Back in February 2021, The Paul Weller Fan Podcast welcomed it’s first Weller band member past or present. Listen below for a mega hour-long-episode with bass player, musician, producer, broadcaster and DJ – Andy Lewis. What an amazing guest he was too. So smart, funny, informative and interesting. Have a listen and check out my notes below for some of the links and performances that we cover off.
I’ve also added a whole bunch of recommendations that we didn’t even have time for.
Click your preferred podcast platform to listen or hit the player below…
EP11 – Andy Lewis – Musician, DJ & Producer – ”From Blow Up! to Thunderclouds” – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Andy’s DJ dreams blow up into reality…
Andy Lewis started to DJ at university in the late 1980’s and soon discovered that people were just as excited about the strange old 60’s records that he was playing as they were about contemporary tunes.
When back in London, he got a guest spot at Wendy May’s Locomotion, a legendary London night out that gave Andy his first big break.
On the podcast we heard how in 1993, Andy took his Locomotion fans to a new Saturday night happening, in a sweaty room above a Camden Town pub, for an event that was christened Blow Up by its regulars; the name stuck and its fame spread.
Among the people lucky enough to get in were various members of the band Blur, who were so inspired by the mixture of music that they took Andy on the road with them as support DJ on their era-defining Parklife tour.
Sounds, Bands and Acid Jazz…
In 2002, Andy compiled an album of some of his favourite sounds for Sanctuary Records.
Dig The Slowness was billed as ‘a compendium of retro grooves’ and ‘a chilled mix of funk, easy, soul, folk & beat’. It featured the original version of ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ (King Harvest by the way, not Toploader), a delve into David Bowie’s mod period for a song called ‘I Dig Everything’, Small Faces for Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall along with songs from The Marmalade, The Pioneers, Roy Budd and Jimmy Scott.
In spite of his growing fame as a DJ, Andy’s first love has always been making music, as bass player for one of the original Brit Pop pioneers Pimlico, and later for notorious Northern Soul-sampling indie scene stalwarts Spearmint.
Andy released his first solo album on the Acid Jazz label in 2005.
One of the fans of the Billion Pound Project was Paul Weller, who was impressed enough to offer the services of both his studio and his incredible voice. He and Andy co-wrote Are You Trying to Be Lonely? together. The single was released in September 2007 and featured on Andy’s second album You Should Be Hearing Something Now! which came out a month later.
Oh and that collaboration with Paul also included drums by Steve Cradock!
Playing on Paul Weller’s 22 Dreams and joining the band…
Paul shook things up in 2008 with a change of line up and a huge double album- 22 Dreams – recorded over the course of a year at his Black Barn studio. Andy played cello on album opener Light Nights and bass on All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You). He then joined the Paul Weller live band to tour extensively across Japan, Australia, America, Canada, Europe and throughout the UK for the 22 Dreams Tour, staying on board with the band right through to the tour for Saturns Pattern in 2015 – playing to millions all over the globe.
Weller fans have plenty of great highlights to look / listen back to that have been captured from Andy’s time with the band. June 2009 saw the DVD release of Just A Dream: 22 Dreams – Live which featured the BBC4 Session – a 90 minute live performance recorded that was first televised in December 2008.
Paul was joined on some numbers by The Wired Strings and an impressive brass section with Simon Finch, Paul Greenwood, Jim Hunt and Trevor Myers.
He also had a number of special guests, including Oasis guitarist Gem Archer on Echoes Round the Sun, folk musician & fiddle player Eliza Carthy on Wild Wood and Where’er You Go and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon on Black River.
The DVD also featured Rehearsals, Promo videos and a Bonus CD: Live At The Brixton Academy – and marked the arrival of Steve Pilgrim on drums and Andy Crofts on keys.
Waking Up The Nation in 2010
Paul released Wake Up The Nation in 2010 – an album that features guest appearances from My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields and Paul’s former Jam bandmate Bruce Foxton across 16 short, energetic, adventurous songs with lots of creative and experimental arrangements.
Andy provided backing vocals on Pieces of a Dream and played bass guitar for Trees (a song said to have been written as a tribute to Paul’s Dad and manager, John Weller, who had recently passed away).
Another DVD followed later that year which included the full 26 song set from one of his triumphant five nights at the Royal Albert Hall shows (I was there every single night – I may have mentioned it a few times?!). That setlist included tracks from what had become a Mercury Music Prize nominated album along with some classics from The Jam and The Style Council periods including Shout to the Top, Scrape Away, Strange Town and The Butterfly Collector.
Kelly Jones of Stereophonics also makes an appearance as a guest on a couple of songs – That’s Entertainment and The Eton Rifles.
The DVD also featured a new Weller documentary Find The Torch, Burn The Plans – a remarkable 50 minute film by famed director Julien Temple. A must see.
The CD that came with it includes highlights from the Royal Albert Hall and an intimate concert held at the BBC theatre initially broadcast on Radio 2 earlier in the year. I was lucky enough to be in the audience for this one and it was a very special performance with some more amazing guests. Lauren Pritchard joined the band on stage for a beautiful rendition of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) and Richard Hawley played on a live take of No Tears to Cry from the Wake Up The Nation LP.
