The bassist with UK mod crew the Jam reunites with his drumming sidekick Rick Buckler as "From the Jam" to perform the group's punk-era favourites ? sans main man Paul Weller. The Stranglers' Hugh Cornwell opens the show at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West) Wednesday (February 6), 8 pm. $30. 416-870-8000.
Why do it if Paul Weller wasn't going to participate?
Obviously, we gave this project a lot of thought before doing it without Paul. We know how dearly the Jam's music is held in the hearts of the fans, so it had to be done right. When we started rehearsing together, it was so exciting for me to be playing this music again that it felt absolutely right. Paul has made it clear in interviews that he wanted nothing to do with a Jam reunion, so it wasn't even worth considering his joining us.
Was it a mistake to put out a tell-all book about the Jam?
Let's face it, Our Story wasn't a very good book. We had to be very careful about what we said and what we couldn't. A prior book, A Beat Concerto, written by Paolo Hewitt, got labelled "the official Jam story," but Paolo was so into Paul that Rick and I really weren't allowed into it. I wasn't even interviewed for it. The thing was just "Paul, Paul, Paul, and oh, by the way, Rick and Bruce were there, too," which grated a bit. So Our Story was released to level the playing field.
Any plans to write new material as From the Jam?
Oh yeah, we've talked about that. Since we got together, there's such a wealth of great Jam songs to choose from, we haven't felt the need to rush in and write new material. But it's something we're planning to do in the future. We've got some good riffs and potential choruses coming along, but we haven't had the time to go into the rehearsal studio and bang them into shape. Hopefully, we'll have two or three new songs to add to the set before the end of the year and possibly a couple of good covers.
Does playing these songs feel relevant today?
Well, initially, it felt weird to play some of these songs, because they are over 25 years old and we've all changed as people in that time. But as we've gotten into it, most of the songs sound as fresh to me now as when they were written. We've got a really wide range of people coming to the gigs, from 18-year-olds right up to folks in their 50s who were there from the beginning. The response has been very encouraging. If Paul ever sneaks into a show, I think he'd be proud of what we're doing.
No one believes me when I tell them that you discovered the Vapors and actually managed the group when they hit big with Turning Japanese. What's the real story there?
It's all true. I heard about this group that was playing at a local pub, so I went to check them out. They gave me a tape, and I told them I'd see what I could do. So I brought their demo to Arista, and they loved it and signed the Vapors immediately. But as it happened, having a big hit single right away turned out to be their downfall. They got a bit carried away with themselves and fell out with each other. That's just how it goes sometimes.