On this episode of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast I am joined by another incredible talent from Paul’s band – Steve Pilgrim.
Paul is quoted as saying on Steve… “One of the great understated modern songsmiths. I love Pilgrims voice, his lyrics, his sense of melody. I hope people get to hear his music, it’s really something special”
Ex-The Stands, Cast, John Power and John Head, Steve joined the Paul Weller band in 2008 for the 22 Dreams tour ( following on from drumming legends Steve White and Rick Buckler when you think about it! – something that we discuss on the podcast).
Steve has been a key fixture of the band ever since. Both live – behind the kit – touring the world multiple times – and on record from Wake Up The Nation through to Fat Pop – ever since.
As Andy Lewis said on the podcast, “Steve is a better singer-songwriter than he is a drummer, and he’s a fantastic drummer…”
Our podcast begins with a text from Paul Weller that was the only inspiration Steve Pilgrim needed to finish the writing of his much-anticipated sixth album ‘Beautiful Blue’…
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EP109 – Steve Pilgrim – Drummer, Singer, Songwriter, Weller Bandmate… ”To reappear so beautifully, a technicolour effigy…” – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
2022 – Beautiful Blue – Steve Pilgrim (Released Sept 2022)
Working with Paul Weller as producer and co-writer on his 5th studio album, Steve Pilgrim releases the achingly melancholic “Beautiful Blue” on September 2nd.
The album features Paul Weller, Steve Cradock and Rachael Jean Harris with string arrangements from Hannah Peel and strings from Antonia Pagulatos, Stella Page, Kotono Sato and Katy Cox.
You’ll find other former podcast guests on the LP too with Tom Heel playing Brushed Cymbals on Whistle in the Wind and Steve Trigg (The General) on Flugel Horn for Don’t Let The Mirror Break You.
Having had a sneak preview of the LP, I can tell you that it is absolutely stunning.
You can order the album here.
2019 – The Magic Strings Session – Steve Pilgrim with Danny Thompson
Recorded live over 2 days at Paul Weller’s Black Barn Studio. “The Magic Strings Session” is a selection of Steve Pilgrim’s best loved material, accompanied by Double Bass legend Danny Thompson. A further day of recording, at Liverpools Parr Street Studios, saw the Cairn String Quartet added to some of the tracks.
You can order the album here.
2017 – Morning Skies – Steve Pilgrim
Recorded throughout 2016 over several sessions, Morning Skies is Steve Pilgrim’s 4th studio album. For this stripped back and intimate acoustic album Steve enlisted the help of the legendary double bass player Danny Thompson and was blessed by support on keys from Paul Weller. The album is enriched by the vocals of Rachael Jean Harris and the addition of a string quartet on several tracks.
You can buy the album here.
2016 – The Songbook Collective
The Songbook Collective features Steve Pilgrim, Steve Cradock, Andy Crofts, Andy Lewis and Ben Gordelier. The band came from a little drunken idea at the back of a Paul Weller tour bus one night.
The album features 3 songs written by Steve Pilgrim – Weight Of The World, Instant Gratification Blues and Laura’s Song.
2011 – Pixels and Paper – Steve Pilgrim
Pixels and Paper features songs about love, relationships and “abstract social commentary about the nature of being a modern man”.
Paul Weller plays piano, electric guitar and sings on tracks – Firecracker, Explode the Sun and Closing Moments.
Speaking to the BBC in 2012, Steve said “Paul Weller is very open to being creative and he knew I always did my own material, so when the time came and I asked if he’d like to play on a track, he didn’t have to think about it really. He was just okay about it. It was different to have that role reversal, I mean, normally he musically directs me and I was having to say, ‘can you back off a little bit here’ or ‘can you emphasis this line’, so that was quite odd, but I liked it. I don’t mind telling people what to do.”
You can buy the album here.
2009 – Sunshine – Steve Pilgrim
The album featured help from the guitar wizard and musical brother Steve Cradock. The haunting vocals of Rachael Jean Harris and majestic trumpet skills of Martin Smith.
You can buy the album here.
