PAUL WELLER IS 60, a landmark he celebrates with an in-depth MOJO magazine interview (in UK shops right now) and an all-acoustic album laden with bucolic strings. A token of surrender to serenity and retrospection? No – just the latest departure in the Jam man’s career of left-turns, and an opportunity to confront the “dark forces” aligning in Britain and the world. “It’s like the first stirrings of World War III,” he warns.
Along the way, he explains his radically organic approach to new album, True Meanings – due on September 14 but presaged by current ‘single’ Aspects.
“I was quite conscious, even though I wanted True Meanings to be orchestrated, that it’s fundamentally just me and an acoustic guitar,” Weller tells MOJO’s David Cavanagh. “That’s the core of it. That’s where it starts from – as if I’m sitting in a room with you, playing you a song.”
The album’s ruminative mood reflects a heightened concern for the world around Weller, as he fears for his children’s futures. All eight of them.
“I’ve got kids of all different ages, and I have to be optimistic for their sake,” says Weller. “But if I look at it, it’s just in a shambolic state. There are dark forces trying to drag us back to the old days, whether it’s fascists or whether it’s religions. It’s the most dangerous and dramatic time in my lifetime.”
It’s painful for the perennially forward-facing Weller to wax so pessimistic. However, there’s something good for fans to look forward to as Weller reveals that compiling the set-lists for shows at the Royal Festival Hall has involved re-listening to Style Council songs. Ultimately, he predicts a promisingly seat-of-the-pants affair.
“Until you start playing these songs and actually doing them live, you don’t know whether they’re going to work with an orchestra or not,” he says. “So yeah, I’m extremely nervous. I’ve never done anything like it before. You’ve got to stick to the script, and I’m someone who always gets to a certain point in the evening where I want to fucking smash it.”
MOJO 299, featuring Paul Weller, is in UK shops now. Also in the magazine: a covermount CD of Trojan-sourced Reggae Nuggets features tracks by Lee “Scratch” Perry, Dennis Brown, Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and more; The Revolution remember Prince, the boss from hell with God-given talent; The War On Drugs scale the heights; the Mahavishnu and Miles man John McLaughlin relives the Fusion Wars; The Cure and David Byrne renew themselves; Kinks reunion latest; the strange tales of country legend Blaze Foley and VU ice queen Nico. Plus! Danny Kirwan, Swamp Dogg, Edwyn Collins, Seymour Stein, White Denim, Snail Mail, Sylvain Sylvain, the “Bad” Woodstock and more!