Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Paul Weller tells the BBC's Sarah Jane Griffiths, "I'm not doing the greatest hits show"


Paul Weller is not one for staying stuck in the past. He talks about his experimental new album Saturn's Pattern, coping with Glastonbury mud and embracing kale and clean living. 

"I wasn't sure what kind of album I wanted to make," says Weller of Saturn's Pattern. "But I knew what I didn't want to make. 

"It was a question of trying to find a different groove - something we hadn't done before." 

Weller's musical "experimenting" has served him well over the past 40 years, from his early days in The Jam, through The Style Council and onto what is now his 12th solo album. 

"There's all sorts of different influences. There's that spacey, psychedelic thing to it, but it's got quite a groovy, soulful R 'n' B thing as well." 

Weller's enthusiasm for his new material was evident at The Great Escape festival in Brighton over the weekend, where he performed for around 500 fans at Amazon's Secret Show. 

He mixed new songs with classics like Peacock Suit, From the Floorboards Up and Changingman. But one gig-goer requested loudly, more than once: "Play something from Wild Wood!" 

Weller tells the BBC: "I can understand people want to hear certain tunes or old tunes. 

"But I've been doing it long enough, most people must know that I'm not out there doing the greatest hits show. I've never done that. 

"Me personally, I like hearing all the new stuff. Because that's where my heart is."  


The new album kicks off with White Sky. It gets quite heavy, not what you would necessarily expect, did you do that on purpose?  

Absolutely. It's a really powerful track, but straight away it puts people in a different place - this is a different trip, a different journey. Hopefully it has that effect anyway.  

There's a track called I'm Where I Should Be - is that reflective of your mood?  

I am content with my lot - with who I am and what I do. It's about finding your place in the world, not just in terms of success but your own personal successes, if you know what I mean. 

You'll be hanging out with The Who this summer as you're playing before them at both Glastonbury and British Summertime in Hyde Park. Are you looking forward to that?  

I don't know how much hanging out there's going to be, but I know Roger Daltrey really well and have worked with him a few times. I'm more than happy to be playing with The Who, I'm a big fan. They're supposed to be playing Pictures of Lily, so I'd pay money just to see that.  

The weather isn't always great at Glastonbury, and you called the conditions "disgusting" back in 2007. How do you feel about going back?  

If it's as bad as last time I was there, with much trepidation! The weather really makes or breaks a lot of outdoor shows. I couldn't wait to get out of there really. But I've also played Glastonbury when it's been beautiful weather and dry and warm and it was amazing. I feel sorry for all the people who have to stand there in two foot of mud and god knows what else, bless them.  

You have a UK tour coming up - have you worked out the secret to being happy on the road?  

Everybody's got a pre-gig routine, it's a way of unleashing your nerves. But after a gig... you never know how it's going to go. I like that, but I hate it as well, because that's the scary bit - you just can't tell. But that keeps you on your toes, that's for sure.  

What's your pre-gig ritual? 

If anything I go a bit hyper, start talking even more rubbish than usual and smoke profusely - If that's any kind of ritual.  

You wrote a song with X Factor star Olly Murs last year - some musicians might be a bit snobby about that, but not you?  

I met Olly at a charity gig and he'd done a cover of one of my tunes and I complimented him on it. I just said off hand, "I'd write a song for you" and he called me the next day. A good tune's a good tune. I don't like [X Factor], I think it's quite appalling, but I'm not snobby about that at all, if someone's sincere. 

Do your kids ever introduce you to new music?  

Yeah all the time, it's great. My second youngest son [Stevie] Mac is playing guitar upstairs now - he played me George Ezra, I liked his voice, and Skrillex which I really, really liked. Then my daughter Leah played me an American woman called Alice Smith. Likewise I play them stuff as well.  

What advice do you give them about following in your footsteps?  

It's not a question of if it's going to be a good career. You do music because you love it and you have to do it - and you also hope you can make a living as well, which is increasingly harder these days than when I started. But I never really thought about it as a career, it was just. "I'm going to do music. That's it. End of." 

Do you have any unrealised musical ambitions?  

My only ambition is to carry on living and being able to make music and live to see my children grow up. That would be more than enough for me, I'd be very grateful for that. 

With that in mind, have you started taking better care of yourself? Are you in the 'clean food' camp?  

I am actually. I don't drink or do gear or anything any more so I do look after myself. There comes a time, and it was my time to clean up.  

So lots of juicing and kale these days?  

All that stuff. But not mad, I wouldn't have enough discipline to live wholly and totally like that all the time, but as much as I possibly can, I try.  

How do you feel about your nickname The Modfather?  

It's a term of endearment, I believe, so what can I say? I'm very grateful. I don't really know what it means anyway, but I can think of a lot of worse things to be called. So I'm quite happy. I'll always be a mod. If you're in, you're in for good.
 
Saturn's Pattern is out now.

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