“The Beatles broke up at the right time… Imagine them going through synth pop in the ‘80s. It would have been shocking”: Paul Weller on how the Fab Four “set the benchmark” and being a Billie Eilish fan

Paul Weller
(Image credit: Robin Little/Redferns/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Paul Weller is a big fan of The Beatles, and he admits that he was “devastated” when the band broke up. However, on reflection, he’s decided that it was probably a good job they called it a day when they did.

Reflecting on his own career longevity, Weller told Mojo that he’s always tried to look forward rather than back - a creative philosophy that he believes the Fab Four adhered to themselves.

“The Beatles set the benchmark for the right approach to music,” he says. “You move on, you experiment.”

It seems that there’s a limit to what Weller thinks John, Paul, George and Ringo could have accomplished, though, as he goes on to say: “The Beatles broke up at the right time. I was devastated back then, but I’m glad they did now. Imagine them going through synth pop in the ‘80s. It would have been shocking.”

Weller, of course, knows a thing or two about genre pivots, having swapped punk for blue-eyed soul when he left The Jam and formed The Style Council in 1982. His new album, 66, will be released on 24 May (a day before Weller's 66th birthday).

Another artist with a record out this month is Billie Eilish, and it turns out that Weller - like his seven-year-old daughter - is a fan. 

“I’ve got to say, man, Billie Eilish is fucking great,” he told Mojo. “What Was I Made For? is an incredible tune. It’s lovely to see my little girl playing the record on vinyl and singing along to the words because I’m thinking: that was me and The Beatles. Those early inspirations stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Weller isn’t the first member of the British rock establishment to express his liking for Eilish; Blur’s Damon Albarn called her “exceptional” and her songwriting “really interesting” in a 2022 interview with the LA Times.

The interview was also notable for Albarn appearing to call Taylor Swift’s songwriting into question because she co-writes some of her material: “That doesn’t count. I know what co-writing is,” he was quoted as saying, before later apologising.

Paul Weller, though, seems to have no co-writing qualms: in fact, it turns out that nine of 66’s 12 sounds were written with other people, including Noel Gallagher, Dr Robert, Bobby Gillespie and Suggs.

“For most of my life, I’ve written on my own,” says Weller. “I used to be extremely guarded about it, and if people suggested ideas I’d be very clear that this was my thing and I wasn’t changing. But in recent years I’ve been thinking: I’ve done that, I’ve proven myself, and whatever I have to say now is in the songs that I did write on 66. For the rest, I thought I’d ask my friends.”

Paul Weller's 66 is available for pre-order now.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.