With The Jam, The Style Council and his later solo work, Paul Weller long ago established himself as a legend of alternative rock. He has steadily produced music under his own name since 1992’s self-titled debut, but recently has expanded his ventures to film score. Earlier this year, Weller released his first film score for Jawbone, a British drama set for release today.
Additionally, Weller has a new album on the way, his 13th solo record. Titled A Kind Revolution, it features much of the classic songwriting that has made Weller a household name, plus guest appearances from artists like Boy George and Robert Wyatt. Weller spoke with mxdwn about both the new album and the film score, as well as how he linked up with Boy George for “One Tear.”
mxdwn: At what point did you decide to name the record A Kind Revolution?
Paul Weller: Towards the end of finishing up the record – it’s one of the lines from a song on the album and it seemed quite appropriate for the record. Not that there’s anything conceptual or thematic to it.
mxdwn: Does it have any connection to the current social or political atmopshere?
PW: Yeah, absolutely. I think the answers are inside us all, really. It’s a revolution of the spirit or the soul in all people, as opposed to the revolution that just kills more people and lets more blood.
mxdwn: The record definitely feels more personal than political.
Weller: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a political record at all. It’s about people, humanitarian. But there are all sorts of songs on there. There’s a song about Edward Hopper, there’s some straight love songs – it’s a mixture of things.
mxdwn: Are there any new inspirations or influences that affected the creation of this record?
PW: I wish I could say I did, but not really, no. I mean, I listen to all sorts of music but no more or no less than I always do. But I think all that music gets fed in and reprocessed somehow and adds to the pot.
mxdwn: There are quite a few guests on the record (from Robert Wyatt to Boy George) – were these songs written alongside these collaborators or written with any of their talents in mind?
PW: They were [involved] when we were a bit further down the line with a song. I think a certain section, or I could hear a particular player or vocalist, that they could bring something to the track, and then just called them up and saw if they were up for it. And luckily they were.
mxdwn: How did you team up with Boy George?
PW: I’ve known him a long time, back to the ’80s. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, but I saw him on TV a couple years ago and his voice really sounded soulful and full. I got in touch with him a little while after that and we were going to try to do something on my last record but it didn’t work out. So that was in the back of my mind and, the song that he’s on, I could just hear him singing the intro.
mxdwn: Do you see yourself trying to collaborate more with Boy George?
PW: Well, I’d like to. We’ve talked about doing some writing together for his own stuff. But I’d love to because I felt my voice always worked really well with his.
mxdwn: How did you decide to release “Long Long Road” as the first single from A Kind Revolution?
PW: Well, I think we all just thought it was the strongest radio record. But you know how fragmented radio is – we put it out to some stations, and “Nova” we put out to other stations. It’s a different way of working these days.
mxdwn: How does your approach to composition vary when you are scoring a film versus your traditional solo material?
PW: Yeah, totally different approach: half of it [film scoring] I did to picture and more than half I did prior to the film being made. And that’s the more experimental, electronic stuff I did for it. So I did that before the film was made, which is kind of ass-about-face. But I knew it would work, I really believed it would work for the film.
It’s a totally different way of working. It’s far more disciplined, getting the timing right. But also with the music I did for the film, some of the music is very jarring and maybe at odds with the picture and other times it’s very harmonious. Hopefully that comes through, anyway. It was an interesting way of working; I’d never done that before.
mxdwn: Is film scoring something you would like to further explore?
PW: Yeah, I’d love to, if it’s the right sort of film.
mxdwn: What are the plans for touring behind A Kind Revolution?
PW: We’ve been out in the UK, then we’re going to Europe, and then we’re going to the States in October. We’ve got a month of gigs in the States. And then some more dates next year as well.