The Jam Scrapbook...Never-seen before photographs of Bruce Foxton & 'December Child' Fanzine poetry entries by Paul Weller
In an amazing coincidence, photographic student / Jam fanatic SW and Bruce Foxton bump into each other outside the Birmingham 'Post & Mail' building in 1983.
Foxton waits with her for his taxi outside the Birmingham 'Post and Mail' building after a local radio interview in the Autumn of 1983
Team Virtualgaz can't find out much at all about this 1981 poetry fanzine linked to Paul Weller. The Modfather contributed on several occasions and it's a classic snapshot in time.
DC was available only by mail order and was published by 'Riot Stories Ltd.'
Rick Tucker contacted VG in March 2010 and we conducted the following e-interview about December Child (in which he appeared in print):
VG: So Rick, some of your poetry was published in episodes #1 and #2 of DC in 1981 - what were you doing then and what do you remember of the process?
RT: "I was in a band that had gone through various changes, think we were called 'Blow Up' then (Weller liked the name), which had emerged from a punk band called the 'Users', but, good as we were and ahead of our time as we were, doing a lot of folk-inspired stuff, we fell apart as a result of our own apathy, in-fighting, drink, drugs and the lousy state of the music business at the time, not that it's ever changed, except that now with all the technological advances and sites like MySpace etc we might have done better. It was a very creative time and the Jam were in many ways leading the way, well Weller was with his writing - it was around the time of Sound Affects - and his promotion of other art forms, especially poetry really encouraged those of us who were creative. Also, the Jam were very accessible to people who followed them or just wanted to talk to them, never stuck up and always appreciative of where they had come from and that they owed their fans respect at least."
VG: What and/or who inspired your writing?
RT: "At that time it was a multitude of people, as it is now. Musically, I've always been into Bob Dylan, more than anyone he inspired me lyrically. Weller of course, because he could be, like Dylan, romantic as well as scathing, cutting, humorous, political, socially conscious. Strummer and the Clash. The old reggae greats: Burning Spear, Marley, Scratch Perry to name a few and folk music from anywhere- too many from all over the world to mention. In terms of literature: Shelley, Keats_and Coleridge from 18th/19th century, Orwell, Camus, Auden, Eliot, Edward Thomas, Roethke, Lorca and Neruda from the 20th, nowadays it tends to be fiction writers like Cormac McCarthy, Don de Lillo and Richard Ford. Lived so long, read too much "
VG: How did you end up talking with Paul Weller?
RT: "I turned up at their offices near Olympia, not really knowing what I was going to say, but had some poems on me I think, maybe a tape of my band. John Weller was there and Gill (Weller's ex). JW asked me into his office - great bloke, we sat and chatted for a bit and he told me the Jam were up at the Townhouse studios in Shepherd's Bush recording and that I should just go up there, which I did. To my amazement Rick Buckler came to the door and just ushered me in. He was the only one there at the time, made me a tea and told me the others would be along. Sure enough after a little while in walked Paul and Bruce and I sat with them while they listened to a playback of Dreaming of Monday from Sound Affects. Weller was really friendly, offering me fags (he smoked Rothmans) and beers. We chatted a bit about poetry and he told me about his plans for DC and that I should send him my stuff. So I did and he wrote back asking if I was happy if he used some of them. We corresponded a bit after that and I met him again when some pals of mine (The Dolly Mixture) were supporting the Jam at a gig in Leicester and I was wandering about backstage when he came up to me to have a chat. Good bloke."
VG: I understand you introduced PW to Michael Horovitz and the Poetry Olympics?
RT: "Well, it wasn't quite like that. But Michael Horovitz did phone me and asked if I could give him Weller's contact details. I checked with Weller first, I think, then passed them on or l told Paul how to contact him. So I was a link in a chain rather than being the person who introduced them to each other. They would have found each other without me I'm sure. When Michael Horovitz said who he was on the phone, I thought for one brief delusional moment he was going to ask me to take part in the poetry Olympics .never mind, eh?"
VG: Were you a Lambretta-driving Parka-wearing Jam fan who went to all the gigs?
