Paul Weller released his latest album, "Sonik Kicks," back in March, but the English mod-rock veteran so far hasn't brought the album to Los Angeles. That's set to change on Friday night at the Greek Theatre, where he'll touch down for a one-off headlining show while en route to Tokyo. (Hear the album's "That Dangerous Age" below.) Pop & Hiss recently rang Weller, 54, for a chat in which he advised concertgoers not to be surprised if he's joined onstage by Friday's opener, throwback-soul belter Sharon Jones.
"Sonik Kicks" and its predecessor, 2010's "Wake Up the Nation," have been described as being among your liveliest records. That's not often the case with artists who've been recording for 35 years.
I just wanna make something different. Music's pretty stale right now, and the records are my reaction to that.
Why has music become stale in your view?
I don't know, really. I suppose there are dozens of different reasons. Friends of mine talk about the end of rock 'n' roll. We've had 60 years of it -- perhaps it's run its course. Of course, people still wanna hear it, but in England, at least, with young people and the download culture, it doesn't seem like there's the same passion or importance for a lot of people. It's a quick turnover. Bands don't seem to last; there are very few with any longevity right now.
How does that strike you?
It's a shame. Obviously, I don't wanna see it run out. It's a fine and noble thing, rock 'n' roll. I don't wanna see its value diminishing.
You have several children, including some young ones. Do they care about rock 'n' roll?
All my kids listen to music, but I don't know if it has the same value it had for me and my generation. There are so many more and different types of media to fill their lives with. When I was growing up, it was music and football, and that was it. We didn't have the Internet, obviously; there weren't so many distractions. My kids, when they listen to music, they chop and change. They'll listen to a minute of a track, then switch to something else.
Many of your songs -- especially those you wrote with the Jam and the Style Council -- address the events of the day. "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight," for example. Do you see younger artists doing that?
I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't see much of it, no -- at least not in the way I'm talking about. I'd be hard-pressed to say who's doing it.
Is making songs like that still important to you?
Sometimes. A lot of my songs cover different subject matter. It'd be hard for me to put them down to being about this or that. It's just kind of whatever goes into my head. But it's still valid; it's kind of a tradition. In folk music, songs told tales and they were carried from town to town. It's kind of an extension of that.
A lavish 30th-anniversary reissue of the Jam's final album, "The Gift," is coming next month. What's your interest level in archival projects like that?
I don't know. It's become like another side of the business, these special editions with extra tracks. After a while, I find it kind of confusing, really. But whether I like it or not, [record labels] still put them out. And they're good enough to make sure I'm happy with them. Bands getting back together playing albums from 30 years ago -- that kind of seems like the same thing. It's big business now.
Is the renewed attention gratifying?
I like the fact that people might be interested in the older work, maybe even younger generations. But I'm equally happy -- happier, actually -- to have people listen to my new records. I'm of two minds about it: That stuff is a big part of my life and my heritage. But my last records are more important to me.
"Sonik Kicks" kind of sounds like that. There's something very hungry about it.
Well, you know, it's not over yet. For me, it's ongoing. I still think my next record could be the best thing I've ever done. Maybe it won't be, but there's enough incentive to keep on it. If you're a real artist, I don't think you're ever really finished; you never think you're done and you've accomplished all you need to do. The painter David Hockney, his last exhibition was all brand-new stuff. He's in his 70s now, but it wasn't a retrospective. He went and created a new set of work. That's inspiring to me.
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