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| 9 September 2016 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar


The greatest British mod revivalists of their era, The Jam were fuelled by punk energy and a keen eye for social observation. Bassist and sometimes-lead vocalist Bruce Foxton brings his own homage to his former band back to Perth for one night only at Capitol on Saturday, 17 September. SHANE PINNEGAR finds the now-61-year-old rocker still a firebrand.

Despite the music of The Jam being so quintessentially British, From The Jam have still found a very strong audience outside of England. Foxton puts it down to the songs.

“Australia for instance, there’s a lot ex-pats out there, isn’t there? When we came out eighteen months ago, I think a lot of Brits probably thought, ‘wow, this is the closest we’re going to get to hearing The Jam play live again.’ We had a ball out there, so we’re looking forward to it this time around as well.

“The songs sound very contemporary still, on the radio – they still sound fresh and exciting, and you’re talking about songs about 35, 40 years old now and they still sound great on the radio.

“I didn’t mean to just say it’s only ex-pats [in the audience], to be honest,” he continues, “but there are quite a few of those there. Audiences over here, there’s a real cross-section of people that either were original Jam fans or they’ve got into Jam music via Paul [Weller] and his later material – they look back and they see, ‘oh, he was in a band called The Jam.’ That’s where kids are getting into the music, so it’s just very exciting and positive to see so many young people at our shows.

“It’s not just because I’m an old git now and everybody looks younger,” he laughs, “It’s like you know you’re getting old when you see a young policeman.”

Foxton released solo album Smash The Clock earlier in the year, and is thrilled with the response it’s received.

“Russell Hastings and myself co-wrote the album, and we got good press reviews and good radio play,” he explains. “That’s not an easy thing to do, to get radio play these days. You’ve got to be a new exciting band or a really established older musician, and we had a good team of people working with us on Smash The Clock, and we managed to get the radio play. It’s just fantastic that that’s happened, it’s quite an achievement because the whole album, from writing [onwards], it was like a real little cottage industry.

“There’s only a small label, we got fans involved and they actually financed the record. For such a small operation we achieved a lot with the record, and yeah that’s a pat on the back for Russ and myself, basically.”

After The Jam broke up in 1982, Foxton and Weller became estranged, only properly reconciling after Weller’s father – and long-time Jam manager – John, and Foxton’s wife of 25 years, Pat, both passed away within a few months of each other in 2009. Was it a weight off his shoulders when they rekindled their friendship?

“I wouldn’t say it was weight, it was just a lovely moment,” Foxton admits. “Like you mentioned about losing Pat, my first wife, bless her, and John, bless him, just made us realise how trivial our disagreement was all those years prior. A sad loss of time there really, when we could have been hanging out with each other or in touch – we weren’t speaking to each other which was a real shame. I was upset, disappointed that it had come to that, having enjoyed a lot of fun and success with The Jam.

“I’m just relieved and pleased that we’re on speaking terms and when we do get together we have a laugh and a hug and a cup of tea, or whatever, and it’s a happy feeling. It’s lovely again, and a shame that we wasted a few years not speaking to each other.”


The reconciliation has been so complete that Weller played on Smash The Clock. Wilko Johnson – ex-guitarist with Dr Feelgood, and a man who has not only practically cheated death over the past few years, but is also in some of the most blistering form of his life – also guests on the record.

“Yeah, what an amazing man! Paul Weller and Wilco Johnson and Paul Jones playing on our record – you had to pinch yourself, really, that this was really happening. Incredible players and songwriters, and they’re sitting on the sofa in Paul’s studio playing the guitar on our record. It was incredible. We’re very lucky, and as I say, privileged. The Feelgoods – I went to see them in the early ’70s before I was in The Jam – and one of the tracks on the album is called Full Circle, and now we’ve [come] full circle and Wilco’s playing on our record. Amazing – and they did a great job!”

Foxton says that it was important to him to get some new songs recorded, rather than merely relying on former glories.

“Yeah, we play a lot of shows, so we are playing the hits over and over again, but every night we treat it as the first night and it’s just as exciting for us playing the first show as it is the last one on any kind of tour. But yeah, it is important as well that we want to be seen that we are songwriters and we are writing new material, we’ve done that with Back In The Room and now Smash The Clock, and we put two or three tracks from Smash The Clocks in the set which we’ll play in Australia and hopefully they’ll go down as well as they go down over here.

