Paul Weller heads across the universe on 'Saturns Pattern'

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 7:42 AM
Paul Weller heads across the universe on 'Saturns Pattern'

LONDON (AP) — From teenage rock star to "The Modfather," Paul Weller has been a sound and style icon to fans for more than 30 years. But his own philosophy is: Don't look back.

"There's no future in nostalgia," says Weller, looking razor-sharp from his artfully cut gray hair to his tan desert boots.

Since he left post-punk power trio The Jam at the height of the band's fame in 1982, Weller has ventured through soul and jazz, with The Style Council, and 50 shades of rock on his dozen solo albums.

His latest, "Saturns Pattern," is a meaty blend of blues, soul, funk and psychedelia that marks yet another change of direction. It features musicians including guitarist Steve Craddock, a longtime collaborator, and Josh McClorey of teenage Irish rockers The Strypes. But the vision is very much Weller's, right down to the absence of an apostrophe in the title — he says it just didn't look right.

"I still feel I'm on this journey, and I don't know where it's going to, and I like that," said the 57-year-old, who spoke to The Associated Press about how music has changed, and why he's not content just to perform his old Jam songs.

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AP: There are a lot of different sounds on this album. What was the process of making it?

Weller: "I just wanted to hear something fresh, something new. ... I didn't want to have an album of more traditional arrangements and acoustic guitars.

"I wanted to do something different, but I didn't know what that different was until we found it. So it was a question of just starting from scratch and then chipping away until we hit a sound that I thought, 'That's what it should be.'"

AP: You've never been afraid to change direction in your career. Why is that?

Weller: "Well, I get bored quickly. I kind of take my hat off to bands who have been around for a long time and still do the same thing, because it's hard to keep a band together for decades. But I couldn't do that. I couldn't play the same songs night after night or just trade on my past glories, because it wouldn't interest me as a person.

"Festivals are full of bands who've got back together or are trading on nostalgia. And I just think, where is the outlet for the youth and for the new talent?"

AP: Was it always all about music, for you?

Weller: "Always. My mum took me to see an Elvis film when I was about 2. I had a little plastic guitar and she always used to tell me the story that I stood up in the aisles and was singing along to the film. I tend to think that was a sign that I was supposed to do this."

AP: You are a big fan of The Beatles. Do you still get inspiration from them?

Weller: "All the time, yeah. The Beatles changed the world. They certainly changed my world, and many, many other individuals as well.

"I can remember even as a little kid hearing 'Strawberry Fields Forever' on the radio, early 1967, and I just thought it had been beamed in from outer space or something. It just changed the whole map. They probably devised the map."

AP: Do you think young people today have a different relationship to music?

Weller: "You can listen to music at any moment in the day or night. Which is great, but I think it kind of devalues it as well. They don't feel the need to own it. They certainly don't feel the need to pay for it, that's for sure. I'd have to save up for weeks to buy an album when I was a kid, and that made it even more great for me when you finally got that thing in your hand.

"There's more to distract people now, isn't there? When I was a kid there was music and football and clothes. And that was kind of it, really. Those three things defined you as a person."

AP: Can you relate to the music your kids like?

Weller: "Not all of it. Some of it I do. My son, who's 10, played me Skrillex, which I really loved. And I hadn't heard that before. He's been constantly playing George Ezra, which is good, nice voice. ... Then I play them a bit of Stooges, or they play me new stuff.

"I get told to turn my music down by my kids, which is weird."

AP: What will your next album sound like?

Weller: "Sort of hard soul-heavy disco."

AP: That sounds great.

Weller: "I just made that up."

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Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless