‘Modfather’ Paul Weller looks forward, not back, with new show

For many, he’s best-known for fronting “The Jam” and “The Style Council” in the 1970s and 1980s. But Paul Weller, on a new tour and bringing out a new album, is determined to not be prisoner to his past.

“I always want to do something different and something new, you know?” he told AFP this week on the Paris leg of his tour.

“There’s so much old stuff around. People looking back — it just bores me. I’m not into the old nostalgic culture and I want to make something new, 21st century.”

Certainly on stage, the singer-songwriter and musician shows little sign his 56 years are slowing him down. His face is lined, but he has a wiry physicality and his voice is as soulful and clear and ever.

“The stage is my life, it is an immediate connection and communication with the public,” he said.

“It’s fascinating really, incredible. Nerves, adrelanine, excitement mixed. There are very few things in life when you could connect so many different types of people together.”

His Wednesday gig in a Paris concert hall called Bataclan wasn’t entirely sold out, but the hundreds who did turn up were enthusiastic and of all ages.

- ‘We keep it exciting for us’ -

It was hardly a retrospective show of his punk-rock “Jam” or soul-pop “Style Council” days.

None of those bands’ old standards were played. It was all tunes from Weller’s solo career and a few from his upcoming album, “Saturn’s Pattern”, which will be released next month.

“I play just stuff from my solo records,” he said. “We keep it exciting for us you know. And you could never please everyone.”

His current life and family serves up much of his inspiration, and his wife, backing singer Hannah Andrews, has lent vocals to his last four albums.

“I wrote many things for my wife,” Weller said. “We’re married for five years, we’ve been together for 10 years. We’ve got twin boys, they’re three and a bit.”

After France, Weller and his band — including Steve Cradock on guitar, Andy Lewis on bass, drummers Ben Godelier and Steve Pilgrim, and keyboardist Andy Crofts — headed to the Netherlands for a couple of shows, and will take the tour on to Belgium and Germany.

In June, they will start their American leg on the east coast, then head west in September. At the end of the year, they’ll be back in Britain for another big national tour.

Although he’s embraced his nickname as “The Modfather” for influencing much of the subsequent music out of Britain, especially the Britpop wave in the 1990s, Weller said he doesn’t think of himself as a big star.

“I’m only interested in music,” he said. “I’ve been around for a long time now… it’s about 40 years, so it’s a beautiful thing, really.

“I see some people from the crowd sometimes who have been there since the beginning and they bring their kids, they bring their teenagers, I love it — it’s great.”

‘Modfather’ Paul Weller looks forward, not back, with new show