AS part of The Jam, Bruce Foxton’s thumping bass lines were the driving force behind singer and guitarist Paul Weller's incredible songs which saw the band become one of the most popular groups to emerge from the punk explosion of the late 1970s.

After The Jam split in 1982, Bruce pursued a solo career and collaborated with other musicians before joining Stiff Little Fingers and eventually forming From the Jam who today continue to tour the world revisiting his former band's illustrious back catalogue.

"I'm just looking at the setlist and working out what to play," says Bruce, who brings From the Jam to Chester's Live Rooms on Wednesday, April 4.

"We always do the greatest hits like Town Called Malice, Going Underground and Start but that'll be mixed up with some good album tracks which is really what I'm working on the moment.

"It's about keeping it fresh for us and fresh for the crowd because we don't want to be going out there year in year out playing the same set. They'll also be a few off my last two albums with Russell Hastings because people have got those albums now because we got a bit of airplay and we sold a few - they're a good bunch of melodic songs."

Keeping it interesting when most of your fans would be happy to hear the same songs over and over again is always a tricky balancing act for anyone who used to be in a legendary band but Bruce bristles when I suggest he's in a tribute act these days.

"I don't consider myself as a tribute to myself," he laughs. "That's a bit tricky but it is about getting the combination right. I love playing the Jam songs and so do the band but we also like to mix it up with some new material.

"This year we're trying to find some time to record another Foxton and Hastings album which can keep it fresh and up to date for us but we've been thinking of putting this song called Private Hell (from 1978's Setting Sons LP) in the set and I dug it out and put it on the old stereogram and thought 'wow'. I don't take anything for granted but it's no surprise that The Jam's music still sounds so current because I hadn't played that track for years and yet it still blew me away."

Such was The Jam's huge popularity they had 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the UK, from their debut single In The City in 1977 to their break-up in December 1982, including four number one hits. Weller's status as the 'spokesperson of a generation' was assured and the band's devoted following ensured a Mod revival as fans copied their sharp image and love of band's like The Who, The Kinks and The Small Faces.

"Paul was so talented even at that age, especially as a lyricist and I think the words actually mean more now because at the time we were so involved we were just going with it," says Bruce. "When you can actually sit back and listen to the whole 'picture' of the song you realise what a great writer he was and still is."

Forming in Woking while at school, the band were all still in the teens by the time they were signed and initially they were criticised in some quarters for their slavish dedication to everything 1960s.

"In The City was our live set and the whole thing was recorded in ten days," remembers Bruce. "But Paul's whole idea quickly became about progression. We used to try and avoid putting singles on albums and keep it a challenge to all three of us and our musical capabilities - we were always trying to move forward, bring in other instruments and push ourselves as much as we could."

Full of Weller's commentaries on the drudgery of modern working-class life and his sharp political observations, The Jam's lyrics seem more relevant than ever with the songwriter famously criticising former Conservative prime minister David Cameron for proclaiming himself a fan of the band.

"It's a sad state affairs that so many of the lyrics still seem relevant but what can you do?" says Bruce. "That was one of the reasons the band was so successful: we were in those days almost like spokespeople and it was obvious a lot of people felt the same way we did."

Bruce is again friends with Weller which he emphasises is more important than music but when he asked Bruce to perform on his Wake Up The Nation album and join him on stage at the Royal Albert Hall a few years ago it raised hopes that a more permanent reunion might be in the offing.

"I always send him a Christmas card," laughs Bruce. "He's been a busy boy and he was out on the road all of last year. We're busy too so our paths don't cross all that much but when they do it's always lovely.

"I mentioned the new album and hopefully we'll be doing at Paul's studio and hopefully if he's around he'll be able to play on a track or two. I can understand from a fan's point of view that they're seeing us together and it's exciting but all talk of reunions is dead and buried. Just forget it I'm afraid. The best you can hope for is if Paul and I get together on each other's records and I'm cool with that.

"Paul's doing very well and I'm happy with my lot and I've not heard from Rick for ages but good luck to him. We're all doing reasonably well and there's no need for it. We're all ok."

Both the North West and North Wales remain huge hotbeds of support for The Jam and Bruce is looking forward to a return to the region.

"We're always touched by that," he adds. "Going to Liverpool is almost like going home and I love playing there. There really is something about the North West and North Wales which is special and there's a genuine love there for the band."

From the Jam play The Live Rooms in Chester on Wednesday, April 4. Tickets £20 available from www' /