Skip to main content

When The Modfather Gets A Wake-Up Call! Paul Weller In The Sydney Morning Herald!

When The Modfather Gets A Wake-up Call
Michael Dwyer
October 14, 2010 - 7:30PM
From: The Sydney Morning Herald

Paul Weller's rage may have cooled dramatically but creatively he's on fire.

SOPORIFIC has never been Paul Weller's style. Those Jam singles still bristle like broken bottles. Never mind their chic lemon pullovers, even the Style Council spiked yer latte with potent leftie dissent.

Nor was nodding off an option during Weller's Heavy Soul '90s — a decade in which, by rights, the former Red Wedge advocate should have been strumming the confessional acoustica of the elder statesman.

So when he chooses to call his 10th solo album Wake Up the Nation, you have to wonder what more incendiary stuff he can possibly have up his sleeve.

Advertisement: Story continues below
"People ask me why I don't write overtly political songs any more but, if I did, they would be the same language, the same words and songs I wrote 20 years ago," he says. "What else can I say on that subject?

"Wake Up the Nation encapsulates what we wanted to do creatively; to build something new and daring and not safe. There's so much that is so corporate and so safe now. There are very few people taking chances. Most people are scared to.

"So the idea was to turn people on, excite people, maybe as a kind of calling to other bands as well, to snap out of this torpor and try and make music exciting again."

Wake Up the Nation finds Weller on a creative roll after his warmly embraced album of 2008, 22 Dreams. He had intended to take a long break after the world tour that rocked Melbourne in August that year but his collaborator, Simon Dine, kept sending him strange and beguiling demos.

"He was the catalyst," Weller says. "They were just little ideas, potential backing tracks, I guess, and once I heard them that was it, really, because they were so exciting — just the ideas, the musical prospects."

Few of the 16 songs on the album travel much past two minutes. Within three tracks, the mood shifts from the trippy astral wander of Andromeda to the circus organ travelogue of In Amsterdam to a very Jam-like reunion with bassist Bruce Foxton, Fast Car/Slow Traffic.

"I was just writing in the studio, reacting off the music that I heard, just making up lyrics on the spot, making up [melody] lines," Weller says. "Normally I'm a very ordered person but this time I had nothing. It was scary sometimes but exciting as well. It was a real open canvas to work on."

One of the more telling lyrics is She Speaks, a song to the sea that began forming in his head on a Spanish beach several years ago.

"The metaphor I was going for was something about the more you try to find yourself, delve into yourself, the less you really discover," Weller says. "Sometimes you just have to end up swimming, enjoying the water. To some extent that's the only answer you can find."

If the gently ebbing outlook seems a little at odds with the angry young agitator of new-wave legend, there are good reasons: Weller is no longer angry or young — although he does sound sad that he can't hear anyone answering that description coming up behind him.

"I think it's hard for musicians to take a political stand today," he says. "Music is symptomatic of the climate that we live in and because the politics has become so mainstream and wishy-washy, I think music has come to reflect that.

"[During] the period of Thatcher and Reagan and the whole right-wing turn the Western world took at that time, it was much easier to know where you stood. You were on one side or the other."

So if Wake Up the Nation were to have the desired effect, what would it sound like?

"From my point of view, as a musician and an artist, just to hear a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds smashing down all that's going on at the moment — the bland, mainstream musical culture and media thing — that would be fantastic," he says.

"Of course, I'm thinking about what happened in '77. That hasn't happened over here for a long time and it's what we need."

Paul Weller plays the Forum Theatre on October 26-27. Wake Up the Nation is out on Island Records.


Popular posts from this blog

Steve White On The Passing of John Weller...

It wasn't unexpected to get the news that John Weller had passed away , it was a beautiful sunny morning in fact , but the news still stung even though the anticipation existed .

I finished work today , a day peppered by texts and calls , I missed the call that mattered but made ammends and spoke to the one person I needed to speak to , I raised a glass at dinner and reminisced with my beautiful partner of days of travel and nights of glory that followed , and after a little to much wine the drowsiness lifted and the harsh reality that someone very special had passed hit me , I wanted to say that , with my emotions bubbling very much to the surface , I wanted to remember those decades and shows and nights that we all spent together , indestructible , laughing and making the music of our dreams , wide eyed vagabonds not quite believing .

I remember the day on arriving back from Sydney, John telling me it was all over and he had enough of "this lark" , that was 24 odd years …

John Weller Obituary From The Independent...

For thirty years, John Weller managed the career of his son Paul, through the salad days and success of The Jam in the Seventies and early Eighties, the ups and downs of The Style Council and Paul’s re-emergence as a solo artist in the Nineties. Theirs was a unique father-son relationship in the music industry, built on John’s unwavering belief in Paul’s talent and shared values like hard work and pragmatism.

John could be blunt, and once refused to have lunch in a record company’s executive dining room, remarking to the managing director: “I didn’t come here to eat, I came to do business.” But his bark was worse than his bite.

John’s success was all the more remarkable since he started in his forties after years working in factories, on building sites and driving a taxi. When The Jam signed to Polydor in February 1977, for a £6,000 advance and a six per cent royalty rate, John admitted he didn’t have a bank account and asked for cash instead of a cheque. A&R man Chris Parry duly we…

Paul Weller's Son, Natt Gives A Candid Taxi Interview

Where else to meet the musician son of the agelessly groovy Modfather but at London’s trendy Met Bar? And there’s more than a hint of moody Mod style about the Japanese parka that Paul Weller’s eldest child Natt has slung over his Vivienne Westwood top.

Yet there all similarity ends, for singer-guitarist Natt has inherited the exotic beauty of his mother – former Wham! and Style Council backing singer Dee C Lee – rather than the famously angular features of his father.

‘Everybody always goes, “Luckily he took after his mum…”’ laughs Natt, whose mother is from France and St Lucia and whose great-great grandma was Japanese. Hence Natt’s fascination for Japan, where he moved in 2006 for a year to learn the language.

To pay for his studies, he modelled and deejayed, ‘I felt like an outsized monster,’ confides Natt, 21, a 6ft 1in beanpole. He returned a fan of Japan’s popular culture – from manga cartoons to punk-goth music – and with a different spelling to his name, which now features two ‘…