RT: "I still own a beautiful old fish tail parka- no insignia, no fur collar, just a very cool looking coat, but I've never owned a scooter and to be honest, even though I welcomed the mod revival, there was always more to my musical tastes and styles than just mod. That being said, I wore mod clothes, loved it if I had to wear one my suits for work and still love the look. Mostly though it was the music Sam and Dave, Lee Dorsey, Otis Redding, Tamla Motown, blue beat and ska. The mod revival of the late 70's couldn't really back itself up with great music, but then along came 2-tone which was obviously brilliant. Just saw the reformed Specials, they were great, but without Dammers and no new songs it was just a nostalgic trip, not sure about nostalgia really but everyone enjoyed themselves it seems. Went to a lot of Jam gigs, but by no means all of them."
VG: Fave Jam track and why
RT: " Too many to mention, but Strange Town always comes to mind. Reminds me of being on the dole, trying to play music, write poems and wandering around London. In the City because it still puts a tingle down my spine. Eton Rifles because its so fucking true and passionate. To be Someone, because I always wanted to - ha ha. Thick as Thieves - beautiful lyrics."
VG: Fave Jam Album and why
RT: "Probably All Mod Cons, but Setting Sons comes close. All Mod Cons showed what a great lyricist Weller was at the time, so committed and passionate about music, life, hypocrisy and musically really good. Great song arrangements. Setting Sons because it continued in the same vein."
VG: Fave Jam lyric
RT: " There are loads, but here's two: 'We stole the love from young girls in ivory towers, we stole autumn leaves and summer showers, we stole the silent wind that says you are free, we stole everything that we could see ..we stole the burning sun in the open sky, we stole the twinkling stars in the black night, we stole the green belt fields that made us believe, we stole everything that we could see, But something came along that changed our minds, I don't know what and I don't know why, But we seemed to grow up in a flash of time while we watched our ideals helplessly unwind .(Thick as Thieves) and then 'Found myself in a strange town, though I've only been here for three weeks now, I've got blisters on my feet, trying to find a friend in Oxford Street, I bought an A to Z guide book, trying to find the clubs and YMCAs, but when you ask in strange town, they say don't know, don't care and I gotta go mate, they worry themselves about feeling low, they worry themselves about the dreadful snow, they all ignore me but they don't know, I'm really a spaceman from those UFOs ..and the rest of that song"
VG: Are you still writing poetry?
RT: "Yes and song lyrics. I have worked in the field of mental health for the last 27 years, which meant I have had less time for music and writing, but I have always kept it going somewhere, somehow. Hoping to play live again. Never stopped writing. My daughter writes too, she's 23 now and has performed some of her stuff live."
VG: When you look back at the DC issues, what do you think of their content?
RT: " To be honest, I think they're brilliant. I know much of it may read as young and naïve, but not all of it at all. Its passionate, creative stuff, full of integrity, not pretentious, just trying to be and do in an honest way. That's why DC was so good and Weller was brilliant for championing young people's poetry in a way that was congruous with the time and his ideals, which so many of us shared. He was one of us, we all seemed to feel the same, have the same values."
VG: What have you been up to since 1981?
RT: "Work, marriage, fatherhood .. I've worked for a long time in the field of mental health..as a nurse for years, now as a trainer and consultant. I'm very passionate about it, the raw deal people with mental health issues get. The fire hasn't really gone out at all."
VG: What's your opinion of The Modfather of 2010
RT: "Respect really. He has never relied on his fame or back catalogue, always seeking to be new, but never forgetting what's come before. I'm about the same age as him, so I'm reassured that people of my generation can still be passionate and committed and still be creative in a real way. Integrity is the word that sums him up. Mind you, I don't really like that 'Modfather' tag - doesn't do him justice at all. He's an artist, a great musician and songwriter. When I met him years ago and he wrote to me a few times, he was genuine and committed. No reason to think he's changed at all."
VG: Many thanks for your time Rick and as someone once said, " Turns away, smiles"
RT: "Pleasure. Good luck with the website."
Weller's World Shuttle Flights (1981)
Apple Blossom Orchard (6/5/81)
copyright Kevin Cummins
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