has all come from mu­sic. It’s opened my mind to dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties and I might not have had that. When you come from a nor­mal sub­ur­ban work­ing-class back­ground, you’re lucky if you see be­yond the city walls or the in­side of a pub. It all came from mu­sic.”

The Birth Of The Mod­fa­ther

“I dipped out of the whole suede­head thing around ’ 72, ’ 73. I’d started the band by that time, so I kind of lost track of all that scene. But it was a few years later, 1975, when I got my scooter. I bought a [ Lam­bretta] GP 150 and that was it for me. I bought a K-Tel record, which is a lit­tle cheapo la­bel that used to do com­pi­la­tions, it was the sound­track to some film and there were a cou­ple of Who tracks on it. I’d never heard them in the ’ 60s, I don’t know why, and it just blew my head away. I hadn’t re­ally heard that sort of thing. Then I man­aged to get My Gen­er­a­tion the al­bum, which I thought was the best thing I’d ever heard… and then pro­ceeded to re­write it all for our first al­bum – sorry Pete! I caught the flavour of it and that was it re­ally. I was the only mod in Wok­ing, driv­ing around on my scooter with my parka on with ‘Mod Class A’ writ­ten in chalk on the back. Peo­ple thought I was mad, but in my mind I was the only per­son in Eng­land that was do­ing this. I prob­a­bly wasn’t, but it just caught my imag­i­na­tion. From that point on it’s been the start­ing point for ev­ery­thing I do. Back then, what foot­ball team you sup­ported,

what mu­sic you lis­tened to and how you dressed de­fined who you were. It’s still the same for me and will al­ways be the same for me. What­ever fuck­ing age I am.”

The Boy Looked At Johnny

“Even though I was old enough to ap­pre­ci­ate the mu­sic of the ’ 60s, I was too young to par­tic­i­pate in it so we felt like we missed the boat. Even into the mid-’ 70s there was still that hang­over from the ’ 60s. I went to a lot of gigs and peo­ple were still sat on the floor in denim, smok­ing dope with long hair and all that stuff, and it just seemed a bit anachro­nis­tic. There was noth­ing I could re­late to. So to see the Sex Pis­tols was a breath of fresh air, like, ‘Now is our time.’ And they were fuck­ing great. That whole thing that they couldn’t play was bull­shit. They were all great play­ers and their sound was great. I was 17 and pilled-up when I first saw them at the old Lyceum, it was fuck­ing bril­liant. It was like a mas­sive flare go­ing pkoooor­rrr! across the sky. At the two-day punk fes­ti­val at the 100 Club in ’ 76, I can dis­tinctly re­mem­ber walk­ing down the stairs, think­ing, ‘Wow, this is fuck­ing amaz­ing. It’s like all the sto­ries I’ve read about peo­ple go­ing to clubs in the ’ 60s’, but it was our time.”

Ab­so­lute Be­gin­ning

“I went to Italy, Sor­rento maybe, with my girl­friend at the time. That was when I kind of made my mind up that I was go­ing to leave The Jam. Read­ing Ab­so­lute Be­gin­ners, Colin MacInnes’s book, which re­ally is the roots of the whole mod­ernist thing, it sent me off even fur­ther into the mod thing, like a kind of mod purist. I just wanted to make mu­sic that would match that. I’d also had enough as well. The thought of be­ing in the same band for the rest of my life scared me. I take my hat off to peo­ple who have kept their bands to­gether, it’s not an easy thing to do to, but I didn’t fancy that at all. I was only young as well. I just thought, ‘What else is hap­pen­ing?’ I’d been in this band for 10 years and I wanted to stretch my­self, to see where else I could go with it, what else I could do. I don’t think we would’ve all gone to the place I wanted to go to to­gether. Mick [ Tal­bot] had played with us a cou­ple of times. I kind of vaguely knew him and re­ally liked his play­ing. And he knew his shit, he’s a proper clothes head like me as well. We had a lot of things in com­mon and he was up for try­ing what­ever. To­wards the end of ’ 82, I was al­ready mak­ing plans. It wasn’t long af­ter, early ’ 83, that we were in the stu­dio do­ing the first [ Style Coun­cil] sin­gle.”

Find­ing His Mojo

“A while af­ter The Style Coun­cil had split my old man said, ‘We’ve got to go back on the road.’ I was re­ally low and I didn’t miss it what­so­ever so I re­luc­tantly went back to earn some dosh. I wasn’t do­ing any­thing. I wasn’t a house hus­band, I was just at home do­ing fuck all. It was a shock to find my­self at 32 and ev­ery­thing was all over. I had no idea what I was go­ing to do with the rest of my life: ‘I’m not a mu­si­cian any more, I don’t write any more, I don’t play any more and I’m not good at any­thing else. I’ve got no fuck­ing chance of get­ting an­other sort of job.’ I wasn’t skint, but I wasn’t a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire ei­ther. At 32, what do you do for the rest of your life? Fuck knows. Es­pe­cially com­ing out of that ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in The Jam and all the rest of it. So that was kind of weird, to say the least. I was fuck­ing use­less as a band leader be­cause I had no idea what I was do­ing. We floun­dered and man­aged to get through a few tours – we did one in Europe play­ing to a hand­ful of peo­ple, then came back to Eng­land to do small places. I re­mem­ber at Chip­pen­ham Gold­dig­gers there was maybe 200 peo­ple there. It’s only now with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight that I think that was a good les­son for me. It brought me back down to earth. It was only through work­ing and tour­ing that I found my­self and found my muse and got back into it and started writ­ing again for that first [ solo] al­bum. We went through quite a few dif­fer­ent line-ups just try­ing to find it, try­ing to find my mojo. It took a while though, fuck­ing hell.”

…And Again

“I was in a rut prior to 22 Dreams [ sleeve, be­low]. We did an aw­ful lot of tour­ing and we got great as a live band, but I could see how we could just carry on do­ing the same thing if we weren’t care­ful. I needed to liven things up a lit­tle bit. Just smash the pic­ture and re­ar­range it a bit. I was sur­prised at how well [ 22 Dreams] was re­ceived. I wasn’t mak­ing it for that rea­son, it was just pure in­dul­gence. I thought it was a present to my­self as I came up to my 50th to do ex­actly what I wanted. The fact that peo­ple re­ally warmed to that record was re­ally en­cour­ag­ing and helped spur me on to try other things. But there’s also a nat­u­ral quest­ing spirit, to try dif­fer­ent things and see what works and what doesn’t work. You have to go with what feels nat­u­ral and if the songs are flow­ing you go with them. If the songs come knock­ing at your door, you have to go and fuck­ing an­swer it. Be­cause you never know when that might stop. There might be an­other time when you don’t feel like that.”

“I was 17 when I first saw the Sex Pis­tols, pilled-up at the old Lyceum. It was fuck­ing bril­liant.”

“They opened up my mind...” The Bea­tles at the Royal Va­ri­ety Per­for­mance, Lon­don, 1963.

“It was our time...” Sex Pis­tols set the world alight in 1976.

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