My Favourite Things: The stuff Jah Wobble can't live without

Jah wobble
(Image credit: Colin McPherson/Getty)

Jah Wobble has been many things. A train driver, a post-punk legend, a world music influencer, a hard man, a poet, a pop star, a radio presenter, a book reviewer. As a bass player and band leader, his list of collaborators is enormous and legendary: John Lydon, Bjork, Ginger Baker, Natasha Atlas, Sinead O’Connor, Primal Scream, The Orb, Brian Eno, Dolores O'Riordan, Jaki Liebezeit, Holger Czukay, Pharoah Sanders and more.

While Lydon and co are having their story Disney-fied in Pistol (“I thought the first three episodes in particular were really good,” says Wobble. ”When the smack comes in, just like in real life, it got to be a bit of a drag”) the man formerly known as John Wardle (until Sid Vicious drunkenly mispronounced his name) is still out doing it. His new single, The Ukrainian National Anthem In Dub, is a collaboration with The Ukrainians, the frantic folk group borne out of 80s indie rockers The Wedding Present and John Klein (former guitarist for Specimen and Siouxsie & the Banshees). 

You can listen and buy the single on Bandcamp. All proceeds go to the DEC’s (Disasters Emergency Committee) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and the AUGB’s (Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain) Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal

“I've had Ukrainian friends in this country, over the years,” says Wobble, “and so I know a little bit of background. There was a lot of resentment towards Russia, with the NKVD and the famine under Stalin before the Second World War. I know a lot of Ukrainians were quite enthusiastic about fighting against Russia in WWII.

“A lot of Russians don't want this war. And there’s faults on both sides – the West doesn't always cover itself in glory. But obviously, Russia shouldn't be doing this.

“The Ukraine used to be called the breadbasket of Europe,” he points out. “Look at the disruption to the whole world.”

It’s like his music has been pointing out all along: We’re all the same, we’re all interconnected.

“Countries are just concepts and constructs,” he says. “It’s all just pride – and pride always comes before a fall, same as Brexit here. All the little Englanders will find out in the next few years that we're very interconnected.”

But enough of that serious stuff: we're here to talk about the really important stuff. The stuff Jah Wobble can't live without...

Car

Toyota Corolla

(Image credit: Getty)

Toyota Corolla

"Over the last few years I've driven nothing but old Jags. The XJ6 was fantastic. But it got to the point where it was going to cost me £30 to take it into central London with the congestion charge, and it felt like people were starting to hate on me, even old people, for having a petrol-guzzling motor.

"Now, I do a fair bit of motorway driving. If you're doing lots of long range motorway driving, you're probably still better off with a good efficient diesel. If you’re a mix of city and motorway then hybrid. So I settled on a hybrid. And just cos I could get one quick, I got a second-hand Toyota Corolla Hybrid. And it's fantastic. It’s the world's most common car, but I don't care. I’m not standing out like Arthur Daley anymore.

"Not too big, not too small, good on the motorway. All the mod cons: Bluetooth, cruise control. Sat nav is OK on it, but let's face it: phone sat navs are always better than the car manufacturer’s. Petrol’s creeping up, but you can fill it for under 60 quid and you've got 540 miles range."

Phone

iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Getty)

iPhone 13 Pro Max 

"I would describe myself as one of Apple's bitches. They control my life completely. I’ve got an iPhone Pro Max 13. I've got two phones. I've also got an SE. I do like small phones as well. The SE is fantastic. Nice and neat. I've found quite a few issues with making phone conversations with the network I’m on, so I needed a burner phone. I tend to talk on the SE more, and it’s also great if you want to go out-out. It’s a bit of a luxury having two phones, I get that, but it's nice if you're doing a show and you don't want a big bulky phone in your pocket."

Buy: iPhone 13 Pro Max (opens in new tab), from £1,049/$1,099

subscription

YouTube Premium

(Image credit: YouTube)

YouTube Premium

"I watch YouTube a lot. YouTube is a mainstay for me. It has all the niche things that I like, all the niche activities that I'm interested in. As a subscriber, you don't get ads, you can download. Then when you're somewhere where you haven't got Wi Fi, you're good."

Sign up: YouTube Premium (opens in new tab), £/$11.99 a month, first month free

5G Wireless

Inseego 5G MiFi M1000

(Image credit: Inseego)

5G Wireless Routers

"They’re fantastic. A little bit expensive, but yet again, I don't have a manager. I need to manage myself. So it's cost effective for me to be able to get the best tech, because I need to run the small Jah Wobble empire from my fucking phone. So now I've got 5G wherever I am. I mean, wouldn’t you agree that Wi Fi on trains is a titular form of Wi Fi? Purely symbolic. Or you know, you’re in a Travelodge or something and you’ve got to pay £10 pounds a day. You've got to sign up and give your email address and then of course, you're on a database. It all seems so fusty, compared to when you’re in the Far East.