Unfortunately the version of Wild Wood as a brooding trip-hop duet with the London soul singer Rox and their version of You Do Something To Me didn’t make the CD , nor the fabulous version of Andromeda – again with Richard Hawley.
Andy released a mini-solo album on Acid Jazz in February 2011.
41 was made up of seven songs written and recorded during the last fortnight of the previous Christmas period when, as Andy puts it, “In the space between getting home from my touring duties with Paul Weller in mid-December and the end of 2010, I found myself gifted with a particularly hyperactive musical imagination. New musical ideas and lyrics were coming to me on an almost daily basis. I set myself a bit of a challenge to see how many of them I could turn into complete songs before the year was out. I expected to finish about one or two, and put the others on the back burner, maybe forever. I ended up finishing seven.”.
2012 – The Red Inspectors and Sonik Kicks Live!
2012 kicked off with the debut album release from The Red Inspectors – a band including Andy with Pete Twyman, Miles Chapman and Alex Richards – born out of a love and admiration for the music of the early Acid Jazz bands – Corduroy, Mother Earth, The James Taylor Quartet, Jamiroquai and The Brand New Heavies.
Their debut album Are We The Red Inspectors? Are We? is a cheeky 21st Century mixture of Hammond Organ, detective TV theme tunes, easy listening, porn soundtrack, cocktail lounge, bossa-nova and electro-funk pop tunes.
March 2012, saw the release of another new Weller album – Sonik Kicks – and ‘he once again shakes up his palate and stirs his influences anew. He mixes pop art punch with soulful communication; jazzy explorations into psychedelia and dub with razor-sharp melodies and abstract soundscapes with clear-eyed forest-folk.’
Andy is credited with playing bass, celeste, vibes and glockenspiel on the album and he was part of the live line up for the tour too. Paul said at the time that he isn’t one to wait 20 years to be invited to perform his ‘classic’ album. He would rather do it here and now, there’s no need for nostalgia to play its part. So Sonik Kicks was performed in full at the Roundhouse for 5 nights in a row from 18-22 March 2012. I was there on the first night and it was an incredible show – even more incredible given that the album wasn’t actually released until the following day!.
2014 – Bandcamp Mini Albums and More…
2014 was a hugely productive year for Andy with multiple releases on Bandcamp.
Kicking off in February with 4-14-44 with Andy commenting on it’s release…
“A quartet of tunes presented for your listening and dancing pleasure, especially if you ever frequented the Town And Country Club or Camden Underworld on Fridays, or the T&C2, The Laurel Tree or The Wag on Saturdays during the heady days of Britpop.”
All songs were written, performed and recorded by Andy at The Roscoe Street Hit Factory, Dusty Attic, Garden Room and at Paul Weller’s Black Barn studios with thanks to Pete Twyman, Miles Chapman, Wesley Doyle, Liz Lewis, Charles Rees, James Stone, Paul Weller and Acid Jazz records.
A month later, Andy released a selection of songs and musical interludes intended for A South Herts Symphony, a project started in 2008 and shelved in 2011.
A track called Magic Custard featured backing vocals by many, including Pete Twyman, Steve Cradock, Paul Weller, Miles Chapman, Hannah Weller, Charles Rees…
Andy notes “if you were there and can remember exactly what was going on, please get in touch!”
In April 2014, Andy wrote, recorded and released a mini-LP called Bassetlaw and a month later another would see the light of day with the release of Get Ready! by Lewis, Doyle & Twyman (Andy Lewis, Wesley Doyle and Pete Twyman).
2015 – Saturns Pattern – Paul Weller
In May 2015, Paul Weller returned with a new album called Saturns Pattern. Whilst Andy didn’t play on the album itself, he was credited with thanks from Paul and was part of the live line up with a bunch of notable performances to promote the album around that time. I have added videos for some of them below – including The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, Glastonbury Festival and a brilliant performance of Long Time on Jools Holland’s BBC Later TV show where Andy played bass and sang the introduction for that version too.
2016 – The Collective Songbook
As Paul took a bit of a break in 2016 – his loyal musical backbone of Steve Cradock, Andy Lewis, Andy Crofts, Steve Pilgrim and Ben Gordelier formed their own band called The Songbook Collective.
I’m told it was the result of a little drunken idea at the back of a Paul Weller tour bus one night.~
The project led to an album being recorded at Black Barn Studio (an eclectic mix with each band member adding 3 songs each) and a bunch of live dates which had a rotating ethic, as the band shared the centre microphone and alternated instruments to perform each others songs including classic tracks from Ocean Colour Scene and The Moons as part of the performance.
