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This page last updated
Wed, Dec 17, 2003 9:01 pm


JAMMING!s 1-12:
The covers and their contents

JAMMING!s 13-24:
The covers and their contents

JAMMING!s 25-36:
The covers and their contents


Interviewed in 1979

interviewed in 1981

Interviewed in 1978

interviewed in 1978

U2 interviewed in 1984.

from 1982

The Story That Spawned Creation from 1982

interviewed in 1978

interviewed in 1985


from the jamming! vaults:
the 1978 interview with


-I'd say The Jam were about the busiest group in the country when it comes to gigging. Do you enjoy playing on stage then?
Er sometimes, it’s a sort of love/hate thing really. My main gripe when I’m playing live is that I can never hear meself. It’s more the technical side of things that piss me off. It’s not like the audience or fans or anything.
-Do you feel you’ve got to keep playing, because it always seems to be you're coming back, that there’s another four gigs on?
We just don’t like being lazy really, like a lot of bands don’t do much, just like a couple of major tours every year. and that’s their lot. I just think it’s nice to put a few gigs here and there. Sort of small places, you know.
-Are there any really good or bad, that stick in your mind
more bad than good.
-What, the good ones you don’t notice because you’ve come off, and just know nothing’s gone wrong?
Possibly.. .No, I think the good ones stick in mind, but for me there’s been lots of bad gigs. Then again, not on the playing side or like reaction, but on the technical side of it. I just have a lot of problems hearing myself on stage.
-Do you prefer the small clubs?
I don’t know, it doesn't bother me, as long as there’s an atmosphere at a gig it doesn’t matter I think.
Would you play Hammersmith Odeon again? (The first time I saw the Jam was at this all-seated venue in December 1977. It wasn't great.)
I wouldn’t like to playHammersmith again, no. After the last Hammersmith I said, I never want to play that place again, but it’s okay making a statement like that and try~ to stick to it, but there’s nowhere else to fuckin’ play in London. Not that capacity, you know what I mean.
-Unless you want to play the Rainbow, which is supposed to be really had aggro.
Well we got a chance to do the Rainbow, and they said they’d take out the first six rows of seats, which would help things a bit...but...I dunno. It’s really difficult — unless you can do what The Clash did and do four nights at The Music Machine, which I don’t really like. It’s a bit like a museum, people come and see you night after night.
What about The Marquee, do you like that place?
Yeah, but it only holds like 500 people at the most, and you’d have to do like 3 months there.
-Do you agree you used to go too fast on stage, and run away with songs?
Yeah probably.
-But you reckon they’re paced now?
Sometimes they are, it depends what mood you’re in, sometimes you feel speedy and so you play them that way, At the last concert at Harnmersmith, it all seemed to go really fast. I dunno, I can’t remember now. Maybe it did - it all depends how you feel at the time, it’s difficult, you can’t sort of say how you’ll play — I’m not that professional.
-Do you get nervous before you go on stage?
Yeah, I do.
-Is it alright once you’re on?
Yeah, once I’m on I’m okay, it’s just before — some times I’ve puked up before I’ve gone on. When we played The Marquee that time - the one you reviewed, I spewed up before I went on there. I usually keep really straight before I go on stage, like I don’t drink at all, but just lately I’ve been starting to have a few drinks before I go on stage, and I get into it a bit more — enjoy it a bit more, don’t get so nervous.
-There’s another reputation about mumbling between songs.
Er.. I dunno — I don’t really think it matters that much. I don’t really say a lot anyway between songs.
-The songs are very straight live. I mean, you don’t try and put any extras in. is that just so you can go to a Jam gig and have a good dance and...
What d’you mean?
-It’s hard to say, but you know they’re played straight live, there’s nothing like 15 minute live 'My Generation's.
No well I’m not into that sort of thing, like jamming you mean?
No, not really.
-Do you go to many concerts?
Not really no. A couple. There’s no one I’d particularly go out of me way to see.
-You were at the New Hearts concert at The Marquee. (The New Hearts supported the Jam on that late 1977 tour, and later became Secret Affair.)
-What did you think of that?
I liked ‘em when they first started off, but they really went downhill. They know it themselves, it’s not saying it behind their backs, because we spoke about it, ‘cos we’re quite good friends with them. I think they did too much too soon. They should have done a bit more groundwork. They should have done like another year’s worth of playing around the clubs, before they got signed up.
-Yeah, I agree. I thought their first single was out too soon. Would you ever play anything like 'Life From A Window' on stage?
No, I don’t think we’ve got the capabilities of doing it, because you’ve got like acoustic and electric guitar.
-But you do 'Tonight At Noon.'
Yeah, that’s a bit easier to get away with. Maybe in time, you know. -
How comes you don’t play 'The Modern World' or 'I Meed You' live. I mean, I can understand 'I Need You,' but 'The Modern World,' when you've only done 5 singles....
We used to. We’re just cheesed off playing them, you know, we’ve played them so many times.
-Try to keep it all different?
Yeah, don’t wanna get too stale. Like when this new LP comes out, we hope to have a completely new set. I know it’s a hdanger of all groups to turn into Greatest Hits bands, which I dont wanna do - it’s not creative at all. It doesn’t get you anywhere.
-What about I Need You, ‘cos when you played that at The Marquee, it was the magic bit.
Yeah, well we played it on The American tour and that. Maybe we just drop numbers and later bring them back in.
-Is there ever anything spontaneous about it? I mean, if you’ve got the tracks taped on your guitar, do you ever say well let’s go back on and play another?
Well sometimes yeah. But mainly, we just stick to the set — it makes it a bit easier for everyone to remember what they’re playing.
-You seem to be moving about less and les on stage...
I think we’re just trying to concentrate more on what we’re playing.
-Do you reckon the music's got a lot more difficult then?
I don’t think more difficult - possibly we’re just trying to play it a bit tighter, a bit better. I don’t want to lose that, I suppose we do move around less.Just a subconscious thing - we haven been planning it or anything. Maybe we’re getting old!

