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Thanks to Ian Grant at Track Records we get THREE members the Casbah Club - Bruce Watson (ex-Big Country), Bruce Foxton (ex-The Jam) and new vocalist Simon Townsend (of the Who).

1. What are you currently up to?

Bruce Watson: At the moment I am really busy working on songs and doing press and promotion for forthcoming tour

Bruce Foxton: Touring

Simon Townshend: I have been in The Who since '96 playing second guitar and singing backing vocals, first on the Quadraphenia tour then on the hits tours of 1998 / 2000 / 2002. Also, last year when we toured the Pacific rim. My claim to fame: I produced a couple of studio recordings for The Who, Real Good Looking Boy and Old Red Wine that appeared on their Now and Then album. It has been great for me, wonderful experience and a joy spending time on and off stage with my big bruv who I hardly saw for most of my life. I must say though, a change will do me good - now I'm really looking forward to getting out and singing some of my own songs - plus a few Weller and Adamson ditties to boot.

2. How did you hook-up with Simon Townsend and why did JJ Gilmour & Josh Phillips leave the band?

Bruce Watson: Simon, Bruce F and Mark were about to start working together at one point a few years back. I think due to prior commitment to The Who, SLF and Procol Harem, they couldn't. Maybe the guys can answer more accurately. I have been wanting to work with Simon for a couple of years and have indeed rehearsed with him a few times but again other commitments got in the way.

Josh left the band as he writes music for TV and commercials which is a very good earner for him. 'Strictly Come Dancing' and many TV ad's are him. JJ really just wants to be a solo performer which is well suited to him as I think he is at his best with solo voice and acoustic guitar.

Bruce Foxton: I was introduced to Simon via Mark. We worked on a few of Simon's songs a few years ago, but for some unknown reason it never came to any conclusion, just put on hold until now I guess

Simon Townshend: This is a quesion for the other guys. I just know that neither of them were right for the band in the first place, it is now driven, as it should be, by guitars and a London rock voice.

3. How did last year's UK tour go? What have been the most memorable live shows for the Casbah Club and why?

Bruce Watson: Last year's tour was basically us dipping our toes in the water. Some nights were good, some not so good. That was the reason that the set was predominantly Big Country orientated with a few Jam songs. We didn't have time to write new material as we were all busy coming of other tours. We only did 17 shows with CC last year and I think the most memorable shows are to come

Bruce Foxton: Very early days, but probably King Tuts in Glasgow so far.

Simon Townshend: Again, another one for the guys - I personally think that their most memorable gigs are yet to come. Everything else ought to be forgotton. LOL

4. How did the live album get recieved by critics and fans? How did you decide which Jam/Big Country tumes to feature in the live set?

Bruce Watson: The live album got some good reviews. I picked the BC songs and Bruce F picked the Jam songs. JJ then listened to a selection and added more as well as dropping a few that we suggested. Some of JJs selections were cool as he wanted to do The Jam's 'Butterfly Collector' which both Bruce F and I never thought about.

Now we have whittled down the BC and Jam material. I said to Si that we should do 'In a Big Country', and he picked the rest. Bruce F is now going to do more lead vocals with Si playing keys on a few more song which will add new textures.

Bruce Foxton: Very democratic. As JJ was the singer we intially chose songs that suited his voice.

Simon Townshend: I might as well shut up - I wasn't there.

5. Have you seen an upswing in interest in rock music in the past few years? Are you pleased at how the band has developed over the past twelve months?

Bruce Watson: Ever since the Beatles hit the charts people have picked up guitars and drumkits and played rock n roll. There will be times where music shifts, fashion and trends change but one thing is certain, Teenagers want to make a noise, and thank God for that.

The band is now starting to take shape with the new songs that Simon is bringing to the table.

Bruce Foxton: Definitely, bands that can actually write and perform, at last. Casbah has taken a while due to the personnel changes. Now we have the perfect line up things should move a lot faster.

Simon Townshend: Definitely a huge turn in the industry back to rock - thank God. Music was becoming so shite and trite. My kids say, "We're rockers" and I am a proud dad. Since I joined Casbah we have moved on really quickly, just took time coming to a decision based on all my other work - now I'm in I think we won't be looking back or wasting any time. Ain't got that much time to lose anyway... or hair for that matter.

6. Do you find it hard sometimes to get fans onto new material as they / some may just be coming along to hear the Big Country/Jam numbers?

Bruce Watson: Ian Grant has posted up a couple of downloads of work in progress on the website and they seem to be getting favourable reactions.

Bruce Foxton: This is the first tour with new material, so we'll have to wait & see. I do feel that the new songs will be received favourably.

Simon Townshend: The songs I am bringing to the table are my pride and joy collected over years, carefully crafted gems. I think the Jam and Big Country fans are going to love them, after all my influences over the years are their influences - when Weller supported The Who in Japan I was on stage taking pics because I am a fan - he is a legend to me, yet he sees my brother as the legend. Wierd. All very incestuous but very cool at the same time. My music is born from the same ilk and I am certain of how it will be received by real music lovers... As long as you're not into any of that dance bollocks!

7. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Bruce Watson: Snorkling with God

Bruce Foxton: Normality, as when you're in a band, can be a bit of a bubble, almost surreal

Simon Townshend: If I'm not playing guitar, I like to play golf. I can write when I'm in either mode and that is what I enjoy doing most of all... Painting in the sky.... Being creative, being aware, being an artist.

8. Message to your fans...

Bruce Watson: Mine's a Stella

Bruce Foxton: Give us a chance.

Simon Townshend: My message to the fans: Come along and support us. Give us a chance to blow you away.

9. Bruce Foxton - did you ever think the Jam would have such a big impact musically all these years later? What song(s) do you think sum up what the Jam were all about and why?

This is a long question. personally, songs like Tube Station, That's Entertainment, Going Underground, English Rose, There's too many to mention. Mainly because of their honesty, relevance, melody, arrangements etc.

Simon Townshend: If Foxy doesn't answer, I will... because Weller had something meaningful to say. His Town Called Malice lyric for example... Absolutely stunning.

Interview © 2005 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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