Many years ago I walked into a music shop to buy a Rickenbacker 330.
The seller of that guitar was Dave Fletcher. He told me he was selling it to fund his upcoming wedding.
Years later when we met again I reminded him of the story and said I still had the guitar; he has one of the driest senses of humour of anyone I’ve met and said something like “I no longer have the wife.” I recorded part of the first Kite Collectors album with Steve Duffield (Beta Band, Steve Mason, Mild Mannered Janitors) at Fletch’s house on a glorious weekend of chat and beans on toast – a food at which he excels! Fletch is also a great amateur videographer and has produced videos for his bands as well as the KCs and Gary Shail of Quadrophenia fame.
Now lead singer with The Jam’d, often and rightly described as the most authentic of the ‘tribute’ bands, he has recently released an album of original material after a long hiatus.
How did you discover the mod subculture?
For me, it was one of those times I will always remember. A good friend of mine told me about a band he’d heard a lot about, they were really punky and had a new single out. We were both into The Stranglers, Sex Pistols etc. and Punk in general, so off we trotted to WH Smith and both bought a copy of “Down in the Tubestation at Midnight” by The Jam. We went back to my bedroom and put it on my little record player. I was a bit surprised as it wasn’t what I was expecting, and my mate said it was shit and was going to get his money back the next day. I listened to it a few more times that night as there was something about it that was different to other stuff around at the time, it was like sophisticated Punk, well crafted, on a different level. So, I tried to find out a bit more about the band, then saw the clothes they wore and how cool they were, more Mod than Punk. It was like a match that started the fire in me, and it’s been alight ever since.
Why did you bring The Fleet Street to an end?
The band was my attempt to be the next Jam 30 years ago. It all just ended as we got married to females, and got sucked into the rat race. Then, just by chance we all bumped into each other around 10 years ago and said let’s do it again just for something to do in our spare time really. By then I had a home studio, so we recorded all the old tunes we had and played a few gigs around Portsmouth with no interest from anyone at all, so it was just a bit like finishing up unfinished business. The gigs that we did play made me realise that I actually loved performing on stage, and, as I was never going to be famous or anything, why not play music that I love and people want to see and hear. So we all agreed to call it a day, and I started to rehearse Jam tunes to start a new path.
With regard to the Jam’d. How do you go about recreating what was such a unique sound?
As a band, we all play the same instruments that The Jam used live, and I’ve used a variety of different amps that Weller used, but I think the main way we recreate their live sound is how we play. We don’t attempt to recreate any of their recordings, just their live performances of those songs, how they were sung live and how each instrument was played on stage. I used to use a Marshal amp and cab but I’m currently using a small Peavey Backstage amp. Weller used one for recording the “Settings Sons” album, and also lead parts on “All Mod Cons”, as well as using it to do “Eton Rifles” and “When You’re Young” live on the TV programme ‘Something Else.’ People talk about “The Jam sound,” but every single album had a completely different guitar sound. I personally think the only constant throughout their career was Foxton’s bass sound. Put that with Buckler’s drums and Weller could have played anything over the top and have it classed as ‘The Jam sound.’ As for recreating their live performances, well, I just study every live recording and video of them to make sure I play what he did and how he did. Weller had a lot of guitar overdubs in the studio and so couldn’t recreate those live, so he played the songs a certain way on stage, I just like to stick to that and put in, hopefully, an exciting and energetic performance. And, although my voice isn’t exactly like Weller, I guess I’m lucky in that I sing the same way, and my guitar style is the same.
Which songs bring you the most Joy to play and why?
There’s very few songs I’m not that keen on playing as once the song starts you get into it, but, I do tend to get get completely sucked into the ‘zone’ with tunes like “When You’re Young” and “Tubestation.” I also like taking a bit of a step back and just rocking out to “Smithers Jones” and “David Watts.”
What have been the highlights with The Jam’d so far?
It’s always been an ambition of mine to play the 100 Club in London, and last year we supported the Style Councillors there. The night was sold out and lived up to everything I hoped it would. We’ve since been given our own headline show there next year. But, we’re also lucky enough to play a lot of big festivals, so I always feel very honoured to walk out on stage in front of thousands of music lovers. Each one of those gigs is a highlight.
Those that play covers or are recreating for a tribute are often criticised – how do you deal with that?
I deal with it by telling myself that there’ll always be someone who criticises whatever you play, or listen to, or wear, or eat, or vote for. People’s opinions only affect you if you let them. I’ve seen comments from some musicians blaming their lack of world fame and domination on covers and tribute bands, but covers and tribute bands have always been around, in fact The Jam and the Beatles started out as covers bands. I always feel that when musicians insult tribute bands, they’re also insulting all the people who like to watch them, people who could potentially like their music. New original music needs exposure, so what better way than to work with bands that draw big crowds. Originals bands love to get played on the radio in amongst all the old famous tunes and bands, so why scoff at opportunities to do the same thing live! I sleep well at night knowing that far more people want to come and see the band than the few that criticise. It’s just light entertainment and there’s a lot more things to be worried about in life than being called a cabaret band.
Last year you released a solo album – Tell us about that?
Over the last 30 years I have written quite a few songs, some in particular I always wanted to record. Now I have my own studio I thought I’d get around to doing just that. All the tunes on the album are a different style as they were written during different parts of my life and influenced by who ever I was into at that time. So, anyone listening to it expecting it to be a Jam sounding album will be disappointed, but I’m proud of it and happy that I managed to give myself a physical copy of what’s been rattling around in my head all that time. I don’t expect, or even hope for fame and fortune, I do it just for me, and if anyone likes it, then that’s great. I’ve just embarked on a second album (under the new band name of “Bus Stop Lovers”) with a few more of those tunes stored in my head, but also some newly written songs just for this album. Available later this year at Woolworths, HMV, and other record stores on the high street!
Buy Dave Fletcher’s NEW album “MR UNBELIEVABLE” here
Copyright © Mods Of Your Generation, Dr. Robert Allen (The Kite Collectors), 2020, All Rights Reserved. No part of this interview may be reproduced without the permission of the authors.
Pictures © Dave Fletcher 2020