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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
BRUCE FOXTON Interview 2013




talks about the band's upcoming tour of Australia, his new record and a never ending tour. It's all good.





Mark: Hi, Bruce, happy 2013. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. It’s great to see you coming back over to Australia in a few weeks’ time. Tell us about the tour you are on at the moment in the UK, how’s it going so far?



Bruce: It’s weird to say tour, as it just seems to keep rolling on! We pretty much have gigs fifty two weeks a year over here, apart from the annual holidays, it’s just one long tour, split up with recording, so we are constantly on the go.



Mark: It is amazing how many dates you are packing in; I’ve just had a look at your tour schedule for 2013.



Bruce: Yeah, it’s healthy, which is great news for us to know that we are in demand. It’s encouraging that our new album, for which we got financial  backing to record it, and a distribution deal, and although it wasn’t on a major label , it got to number 21 in the charts over here, and I haven’t been in the charts for a long while! It also got good reviews in a lot of well-respected publications.



Mark: It’s a great album, well, from the snippets we have heard down here.



Bruce: We knew we were on to something big when we were in the studio. The last time I got that feeling was when we recorded “All Mod Cons” in London in 1978/79; we knew that record was going to be really good. It just felt right, it was great working with Paul Weller again, and there were good vibes and a really relaxed atmosphere in the room. We came out with a great record, and something we are extremely proud of.



Mark: It's great that you are still enjoying making music, although I guess it never really goes away, does it?



Bruce: Well, no it doesn’t, it’s what I do. We finished just after Christmas, and already now, I am recharged, and keen to get going again, even though we’ve only just had over a week off! I’ve been home, had Christmas and New Year, and now I’m ready to get out there and get going again!



Mark: Tell us about your guests on the new album?



Bruce: Yeah, that was amazing, obviously Paul Weller, he came in on three of the tracks and brought them to another level, we were happy with what we had laid down, but then Paul came in and he played the glockenspiel, on one of the tracks, piano and obviously the guitar, it was fantastic. But, it was hard being in the same room again. Then we had Steve Cropper on “Don’t Waste My Time”, that was a real coup for us and I’ll try not to waffle on too much, but our agent is from Rock Artist Management, and he is a guy called Peter Barton, and he fronts The Animals, and Steve Cropper was on stage on tour last year as a guest with The Animals. Pete said I’m going to get Steve Cropper to play on your album, Bruce, what do you reckon?! Well, I said, that would be fantastic, if it comes off! He was true to his word, and Steve was supposed to record with us last year, but he ran out of time, and had to go back to Nashville. But, we sent him a track, and he put his guitar on it and sent it back to us. It was a result; I would have loved to have met the man in person, but he is coming over again in February this year, and hopefully we’ll be able to do a video for the single. I’m hoping Steve will agree to appear in that, and more importantly I’ll get to meet him this time! Then there’s Steve Norman, the sax player from Spandau Ballet, he also played on a couple of tracks. So, it sort of just evolved, we didn’t set out to do it, they were around and it just made it very special.



Mark: I think sometimes, that’s the best way, to be organic. You mentioned “All Mod Cons” briefly there, and we got a few questions from our readers to ask you. One was, what do you see as your favourite contribution, to the song writing of The Jam? A lot of people are saying “News of The World”, but for me “Don’t Tell Me Your Sane”, is my personal favourite.



Bruce: I don’t like taking credit for the writing of songs; it’s very much a three way effort. I’m sure Paul would agree, we all contributed immensely to each song. It was just the way we sounded from day one, we were all young and green back then, we just said whoever came up with the initial idea for a song, it’s their song .Probably the fairer way would have been to split it three ways, but I’m not whinging about it. I think just being in the band was my best contribution, and some of the songs I wrote, I was pleased with. I liked “Smithers- Jones”, that was probably my favourite out of them all. It still goes down well on the live circuit, and people shout out for it. Do you get a programme out there called “Mock the Week” because “News of the World” is used as the theme tune for that, it’s a satirical news show.



Mark: I've seen it on satellite over here afew times it's a bit like 'Have I Got News for You'. Always great to have a song on national TV every week I'll bet. You also played with one of my favourite bands, Stiff Little Fingers, for fifteen years, what are some of your favourite memories of playing with them?



