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Paul Weller on sobriety: “You cross a line at a certain age and you’re just another old drunk”

Paul Weller has spoken about his 14 years of sobriety, saying he never wanted to “cross a line at a certain age” and become “just another old drunk”.

The Modfather released his 17th solo album, ’66’ on May 24 – the day before his 66th birthday. He recently talked about how getting older had made him more “experimental” and “open-minded”.

And now he has spoken to The Big Issue about overcoming what he believes was his “alcoholism”, following an ultimatum from his wife Hannah Andrews in 2010.

“Everything changed when I stopped drinking. It’s like night and day, it really is,” he said.

“First two years were hard. I didn’t have any relapses and I didn’t go to AA, though I would have done if I felt I needed to.”

Speaking about the eventual tipping point that jolted him into the lifestyle change, he added: “It was something in my body that said, ‘You’ve got to stop now.’ It was a bigger force than me just consciously saying, ‘I’ve got to stop’, which I’d said many times.”

Expanding on how sobriety has changed his outlook, he said: “It brings so much more clarity to your thinking and your actions, how you view the world. I’m glad I’ve got to this point in my life.

“When you’re younger, you’re just a funny pisshead. Then you cross a line at a certain age and you’re just another old drunk. It’s a hard thing to admit but once you do, it gets easier.”

The former frontman of The Jam spoke on the subject back in 2021. “Since I’ve been sober, which is 11 years this year, I get more from music,” he said. “Not just my music, but all music. It means more to me, and it’s more direct to my heart and my soul. And certainly playing it. Playing sober is so different, because you become more conscious, you’re more in the moment. And that changes everything.”

In the past, he has also discussed his discomfort of being around widespread cocaine usage during the filming of the Band Aid video in 1984. Speaking in 2021, he described the shoot as “horrible”, adding: “Everyone was getting off doing blow in the toilets. It probably would have been all right for me in the ‘90s but I wasn’t into all that then. I was totally out of my comfort zone.”

Weller has spoken in recent weeks about his support for Palestine amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza war. He has been performing live with a Palestinian flag draped on his guitar amp, and said to The Guardian: “Am I against genocides and ethnic cleansing? Yes, I am, funnily enough.”

He continued: “I can’t understand why more people aren’t up in arms about what’s going on. We should be ashamed of ourselves, I think. One minute you’re supplying bullets and bombs and guns, and then you’re sending over food. How does that work?”

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