Godfathers of Pop – Bruce Foxton interview
How did From The Jam’s Smash The Clock become such a celebratory-sounding album?
It’s just what we do, really. It took a bit of time to get going, because From The Jam is so full-on with live work. Me and Russ Hastings, From The Jam’s singer, just tried to make some good melodic songs. We do three or four gigs a week, then come home and once you’ve done the laundry, you start thinking “Well, we’d better nip in the studio”. It took about a year in all.
It was recorded in Paul Weller’s studio. What’s the vibe like there?
It’s just really relaxing. There’s a lot of daylight, so you can down tools and sit outside with a coffee if you need a break. The big studios in town can be a bit intimidating. It’s like those property shows like Escape To The Country – I walked in and thought “Yeah, I can see myself at home here”.
Did any songs prove a struggle?
Nah. It stems from The Jam days: if anything is taking too long, move on. If a song isn’t working out, the song is telling you it ain’t happening. Maybe you’re not in the right frame of mind and you can revisit it, or it’s just as likely the song isn’t up to much after all.
The album was funded via PledgeMusic. How did you choose the bonuses to offer the fans?
The extras seemed obvious, but I made a big mistake saying you could buy my handwritten lyrics. They took me forever to write, especially because I broke my little finger tripping over on some stairs. It was like being back at school, told to write 400 lines for being a naughty boy.
Did you have to relearn any Jam songs 40 years later for the As And Bs tour?
We had about 15 songs we hadn’t played before, and I had to figure out what I played years ago. But it’s amazing because, once you turn your brain a certain way, you go “Oh yeah, I remember how to do that…”
Did you think you’d be playing these songs 40 years later?
No way. I was in the Speakeasy club in London years ago and The Who were there. We were young whippersnappers, thinking “God, they’re 40 years old! What are they doing still around? Why don’t they give up?” And here I am at 60… but what else am I going to do? I don’t want to retire, and while we’re well enough and the crowds are still coming, I’ll do it. I love it.
Why did The Jam’s drummer Rick Buckler leave From The Jam?
I don’t know, but he did – and via e-mail. It’s hard, because I don’t think I’ve ever fallen out with him, but he’d probably say differently. Now I’m good mates with Paul again, it’s ironic that it’s gone awry with Rick. It’s disappointing, because how many Christmas cards do you send the guy? He doesn’t return them, so you think “Why bother?” But, for the sake of a stamp, you send another one the next year. But I wish Rick all the best. It’s been a crap year for people popping their clogs, so you just wish everyone health and happiness and move on.
Can you see ever see a time when you, Paul and Rick could be in the same room, reminiscing?
That should have happened when The Jam had our memorabilia exhibition at Somerset House last year. I went with Paul on the press night, but Rick went when no-one else was there. That was a golden opportunity for Rick to turn up. No-one would have argued with the guy, we’d have posed for photos as the three of us and it would have been great. That was a near miss, and it’s a shame Rick didn’t show up. So now? No, I can’t see the three of us getting in a room.
Why do you tour as From The Jam, but yours and Russ’ albums are released under your name?
It’s only because I’ve got a name of sorts that people recognise and Russ hasn’t. But, now From The Jam have been going for 10 years and Smash The Clock has been a success, that’ll change. The financial split has always been 50/50 and the next album will be as Foxton And Hastings, definitely.