Bruce Foxton, singer, songwriter and musician, chats with Kevin Cooper about his relationship with Paul Weller, Russell Hastings buying him a steam iron for Christmas, their latest album From The Jam Live! and their current tour of the UK.

Bruce Foxton is an English singer, songwriter, and musician, whose music career spans more than 40 years. He is best known for being the bassist and backing vocalist of 70s band, The Jam.

He occasionally performed the lead vocals on songs such as News Of The World, David Watts and Smithers-Jones. After the band’s break-up, he pursued a brief solo career releasing one studio album, Touch Sensitive, in 1984, and played in several bands, including Sharp with former Jam member Rick Buckler, before joining Stiff Little Fingers in 1990.

In February 2007, Foxton and Buckler announced they would be touring together again as From The Jam, with members of Buckler’s Jam tribute band The Gift.

In October 2012, Foxton released Back In The Room, his first album in thirty years. It was funded by fans through PledgeMusic. Co-written with From The Jam singer Russell Hastings and featuring drummer Mark Brzezicki, guest musicians included Paul Weller. Weller performed on three tracks, the singles Number Six, Window Shopping and Coming On Strong.

In November 2016 Smash The Clock, a second collaboration with Russell Hastings, was released on Absolute to generally favourable reviews. Once again it featured a number of well known guest musicians, including Paul Weller.

Whilst taking a break from their current tour of the UK, he took some time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Bruce good morning, how are you?

Good morning Kevin I’m very good thank you.

Let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s a pleasure.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

All is good; I am very busy but life in general is very good. Touch wood all is okay at the moment.

We last spoke just before the release of Smash The Clock and you were considering whether or not to have your knee replaced. How are things now?

Well let me just say that I didn’t have the surgery (laughter). At the moment the knees are alright, again touch wood. Whenever I now go on stage I put a support bandage on it and everything seems to be alright at the moment, but thanks for asking.

And on the subject of Smash The Clock I think that it’s a great piece of work.

Do you really, well thanks for that. Again Russell (Hastings) and I are both very proud of the album. There are a great selection of songs on there. I don’t want to say too much as Russell is getting far too big headed (laughter).

The album received some fantastic reviews. Were you happy with the reaction to the album, especially from the music press?

Yes, very, I mean we were back to being kind of like we were back in The Jam days in so much that as long as we were happy with it then let’s put it out and see what the reaction is. What can I say, Russ and I were more than happy with Smash The Clock and thankfully the majority of people who bought the album or simply heard it really enjoyed it too. In fact we play three tracks off the album live now and they go down really well amongst all of those Jam classics. They seem to slot in perfectly.

The two standout tracks on the album for me are Sunday Morning and Writing On The Wall.

Neither of which we play live (laughter). However, I am so pleased that you have mentioned Sunday Morning. We actually put that track up for being a single via out plugger but the powers that be at Radio 2 didn’t get it but I personally thought that it was a great track. It was very much in the vein of The Small Faces really; a cheeky chappie sort of song but alas the powers that be didn’t agree with me. It is a great track but the radio didn’t think so, or at least they didn’t agree at the time.

Did it feel as though From The Jam were finally getting the recognition that you deserve?

I know what you mean but I have never lost any sleep over it (laughter). Back when we were all in The Jam the three of us knew that it was always a three-way thing although Paul (Weller) wrote the majority of the material. However, without Rick (Buckler) on drums and me on bass the songs wouldn’t have turned out as they did. So none of us ever queried any body’s worth at that time so to speak so I never really looked at it like that. But of course it is nice that we are now getting recognised as being half decent song writers as well as performers.

To celebrate ten years of being on the road you are about to release From The Jam Live! Why now?

That’s easy; Russell and I thought that it was about time (laughter). Alan (Lucky) our sound engineer is pretty much proud of his job and always wants to get the best sound possible so he will record a show, listen to it back, and find the areas that he can improve on. So Alan records pretty much every show not only for us but also for his own reference. We have been doing that up and down the country and just thought we haven’t got a new studio album ready as yet and a live album would be a nice little stocking filler for certain fans. The quality of the material was really good so we thought why not put it out.

How did you decide which tracks went onto the album and which didn’t?

That was purely down to me and Russ. Obviously there are certain tracks that have got to go on, and then others that we just listened to from the best nights of the tour really where none of us cocked up (laughter). We really didn’t want to start going into the studio overdubbing and rerecording things, because then it is not really a live album. It’s out there warts and all, with not that many warts thankfully.

I have been listening to the album for a few days now and I have to say that it sounds fantastic.

You’ve got a copy have you, that’s even better. I have got my own target vinyl picture disc copy and I have to say that the artwork looks really good. In fact I am very pleased with just how it looks. You have just got to understand that it is a live album and therefore is not studio quality.

I have to inform you that there are a few disappointed fans out there because you haven’t put the album out on cassette.