“It’s difficult putting new material in with classic old material – the songs are up against it, but they seem to blend in pretty good and the crowds, as I say, over here are very enthusiastic and they seem to enjoy the new material.”


Foxton still plays those old songs with the energy and zest they’ve always had, and credits the music with keeping him young.

“I think music makes you feel young generally,” he says with a laugh, “and it does make me feel young, I suppose, playing those songs. They were written when we were young and energetic and enthusiastic and positive, and I feel the same now. Each night we get up on stage and play those songs, nothing’s choreographed, and I do tend to find myself leaping up in the air at the same moment every night on a particular song – it just happens, it’s not choreographed! I don’t want it to come across as cheesy, it’s just that’s what happens when I get up on stage and play those songs, I just move around like an idiot – I can’t control myself!”

The Jam may have come to international recognition during the British punk revolution which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year, but the band actually formed in 1972 and were far better players than most of their punk contempories. Though being obviously stylistically and sonically different, Foxton says The Jam still felt an affinity with the first wave of punk bands.

“Absolutely. The music business was really stale early ’70s, and it needed an injection of something, like a kick up the ass, and the Punk, New Wave, however you want to pigeonhole it, [bands] achieved that. We were young and bored with what was out there musically and it was just such an exciting time.

“When Paul and myself went to the Sex Pistols, I believe at the Hundred Club in Oxford Street in London, it just blew us away – and not only did it blow Paul away, it gave him a direction of where he and us wanted to be going. There was a lot of affinity – we didn’t wear the ripped t-shirts and the bondage trousers and the safety pins, etcetera, but we had a lot in common, yeah.”


One thing he never felt for, though, was the spitting, or ‘gobbing’ which the punks were inexplicably fond of.

“No, absolutely. The gobbing what you mentioned, I didn’t did get, I never did understand that. It was disgusting then and it’s disgusting now, and thankfully we don’t get any of that anymore, or beer throwing, because that’s just disrespectful as far as we’re concerned. I think any sensible normal person would not want to be spat at or have a pint thrown over them in any walk of life. When we did have the odd beer thrown up on stage I just wish I could go to whoever did it’s place of work, if he actually had a job, and tip it over his head and think, ‘what do you reckon? Is it funny?’

“It was just annoying, that side of it, but thankfully as I say we haven’t experienced any of that for years now, and hopefully people have grown up a bit. We don’t ask for much, but we ask for some respect up there, we respect the audience and we want that back.”

2017 marks both the 45th anniversary of The Jam’s formation, and also the 40th anniversary of their first album. Do anniversaries like that make him cringe a little at the passing of time, or is it something to cherish?

“Probably a bit of both – mainly it’s like, ‘where did the time go?’” Foxton says with a chuckle. “I can remember Mum and Dad saying that about certain things and not really understanding, because obviously I wasn’t that old, but yeah it seems unbelievable that we’ve had 40 years. Where did it go? But look, I’m lucky, I had a very sad time with losing my wife, but having said that, that’s life or death. I’m not unique, but at the moment life in the Bruce Foxton world is very good, touch wood. I remarried, I’ve got a lovely wife, Kate, we’re celebrating five years marriage later this month, the band are doing well, we’re all hopefully in good health.

“It’s a good time, but yeah, 40 years ago – wow, where did all the time go? But those were a fantastic 40 years. There have been ups and downs, but as I say, in any walk of life you get that and you’ve just got to kind of go with it and pick yourself up when you get knocked down.”


Later this year From The Jam embark on an English tour playing The Jam’s ‘A’s and B’s’, playing a mix of hit singles and rarer B-sides. Is that likely to be a UK only thing, or might Foxton bring that tour down to Australia next year?

“It depends how we do this year,” he admits. “If we do okay in Australia hopefully they’ll have us back. I’d like to think we’ll go back, and yeah, possibly do some B-sides out in Australia. There will be some rarities, but you don’t want to make it too obscure that the majority of the audience haven’t got a clue. It could be a new song as far as they’re concerned, you know? We’ve come all that way to Australia and I think the majority want to hear those hits, but we’ll put a sprinkling maybe of rarities in so that people don’t kind of spin off and lose us, or go to the bar because they haven’t heard this song and no idea what we’re doing. A fine balance I think is what I’m trying to say we want to achieve there.”

Originally published in edited form at X-Press Magazine

Category: Interviews

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