This weekend, the inaugural Hapi Festival comes to Gosport.
With a line-up featuring a mix of classic big-hitters and local talent, it promises to be a lot of fun.
Tonight, Mike Pender’s Searchers headline the opening night, with The Animals and Friends topping the bill tomorrow, before From The Jam wrap things up on Sunday.
And frontman Russell Hastings, who lives ‘up the road’ in Felpham, is looking forward to a gig on relatively home-turf.
‘We’ve done the Wedgewood Rooms, and we’ve done the Pyramids, but we’ve never played in Gosport. We do tour a lot around here, and across the UK.
‘It’ll be good fun, as long as the weather holds up – it’ll be great anyway.’
We’ll open with a cracker, finish with a cracker and put a few more crackers in the middleRussell Hastings
The group originally formed in 2007 with Russell playing alongside The Jam’s rhythm section of drummer Rick Buckler and bassist Bruce Foxton. Rick departed two years on, but the group has carried on, now completed by Steve Barnard, and gone from strength-to-strength.
Not content to simply trade on past glories they’ve released two albums – Back in The Room and the recent Smash The Clock.
And Russell’s keen to dispel the myth that he started off a Paul Weller tribute act – there are several references to it online.
‘I’ve been trying to get that removed for quite a while – you only get misquoted on a few things, and then you’re stuck with it.’
While he was playing Jam songs, he says he was never trying to be The Jam’s legendary frontman.
‘I guess I got labelled with that, as that was kind of the fashionable term around that time. For me it’s just me going out there as me – me and Bruce have been the backbone of this for the past 10-11 years. But I’m just me, of course I am!
‘And of course me and Bruce have recorded two brand new albums in the past five years. Paul came and in played on a couple of tracks on both albums.’
While Weller has been vocal about never reforming The Jam, Russell says there’s no bad blood between the singer and the bassist.
‘Their friendship goes back many years,’ says Russell. ‘There’s been a lot of water under the bridge, despite what you might read. It was really nice to be in Paul’s studio, this lovely quiet, little country studio. We spent four/five months there – he’d pop in, it was very relaxed, there was a lot of humour going on. It was nice for me to see them working together and chatting and having a cup of tea.
‘And then working with Paul, a couple of times I sat at the piano with him, he’d say show me the chords, and I’d have the acoustic guitar in my hands, and he’d lay it down.
‘He’s a quick worker – he’s a great ideas person. The songs were already recorded he was just trying to find a place to play on them, which he did very successfully.’
‘Steve Croppper 9 (Booker T and the MGs) came into he studio as well, and Wilko Johnson – it was just after his operation, so he was running around showing us his scars – what a great guy!
‘Obviously I was a Jam fan, I saw them at Portsmouth Guildhall and the Locarno back in 1977, and their last date in Brighton, and of course lots of dates in between.
‘Bruce will often talk about how he went and saw (Wilko Johnson’s old band) The Feelgoods in Guildford in 1974, and when we go past the venue he’d often mention it.
‘It was just over a year later that Paul went to see the Sex Pistols at the Lyceum with (original Jam member) Steve Brookes. You had Bruce and Paul influenced by Dr Feelgood, and you threw in a little tonic of The Sex Pistols in with that and that was how the (Jam’s debut) In The City album was born.
‘If you listen to it, it is the Pistols mixed with Dr Feelgood. I’ve played a few of those tracks – this year has been the 40th anniversary of In The City, so we’ve been playing a few of those songs.’
Putting the setlist together is no hardship, either.
‘It’s quite easy – you’ve got to give everyone what they want to hear – so you’ve got to throw the hits in. They’re basically the aces in your back pocket and you’d be stupid not to play them. Then there’s other things you might want to play, we’ve been doing Liza Radley this year, The Butterfly Collector, sometimes we’ll put in Private Hell or Monday.
‘We’ll open with a cracker, finish with a cracker and put a few more crackers in the middle. It’s down to where we’re at – sometimes we’ll do something in soundcheck and it will soundcheck.
‘But there’s things people always want to hear, like Malice, Tube Station and Strange Town.’
Hapi Festival, Walpole Park, Gosport
Sunday, September 10