(Laughter) cassette, I think that I may have a cassette player somewhere, in fact I think that it is up in the loft. We thought about eight track as well (laughter).

Seriously though, all the kids are demanding that bands release their new material on cassette. They are snapping them up both online and at the shows.

Are they really? Are you winding me up Kevin?

No, not at all.

So you are telling me that they want to get the tape all buggered and twisted do they (laughter). Pulling yards of tape out of the player, that is really enjoyable. I honestly did not know and I am going to check after we have finished the interview. Are they going to be remaking cassette players or something?

I have heard that Technics are going to build a plant here in the UK specifically to manufacture cassette players.

(Laughter) come off it, is it April 1st or something (laughter). I suppose that you can always put a piece of tape over the tabs and record something that you really like on it (laughter). I don’t know as yet, the jury is still out on that one. If that is in fact true then I will put my hands up and say that is the first that I have heard of it. It’s bonkers (laughter).

Now please don’t take this the wrong way but I have to say that Russell sounds now more like Paul than Paul ever did.

Well what can I say, Russ doesn’t put it on in anyway shape or form. That is simply how he sounds. Paul’s voice is changing which is something that happens to all of us the older we get. The voice does change. So yes I would agree with you that Paul’s voice now sounds different to what it did in The Jam days, most definitely. There are certain times in certain songs when you can hear the Paul Weller voice that I remember but it’s not changed for the worse; the voice simply changes. It isn’t something that Russ sits down and tries to mimic, it is just the way that he sings those songs.

On the subject of Paul, the last time that we spoke you and he had been out together and were in the midst of rebuilding your friendship. Have you had any feedback from him regarding the live album?

No, not the live album no. The album was actually mixed at Paul’s studio funnily enough so he may be aware of its existence. That’s a good point actually, because he has been a busy boy this year. He didn’t do a lot last year but he is certainly tearing the arse out of it this year going everywhere around the world (laughter). That’s a good point; I might send him a copy actually, I hadn’t thought of that. Obviously I can’t put words into Paul’s mouth but I don’t think that the album really matters to him. He’s not bothered what I do one way or the other. I don’t think that he would want to play his guitar on any of the live stuff, simply because that’s not the point. He is not in the band.

To be honest I don’t think he really cares because he knows that Russ and I really do take care of the material that we are putting out. We know that we have got The Jam’s reputation to think of together with the quality of the work. In fairness to Russ and me it’s not as though we are putting out a load of old crap. We have got quality control on what we do relating to The Jam but I wouldn’t think that Paul really gives a monkey’s about what we are doing regarding The Jam stuff. Having said all of that he is more than happy to play on a track or two when it is the new material.

You are back out on the road touring the thirty-fifth anniversary of The Gift. How is it going?

Well the main thing is that we are getting to know the songs (laughter). I must say, because there has been some confusion with certain venues, we will be playing a selection from The Gift album; we will not be playing the album in its entirety. I have no idea why it was being advertised like that in the first place because Russ and myself said that some of the tracks on The Gift album would be very hard to play because we haven’t got a brass section, etc, etc. So we are doing a selection of tracks from The Gift and then obviously the remainder of the time will be filled with singles together with other great album tracks which we are varying night to night. We are building up quite a catalogue of rehearsed songs now which means that we can vary the set night to night.

I’m glad that you have cleared that up because I have actually written down that there are some very big songs on The Gift together with varying styles. It is such a varied album but I do think that you have made a rod for your own back because you and The Stranglers were the forerunners of playing an album in its entirety.

Yes that’s right. As you rightly point out we have played most of the albums in their entirety at least up to Setting Sons. However, you have got to be realistic as to just what you can do so we thought we can’t do it all so we will just say that it is a selection of.

Saturday November 11th sees you bringing the tour here to Nottingham once again where you will be playing Rock City.

Yes, a proper gig.

I have seen you play at Rock City many times now and I have to say that it always feels a bit special. Would you agree with that?

Yes I would. I don’t want to build it up but I am bound to say this because we really do look forward to every gig that we play. There is no point going to a venue if you can’t stand it is there, you just wouldn’t have it on the list of venues to play in the first place (laughter). There are gigs which you look forward to more than others and Rock City stands out. It is a proper rock venue, and we are looking forward to being there.

I last saw you on a doubleheader with The Beat.

They are a great bunch of guys. Everybody seems to have got to grips with it now. We are all mature now shall I say. There is no longer anybody above their station so to speak. There are no prima donnas there anymore. I would like to say that we are all very good at what we do. The Beat come along; they do their bit, we do the same and everybody has a great night. They get to listen to some great music, have a lot of fun, and go home happy which is what we all now aim for.

I have to say that when I first looked at the line-up, The Beat and From The Jam, it looked like a mishmash but, it really does work.