Physical copies of the album are out of print but you can listen on Spotify here
An album with Judy Dyble
Another big highlight in Andy’s music career that we talked about on the podcast came in 2017 with Summer Dancing – a critically acclaimed album, again on Acid Jazz, that saw him collaborate with Judy Dyble. Judy was the original vocalist in Fairport Convention appearing on their self-titled debut, before joining Giles, Giles and Fripp and then recording the awesome UK psych masterpiece Morning Way under the name Trader Horne with her then boyfriend Ian McDonald. After a somewhat extended stay out of music, Judy had been making a low-key, experimental return – and it’s well worth diving in to this kaleidoscopic collection of audio snapshots that Andy describes thus “with Judy’s words and and my bucolic melancholia this was the kind of record I always wanted to make.”
Sadly Judy passed away in July 2020.
A few highlights as a Producer
Andy is also in demand as a producer – with just some of the many highlights including the 2020 LP from Dan O’Farrell & The Difference Engine called ‘Richard Scarry Lied To Me’ along with Chris Free‘s A Mad Affair EP (2021) and the fabulous Fay Hallam whose albums House of Now (2016) and Propeller (2019) saw Andy step in to the producer chair whilst also adding his musician skills on bass, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, synthesizer, mellotron and electric guitar.
In 2018, Sweden’s top selling male artist Magnus Carlson released A Nordic Soul. The album had originally been recorded in Swedish like all of his other albums. When it hit the number 1 spot it was decided to give the UK audience a listen and so it was re-recorded in English at Paul Weller’s Black Barn studio (produced by Andy) with the incredible talents of Fay Hallam, Weeping Willows and Fredrik Ekander. Incidentally, Magnus had previously released a version of You Do Something to Me on his 2009 album with The Moon Ray Quintet.
2019, saw the release of a new, second album from French Boutik called L’ame De Paris, Produced by Andy, it is something that he is hugely proud of. Described by HeavySoul45s as “like Francoise Hardy fronting The Kinks! Jean Seberg on vocals for The Style Council!”.
Andy tells me that he is going back to France soon to produce another album for them too.
I should also mention André Heller‘s album Spätes Leuchten – which Andy also produced. 16 new songs, matured in the Austrian universal artist’s cultural institution mysterious notebooks, marking his return as a musician.
The Catenary Wires
I would also recommend checking out The Catenary Wires – the band formed in 2014, initially as a duo – Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey – before expanding for their second album Til The Morning to include include contributions from Andy Lewis on bass, Fay Hallam on keyboards and backing vocals and Ian Button on drums (ex-Thrashing Doves/Death In Vegas – another Weller connection there).
Their fabulous third album, Birling Gap, was released in June 2021 with Under The Radar calling it “One of the albums of the year” and Music Journalist (and friend of the podcast) Pete Paphides saying “I can’t recommend it highly enough”. Check them out at catenarywiresband.com
Louis Philippe & The Night Mail
As mentioned on the podcast, you can also hear Andy playing on the magnificent 2020 album ‘Thunderclouds by Louis Philippe & The Night Mail – an amazing showcase for Philippe’s honeyed, rich voice, set to a backdrop of spry, whimsical and bucolic pop.
2021 – Andy Lewis – 51
February 2021, saw a new release to Bandcamp called 51. Andy notes “Ten years ago I released a mini album called 41 on Acid Jazz. Seven years ago I released my first Bandcamp offering, 4-14-44. Now it’s time for 51.”
The songs were made with the invaluable assistance of J&D Guitars and Aston and Sontronics microphones. And here’s another really cool thing. I’m actually on one of the tracks!
Here’s Andy to explain…
“Many years ago when I was five, he saw some graffiti that inspired his life. It said BALLS TO ENOCH POWELL. Down by the river at the edge of town someone had a thought and they wrote it down, they wrote BALLS TO ENOCH POWELL. It probably dated back to ’68, that speech about Rivers Of Blood and hate. A Tory MP with a sour face, he didn’t like people from a different place. His political career ended in disgrace. But though he’s been dead for over twenty years, there are still people clinging on to his ideas- trying to make racism respectable, driving in the wedges to divide and rule. They think they’re being clever but they’re dangerous fools. And until every trace of his memory’s gone, we’ll all stand together and we’ll sing this song, we’ll sing BALLS TO ENOCH POWELL“
So there you go – Andy asked for people to submit their crowd vocals to include on the song – and so I did. And if I remember rightly I sent over a recording of my then 6 year old son, Henry singing the same lyrics too. Amazing!
Soho Radio – Every Other Sunday 12-2pm
You’ll also find Andy Lewis on Soho Radio – where he plays Northern soul, mod, pop and rock every other Sunday 12 – 2pm…
Playlist – A selection of tunes produced, mixed or written by Andy Lewis
Andy Lewis – Some of the Discography (Click the titles for more info…)
1998 – Housebound by Pimlico
2005 – Billion Pound Project by Andy Lewis
2006 – Paris in a Bottle – Spearmint (producer)
2007 – You Should Be Hearing Something Now! by Andy Lewis
2011 – 41 by Andy Lewis
2014 – 4-14-44 by Andy Lewis
2014 – Get Ready! – by Lewis, Doyle & Twyman
2014 – Bassetlaw by Andy Lewis
2021 – 51 by Andy Lewis
2021 – Holland Park by Spearmint