-What have Polydor been like as a record company?
Alright, same as any other record company, I suppose.
-Do you have the control to choose when to release what records?
To a certain extent yeah. I don’t think anyone’s got complete artistic control, unless they’re like Rod Stewart.
-Did you say “We wanna release David Watts”?
Oh yeah, we always choose when we wanna do something. They wouldn’t turn round and say, “We want you to release this” — we’d tell ‘em to go and get stuffed.
-How do you write your songs, something like Standards? Are they written at home, on the road?
Well, I mostly wrote the Modern World LP at home, like some stuff's written on the road. there’s no sort of set way, just whatever I aim, whenever I feel like it. Sometimes I just ~ start off with some words or something, or just get a tune in my head.
-How long do you normally spend in the studio?
Well, the first album took about 10 days, and Modem World was done in about 7 days. 'All Around The World' was done in a day or something. It’s fairly quickly, really.
-Do you ever use any other musicians?
What, session musicians?
I dunno, well what we were gonna do for this one was we were gonna put some strings on one track, but we just decided to keep it... we don’t wanna get into that sort of thing with like synthesizers and that crap.
-I take it you’d never release anything like 12”, coloured vinyl.. .etc...
(Laughs)It’s all bullshit.
-What about more than one single off an album? (Yes folks, back in 1978, bands generally released just one single off an album.)
We haven’t in the past, but with this LP, we’ve got so many good tracks, one of ‘ems going to be another single — it’s gotta be.They’re so good.
-What, you're going to do another single before the LP comes out?
It’s just a question of, if something's good it’s gotta be released.

-You’ve been to America twice now, what’s it been like?
Well, the second time we done some headlining gig son our own which were really good, we done some support ones which were really bad. Supporting bands like Blue Oyster Cult. -----Who fixed up that?
Just some promoters who’d got no idea whatsoever. It’s just totally incompatible. There was nothing we could do about it.
-Was there one concert with the Ramones and The Runaways?
Yeah, that was a good one.
-And is it true Peter Frampton wanted to join The Jam?
I don’t know where that come from... some rumour.
(I tell Paul the story, as quoted in New York Rocker and printed at the start of my Jamming! Story.) So he’s definitely never approached you?
No. (laughs)

What are the favourite songs you’ve written?
I like all the new stuff a lot, and some of the old...'Away From The Numbers'...'Life
From A Window'...'I Need You.'
-(Those were probably my three favorites at that point.) You can group that lot together really.
Yeah it’s a familiar sort of style.
-One thing l’ve noticed. I’ve never in any photos or on stage seen you smile.
(He Smiles) I do smile sometimes.
-Yeah, I’ve seen you round here today. But on stage it’s always a sort of grimace.
Er, it’s just a tension thing. In one of your reviews it said I act out the
tough guy, but I don’t mean to, it’s not meant to be all, ‘cos I’m not a tough guy at all. I just suppose I concentrate a lot, on what’s happening and what I’m doing.

