In mod we trust
"I swear Noel’s obsessed with me,” says Paul Weller, with a sly smile. “Honestly, he’s always mentioning me in interviews.” He’s responding to the Weller-comments in ShortList’s recent interview with Noel Gallagher. But the former Oasis guitarist isn’t the only rocker you could accuse of having a Modfather fixation. Since he snarled on to the scene with The Jam nearly 35 years ago, he’s cast an impeccably tailored shadow over pop culture as an icon of music, style and singular hairstyles. So it’s no surprise that Liam Gallagher has enlisted him to design his own Pretty Green capsule line. But does this foray into fashion mean the 53-year-old’s quitting music? Not a chance…
You’ve got a new collection on Liam’s label. Does that make him your boss? [Laughs] Yeah, I’m working for Liam. Working for the man. Nah, he hasn’t really been involved, but I showed him the stuff and he likes it. [Pretty Green] made a suit for me last year when I was playing the Royal Albert Hall and it all went from there.
How important is what you wear to your music? I grew up in a time when music and clothes were intertwined. If you liked a band’s music you liked the way they looked, their haircuts, their attitude and their influences. It was all one and the same. I don’t know if that exists today, but it was a real obsession for me and people of my generation. It went on at least until the end of the Seventies and maybe into the Eighties, but everything comes and goes so quickly now. Bands don’t last any more, but the fashions seem to stick around forever.
What are some of the common style errors men make today? Two-piece suits with trainers. I’m not having that at all. It seems to be a bit of an old, 60s rock-star thing. You see Ronnie Wood, Keith [Richards] and Macca doing it. I don’t know if it’s just that you get to that age and think, “God. I just want to wear something comfortable.” Hopefully it’ll never happen to me, because there are certain things you just shouldn’t do. Tracksuits have their place in the gym, but day-to-day and on the high street? Nah, I’m not having that either.
Who do you rate, style-wise? That Brian Cox looks pretty good. I like him. ‘The Mod Professor’. He’s got good hair.
Would you go the Wayne Rooney route if you started losing your locks? What, a transplant? Probably, yeah. That or some wigs.
The Stone Roses are back together, Liam’s already talking up the possibility of an Oasis reunion… Is he really? F*cking hell, that was quick.
We suppose so. Why do you think band reunions are such big business? Money talks, doesn’t it? Simple as that.
You’ve always said there’ll never be a Jam reunion. Are you genuinely not tempted? Hopefully I’ll never be that skint, mate. I mean, I don’t know the Roses that well, apart from Mani who’s a good mate. There’ll be a financial consideration, obviously, but I know from [Mani’s] point of view that he’s been mad to do it for years. He’s actually really wanted to get back with his mates and he loved that band. But for Ian [Brown] and John [Squire], I don’t know… I really don’t think there’s too much love lost there. We live in that age, though, don’t we? It’s either bands reforming, bands playing their classic album or tribute bands.
So you wouldn’t do a ‘classic album’ gig either, then? Nah. I’m going to go out and play a classic album next year, but it’ll be my f*cking new one. Not one from 20 years ago.
Where do you stand on nostalgia obsession, though? You obviously still love Sixties and Seventies style… It drives me potty. It’s a strange time. In some ways it makes me want to go away for a while and come back when people have got a bit of sense back. I find the whole nostalgia thing very strange right across the board. I don’t get it. I also think it doesn’t help new bands. Don’t get me wrong — there aren’t a lot of great new bands, and there’s a lot of sh*t about. But it hurts new bands coming up because nobody’s looking out for anything new. It’s just tried and tested old music, and it’s weird to me. I think it’s a phase.
What about modern pop — Noel Gallagher recently outed you as an X Factor fan in ShortList… He needs to be f*cking outed, mate. Yeah, I do watch it, but I also watch Peppa Pig with my six-year-old boy. And I’m more of a fan of Peppa Pig than I am of The X Factor. If anything, it makes more f*cking sense. I watch EastEnders with my missus because she’s mad for it, and Ben 10’s my little boy’s favourite, but it doesn’t mean I really love those programmes. It’s just something you have to do.
Noel also had a few things to say about the quality of your tea-making... Listen, Noel’s got a lot of stories, but how many of them are actually true is another matter. He’s from that Manchester school of bullsh*t, bless his heart. He’s got lots of stories and theories but few of them are rooted in truth.
Away from that, how do you feel about songs being used by politicians or in certain adverts? David Cameron infamously confessed to being a fan of The Eton Rifles… I’ve got less of a problem with an advert using it than I have a politician. When Tony Blair ran for office in 1997, they wanted to use The Changingman for their campaign, but I wouldn’t let them. So there are certain things I wouldn’t do. I don’t know how [Cameron] could have misread the words [to The Eton Rifles] so much. It’s pretty simple. They’re just f*cking stupid, I think.
Are you tempted to follow Keith Richards and write a memoir? I get asked to do one every year and I just don’t think I’m old enough to write one. The good thing about Keith and Bob Dylan was that they waited until their 60s. That’s quite nice, because you’ve got more of an overview. God willing, if I’m still here in 10 years’ time, I’ll do it.
Do you ever plan to retire? I don’t know if I always want to be travelling around the world, but I always want to make records. That’s for sure.
There was a newspaper story a few years ago about a drunken night in Prague. What actually went on? Well, it’s just because some c*nt’s always got a cameraphone nowadays. I’ve fallen over a million times. I’ve stopped drinking. Not because of Prague and some paper, but I stopped over a year ago now, just because I needed to. I feel brand new.
So what’s replaced the drink? Sanity. I wake up every morning clear-headed and optimistic. I wasn’t doing that when I was drinking. I was having a good time but then I’d spend three days depressed. Which was just not me. I look after myself now. I try to go to the gym at least three times a week and I’m just buzzing off that. It’s not that I’m against drinking — I’m very much pro-drinking — but for me I’ve come to the end of my relationship with it. I had a f*cking good run of it, though. Not that I remember half of it.