Paul Weller's consistent drive to create new work and refusal to rest on his Jam back catalogue mean he has more right than most to offer insight and advice to the younger generation. In a recent appearance on Dan Jennings' excellent Desperately Seeking Paul fan podcast for its 180th and final appearance he admitted he's bemused by some artists who are waiting "five to seven years" between albums.
"That's what I think musicians are supposed to be doing – isn't that part of the job description, that you go on tour and you make records?" asked Weller with regards to his own approach. "That's probably an old school way of looking at it but that's still [what I feel] it's about. That's all that's what it's about really. Writing and creating new music and then going out and touring it."
Weller has walked that talk for decades; he's consciously never played the fame game and has eschewed reunions and anniversary victory tours in favour of new music and a pretty prolific work rate.
"I think there's something to be said for consistency," he added. "Just keep pushing it and pushing it and just putting it out, as opposed to a lot of younger artists who will make an album and then not make another one for five, seven years – I just don't understand that. I often think, what do you do in those in-between years? What do they do? You can't be on tour for five, seven years touring the same record surely. So I don't understand what they do in [the] in-between time."
As an artist who has sold a lot of records and enjoys a dedicated fan base it's perhaps easier to put faith into making records in an era it's rarely a money maker for younger artists away from the pop mainstream of multiple co-writers and brand management. Some of that isn't lost on Weller.
"I love my work, I'm very lucky – blessed – that I make a living, make a good living from something I love doing and would probably do for nothing if it came to it," he reflected. "And that's a very blessed and fortunate position to be in. So I'm kind of very aware of that as well. But I think that's something you have to keep feeding, and have to keep working at and chipping away at."
And that's really Weller's key point; you need to keep writing to get better. It's not really a privileged established musician looking puzzled at the younger generation – he's consistently championing younger musicians and choosing supports acts including Lucy Rose and Villagers. It's about songcraft. And by his own admission it wasn't until The Jam's third album that Weller believes he began to come into his own as a songwriter.
"I don't think I had that until All Mod Cons," Weller says of the feeling he was a confident songwriter. "I mean there was a couple of good songs – In The City is a good little single. And there might be one off The Modern World – I don't know I've never heard it [laughs]. Not for a long time anyway. But I didn't take myself seriously as writer until All Mod Cons.
"I was just sort of bluffing it really, copying other people," he adds. "The first album, In The City, is really just a rewrite of The Who's My Generation. I hadn't really found my own voice - not at all."
The idea of being prolific was nearly a double edged sword for The Jam. Weller also reflected how the band's 1977 second album, "nearly finished us off".
"It was [producer] Chris Parry's idea – he said the Beatles used to put two albums out a year so you should do an0other one. It had already taken me a good two years to write In The City and that was a slog.
Now I might rise to the challenge but I don't think I've ever been a natural talent, Weller admits. "I think I've had to work at it, and it's taken me a long time to become anything really in my estimation. But having said that, by the time of All Mod Cons I started to take it more seriously then because you've got Down In The Tube Station and English Rose… it was kind of breaking out of the punk thing and becoming more musical and just more us – our sound."
Check out the full podcast episode above and find out more about the Desperately Seeking Paul podcast series at paulwellerfanpodcast.com