-Do Rick & Bruce still live in Woking?
But you live up round here now. Do you reckon that might affect the songs you write?
I think probably only to the extent that I get all my things first hand, you know.
-You living in a flat now? (He nods, like he's suspicious I might ask for the actual address.) It seems a bit different from Woking and all that.
I dunno, it hasn’t really affected me yet.
-Bruce seems to be taking a bigger part in the group. Last two singles etc. Does it bother you, are you glad or what?
It doesn’t really matter. Just whatever the song is at the time.
-Has he got a few on The new LP?
He’s got one.
-What about the problems of having the whole family involved in The Jam?
No problems.
-It must be pretty unique?
Yeah, I suppose it is, but it’s not like, me and me daddy and that, it’s me and there’s me manager. That’s talking like business-wise, but outside of business he’s me old man, that’s a different thing altogether you know. We don’t really get involved with it. It’s business is business - I’m one of the group and he’s the manager.
-I know what influences you’ve got, but what about your favourite groups at the moment? Of the new groups? Any group you ever go to see at all?
No, I dunno about that. I like records.
-Well, any special records?
I’ll tell you what I did see a few weeks ago and I really liked, was Tom Petty at The Marquee.
-Do you reckon you’ve got a message to give?
Not really - I’m not trying to force anything down anybody's throat. I just write a song and if people pick up on it and understand what I’m saying, that’s like a bonus. I don’t try and force nothing o them.
Do you reckon you’ve achieved anything?
Yeah. Put it this way, if you can get a thousand~ kids into the same place and they’re digging the same thing and that, then I think you’ve achieved something.
-Does that give you a kind of special feeling when you see 4,OO0 people all dancing together for the Jam?
Yeah, it obviously makes me feel pretty proud.
-You’ve appeared on all four of the rock TV shows. Do any stick out?
The best sound we’ve had so far was on Revolver
-What tracks?
We done the single, A-Bomb and David Watts. The Whistle Test was a really crappy sound.
-Do you like doing 'Top Of The Pops'?
It’s alright, it’s a laugh, go up the bar afterwards.

"I think a no. 1 single would be a bit scary, ‘cos you’ve always got to follow it up. I want to keep me freedom, like releasing and doing what we want to do, whereas if you do get a no. 1, you really are stuck, you’ve got to follow it."
Weller underestimates The Jam's future.

(Photo taken during recording of Setting Sons: note the Apocalypse sticker on Paul's guitar.)
-Wasn’t there going to an EP at one point from the London concerts?
(the London Blitz back in February, when I saw the Jam at the Marquee.) What went wrong with that?
I don't know what the problem was with that, it was just before we went to the States and I don t think we had time. It would have been quite nice. What we were trying to do was get say two tracks from us and one from Black Slate.
-Is that what you meant by doing something old—fashioned?
Yeah, maybe one number each from the support bands, and a couple from us, which would be really good.
-About six months go, I heard you mere recording the new LP and you had 14 tracks. What happened to that?
Well, we salvaged some which are on the LP now and changed them abound a bit. But most of ‘em we gave the elbow. (Talk about a missed opportunity on my part - still, it's confirmation that they did scrap initial tracks for the third album.)
-Something I’ve noticed is 'Billy Hunt' sees to be influence by David Watts. They’re both sort of mod heroes and they're both sort of slightly the saMe. Isn’t it giving it away a bit if you play that now as soon as you’ve written Billy Hunt?
Well Billy Hunt’s not really a hero, it’s more just like.. .I suppose it was like a que stion of like answering, it was like answering the type of person who David Wwatts was, the complete opposite of Billy Hunt. He was just like the total loser, who you’d go drinking with. I dunno how I come to write that.

