How We Met: Steve Cradock & Paul Weller - Living - The New Review - The Independent

How We Met: Steve Cradock & Paul Weller

'I can't remember going to gigs with him. But we're always slaughtered by that point anyway'


Paul Weller, 49, is one of Britain's most enduring and acclaimed musicians. He was the founder and lead singer of The Jam and The Style Council, before moving on to a successful solo career. He lives with his partner, Sammi, and two of his five children in London

I met Steve when he was about 16. It was the 1980s and he used to come down to visit us in the studio we were playing in at that time in Marble Arch.

I guess it must have been The Style Council days, and Steve was a big Jam fan and would come along, this kid, and bug the shit out of us. He was trying to get me to listen to demos of his band. Kenny [Wheeler], our tour manager, who has been with me for donkeys' years, used to kick him out. While there wasn't violence involved, and Steve wasn't a stalker, he would come regularly, until it got to a point when I didn't see him for a long time. It's so funny that Ken used to lob him out of the studio and now we're working together.

I next met him in 1991 when he was with Ocean Colour Scene and they were making their first album back at the same studio in Marble Arch. I walked up to him and said "I know you" and he said he used to come down when he was a kid and the penny dropped. He wasn't embarrassed, but it was weird seeing him all those years later. We stayed in touch and he supported me a couple of times over the next few years.

I always thought he had something; he was a good guitarist and he looked the part on stage as well. I got him to play a track on my album Wild Wood; we got rid of the great big tray of effects and plugged his guitar straight into the amp. And that was it.

He is a magical person. Both in a band and in the studio he's the right guy to have around because he's so positive and optimistic. When he first played with us he had to learn the ropes quickly, which he did. I would say that he's learned from me in terms of the level of playing and approach, and a certain amount of professional conduct, I think, but we've both tried to move on as people and musicians.

We both like The Kinks, The Who, The Small Faces, we both love soul and R&B and are both reggae fans, and we are also into The Stone Roses, The La's and Oasis – that form of British music. Apart from that, I'd always socialise with Cradock, as he's one of my best mates. I can't remember going to any gigs with him. But we're always slaughtered by that point in the night anyway.

Steve Cradock, 38, is a guitarist with Ocean Colour Scene and has played guitar with Paul Weller since the early-1990s. He has performed on all of Weller's solo albums for the past 15 years. He lives with his wife Sally and their two children in Birmingham

I remember going down to Paul's studio when I was 17 and I turned up there because I didn't fancy doing my exams. I wanted to go and check London out and to meet some of my heroes, get out of Birmingham for a couple of days, really. So I did that, met him and played him a couple of my demos. There was an old boy on the door called Arthur who was a lovely old gentleman and he let me in and I was there for an hour or so. And then Kenny gave me the "What are you doing in here" and I got thrown out.

Later, when I was with Ocean Colour Scene, Paul recognised me from being that little mod kid and I think he had a copy of our first single. I bought a scooter off him, I seem to remember, a Vespa, which subsequently got stolen, and then a year or two later he asked me if I wanted to play guitar in his band.

That was amazing. I knew I didn't have the ability as a guitar player but he said he thought I was the right person for the job, which over the years has proved him right. I just thought I wasn't a good guitar player, or didn't have the ability Paul needed to play the right songs.

But he was very supportive. It doesn't cost you anything to be nice is what I've learned from him, and I've learned resilience to drinking and bad language.

We will always go to the pub, though we've both got young families – and he comes to Birmingham if we go out; I wouldn't go down to London. But we were talking about getting a little crèche back-stage in London to look after the kids.

I've been playing with him for 15 years. On 22 Dreams he gave me a free go and I was playing a lot of drums, a couple of different soundscapes on the instrumentals and was basically lucky enough to hang out and see what was going on. It was good to get the insight. When I turned 30 I realised I had stopped worrying about it and felt much more comfortable with it all. But that first meeting with him was certainly a rite of passage.

Paul Weller and Steve Cradock are currently touring the UK. For more information on venues and to book tickets, visit www.paul weller.com. Weller's single "Echoes Round the Sun/Have You Made up Your Mind" is out on 26 May and his album, "22 Dreams", is out on 3 June, both on Island Records

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