Even with a new album out this week, and with the pandemic striking at the heart of how musicians operate, there’s no stopping Paul Weller. As he tells us in a new interview for this fully-updated deluxe Ultimate Music Guide, he’s been busy completing rough ideas, writing at home, and collaborating remotely with his band. “I’ve already got enough for a new record,” he says.
We shouldn’t be surprised. If there’s a constant feature of Weller’s story, it’s that he’s a musician whose career has been characterised by tremendous industry. From the fire of The Jam, the experimentation of The Style Council to the flowering of his solo career, Weller’s musical changes have been based on a bedrock of social responsibility and growing wisdom.
Even in our changed times he sees something to work with. “The air is noticeably cleaner,” he says. “I’ve started seeing and hearing birds again, the birdsong can be so loud. I’ve found it encouraging to think that the planet only needs a few weeks to start to repair itself. The planet will be here long after we’ve gone. Hopefully people can see that we are part of something bigger and we are lucky to be here.”
Perhaps we’ll hear the fruit of Paul’s insights on subsequent records. For the moment, though, we can reflect on his story so far in the Ultimate Music Guide’s blend of spiky archive interviews and deep critical evaluation of the work. It’s a journey which has taken us from the fire and skill of In The City to the innovative and soulful explorations of his latest album On Sunset. And much as we feel fortunate to be on the trip with him, it’s worth noting that Paul feels pretty grateful to be on it himself.
“My escape was music because nothing else made any sense,” he tells us. “I don’t know what I’d have done if I didn’t have music.”
The Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide to Paul Weller is in shops tomorrow (June 11). Alternatively you can order it online by clicking here.