The name Bruce Foxton may not ring bells with everyone, but A Town Called Malice, Going Underground and That’s Entertainment probably do.
One third of The Jam, headed by Paul Weller, Bruce was part of a band that headed the mod revival movement in the early 1980s.
And he’s in Portsmouth tomorrow at The Pyramids with his current band, From The Jam, to perform a charity concert. Playing the group’s songs, Bruce plays alongside front man Russell Hastings and Mark Brzezicki.
Arranged by Tonic Music for mental health, the event also features Terry Hall from The Specials and Parlour Flames.
When we speak he’s nervously moving his car. Apparently a tree is on the verge of falling, and it might land on it.
‘I think a tree is falling into my house,’ laughs Bruce.
Having performed in the city before, he’s excited to be back. As part of the band’s performance they play the whole of The Jam’s All Mod Cons album, which was originally released in 1982.
‘In The Jam we enjoyed huge success the length and breadth of the country, so when we play live we tend to get a good reception, especially for the songs.
‘We’ve done about four or five shows on the tour and we play the album from start to finish.
‘It’s pretty challenging because The Jam never played live, songs like The Fly. It’s been going down a storm so far.’
With the tour Bruce is playing songs that he hasn’t performed for a long time.
He says: ‘I’m very proud of that album. We play a couple of other songs that people love too, but it’s strange because two-thirds of the songs I haven’t played in 35 years.
It’s been a long time.
‘But we’re also playing the songs that everyone knows and enjoys. I might play a couple of others, but we want people to know them really well.’
Tonic Music for mental health is encouraging recovery for those with mental health issues through music.
‘I think it’s about using music as a kind of therapy to help people,’ says Bruce, ‘but I don’t want to talk out of turn.’
‘If music can help people with mental health issues then that is fantastic. If Tonic can raise awareness then it’s important to be able to help them with that.’
Apart from The Jam, Bruce, originally from Surrey, is best-known as the bass player in Stiff Little Fingers. And playing the lesser-known songs in From The Jam is something he relishes.
Bruce explains: ‘Some of the songs I haven’t played in such a long time, and I still get very nervous before I go on stage, but I have always been that way. It’s challenging but exciting too.
‘Me and Russell, who is the lead guitarist in the band, went through the set list before the tour and there was a lot we hadn’t played together before. But so far it seems okay!’
When Bruce, Paul Weller and Rick Buckler wrote the songs for All Mod Cons in 1978, he admits it was a crucial time for their career.
He says: ‘Our second album hadn’t been that well received, and we knew a record label would normally give someone three albums and that was it, if they were lucky.
‘It was a really pivotal point in our career and it had to do well. Thankfully we got it right. We knew the songs were good while we were playing them and when we put it out there to people it was a huge success.
‘There was a big sigh of relief all round I think.’
Now nearly 60, touring the country can be a lot of work, as Bruce explains: ‘It’s like with anything, you start off really energetic but it can be quite tiring on the road.
‘Most people don’t care a lot for travelling because there’s a lot of moving around, and you think ‘‘oh I’d like to go and record something’’.
‘But then when you’re in the studio all you want to do is go out there and perform the songs to people.’
But he’s not concerned about performing without his former band mates.
‘Russell is his own man and there are similar parts in the way he sings songs to Paul,’ says Bruce.
‘Apparently he was at our very last live show in 1982 as a member of the audience. He was very young at the time, but he has his own take on the songs. He has his influences and he’s certainly got a brilliant voice for it.
‘We all take it very seriously because we want to do those songs justice. If we can’t I don’t want to be part of it. We don’t want to water down the quality.’
Bruce adds: ‘The last thing I want to do is damage the songs. After quite a few rehearsals we thought we were playing them with just as much passion, especially the big numbers. Russell has been totally accepted and he does a great job.’
Following the break-up of The Jam, Bruce had his own solo career and released another album last year with Back In The Room. Paul has also gone on to enjoy a hugely successful career outside of the band, acquiring the nickname the Modfather.
But after an appearance at The Royal Albert Hall, Bruce doesn’t believe they will perform together again.
He explains: ‘Paul is very successful and is happy doing what he is doing.
‘He doesn’t have the desire to perform again with me and, to be honest, I’m in a similar frame of mind. But we are friends and still talk.’
Once the current tour has finished with From The Jam, Bruce is heading back into the studio to record another album, which will hopefully be released later next year.
He says: ‘I’m recording next year and if Paul is around I’ll ask him if he’s up for playing on a track or two.’
WHERE AND WHEN
Bruce Foxton is performing with his band From The Jam at The Pyramids Centre, Southsea, tomorrow. Tickets: £20 on (023) 9279 9977 or go to pyramids.co.uk.