20.06.2017

Talking with Andy Crofts

Chris P. Dekker interviews Andy Crofts of The Paul Weller Band and The Moons

Andy Crofts Interview 1

Andy Crofts

“I'm more used to be on the frontline”

Andy Crofts wants it all and does it all. Besides being the frontman of his own band, The Moons, he's a long time Paul Weller sideman. After some years of playing keys with the Modfather he took over bass duties both on recordings and live. He not only shot the documentary ONE, which covers a year of touring with Weller, but he's also the unofficial tour photographer. During our interview Weller stepped in and answered some questions too. 

Andy, you're lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of The Moons, you were Paul Weller's keyboard player and now his bassist. How does that feel?

'As a musician, it's actually very satisfying. One minute I'm sat at the back, my head only visible over the keys, and I'm frontline now. The gigs got new meaning. I'm excited doing the same venues I’d done for years in my new role. It feels different and more natural, because I'm more used to be at the frontline with The Moons. I loved playing the keys, but I prefer bass.' 

So, it's an upgrade?

'Yes! I asked him many years ago, before joining the band, if he needed someone on bass. I text him. He said he'd keep me in mind and I ended up on keys.' 

Was it difficult to learn all the songs? Paul has quite a big back catalogue.

'I kinda already knew a lot of songs, I had heard them, but I played most of them on keys. I was a little bit freaked out because there was so much to learn. I think I'm quite a good bass player, so it didn't take me that long to get it together. I went through the songs at home one by one, I played along and I had it just about good. With the rehearsals for the tour I could fine tune it.' 

I guess you already play bass on some recordings and you knew the structures.

'That was the handiest thing I had, knowing the songs well.' 

Odds

Like I just said, you already play bass on recorded songs. What's your role while recording?

'I joined the live band after 22 Dreams and I started recording from Wake Up The Nation. I play bass on some of those songs, like Moonshine, but also some guitars and some backing vocals. On the new album I've done more. Paul trusts me and gave me more of a role. I didn't do all the bass parts, but a lot.' 

If I see some of the studio footage in documentaries, recording looks very loose. Everybody who's there can play?

'There's a lot of freedom. Paul invites me down, often with Ben Gordelier, who's also the Moons drummer. If you happen to be there, odds are you end up on the record.' 

I think The Moons started using Höfner instruments before Weller. How did that happen?

'I was with an old band, called the On-Offs. A punky powerpop band. I always loved the Höfner range so I sent them an e-mail asking if they could help me. They said “yeah, okay,” so I went over and got a Club Bass. It was brand new but it had the classic looks and the very thin lacquer. I swear by that bass and I record everything with it at home. My Club has a very subtle sunburst. More of a teaburst. It has the Höfner flatwounds on it, which I love. I just record with it, add a bit of compression and you get the true McCartney sound.'  

Pale blue

And I think you got Paul into using Höfner again?

'Kind of. I can't remember. I think I was using my stuff, he liked it and I said we should have a word with Höfner. First, he got a guitar. The pale blue Verythin, which he uses a lot on albums. He loves it. Because he used it so much we talked about a bass and he wanted one in the same colour. So he got the Club Bass. That is on pretty much everything. There's a Fender on a song, but in general the Club is on pretty much on everything.' 

And I think I saw a Contemporary President Bass too?

'The big one! He loves that one. I did rehearse with it, but I haven't recorded with it. Paul did. It has those strange black strings on it. It's a cool bass.' 

At that moment Paul Weller meets us.

Paul, you started with a Höfner bass in The Jam and now you play Höfner bass on records again?

'Yeah, the circle is round again, isn't it?' 

Do you still have your first old Höfner?

'Yes, it's somewhere in the studio, but it's broken so we can't use it.' 

Rumours are your old band mate Rick Buckler sat on it, it broke and you hit him!

'All's true, but I never hit him. There were times I could have though, haha, but I didn't.' 

Let's not get into that!

'Haha, no!'

So, what kind of Höfner's do you use?

'I record guitars with a Verythin a lot. A great sounding guitar. Of course, we use the Club Bass a lot and there's the President with those black nylon-tapewound strings. That almost sounds like a double bass.'

Verythin
Back to Andy again. Live you use a Verythin Bass.

'When Paul asked me to play bass I immediately decided to use a Höfner. The Club might not be suitable for all songs, it might have some feedback, so I decided on the Verythin, with the middle block and it's a bit more solid. I have a friend with a Verythin Bass, I knew it would be the right bass, so I called Höfner again and they provided me with a bass. I have a second one as back up now. It's very easy to play and it sounds great with the Rotosound Halfwounds I've got on them. I love the Höfner flatwounds, but those Halfwounds have more sustain, they ring a bit more and it's better for the rock songs.'

Andy Crofts Interview 2

 What amps do you use live?

'I use the Fender Bassman reissues with big 8x10” cabs with silver cloth. They're part of the band's backline. They sound lovely. I turn in a little bit of overdrive. Just a touch. You almost can't hear it, but it makes the sound more edgy. I use the Vintage Overdrive setting of the amp, so no effects. I have a tuner, a fuzz and a compressor, but I don't use the effects. I don't need to, cos it already sounds so good.' 

Any more wishes?
'I love the paisley Club and I hinted that to Höfner, haha! I'll do it again here on tape now! But I would really like a Verythin Bass in my own choice of colour. To be fair, Höfner are so good to me I love them to bits. They are loyal to me, so I am loyal to them too. That's why I use the Verythin, also on TV. And I have got a bunch of other guitars too.' 

How do you record the basses? I guess an Ampeg B-15?

'No, mostly it is just whatever sounds good. It could be a Fender tube amp for guitar, but I DI a lot. Just a DI and compression for the McCartney sound, as I said earlier. Sometimes I combine the DI with the sound of an amp. If it works, it works, I like to work fast, so just DI'ing is mostly the case.' 

How about The Moons. Can we expect something new?

'It's a little bit difficult. I am trying to make a new album, but when Paul's busy I do Paul Weller. We released a single for Record Store Day to show the people we are still around. There will be a new album and I'm still debating if that'll be a single or a double album. I might do a double album just for the hell of it. In that way people have enough music for years! I might do a solo album too.' 

Just beautiful

You do most of the writing for The Moons, so what's the difference between a solo album and a Moons album?

'My solo songs are more mellow and musical. Not indie, I don't want to sound indie. It's just beautiful music. If I write a song I unconsciously know if it's Moons or solo. I do want to make an album with lots of musicians, just once.Maybe like the Beach Boys, or record live at Abbey Road with The Moons once and film it. That's definitely going to happen. If you are there you have to film it. There's so many things I want to do, but there's Weller and I've got a daughter I want to spend time with.'

So Weller's always number one?

'At the end of the day that's my bread and butter and I love it as well. I don't want not to be in his band. Everything is perfect. But The Moons is an outlet for my songs.'

Andy Crofts Interview 3

 A last question. A lot of your pictures are used on Paul's social media and you made the documentary, ONE, about a year of touring with Weller. How important is filming and photography to you?

'It's of course in third place, behind The Moons and Weller. I'm not a professional, but I have a good eye and I can make things look good. During a tour there are a lot of moments when you have to wait, for dinner, for sound checks, for anything and it's nice to make pictures then. It's very hard to always have a camera ready and I do miss some moments. I might make a second documentary. Photography is like a second nature and I will always do that.'

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