Thursday, 5 March 2015

Touring Bruce Foxton relieved The Jam feud over

There's a paradox many classic bands share that Morrissey once put into droll perspective. He still loved his old writing partner Johnny Marr, he told Q magazine in the bitter wake of the Smiths' implosion, "but I feel tremendous indifference to Bruce and Rick". 

The gag was that Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler weren't in the Smiths. They were in Paul Weller's old band, The Jam. 

Cruel? No more so than public perception. From song-writing credits to photo shoots and interviews to subsequent solo profile, the front man tends to be considered a more equal partner than his backline comrades. 

So when bassist Bruce Foxton steps out with a new band called From The Jam, faithfully performing songs by the Jam, eyebrows will naturally be raised. But only from a distance, he says, never the front of stage.  

"In the view of our audience and the people that bought our records, they still say at shows that the Jam were a three-piece band," he says. "Yes, Paul was the main songwriter, but a lot of those songs came about from my bass lines or Rick's drum patterns." 

It was youthful naivety that signed away their rights in that regard, he says. "But that's water under the bridge. Thankfully, in terms of money, we all did OK. I've got no gripe with Paul. A good time was had by all and we're still doing it." 

From The Jam included Buckler from 2005 until 2007, when the drummer "got a bee in his bonnet" and resigned from the touring revival show with an email that invited no further discussion. "He can be stubborn, Rick," Foxton says with evident regret. 

He also regrets Our Story, the book the pair published in 1994, at the height of their former singer's solo fame. "Publishers and ghostwriters … they wanna dish the dirt, don't they?" he says. 

"I suppose it was a little bit bitter at that time, [but] the book wasn't really that great. It was the sort of book you'd have in the toilet. It was a bit half-hearted … but thankfully it didn't do any long-term damage." 

It was in another toilet, backstage at a Who concert, that Weller and Foxton reunited after decades of estrangement several years ago. A pair of shared tragedies – the loss of Foxton's wife, Pat, to cancer; the death of Weller's father, John – dwarfed any lingering grievances. 

Weller later invited Foxton to play on his Wake Up the Nation album, and the favour was returned on Foxton's most recent, Back in the Room. 

It's not an un-Jam-like record, and several of its tunes have begun to fit seamlessly into the live act – which, for the record, Paul Weller has expressed no intention whatsoever of re-joining. Even if it sometimes sounds uncannily like he has. 

"He hasn't mimicked him, that's just the way Russ [Hastings] sings," Foxton says of his new front man. "But I must admit, every now and then it kicks in: 'Christ, you really do sound like Paul'." 

From The Jam plays the Prince Band Room, St Kilda, on March 6.

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