One of the UK’s most influential bands have reunited – without frontman Paul Weller – and will be playing a hotly-anticipated gig at Newcastle’s Carling Academy later this year. Andy Welch talks to From The Jam.
WITH a sell-out tour already behind them and another, larger jaunt around the country scheduled for November, it’s almost like Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler have never been away.
As two thirds of The Jam, one of Britain’s most successful groups, they’ve seen it all before – they’ve played to packed venues around the world, have topped the charts and influenced everyone from Noel Gallagher to a crop of more contemporary bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, Hard-Fi and The Enemy.
That doesn’t mean the affable drummer and bass player weren’t nervous before making the decision to form a new band, From The Jam, and do it all over again.
“We were definitely apprehensive about doing it,” confesses Bruce.
“There were a few reasons – one, Paul wasn’t going to be in the band, and two, Jam music is very precious to the fans and we weren’t sure what percentage would be for or against us getting back together.
“Should the songs be left in 1982, or is it cool to do it? After thinking about it, we felt we were entitled to play those songs, and it was so good in rehearsals we thought, ‘Why not go out and do it?’”
Any fears were soon allayed when the fans made their opinions known by buying all the tickets for the first 20 shows in a matter of days.
As well as Rick and Bruce, From The Jam features Russell Hastings on guitar and lead vocals and Dave Moore, who plays rhythm guitar and keyboards.
The reformation came about when Rick, who had all-but retired from music, decided he wanted to get back into the swing of things.
For the past 12 years he’s been running a furniture restoration business, but after seeing how much fun the musicians were having on stage at a Mod festival, he joined Russell’s Jam tribute band, The Gift.
“When I joined The Gift, Bruce was still involved with Stiff Little Fingers and a side project called Casbah Club too,” says the gravel-voiced Rick.
“I played with them just because I wanted to get back into drumming.
“We found ourselves on the same bill at a gig, so I asked Bruce if he fancied getting up and doing a couple of numbers with us, seeing as we were all in the same room,” he continues.
“He did, and the reaction was great, which I think convinced him to get involved more permanently.
“We played a few more shows with Bruce doing guest appearances, but then thought we had to do something more serious this year, which is where we are at the moment.”
Press reviews of the band’s previous concerts were superlative-laden affairs, and due to the manner in which From The Jam have gone about their business – small venues, low-key publicity – it’s impossible to say they’re in it merely for the money.
“We weighed it up and took it very seriously. It wasn’t a light-hearted decision, but we thought we could do the songs justice,” says Bruce.
The duo also talk of possible new material for the band, although, like the decision to get back together, it’s not something they’d do if it wasn’t up to scratch.
Both Rick and Bruce say they might write some more songs, but it’s a big might.
“At the minute, we’re riding the crest of a wave,” admits Bruce.
“It’s great to be back, we’re sounding great and all the rest of it, but if we do release something new, the press are going to put it under a microscope and the scrutiny will really kick in.
“We just want to make sure it’s right. We have to be 100% sure that whatever we release or include in a live set is worthy of being there when put next to Jam music.”
After forming in 1972, The Jam made the breakthrough to the mainstream with their debut single In The City.
It started a run of 18 Top 40 singles, including four No 1 hits, and six classic studio albums.
Weller, however, famously broke up the group in 1982, going on to form The Style Council, and later forged a highly successful solo career.
For years, he didn’t play any Jam or Style Council songs when performing live.
He’s since relented a little, adding classics A Town Called Malice and That’s Entertainment, among others, to his live sets, but his attitude toward reforming the group hasn’t softened one bit.
He was once quoted as saying: “Me and my children would have to be destitute and starving in the gutter before I’d even consider that.”
Even though Rick and Bruce were offered no explanation about why The Jam broke up, and the former hasn’t spoken to Weller since 1982, there’s little animosity on their part.
“It’s a shame he’s not involved,” offers Rick. “I’m sure if he came along to do something he would actually enjoy it. He should revel in the success of The Jam as much as anyone.”
“I’m sure we could put any problems behind us,” adds Bruce. “It’s a cliche, but music transcends everything. I just think it would be wonderful if he cared to join us, that’s all I can say.”
From The Jam will be playing Newcastle’s Carling Academy on December 14. Box office (0844) 477-2000 or www.newcastle-academy.co.uk.