Those very few artists who’ve enjoyed the kind of success and influence over four decades that Paul Weller has and even to this day he enjoys a never-ending creative peak and retains a constant critical high, continuing to push boundaries from one day to the next. Artists like Paul Weller are well within their rights to enjoy the fruits of their labour at leisure. They might tour a classic album over & over again, bathing in the nostalgic love of their fans remembering the good old days. And why not? Paul Weller has had more good old days than pretty much any other British artist of his or anyone’s generation: six era-defining albums with The Jam, five with The Style Council and ten as a solo artist. That’s a lot of classic albums to milk on the nostalgia circuit and at an incredibly well-groomed 53, Paul Weller is still in his prime and the kind of nick that would allow him to milk those memories for all they’re worth. But, of course, we know Paul Weller is not like other artists. He doesn’t want to look back: that’s not his way. He is only concerned with the here and now. Which is why we join him on a beautifully sunny winter’s morning outside a café to drink a gallon of coffee and discuss his latest album, Sonik Kicks, the follow-up to 2010’s Mercury Music Prize nominated Wake Up The Nation. You can keep the victory parade for another day. “Of course I’m proud of what I’ve done,” says Paul, “but I’m interested in what’s next. I want to be relevant now, in 2012. I’ve done my bit for the past. I’ve only ever been about what’s next, really, and I’ll be that way until I keel over.” Recorded as usual in Weller’s own Black Barn Studios in Ripley, Surrey, with co-producer Simon Dine and trusted engineer Charles Rees, Paul enlisted musician friends such as Noel Gallagher, Graham Coxon and Aziz Ibrahim to help out on Sonik Kicks – often playing any instrument other than that which they are famous for – as well members of his touring band, including long-serving lieutenant Steve Craddock, with Weller himself also playing just about every instrument. His wife Hannah sings with Paul on Study In Blue, while his daughter Leah and youngest son Mac join him on the final Be Happy Children. “I had one version of the album and we did some playbacks of that but it was a bit full-on. So we took a couple of tracks off, did a couple of new ones and got Stan Kybert to come in and strip the sound back a bit. I’m very happy with the feel of it now. It’s got intensity, but it’s also got breathing space. It’s abstract in places, but also got some really good pop melodies. I think it’s better than Wake Up The Nation, particularly lyrically.