In this interview with Bruce Foxton, the legendary bassist of The Jam, he talks about the legacy of the band and what the future holds ahead of From The Jam’s All Mod Cons 40th Anniversary Tour.
Forty years ago – in RAC Studios, Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler of The Jam were recording their third album, All Mod Cons, which would go on to reach number six in the UK album charts. The album would push The Jam into the forefront of the British musical landscape with hits like ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’, ‘David Watts’ and ‘A Bomb In Wardour Street’. Forty years on, I sit down with Bruce Foxton to talk about what he remembers from recording the album, as he sets off to perform it live with From The Jam.
“It doesn’t feel like 40 years and it doesn’t sound like 40 years,” says Bruce. Yesterday was the first rehearsal with lead singer and guitarist, Russell Hastings. “The songs yesterday in the rehearsal room sounded really fresh.” Having heard From The Jam live on multiple occasions, it is amazing how well the songs stand the test of time in the live arena, with tracks like ‘Tube Station’ eliciting a frenzied cheer from an audience that clearly has a deep emotional connection to the song. “We’ll be playing the album in its entirety, but like Eric Morecambe, not necessarily in the right order,” Bruce laughs. “They’ll be all the hits in there too, that’s what got us to where we are today.” It’s refreshing to see an artist so at ease with their back catalogue of hits. Some acts shy away from them and others rely on them too much – but From The Jam have struck the perfect balance of honouring the legacy and emotion of the songs, with them all still being played with as much passion, energy and excitement as when they were debuted.
All Mod Cons came at an important time for The Jam. After middling reviews for their sophomore record This Is The Modern World, “It was a make or break album for The Jam” as Bruce puts it. “We had the In The City album, which came out to good exciting reviews and we followed it up with This Is The Modern World, which I still really like and think there are some great songs on there, but the press…” Bruce tails off. “We felt they wanted In The City Two.” He lets out a small sigh. “Come the third album, the record company were looking at us saying “We’ll see what the lads come up with". If it was another This Is The Modern World I don’t think I’d be doing this interview with you…” Bruce chuckles.
Did you feel any pressure in the studio at the time when you were recording?
“We just had a really good feeling about it, we weren’t too bothered about it being a make or break album and putting too much pressure on us, so we just went in the studio to record a great album and I think we came out with it.” It’s interesting to hear Bruce speak about the recording process of such a seminal album so matter-of-factly, but the more I speak to him – the clearer it becomes that Bruce is modest and would much prefer to praise the support of the fans and his co-collaborator Russell Hastings, than to talk about his wildly successful personal achievements. “What keeps me and Russell going is we just love it. We love playing those songs and there is an audience for it. As long as there is an audience I’d like to think we’ll keep on doing it.”
The last I saw From The Jam was at Rewind Festival, where they played a blinding set of hits that left the crowd roaring with applause. “It was great! We’ve done a lot more festivals now, so we’re much more comfortable with playing to an audience where not everyone is there to see us. I remember in 1978, we played at Reading festival and we just didn’t know how to deal with it in those days. The audience was vast and we were used to playing intimate little club shows, so it was quite a transition to make and we didn’t handle it very well. But 40 years down the line I’ve kind of got it now,” Bruce laughs with a wry smile.
So what’s next for From The Jam? After two extremely successful Foxton & Hasting albums (Smash The Clock, their last album reached the UK Top 20), Bruce says another one is in the pipeline. “We’ve got a lot of ideas for a new album, Russ and myself, on various iPhones. We have loads of ideas but what we don’t have is loads of free time. We’re so busy it’s hard to get some studio time, but it’s definitely something that WILL happen and hopefully if Paul is up for it, we’ll do it at his studio.”
Bruce has been on record for a while now stating that he and Paul are on friendly terms, so I ask if he ever could imagine doing a more stripped back acoustic album much like Paul’s latest release? “The acoustic shows are really popular, so that’s something that we have considered. It’s a possibility at some point, that we’d do a From The Jam acoustic album.”
It’s not just in the UK that From The Jam are finding favour, with shows across the globe in Hong Kong, US, Japan and Australia already ticked off the list. “We’re off to France too for a show, so we’re spreading our wings a little bit!” With their biggest tour to date ahead of them, it’s a testament to Bruce and Russell for making From The Jam a band not being pulled along by their hits, but pulling those hits into new and ever expanding global audiences.
Come and celebrate the past 40 years with From The Jam at one of the following shows:
O2 Ritz Manchester: Saturday 10 November Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Newcastle: Saturday 17 November Buy Tickets
O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire: Saturday 24 November Buy Tickets
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