If you’d have told me at the beginning of January 2021 that this year, my podcast would have featured two actual members of The Jam and Paul’s partner in music throughout the whole of The Style Council, I’m not sure that I would have believed you.
Let alone getting to chat with a fella who has been a kay part of the Weller Solo band over the past ten years…
Oh and his sister Nicky Weller with his mum Ann chipping in…
Oh and his legendary tour manager of 40 years, Kenny Wheeler who has never been interviewed by anybody!
What started out as a bonkers idea of chatting to some other fans about a shared love of Paul Weller for a monthly podcast has grown into a collection of 75 episodes (to date) that now have their place in the Sound Archive of the British Library!
We kicked off in January 2021 with The Magic Mod and finished with what I think is our 13th Honorary Councillor. Lovers of The Jam – have heard from founding member Steve Brookes & powerhouse drummer Rick Buckler. From The Style Council – the mighty Mick Talbot joined the show back in May – a conversation that led to me doing a live interview at a special celebration of the band in October ( a career highlight) and in Mick helping me with recommendations for a digital piano purchase for my wife’s 40th a month later.
I discovered the music of Paul Weller with those early solo releases so it’s always very special to feature band mates from the past 30 years too – so speaking to current member Andy Crofts was something that I’ll never forget – a real highlight in my year not just on the podcast – and to get an email back from the incredible Jacko Peake saying that he listened and would love to come on was simply amazing. How great it is to see and hear him back with the band now too – brilliant stuff.
It’s been a real joy to hear from past members of the solo band too – most of them people that I’ve seen live in the mix over the past 30 years – Andy Lewis, Damon Minchella, Matt Deighton, Zeke Manyika, Paul Francis and Camelle Hinds.
One thing that has really stood out for me is the stories of collaborators from hugely talented people like Hannah Peel, Stone Foundation (Neil Jones, Neil Sheasby and Steve Trigg), Kathryn Williams, Steve Ellis, Aziz Ibrahim, Villagers and Declan O’Rourke. I’m a fan of their own music too so it has been particularly special to chat about their careers, approaches to song-writing and even to meet a few of them at live gigs in recent months too which has been a real treat ( enjoying a glass of wine with Kathryn Williams at Kings Place bar another huge highlight from 2021 for me)
This podcast has celebrated a love of live Weller performances with Steve Wheatley (who even created an exclusive pin badge to celebrate the podcast) – and I’ve heard what it’s like to guest with Paul on stage from the likes of Sam Brown & Dave Swift and even heard about remixes from two very special musicians in Le Superhomard and Seckou Keita.
The visual side of Paul’s work has been discussed via music videos with Sonja Phillips and album artwork for 22 Dreams with Timothy Shepard to Fat Pop with Alex Borg AKA The Stereo Typist and I even chatted about a new 2021 movie that was inspired by Paul Weller with Chris Green (Pebble and the Boy).
We’ve had some of the finest writers, designers, programmers & broadcasters in the country – Ian Snowball, Pat Gilbert, Pete Paphides, Danny Ecclestone, Jeff Slate, Daniel Rachel, John Harris, James Curran, Shaun Hand, Dylan Jones, John Wilson, Jon Abnett, Peter Gordon & David Lines – people whose work has educated and inspired me so much over the years.
We’ve heard from former-Polydor players – Dennis Munday and Peter Wilson and from huge fans of The Jam including the legend that is Alan McGee along with Blogger Jill Webb, US Super-Fan Steve Hinders and The Jam Tarts – Jane, Jackie & Rachel to those who worked with the band like designer, Bill Smith and Photographers Steve Rapport, Martyn Goddard, Twink and Derek D’Souza.
We’ve celebrated The Style Council with a whole bunch of Honorary Councillors including some of the above plus Hilary Seabrook (now Robertson), Anthony Harty, Kevin Miller, Jaye Williamson (now Jaye Ella-Ruth), Ashley Slater, Billy Chapman, Chris Bostock and Barbara Snow.
Discussing the power of songwriting and lyrics with the legendary Squeeze man – Chris Difford – was another real highlight – so say that I was nervous on this one was an understatement but what a lovely and hugely funny, smart guy. Fabulous. I also got to see him live in Sutton back in July – which was something very special.
We launched Fat Pop with a fan special on the day of release – it was amazing to take the day off work to spend time with a whole bunch of you on one giant Zoom call – recorded over lunchtime and published the very same day as a celebration of the new album – Including The Magic Mod (Ben Taylor), Trevor Neal (Trevor & Simon), Broadcaster Peter Gordon (PG) plus Super-Fans, Tony Christmas, Aarjen Schilt, Peter Nagle, Sandy Mackinnon, Jordan Cartmell, Dan Spackman and David Gordon – we even heard from PR guru – Polly Birkbeck ahead of it’s release too.
We had our first session on the podcast as the hugely talented Teenage Waitress played live and told some great stories too and we even had a banjo cover of Butterfly Collector from Twink – giving me a big idea for 2022 – more to come on that.
I was also really pleased to feature The Royal Albert Hall boss Craig Hassall to talk about the struggles of running a music venue in these tough times and to hear about Paul’s affiliation with this very special concert hall ( I may have mentioned going 5 nights in a row ? ).
What else? Well the podcast was featured in record collector for a half page advert and full page article – which was amazing. I got to say Hello to a whole bunch of you at the Soul Deep Event which was a real joy – I’ve got a bunch of people in my mobile who are related to Paul or work with him past and present – and I got to visit King Kenny Wheeler at his home on Mersea Island. F@&king insane. In December, I even got to… actually I’ll save that last one for another day.
As yet – the BIG one is still out of reach – but here’s hoping 2022 will bring more fabulous special guests with connections to Paul, more big fans sharing their amazing stories and fingers crossed for Bruce, Whitey, Dee, Chopper, Steve P, Tom, Ben, Charles, Stan, Bill, Claire and of course Mr Paul Weller.
Whatever happens – 2021 has been a joy. Thanks for listening and for following / subscribing on podcast channels. Keep it up!
It’s been really lovely seeing all of your reviews on Apple Podcasts – you can leave one here if you’d like to – and your ratings on Spotify – you can leave one here – it all helps us to find new listeners to the show and you can get in touch on Social Media Channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I also want to say THANKS to those who came on board at the tail end of 2020 – without whom this podcast wouldn’t have been possible – Stuart Deabill, Mark ‘Bax’ Baxter, Russell Hastings, Ric Blaxill and Lee Cogswell…
And to all of you – Thanks again for listening – continue to spread the word.
We have some BIG things planned for 2022. Stay Safe and Happy New Year.