In the middle of his current UK tour with his band the Invaders of the Heart, I managed to have a chat with post-punk legend John “Jah Wobble” Wardle, and ask him about touring, recording and how he handles life on the road. To start, we discussed the current tour. “I injured my thumb in a footballing incident”, he says, showing me a plaster over his hand on the zoom call, “but I think it keeps the playing simpler on the bass you know?”. He also spoke on playing at smaller venues, saying “it’s good to come and see people closer in person- of course there’s nothing wrong with the larger gigs, but it’s at the smaller places where you can really meet the people who appreciate you close up”.
The ability for young artists to crack the UK music industry was also of concern to Wobble, with him suggesting that people just “record” and put out as much material as possible. He described how it’s an uphill battle for a lot of young artists, given how expensive the logistics of touring can be, especially how now it’s the only way for people to properly earn money from music. “You have to be self sufficient”, he says. “That might mean getting someone to give you a lift, or carrying your own gear around with you”. Indeed, Wobble is putting his money where his mouth is here, with him setting up a scheme in South London which offers children opportunities to learn instruments and record. “Nowadays it’s so hard to get younger people into music, it’s important to give back to the community with schemes such as these”.
Anyone who’s seen Wobble live knows he has some of the top equipment in the industry, and he spoke about how his rig has been “simplified” given the advent of new combo bass amps which make touring a far more compact and efficient endeavour. He explained, “I’ve got a new bass combo amp which works far better for touring than the old Marshall stacks we used to use.” This shift in equipment choice not only speaks to Wobble’s adaptability but also highlights the importance of technological advancements in enhancing the touring experience for musicians.
We talked about Brian Eno and Wobble’s experiences working together on 1995’s album ‘Spinner’, as well as the host of other collaborations he’s had the privilege of participating in over his decades spanning career. “It was actually Brian’s brother Roger who did a lot of the instrumentation for those albums” Wobble mentioned. He also offered a deeper perspective on the impact it had on him as an artist, candidly expressing that “Working with Brian was a really eye-opening experience compared to other work I’ve done.” This statement hinted at the profound influence of the collaboration, suggesting that it pushed Wobble to explore new creative realms and expand his artistic boundaries.
Lastly, we discussed newer musical influences that Wobble has been exposed to. He confessed, “Surprisingly it’s my sons who bring me new material now, especially from China.” This revelation highlights the intergenerational exchange of musical ideas and the cross-cultural influences that continue to shape Wobble’s musical palette. It showcases the enduring curiosity and openness that have been pivotal to his enduring success as a musician.
Overall it was a pleasure speaking to Jah, his enthusiasm and passion for music is as infectious as the material itself.
Jah Wobble and the Invaders of the Heart are currently on tour across the UK, tickets can be purchased here.