-Who chose to do David Watts? Was it Bruce?
No, I chose to do that one.
-Do you play piano on it?
Do you play piano on all the tracks?
There’s only a couple of tracks with a bit of piano.
-I mean, when there is piano you~ play it?
Oh yeah.
-What's the new LP called?
ALL MOD CONS. Coming out October 20th... .13 tracks....
-Are you going to bring on the new single into it?
Probably, yeah. I think the 2 songs for a start fit into the concept of the album anyway. Not a concept concept, but just like the general gist of the LP
-The tracks seemed a lot softer when I heard them at Reading.
I dunno, some of them are, like 'Mr. Clean.' It’s got a softer approach, but if you’d heard it as we recorded it, there was quite a lot of tension on really builds. I think what it is, is the new songs are maybe a bit more subtle...I think it’s still there.
-You know the article in Sounds a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t paint a pretty picture of you. Do you ever feel like you’re becoming a nervous wreck?
I don’t think so at all. I think that geezer (Pete Silverton) got the totally wrong impression — he was a right prat for a start. They do these so—called ’On The Road’ things, like articles, right, but their ‘On The Road’ consists of 1 day travelling with the band and seeing 1 gig. And like, he spent the whole night trying to score some speed which I know for a fact, so he didn’t see any of the gig anyway. So he’s.. .just full of shit.
-I don’t normally get Sounds, but that week in the letters page, practically every letter was complaining about his articles, all saying why don’t you sack him?
Yeah, he’s a real jerk, like most of these journalists have really enormous egos which they constantly need to feed all the time, even bigger egos than the people they're writing about. They're usually failed musicians.
-He asked you for an interview, but you said, no, you didn’t feel like it, why was That?
It was because he was a cunt. I only talk to people I think it’s worth talking to. Like you've come here for a purpose, but all he’d come for was to give us a slating, so that’s not very positive. At least you’re doing something.
-How long do you reckon you’ll keep the Jam going?
I don’t know. As long as we need to, or feel we should, I don’t really want to plan anything - all the time we’re doing something, I suppose, doing something good and positive.
-There was a quick thing in IT about The Who and The Jam, and you said you wouldn’t be around in 11 years, as The Jam.
I hope not.
-Do you reckon you'll stay in music though?
Yeah, I should think so, I can’t say. I don’t really want to look that far ahead, it’s not worth it.
-But there’s nothing else you wanna go back to?
Not really, no.
-Do you enjoy doing interviews?
Some of them. I enjoy doing these sort of things, like fanzines and that, but some of the big papers get on me tits. It depends who the journalist is.
-Do you reckon you’ve changed at all since you’ve started off? Any really noticeable way? I don’t think so. When we first got signed up, just before that I was very determined, I’m basically the same person, I always will be, I think. You can’t tell — other people see you differently.
-There’s another bit in that Sounds story, about you not liking to sign autographs.
I don’t mind signing autographs, it’s just I don’t feel that having my autograph is anything that special, I feel it a little bit embarrassing sometimes, I can’t explain. I don’t feel thet having my name or anything makes that much difference. I’ve got nothing against it, if I saw someone I like I’d ask him for his autograph.
-‘Cos you once said ‘I’m into idols’.
I think I was taking the piss, but I’ve got my heroes as well, the same as anybody else.
-Yeah, but don’t you want to be a bit of an idol yourself?
I dunno...that sort of changes with me, like sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. If I’m feeling a bit pissed off, or depressed or something, I need an ego boost like anyone else.
-you mean sometimes when you feel a bit depressed it’s nice To have someone asking for you autograph?
I suppose so, yeah. But I’m sure I’m not the only one with ego problems.. .1 suppose you have like everyone else in the world has.
-Do you want to be really successful?
I don’t know, it depends what you mean by really successful. I don’t want to sell me soul you know.
-Well... a no. 1 hit?
Er...I don’t think I’d like a no. 1 single, I wouldn’t mind a no. 1 lp. I think a no. 1 single would be a bit scary, ‘cos you’ve always got to follow it up. I want to keep me freedom, like releasing and doing what we want to do, whereas if you do get a no. 1, you really are stuck, you’ve got to follow it.
-But would you want to be remembered in the future?
Yeah, of course. I suppose anyone would want to.

THE END Posted by Tony Fletcher February 2002


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