Steve White has been a mainstay of British Popular Music for 3 decades now; his cultured drumming has graced the likes of Oasis and The Who, yet he is synonymous with Paul Weller after a stint in The Style Council and as a key player in his Solo crusade too. Since he stopped touring in 2007/8 the Bermondsey-born Musician has become a distinguished Producer. We’ve caught up with ‘Whitey’ to discuss his phenomenal career.
Steve Music has been your life – You were just 17 when you successfully Auditioned for The Style Council (Paul Weller and Mick Talbot’s then newly formed group) – and and have been a professional ever since. How daunting was that first Audition?
It wasn’t particularly daunting, I was pretty fearless then, plus I was doing lots of auditions at the time, I just wanted to work
Is it true that you wasn’t particularly familiar with Paul Weller’s work at the time?
I knew who he was, but I wasn’t one of these people quoting Jam Lyrics, we forget how big that band were, at that time he wanted people that weren’t going to stand there looking at him like frightened rabbits on stage
You were with the Council for the next 6 years – number one Albums, World Tours, playing at Live Aid all followed in that time. Can you sum up your memories of this period? It always looks as if you had a blast together.
Amazing, a real privilege. I was incredibly lucky. I worked really hard too, we had a fantastic time, and Cafe Bleu and Our Favourite shop still stand up as great albums
Have you watched Jerusalem at all recently?
Fraid not, my Mrs watched it and all she could say was “good job you can play the drums!”
It seems, looking back, that the band splitting up was almost inevitable. Was it a shock at the time? Being out of work must have been a real concern too?
We had a good run, I was doing loads of other stuff in that final year or so, Ian Dury, Galliano, Working Week Young Disciples, Jazz Renegades, James Taylor Quartet – being out of work wasn’t a real worry
You started working with Paul again into his Solo years; where you became practically synonymous with him. As a Musician, how highly do you rate Paul?
Paul is just a great musician, one of the best writers we have ever produced , a fantastic voice, and a great guitar player too
You played live with him until 2008. At that point he decided to chop and change his band and you were ‘replaced’. It shocked a lot of fans at the time – was it almost a mutual decision though? And it was purely musical wasn’t it?
We did Glastonbury in 2007 and there wasn’t much of a vibe there, I could tell he wanted a change and I wasn’t going to clock in for the money – I knew that was our last gig in that line up. I did a couple of tracks on 22 dreams, but I felt I wasn’t the kind of drummer he wanted anymore. He did ask me to do the tour that accompanied 22 dreams but I didn’t think I’d be right really.
Do you look at that now as almost a blessing? You’ve been managing/producing the hugely promising Sam Gray and Abi Phillips since, was Production something you’ve always fancied?
I’ve always done little bits of production – I think the best way to guarantee the kind of future I want is to work and invest in younger musicians and help them; I could of hawked around for another gig or tried to tag on to a reunion but it’s not really my thing
One of your first jobs as a Musician was in a Squeeze Musical. That sounds brilliant – could you tell us a bit more about it? It seems a shame that Ben Elton has probably wrecked any chances of reviving that sort of thing.
It was a great idea, the music was obviously fantastic, there wasn’t much story but it hasn’t stopped Queen. I also did a similar thing for Ian Dury called Apples
And you’ve played with just about everyone – The Who, Oasis, The Players and of course Paul Weller – but who was the best to work with? And who would you like to play with?
I have to say Paul…
So what’s next? Can we expect more from Trio Valore or The Players?
No, I don’t think so… I think it will be straight on to the next Sam Gray album – we have a new single called ” this girl ” out first week of August
Top 3 Songs Played On:
Ooh , Wildwood ( album ) Stanley Road ( album ) Our Favourite Shop ( album )
Top 3 Songs You Wish You’d Played On:
Sex Machine – James Brown Let’s Stay Together – Al Green Cum on feel the Noize – Slade
Top 3 Musical Memories:
Playing Sao Paolo 40,000 people two years ago with Jon Lord… Live aid – I guess… Going to have to say the whole Weller period between 1990 and 1996 too, the first solo allbum , Wildwood and Stanley Road
Who’s In Your Supergroup?:
Me on the drums, Mani on the bass ( top fella ) Jon Lord on Hammond, Melvin Sparks on Rhythm guitar and Weller on lead and vox… produced by Dr Dre
All Time CAFC XI:
Jorge Costa Richard Rufus Chris Powell Herman Hriedersson
John Robinson Scott Parker Paolo Di Canio Mark Kinsella ,
Derek Hales Superclive Mendonca
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