I'm not bothered about The Jam reforming says From The Jam's Bruce Foxton ahead of Bury St Edmunds show
PUBLISHED: 19:00 17 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:31 19 January 2017
Bruce Foxton talks about reforming The Jam, his mate Paul Weller and trying to grow old gracefully ahead of From The Jam's visit to The Apex this week.
It’s become a trend for bands of yesteryear to reform. Foxton’s often asked if The Jam are ever going to follow suit, especially after Paul Weller’s appearance on his solo album Smash The Clock.
“That’s the trouble. That’s why Paul will shy away from doing things with me in terms of promoting it because people think is this going to be the reformation of the band and it’s not,” he laughs as we discuss From The Jam’s visit to The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, on January 19 following a gig at the Ipswich Regent last year.
“Paul’s doing his own thing and enjoying it. He’s very successful and deservedly so. Rick (Buckler) - and I haven’t spoken to him for ages which is a shame but that seems to be down to Rick - is doing well and I wish him all the best. So we’re all kinda alright, we’re ticking over, doing what we want to do and enjoying it.”
Foxton says it was a huge pleasure and honour to have Weller feature on a couple of the album tracks.
“It’s so lovely when he pops in. We have a cup of tea, a bit of a laugh and a joke. He says ‘alright. I’m all yours’ so I say ‘get yourself in the studio and see what you can come up with’ and it’s like the old days for a bit. We were happy with those tracks before he came in but he took them to another level.
“Then we don’t see each other again for six months or more. We met at The Jam exhibition at Somerset House in London, hung out for a bit. We’re friends and that’s all that matters to me, that we’re mates.”
He says continuing interest in the seminal mod band reuniting is flattering. Joining Weller for a couple of tunes on stage at the Royal Albert Hall a while back was lovely but a full reunion’s not on the cards.
“Paul’s said on more than one occasion how adamant he is about not reforming the band. To be honest, I’ve got to that stage now that I’m not really bothered about that either; you’ve got to let it go at some point. You can’t keep hoping year in year out you’re going to get back together,” he laughs.
The thankful Foxton’s happy with his lot. Although he admits life’s been a bit of a bumpy road to say the least.
“There’s a lot of other people out there as bad or worse off. My personal life, touch wood, is going great. My first wife, Pat, died of cancer. I got remarried five years ago to a lovely young lady.
“I’ve been lucky, I’ve been able to bounce back with Kate, my now wife, coming into my life and marrying me. She’s the best thing to have happened to me in a long, long while. The band are doing well. They’re great and I’m very fortunate we all get on terrifically.”
Bands come and go. He didn’t think people would still be talking about The Jam 40 years since the release of debut album In The City and that he’d still be playing such great songs.
“It’s a testament to the three of us, Rick, Paul and myself and the musicianship and how the chemistry worked between the three of us; plus the songs – the lyrics, content and the melody.”
He and From The Jam band mate Russell Hastings tried to take a leaf out of The Jam’s book and write melodic songs with meaningful lyrics when they came up with Foxton’s 2012 solo album, his first in a long while, Back in the Room, and last year’s Smash the Clock.
The latter, co-written with Hastings and also featuring guest appearances from Wilko Johnson and Paul Jones, was recorded at Weller’s Black Barn studios. It’s name, says Foxton, echoes The Jam’s endurance - “good music is ageless and timeless”.
“It got to number 31 in the charts and I was as chuffed as I was when our albums used to go in and number one. That was a real achievement for Russell and myself on such a small indie label to get an album in the charts again.”
From The Jam’s latest tour - As and Bs - includes all the hits alongside rare B sides that he says will give “the most ardent fans what they want” like Just Who Is The 5 O’clock Hero, Carnation, Aunties and Uncles and Life From A Window. They’re also are looking forward to playing The Dreams of Children, the B side to Going Underground, which was originally intended to be an A side were it not for a mix-up at the pressing plant.
Sounds like there’ll be some gems hidden among the hits.
“Hopefully there’s a few of them,” Foxton laughs. “We’re touring constantly. It’s full-on and we need to shake it up a bit every now and again for fans’ point of view. It sounds a bit conceited but we’re lucky we’ve got such a wealth of material to choose from. It’s hard to know what to leave out. It’s like having 22 star footballers and you can only choose 11.”
It would be sacrilege not to play tracks like Going Underground and Town Called Malice; ones that form the backbone of the set. Being on the road 11 months of the year, the band like to freshen things up. Expect to hear Tales from the Riverbank, Liza Radley, maybe English Rose, A Bomb in Wardour Street.
“We don’t want to be going through the motions, these songs want to be fresh to our ears and then we really get into and play it with as much passion as I did all those years ago. It would be awful to just stand there and strum away - ‘oh here we go again, the same old songs, day in day out’.
“We want to keep it fresh and energetic. Obviously you get tired on the road by just the travelling, but if we look jaded up there people aren’t going to want to see that again and I don’t want to go out like that because I’d feel like I was short-changing the audience.”
From The Jam has been going longer than The Jam now. What hit Foxton back when he was starting was how great the lyrics are, which he puts down to Weller.
“When you’re rolling along with it and you’re making albums, making singles, touring the world, it washes over you a bit. Now I’ve had more time to sit down and listen to those songs again... I’ve had to re-learn some and consequently look at the lyrics again. How advanced, how mature, how talented Paul was and still is, with his lyrics.”
Touring is different to then. They take things a bit easier now he laughs; claiming he was never a wild man of rock first time around.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself a bit more these days, none of us are getting any younger and you try - unfortunately - to be a bit more sensible. When you’re not sensible, boy do you pay for it the next day.
“I suppose in the heyday you were carefree and thought ‘let’s do what I want to do; if I want to party after a show I’m going to party’. You were young enough you could bounce back. It’s still a great laugh, but we do things in a bit more moderation. I try my best but we still have our nutty moments but there you go - they’re a bit more spaced out than every night of the week.
“You need to let your hair down here and there... But you’ve got a responsibility, people are paying good money and don’t want to see a bunch of people that have been out the night before and look and sound dreadful.”
The band feed off the audience as much as they feed off them. If people are up for a good night it kicks the band into another gear.
“If you’ve got somebody in the middle of the barrier at the front with a face like a wet Wednesday – one you wanna say ‘why are you here mate, you don’t look like you’ve come to see us, why don’t you b***** off’ and it could bring you down. You’re almost at the point you want to give him his money back and say ‘can you now just leave’. Generally the audiences get right into it, we have a great night and everybody goes home happy. When I listen to myself saying this, how lucky am I?”