September 28th – The Country’s leading Jam Tribute Band. An Interview with Rob Kelly
Confession time, I first saw the Jam play at the 100 club in 1977 and then again at the Nashville in September of the same year and I was struck by their power and the depth of their song-writing but it was as a live act that they really came into their own. I was a fan, I had the black and white shoes and the skinny tie.
I saw the Jam several times after that but for me, nothing came close to the visceral energy of Weller, Foxton and Buckler in full Punk/Mod flow The Jam went on to grow in style, confidence and sophistication, but always retained that concise, clear focus on a great hook, killer lyrics and of course one of the best rhythm sections in pop/rock/punk.
On Saturday the 28th of September, at St Paul’s Worthing, the UK’s leading Jam tribute band, The Jam’d recreate the sound, feel and emotion of a gig performed by the boys from Woking. Using authentic kit and arrangements and with a genuine passion for the music, this group of experienced musicians are dedicated to recreating the perfect Live Jam experience.
I chatted with drummer John Cator and Vocalist/Guitarist Dave Fletcher about how The Jam’d where formed, how they discovered the Jam and what we can expect from their live performance.
I began by asking who was in the band and how the band came about
JOHN: The current line up is Dave ‘Fletch’ Fletcher on guitar/vocals, Chris Malin on bass/vocals & John Cator drums/vocals.
The band started out playing as a new wave/punk type band in pubs etc. but became ’The Jam’d’ in 2006 after including more & more JAM songs in their set.
We now play some of the top tribute / touring venues and Festivals in the U.K. and are now a fully professional outfit.
The Jam’d also introduced a brass section into the line up of course, just like The Jam!
Are you into any of the other “mod-revivial” bands from that time, like Secret Affair, The Chords or The Lambrettas?
DAVE: I was a big Chords fan back in the day, but never really took much notice of the others. But recently I saw the reformed Secret Affair and they were brilliant, great songs and great musicians.
Who, in your opinion was the true “Modfather”, Townshend, Daltry, Marriott or Ray Davies?
DAVE; I never really understood the term “Modfather.” I guess it relates to a ‘leader’ of some kind. The people you mentioned were all into the fashion at the time, but soon dropped it when styles changed. The only person who’s stayed true to his Mod ethos throughout his career is Weller, so I guess he is the true Modfather!
Here’s a question for John, as a drummer how would you rate Rick Buckler against Keith Moon or Kenny Jones?
JOHN: They’re all very different!….but, I have to say, it’s not until you start to play some of the Jam’s material that you realise just how good a drummer Rick really is.
Have either of you seen the Jam play live/ and if so when and where?
DAVE: I saw The Jam on a number of occasions, from 78 until 82, all at various places, Portsmouth, Brighton, London etc.
Do you have a favourite period from the Jams history and if so why?
DAVE: The thing with The Jam is that every album is a different sound, and they seemed to re-invent themselves with the release of each album. I loved the punk/soul sound of In The City, but wasn’t a big fan of the short lived black suits. And the last album, The Gift, has a great positive feel to it, and I loved the gear they were wearing, but I guess Setting Sons is the ultimate ‘Jam Sound.’ But, each album is my favourite when I listen to it, and all periods were my favourite when I think back, that’s why The Jam were so popular, we were all growing together.
How would you rate the late period with their early, full on, venom and energy beginnings?
DAVE: Didn’t really think about it at the time. The early days where just a merging of what The Jam did with Punk, its how most bands at the time were? Their class just rose from that, but be assured that there was still energy and venom in all their later gigs.
How do you feel about “From the Jam”?
DAVE: I totally get why people want to go and see them, they have Bruce Foxton who used to be in The Jam, but they’d be the first to tell you that they want to distance themselves from the ‘tribute’ label. They have their own take on performing the songs of The Jam, and their own songs, and they are very good at doing it. We try and recreate what an actual Jam gig was like, with the energy, electricity, aggression, passion and fashion, except we don’t have any famous people in the band, ha ha.
Do you think Weller was right in disowning his Jam heritage?
DAVE: I don’t think he does now. He did after The Jam split, but he had to as the Style Council was so different, and people were still smarting over the break up of The Jam. I think he now embraces what The Jam was and what it meant to people, and to himself, hence why he now plays a lot of Jam songs on stage.
What are your favourite Jam songs to play?
JOHN: It really does tend to change a lot, but probably ’Strange Town’.
Which songs go down best with the audience?
JOHN: I’d have to say ‘all of them’ when we play to an out & out JAM crowd, if it’s a festival or similar then probably ‘A Town Called Malice’….it’s a big favourite.
Ever been asked for an obscure song by the crowd and did you play it?
DAVE: We once got asked to do Lisa Radley, so I went out on stage before the rest of the band and did it. (Liza Radley was the B side to chart topper Start!)
What can the crowd expect from a “The Jam’d” gig?
DAVE: Anyone who ever saw The Jam live, experienced a feeling like no other. Before I did this, I had never experienced that feeling watching other bands and tributes, so I like to think that people who have seen us go home with a smile on their face and thinking to themselves, yeah, that was one hell of a night.
Performing these songs is the only thing that’s ever given me the same feeling as watching The Jam back in the day, so I hope that passes through to the people who come to watch us.
John, I read that you had a replica of Rick’s kit,did it take long to acquire or was it custom built?
JOHN: Yes, it’s something really special, I saw the original at the ‘About the Young Idea’ exhibition in London and it had to be done. It was custom built and even has original Premier hardware.
I spoke to Rick about it before I went ahead and more recently met up with him and he actually signed it for me!….there’s pics etc on our Facebook page.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
JOHN: Coronation Street….lol.
Finally, what 3 songs would make an ideal pre gig playlist?
John: I’m not sure about 3 songs but i can tell you that our main intro (we have others) is quite often ‘Staring at the rude boys’ by the Ruts.I got the idea from the Birmingham Bingley hall gig but i think From the Jam have done it too.
You can experience the Jam’d live at St Paul’s Worthing on September 28th.for a night of joy, passion, energy and a host of incredible songs played as they should be there is no better way to spend a Saturday night.
The Jam’d are now the country’s leading tribute to the Woking 3, playing all the major tribute festivals, rallies and venues around the UK. The Jam’d stage performance is full of excitement, energy, electricity and aggression, and just cool, attributes rarely seen nowadays. With brass section and the only replica of Rick Buckler’s “Great White” drum kit, you will not be disappointed!
Read more interviews and articles on Womu – a Worthing music blog at worthingmusic.wordpress.com