Considered the “Modfather,” of British rock royalty, Paul Weller has been on the music scene since the mid-1970s with such successful bands as The Jam and The Style Council. His solo work has received much critical acclaim and his new album, also his 13th studio album, "A Kind Revolution," is no different. This is his 13th studio album that peaked at number 5 on the UK charts. Weller’s 1995 best-selling work, "Stanley Road," has remained on the 100 Best Rock Albums list for more than 20 years. A huge Beatles fan, especially John Lennon, Weller had artist Peter Blake, who designed the Sgt. Pepper album cover, create the distinctive collage for "Stanley Road." Known for his chameleon musical styles, Weller doesn’t disappoint on his latest work. His storied collaborations include Boy George, Noel Gallagher, Pete Townsend, Adele, and Paul McCartney. We caught up with the legendary rocker, now on the US leg of his tour.
What's it like traveling the world for your latest album again? PAUL WELLER: Wicked cool. We did Europe recently before we came out here. After the US we’re going to Japan and Australia in January. We’ll be doing a UK tour in February and March and that’s it.
Is the song “New York,” on your new album, “A Kind Revolution,” a love song to New York City? PW: Yeah, I guess it is actually. It’s all based on my wife now. We met in a bar in New York as the cliché goes. Yeah, it’s a bit about us and but also saying thank you to New York.
What is it that still inspires you about New York? PW: Coming to New York, especially for us English and for most people I suppose, it’s just so different from most other cities. Every corner is inspiring. There’s so many people, so many cars, so many buildings. And at nighttime, I was looking out my window, looking at the skyline and just thinking how amazing it is. It’s more beautiful at nighttime.
What was it like to collaborate with Amy Winehouse? PW: Amazing really. I liked her voice anyway. I had heard her before that from her first album, "Frank." She’d come down to rehearsals with me and the band (for the Jools Holland Show) and would just smile. She was this tiny little girl with this amazing voice and naturally ability and God given sort of talent. She was way, way out of my league. Just to sing with her. To say I sang with her. I’m always up for working with other people. We talk about working together but people get busy. Hopefully I will next time because I’m working on an acoustic album now. On this new record I’m hoping to work with a few different people. I’ve already done a song with Conor O’Brien from The Villagers and Erland Cooper from the Magnetic North.
The new EP Mother Ethiopia Part 3 has such profound and timely lyrics. Were they written pre-Trump or post-Trump? PW: It was written the year before. It wasn’t specifically written with Mr. Trump in mind.
What’s your sense of Utopia? PW: Well, I don’t know about a Utopia. I’m not sure that’s even possible but I hope people will come to realize, it’s the way we’re governed. I don’t just mean one party or one leader. It’s the way the planet is being controlled and is more secretive.
How do you feel about the resurgence of vinyl? PW: I’m glad. It was a format I grew up with. I love the art work. You feel like you got something special with vinyl. It’s the difference between digital and analog, I suppose, but that’s another conversation. I’ve got old vinyl albums from the 50s; they have such an amazing dynamic lens in them. You’re kind of right inside the music.
Are you an acoustic kind of guy, or more electric? PW: Electric. Always electric.
How do you take so many courageous creative chances in your work? PW: I don’t ever think of myself as being courageous. I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything courageous in my life really. Really for me, the songs decide where it’s going to go, where you’re going to take it. Maybe after The Jam and The Style Council, that was quite full about really. I just wanted to make it as different as possible. But I don’t think with my recent music, I’m never sure what people are going to like and generally speaking I don’t like anything mainstream. The Beatles are an exception but that was a different time. I don’t like mainstream things generally anyway. I don’t like mainstream TV. I’m a bit like that. Not as a snob, it’s just who I am. I like things that are bit different. I never have any grand plan, I just follow my nose and see where it leads me. I like to make each record a bit different as well to keep it interesting for me, the band and all of us working on it.