The Jam in Italy (1980)


Here’s the full interview with Paul Weller by Marco Ferranti (Ciao 2001 Magazine) published in 1980 (and replicated by MilanoMods in 2002, click the photo for the Italian version). It is a valuable document because, unfortunately, the Jam never played in Italy and the Roman residency of the end of May 1980 was, almost certainly, the only real promotional trip in our country, for a now not obtainable TV appearence for RAI’s music weekly “Discoring”.

Contact us if you are in possession of other material or memories related to The Jam in Rome. The photo you see was taken in front of the Colosseum and was not included in Ciao 2001 (they used a standard photo of the band), only the superimposed logo “JAM I NUOVI MOD” comes from the original pages. Many thanks to Bruno Pisaniello (Italian Style / Modern Outlook) for the old magazine.

PS: the journo’s own story of the mods is surreal indeed and the interview’s finale shocking! Have fun

The Jam, Roma 1980

INTERVIEW IN ROME (**roughly translated from Italian, might include mistakes)

The mod revival has exploded in England. The Jam today are the favourites of the new mods and their style is approachable to that of Townshend and co. What do the Jam think of it? We asked Paul Weller, leader of the trio.

By the early 60s big gangs of kids with heavy equipped scooters appeared in the suburbs of London. Unlike the majority of the young working class at that time they didn’t have long hair and didn’t wear leather and jeans. Their hair was just a little longer than average, ties worn without shame, under a parka perhaps, T-shirts with geometric designs their favorites.

They were the mods, those kids toward 1965 also occupied the center of London and made the Marquee, a little place in the heart of Soho, their headquarter. The mods were the sworn enemies of the rockers. long hair on the shoulders and big motorbykes, and daily clashed with each other, vainly restrained by impassive British policemen. The mods also had their music: The Who, the mod band “par excellence”, followed closely by the Small Faces.

A more ‘intellectual’ and dandy generation of England, the mods suffered an increasing number of defeats by rockers, until a day, as mentioned in the Who’s Quadrophenia, the rockers won the final battle and the Lambrettas, complete with mirrors and accessories, ended down by a boardwalk, to rust in the water brackish.

The mods faded out immediately and all groups, including the Rolling Stones, let their hair grow even more, in tribute to the winning rockers.

But three or four years ago, when everything was just a memory, in North London someone spotted them again: they were not the same, maybe their were the younger brothers, but there was no doubt, the mods were back! And immediately they returned to flourish in the small clubs where, in the evening, the bands would gather to play and make music. From one of these caves came out the Jam, it was also the explosion of punk music and Jam were classified, unceremoniously, in that turbulent sector. In fact, more than punk, Paul Weller and co. were part of the beat rediscovery, a sound bands such as Eddie & Hot Rods and Dr Feelgood, were carrying out in those days. The dialogue between the guitars (they had 2 in the beginning), the typically sparse singing, and especially their rousing tight live appearances put them in the same way to the Who and the risen new mod world. So the music of Jam became the new model, and the band, together with the Clash, was perhaps the only one not to be negatively affected by the important transition from punk to new wave. So now, leaving back such nervous music, aggressive not only in rhythm but also in the lyrics, the Jam have lightened their substance, have recorded a new album, “Setting Sons”, much softer than their previous albums. With this, now distant, latest release the Jam are in Italy, but theu are not here to play.


As soon as I enter the room of the hotel where the Jam are going to be interviewed by the press, I see him: his name is Paul Weller, the singer and guitarist, and there is no doubt he is The Jam, the other two, Rick and Bruce, are only the supporting cast. Weller instead, with his nervous, boyish undecided and overbearing figure, is udoubtedly the leader. I realise now that it will be tough: Weller is struggling with another journalist and is explaining, a bit abruptly, that between the Jam and The Who there’s nothing in common. His thesis seems odd and risky, so I launch the first question.

Q. “If it’s so, could You explain the differences between your music and Daltrey’s and co.?”. He looks bad, think long, and then replies:
A. “Nothing, no differences I think, it’s rock. But this does not mean that we are like them, we are different, we are a group rooted in our time, not imitations.”

Q. “Behind the Who there were the mods, and behind you?”.
A. “There are the new mods now, gangs that are now most frequent especially in the north-west of London.”

Q. “A revival?”.
A. “No, absolutely: they are just guys who get together, forming these groups and creating a fashion code in a certain way, the outlook, the hair, to hear some music.”

Q: “Are you telling me that the Jam is the product of a fashion?”.
A. “Of course, in England all musical phenomena are the product of a fashion, is it any different here?!”.

Q. “In a sense, yes: but there is less rivalry and a less pronounced interest in music.”
A. “that’s incredible.”

Q. “I can ask you a last question about The Who ?! They dedicated an album to the mods, the original ones, Quadrophenia. How it would be like a Jam album on the same subject?”.
A. “Oh, certainly different, very different: the idea was good but the music was really horrible.”

Q. “let’s talk about the Jam now: your music is always accompanied by rather significant lyrics: what’s your opinion on the social situation in England today?”.
A. “There’s a big mess: Thatcher sucks”.

Q. “And the British music today: the new wave?”.
A. “I think they’re doing the same things as the Jam, let me explain: we are not followers, we were among the first to make such music.”

Q. “Many groups today are inspired by Jamaican music, the Jam often use the sax and have re-recorded an old success of Wilson Pickett: can black music still teach something?”.
A. “Yes, very much, but I think in a different way from how it was in the past, with more originality.”

Q. “The last album, ‘Setting Songs’, was quite different from previous ones: more soft. Are You changing?”.
R. “The disc has undergone several transformations during its conception and recording. I must confess that I was totally unsatisfied with the final result. I think the next album will be completely different, more in line with the first ones.”

Q. “There’s even a song,’Smithers-Jones’, with an almost Baroque accompaniment of violins: who had the idea?”.
R. “Such arrangement seemed to be the most suitable for the lyrics: it was an idea coming from ​​Bruce.”

Q. “Paul, your album is full of references, all-in-all complacent, of classic England: can you tell me why all bands, even those more socially engaged, are nationalists?”.
A. “But the nationalists are right wing!”.

Q. “I don’t think so, example given: You know that Britain have to pay back to the European community a big amount of money and your government does not want to. What would you do?”.
A. “I do not see why we should give money to the Europeans.”

Can you see it? You think exactly just like Thatcher. Thanks Paul.
Marco Ferranti

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