Skip to main content

Sam Fender on Paul Weller: "He's like a mentor"

Sam Fender
(Image credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for BRIT Awards Limited)

UK songwriter Sam Fender is making friends in high places with his second album Seventeen Going Under and recent Brit Award win for Best Alternative/ Rock Act. But he already seemed to have found a kindred spirit in mod royalty Paul Weller when he was writing the record. 

"Paul Weller is a fan and he's like a mentor," Fender told Kyle Meredith in a recent interview. "He's looked after us. While I was recording this record, I kept sending him the tracks to get the seal of approval. And Last To Make It Home is Paul Weller's favourite song."

I'm a working class Geordie kid from the North East who's in a band, and I think when you're raised in that environment you're more likely to have a social conscience

Fender is also a rarity as a UK success story where parallels can be drawn to Weller; a working class musician talking about social issues who has broken into the mainstream. It's a fact not lost on the Tyneside musician.

"I'm a working class Geordie kid from the North East who's in a band, and I think when you're raised in that environment you're more likely to have a social conscience.

"I have plenty of mates who are middle class, are very left wing and have massive social consciousnesses," he adds, "but I think if you've grown up and witness and experienced what economic fallout from a bad right wing government can do to your community, you're probably more likely to talk about stuff like that."

There's barely any kids who aren't privately educated who are successful in the music industry in my country.

Fender also highlighted what he sees as a shortfall in musicians from working class backgrounds having commercial success in the UK. 

"I've actually read that in Britain since 2008, with the increase in kids who are privately educated who are in the charts, there's barely any kids who aren't privately educated who are successful in the music industry in my country. 

"So I think it's something to do with that. If you're privately educated over here there's a good chance your parents are Tories, there's a good chance your parents aren't going to be talking about impoverished neighbourhoods in the north of England; talking about the disparity between the rich and the poor because the chances are they are hiding that fucking money in the Cayman Islands!"

Before anyone gets an idea Fender is trying to start some kind of class war, he does recognise it's not a black and white issue. But it begs the question, why is Sam Fender a rarity? Undeniably strong songwriting and live performances are certainly a pretty huge factor. 

"There's plenty of socially conscious bands and artists out there," he adds, "but whether they get into the charts or not or whether they get to that level where they're actually being noticed [is another matter]."

Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.