Andy lew is, long-time
bass player with tbe legendary Paul Weller, loves bis job - and
lor good reason. Joel
M clver finds out wbat it's
like to tread tbe world's biggest stages
tography bylina К
aul Weller, sometime of the Jam and the Style Council, but for the last
24 years flying high as a solo artist, is a man who knows what he
wants, in bass as in all other things. When BGM meets the great man
at a West London rehearsal studio a couple of days before he goes
out on tour with his new album,
, he's focused on
honing his set - but not too busy to chat for a minute about the
Harmony and Hof ner basses he used on the new record. But a
minute is all we get. reasonably enough, as he’s got a seven-piece band to manage and a
deadline to hit.
Furthermore, Weller knows that the low frequencies in the band are in safe hands.
He doesn’t need to talk to us when Andy Lewis, his long time bass player, is at hand. As
we watch Lewis and Weller power through the set alongside guitarist Steve Cradock (also
of Ocean Colour Scene), drummers Steve Pilgrim and Steve White, percussionist Ben
Gordelier and organ player Andy Crofts, the first impression is that the bass parts differ
more radically than casual fans might realise. Some of Weller's tunes require pick-driven
solidity, others funk-influenced fingerstyle and others a syncopated staccato approach.
Fortunately Lewis, a cool customer both on and off stage, handles them all with ease on his
tasty-looking Rickenbacker - although it scarcely sounds like a Ricky.
That's a Rickenbacker 4004 C2 Custom from 2004." says Lewis, as we settle down with
a cuppa during a break in rehearsal. "It’s one of the nice ones where the neck pickup is a
little bit further away from the neck than they usually are. On the day they made it. I don’t
know if they were a little high on the factory paint fumes, or if they just fancied trying
something different with a batch of basses, but it means that the neck pickup has got a
richer, less woody sound with a bit more cut to it. That’s the pickup I use the most.’'
He adds: "What’s nice is that if you play back near the bridge, with the neck pickup on.
you get a nice twangy, angry Jazz bass sound. And then if you rest your thumb over the
neck pickup, you get a more full, almost semi-acoustic bass sound, which is good because
on the new album Paul was using Hof ner Clubs and violin basses, as well as a Harmony
Meteor, which have distinctive sounds - and you can get those sounds with your fingers
just by moving from one pickup to the next.”
is the fourth Weller album which Lewis has toured, and judging by the
ease with which he meshes with the rest of the band, it’s a pretty relaxed place to be. "It’s
a very good place to be! It’s amazing.” he agrees. "Paul’s solo career has been going since
1991. when the single 'Into Tomorrow’ came out. which was a big record for me personally.
I loved the sound of that song and I loved the playing on it. And here I am in 2015 and it's
one of the songs in the set! It’s a dream come true.”
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