Saturday, 6 June 2015

The master of reinvention; Paul Weller's gone from The Jam to heading up a jam band

It's good to hear Paul Weller laugh. Well, it's a not a laugh as such. More a harrumph masquerading as a chuckle.  The 57-year-old Weller has a reputation as Britrock's foremost grumpy uncle – forged long before Oasis grumbler Noel Gallagher made a play for the mantle. Not that Weller views it that way. 

"I've got a different sense of humour to other people," he says. "The things that make me laugh don't necessarily make other people laugh."  

Weller is in the middle of a story, remembering a time when his grey-feathered Modfather barnet was unexpectedly recognised "in Thailand, in the middle of f---ing nowhere".  

"This little couple were playing music in the evening, they recognised me and played me a song as a tribute. Thing is, they played Don't Look Back in Anger, they played me one of Noel's f---ing songs. That was pretty weird." 

But, then, fans have always had a weird relationship with Weller and his songs.  

It is nearly 40 years since his first band, The Jam, materialised fully formed from the hard suburban streets of Woking. Frontman Weller was a precocious, driven, ambitious teen with a knack for writing sharp, three-minute statements – In the City, A Town Called Malice, That's Entertainment and the class-warfare anthem The Eton Rifles. Controversially, conservative UK Prime Minister David Cameron, himself an Old Etonian, once named the song as one of his favourites.

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