Unintelligible design

From The Boston Globe


When Pop! was a pup, Paul Weller was our favorite. The frontman for the Jam was appealing because his songs -- stuff like "Smithers-Jones," "The Eton Rifles," and "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" -- had a strong British sensibility. Although a working-class kid from Woking, Weller was by no means a lager lout: He wrote uncommonly smart lyrics; was always impeccably dressed; and, to this day, has one of the hippest haircuts in the music business. This week, Weller, 48, released a best-of boxed set, "Hit Parade," and celebrated the occasion with three sold-out shows in New York and LA. We spoke to Weller the other day, but, thanks to his blunt language and unintelligible British accent, we can print only a fraction of our chat.

Q Why are you releasing a greatest-hits set now?

A It wasn't my call, mate. Universal wanted to put it out because [unintelligible], so I said this is as good a time as any.

Q Did you pick the tunes?

A It's the [expletive] A-sides, mate. [Unintelligible.] It's what it says on the tin. Doesn't take a lot of thinking. Know what I mean?

Q You're playing a few Jam tunes on this tour. Why have you resisted doing that for so many years?

A It's taken quite a long time to get comfortable with them. [Unintelligible.] When I was crawling me way back, I didn't want to do all the [expletive] old stuff. [Unintelligible.] I didn't want to make it on what I used to do. Know what I mean? At the end of the day, I've come to look at those songs as [unintelligible]. They're all my children, I guess. [Laughs.]

Q Why aren't you playing more Jam songs on this tour?

A I was not gonna do a greatest-hits gig, mate. That's pretty [expletive] obvious to anyone.

Q You heard that the Police are reuniting? What about the Jam?

A No [expletive] way, mate. [Unintelligible.] It's disappointing, really, all these people getting back together. It's not gonna be the [expletive] same. What you do at the time is of the time, and that's where it should [expletive] stay.

Q Do you feel like you've been given your due in the US?

A [Unintelligible.] I think in relative terms, yeah, I get enough props here. [Unintelligible.]

Q You've been quoted as saying there are two types of music: good and rubbish. Who do you like?

A Quite a lot, really. The last few years have been really special.Over here, you have Dr. Dog, Midlake, Kings of Leon, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and in England, there's Dirty Pretty Things, Arctic Monkeys, the Kooks . . .

Q Some of those bands owe you . . .

Q Didn't the Queen recently want to recognize you in some way? What was all that about?

A [Unintelligible.] She offered to make me a Commander of the British Empire -- whatever the [expletive] that is -- and I politely declined.

Q Why?

A You must be [expletive] joking, man. [Unintelligible.] It's a load of rubbish, isn't it? Come on, mate.

Q You used to be more overtly political than you are today. What's happened?

A I just think I'm disillusioned. Back in the '80s, with Thatcher, it was more cut and dried. Know what I mean? Today, people like Tony Blair are interchangeable. [Unintelligible.] I couldn't tell you what Tony Blair's politics are, and I don't give a [expletive]. I didn't know where to turn, so I turned my back on the whole thing.

Q Thanks.

A Cheers, mate.


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