The story behind the new album…
Stevie, I’ve got this idea I thought might be good for you…”
A text from Paul Weller was the only inspiration Steve Pilgrim needed to finish the writing of his much-anticipated sixth album ‘Beautiful Blue’
Acclaimed songwriter Steve Pilgrim, who has played drums and sung with living legend Paul Weller for more than a decade, was in the middle of writing the songs of his life when a modern catalyst arrived. Pilgrim was reaching for humanity, humility and sanity in a fouled and confused pre-pandemic world of cultural unrest and rising extremism when the audio note landed (“Stevie, I’ve got this idea I thought might be good for you…”) and set the scene for Pilgrim’s progress.
“It was pre-pandemic, but still a time of political and cultural unrest in the UK: Brexit, austerity, the rise of extremism in various forms. It felt as a country we were being divided, pulled-apart… atomised. In the midst of this unrest and disquiet – as people, individuals, families, as humans – there was a sense of loss of direction and I felt it was important to break through to the other side with some semblance of positivity and hope. That’s how these songs started: to start making sense of becoming a functioning human in a dysfunctional country.”
That’s how they started, but it was the text from Weller that helped bring them together for critically-acclaimed songsmith Pilgrim. These sketches of songs, melodies and chord progressions became the beginning of a co-writing direction for Pilgrim/Weller and took the material to a new place, tugging and pushing the softly-spoken Scouser in new ways that only Weller could provoke. Tunes such as ‘Test of Faith’, ‘Don’t Let The Mirror Break You’, ‘One With All’, ‘Universe’ and ‘Where Our Love Goes’ have echoes of Pilgrim’s previous work, but add a warmth and classicism found in his co-writer’s celebrated ‘True Meanings’ record.
“By the time the pandemic arrived in 2020 the songs were ready and Paul suggested we start recording the album at his studio in Woking. With the assistance of house engineer and sonic wizard Charles Rees, within three days we had the bulk of the record done. We had ‘Beautiful Blue’ and everything was going to be ok.”
With the aural assistance of string arrangements from the renowned Hannah Peel, ‘Beautiful Blue’ is the work of an artist who finds strength in still life and shouts loudest when whispering. The songs on this album are streamlined, lacking fat and offer intricate acoustic guitar playing weaving in and out of memorable melodies (‘New Sky’), undulating strings (the gorgeous title track) and devastatingly delicate vocal harmonies (‘Everyday’).
“This set of songs took a while to complete as I wanted to impose thematic constraints on my writing. I knew it was important to stay focused and that’s when the message from Paul arrived. What an honour. The songs might now be written, but they couldn’t be realised without listeners… it would be great to see you at a gig.”
2022 – Steve Pilgrim – Lifeboat (taken from the new LP)
2020 – Paul covers Beautiful Blue during lockdown…
2021 – The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe – Paul & Steve at 100 Club
Part of a documentary on Sky Arts called The Live Revival that celebrated grassroots venues. This version of Jawbone’s The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe was recorded at London’s 100 Club…
2018 – Gravity – Soho Radio Vinyl Session
Paul & Steve perform Gravity from Paul’s album True Meanings. The track was cut direct-to-disc on Soho Radio’s vintage lathe.
2018 – Steve Pilgrim & Danny Thompson – Magic Strings
Musicians around the globe celebrated Bert Jansch, the legendary guitarist and singer song-writer who would have turned 75 in November 2018. The Bert Jansch Foundation sent a special guitar, the Yamaha TransAcoustic – the latest incarnation of Bert’s favoured L series – across continents from artist to artist, enabling musicians to connect with his timeless music and enduring legacy.
For Around the World in 80 Plays, Steve and Danny made this exclusive recording on the TransAcoustic guitar of ‘Magic Strings’ a song Steve wrote about Danny’s playing.
Be One Percent
Steve is also a co-founder and the Creative Director of the ‘Be One Percent’ charity.
THEIR MISSION IS TO END EXTREME POVERTY THROUGH ONE SIMPLE IDEA: Members give 1% of their income to help the world’s poorest communities while businesses fund their running costs.
Find out more here.