Yes it does, it really does. I think that having the variation works better than when you have some of the venues taking it upon themselves to book a Mod band thinking that would be brilliant. We have had a couple of gigs recently where they have done that and I have to say that, in all honesty, they have been shite (laughter). We don’t need another Mod band on the bill.

I am an old soulie at heart and I have to say that after listening to the album once again and in particular Trans-Global Express there is more than a similarity between that track and an old Northern Soul favourite So Is The Sun by World Column.

Really, in that case you had better have a word with Paul then (laughter). I just don’t know, I haven’t heard So Is The Sun but maybe, although it was a long time ago now, Paul acknowledged that in some way, I just don’t know. Or perhaps he didn’t and he hoped to get away with it (laughter). All that I am prepared to say on the matter is “it’s not me Guv” (laughter).

Are there any thoughts on a new studio album?

Because everyone now has an iPhone whenever Russ and I are backstage we will sit down together, and have a little jam which is what we did for both Back In The Room and Smash The Clock. We just got a few ideas down and we currently have let’s say quite a few half ideas already. So the nice problem in a lot of ways is the fact that we are very busy. Even well into next year our diary is already getting pretty full which means that the chances of us getting into the studio are already looking pretty slim. Because of that I just said to Russ “why don’t we do it as we have always done it, pick a couple of the ideas that you think are contenders for the album and we will then go into Paul’s studio”.

So with that in mind we are looking at starting work on the new album early in the New Year intending for the album to be released round about this time next year. Everything is always down to the time factor; we are full-on live wise but we have got other lives as well. We have got our other halves to think of so you have got to allow yourself some family time. It is very important, especially with all of these people popping their clogs. Work is very good but you have got to enjoy it as well. So in answer to your question, I know that it has been a long winded answer but hopefully there will be a new Foxton Hastings album out towards the end of next year. The initial plan is to get back into Paul’s studio for two or three days and make a start on a couple of tracks.

Will you be using PledgeMusic once again as it seems to have worked very well for you in the past.

Yes we will, we most definitely will. It has worked very well for us in the past and it is a great way of involving the audience. Again, without them we simply would not have been in a position to make the last album. What most people don’t seem to realise is that to make an album nowadays is a very expensive business. To be in a position to record an album properly, to get a PR person behind it, get the artwork done, pay the engineer, and pay the studio, all costs. So we are not being greedy, it’s just the fact that we really do need help. And I have to say that PledgeMusic really do fulfil that. And I am really looking forward to signing and writing out seventy-five copies of News Of The World (laughter). Plus Russ and I have got to sign two thousand albums. At least I have made a start, I have signed a hundred so far.

I looked last night and saw that all of the handwritten lyrics have been sold now.

Yes they have. To be honest with you I had to put a ceiling on it simply because it is so bloody tedious (laughter). It is so time consuming but bless them, they want their version of News Of The World. They have paid their good money so I shall write them out together with two thousand albums (laughter). They have done their bit; they have paid for them so now it’s our turn, we have to deliver.

What was the first record that you bought?

As far as I can remember that was I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds.

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

This is a bit embarrassing but it was Led Zeppelin back in 1973 at the Alexandra Palace.


Not really I didn’t enjoy it (laughter). I went and that’s all that I can say about the whole experience. I didn’t particularly enjoy the concert but I did enjoy the event. No doubt there will now be a lot of Jam fans saying ‘fucking Led Zeppelin’ (laughter).

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

Now this may really sound conceited but there is a track on Smash The Clock called (There Are Times) To Make Me Happy which I wrote the lyrics for. It is a song about losing someone and as you know I lost my wife back in 2009. We also lost John Welly, Paul’s dad, as well and whenever I hear or sing that song it really does make me well up. People have said to me in the past ‘you should write a song about Pat, your ex-wife’ but I had never really been in the mood for doing that but then this track came along, and it the closet that I will ever get to doing that.

As the festive season is fast approaching, what is the best Christmas gift that you have ever received?

That would have been when my late wife Pat was given the all clear during her battle with cancer. She got the all clear leading up to Christmas and for me that was more than enough to say the least. To get the good news that everything was going okay.

And on the other side of the coin, what is the worst Christmas gift that you have ever received?

(Laughter) that’s easy, you probably will not believe this but that would be the year that I received a steam iron from Russell Hastings (laughter). I have never heard anyone enthuse about a steam iron so much as Russell did. He said “this is the bee’s knees” and I just looked at him and said “it might be the bee’s knees but it’s not very rock and roll is it” (laughter). Bless him, he bought me a new steam iron a couple of years ago now.

What would be Bruce Foxton’s perfect Christmas?

To be with my current wife Kate, my dog Freddie, my two cats Frankie and Sidney, all wrapped up in our little cottage in front of a roaring fire, with enough to eat and drink.

I have to say that sounds perfect.

It does actually, I can’t wait (laughter).

On that note Bruce let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it has been great and I will see you up here at Rock City.

My pleasure Kevin. Nice on, you take care.