Bruce: They were around at the same time as The Jam, and out on the road at the same time and our paths crossed, and I struck up a friendship with Jake Burns that has lasted 30 odd years. When he called me in 1990, and asked me to join them, it was perfect timing, as I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I was with an independent band based in Leeds and we were doing a few gigs, but not really getting anywhere, and I was wondering what I was going to do. Then Jake just called me up out of the blue and offered me a life line, and we had fifteen years, it was a bit strange playing someone else's basslines at first but over that time I added my own stamp to the music, and with the new music, I had a free hand and that’s when I came in to my own.



Mark: You did four great albums with Stiff Little Fingers, I absolutely loved them.



Bruce: It was a great time. Towards the end I was playing with Mark Brzezicki, and Simon Townsend (Pete’s brother) in a band called Casbah Club, and we were offered a support slot with The Who, and being a big fan, and being influenced by them I had to make the decision whether Casbah Club would clash with Fingers, and so Jake and I agreed to call it a day. It was a big decision, because I didn’t know how long Casbah Club would go on for, and it seemed crazy giving up 15 years with a great band, like Fingers, to do a one off tour with The Who. But, it was kind of a time for a change, and then it lasted three years.



Mark: You did record one album with Casbah Club that I can’t pronounce the name of! Venustraphobia, was it?



Bruce: Yeah, that’s right. They were mainly Simon’s songs, he was a great song writer, but it was hard for him, having a famous brother. He didn’t receive the recognition he deserved, as he was under the shadow of his brother.



Mark: I always remember, when I was growing up in England, I was at school when The Jam came out, and I was in a difficult situation, as I always loved The Kinks, The Small Faces, and Steve Marriott has always been my musical hero. Then my dad had his Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy record collection. But, back in those days, you either liked your Punk, Rock music, or the “Mod” stuff, there was no middle ground. These days you can look back at any of those bands, and say, it was just great rock music, do you think that’s true?




Bruce: Absolutely. Thin Lizzy were a great band. Loved Phil, he's sadly missed.




Mark: What are your audiences like in the UK? Are there a lot of people in the Mod regalia?



Bruce: It’s a real cross mix of people who are my age, who saw us first time round, and they’re now bringing their sons and daughters along, who weren’t really born when The Jam came out! Paul Weller has also been successful, so there are all his fans too, who have listened to The Jam and thought that’s pretty cool as well. The audience just seems to get younger! It’s a healthy situation, I’m not just playing to the converted, there are a lot of new fans out there.



Mark: The tour kicks off on the 31st January, here in Perth, which is where we are based, and where there are a lot of first and second generation English people, and so probably the anticipation here is probably a bit more intense than other parts of Australia. Did you come here when you toured in 2008?



Bruce: Yeah, we did, and we did Adelaide as well, and there are a lot of ex pats over there, generally the gigs were really well attended. I had a break there in 83/84, and never thought I’d hear The Jam being played out there, and here we are! The only trouble for us is they have given us too many days off!! But, it’s nice to come back to work there and be a tourist, I’m looking forward to it. How’s the weather?



Mark: It’s very hot and humid, about 40 degrees!



Bruce: It was like that when we were last in Adelaide, 40 degrees; we got to the hotel, and headed straight for the swimming pool! It’s just great to take our music across the other side of the world, and still be appreciated.



Mark: It is a fantastic thing and it’s great to see you making the effort to come out to places like Australia.



Bruce: That’s the only down side, it’s a long way!! We are up for it; we had a great time last time we were over. What about the forest fires? Do you think they’ll mess up our tour?



Mark: No, they won’t get anywhere near where you are going. If that happens we’ll all be in trouble, most of your venues are firmly in the middle of the cities and travel between should be fine.  I appreciate the time you’ve spent with us, Bruce; it’s been great to catch up with you, have a safe few dates in Spain, before you come over.



Bruce: Yeah, we are in Spain, for three shows, and then we come back for a couple of days to get the dry cleaning sorted out, pack our bags, and then coming over to you guys.



Mark: A final question, to finish. If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any album, at any point in time, what would it have been and why?



Bruce: Wow, that’s a tough one (pause) I guess it would probably be the Beatles when they were recording Revolver, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in those sessions.



And as chance will have it at that point the line drops out and we never get to ask Bruce the Meaning of Life, or rather we do but we never get to hear his answer. We better go and find out from him when he gets down here.




by Mark Diggins













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