"So you get this 5G. You can use it at home if you want. Then you don't need to have a landline. What I always find incredible, is you have to have a landline to have broadband. Whereas this 5G caper: it’s as big as a mobile phone. You can have 50 devices on it. High speed. It really works."

Buy: TP-Link M7350 V4 4G LTE mobile hotspot (opens in new tab), from £84.99/$99

storage

Apple iCloud

(Image credit: Apple)

iCloud Subscription

"For doing mixes, for moving files about, I just use the iCloud. Storage wise it's great for me. I really resented it at first. I’m probably a complete mug punter. If the going gets tough, which it might be, everyone’s worried about cost of living – including me, don’t get me wrong. So having taken all these subscriptions, even Jah Wobble’s sweating: 'Look at all the money I’m spending in these subscriptions'. But of course, the great thing about the modern age: if it gets too much, into your Apple subscriptions, cancel, cancel, cancel, cancel, cancel."

Buy: iCloud+ Subscription, from £0.79/$0.99 (50GB) per month (opens in new tab)

Music streaming

Apple Music logo

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Music

"I’m Apple Music, not Spotify, because it’s just easier to be Apple's bitch. Of course, I have very mixed feelings about streaming, because, you know, as streaming came in, it made it very tough being an independent label. So streaming led to me selling my label 30 Hertz to Cherry Red. You would get emails from people saying, ‘Oh, I'm on Spotify, it's brilliant. By the way, I love your new album, keep up the good work'. And that's from people that used to buy direct from our site. 

"So it suddenly got really tough. And it was at that point where everybody had to go out and play live, in order to earn money. To be honest, I got a bit bored with administering the label. The law of running a label is, no matter how diligent you are – no matter how much you think you can separate the label from your life – you will always end up with cardboard boxes in your hall."

Sign up: Apple Music (opens in new tab), from £/$9.99 per month, first month free

tablet

Apple iPad Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple iPad Pro 

"I use Apple iPad Pro. I went for the one with 1TB, so you don't ever get to the point where your memory’s full, which is a drag. I use the iPad Pro to record and cut and paste new music and everything. I’m not really a hi-fi nut. I've got a record player, it’s absolute crap. I've got a big Bluetooth speaker – Malmo or something – but I don't think we've that switched on for a year or so.

"I'm totally an Apple Ambient Essentials (opens in new tab) kind of guy. Apple have this Essential series and I will just go through the Ambient Essentials. It’s got a little bit too rhythmic for my liking, lately. And I'm happy to listen to music directly from the iPad. It gives a lovely spread of sound."

Buy: Apple iPad Pro (opens in new tab), from £999/$1,099

Headphones

Bose 700 UC Headphones

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose 700 UC Headphones

"If I want to really listen to stuff, I will listen on headphones. Bose headphones are the ones I love. They're the top of the range over-ears. The model they replaced [the Bose 700] was iconic, as far as I'm concerned. The shape was different. I thought they were great.

"But I'm happy using the iPad. It does the job for me with the kind of level that I need. It might surprise people but remember, when I'm out playing live, I've got these massive big 4x10 camps, heavy bass, very groovy music. But when I'm offstage, I want ambient, a bigger spacious kind of vibe. And it's handy to just put the iPad Pro on."

Buy: Bose Noise Cancelling 700 UC headphones (opens in new tab), £389.95/$399

instrument

Fender Precision bass in black

(Image credit: Fender)

Fender Precision bass

"I went to America with a band to do a couple of shows and record an album in New Jersey with Bill Laswell. I couldn't be bothered to take a bass with me, so I said to them, ‘Just get me a bass for the gigs. Just to make life easy, get me an old Fender P'. In America there are loads of great Fender Precision basses. It was like meeting a childhood sweetheart: Why did I ever leave her? This was after years of having the Ovation Magnum (opens in new tab).

"And that was it. I went literally went back to Fender. Got a bass and I'm getting a Fender cab as well. I’m completely back on Fender, completely and utterly. And that's me done. I don't think I'll ever move away from using the Fender P – a black Fender Precision with this new Fender combo. It’s not even that big. I'm conscious of the crew, having shipped these massive rigs of mine over the years, and I liked the idea of condensing things down yet still having the power. 

"I think the Fender P brings out the full range of my playing over all the octaves somehow. It makes me literally play the way I won't play on other basses."

Buy: Fender Player Precision Bass (opens in new tab), from £819/$849

Book

Strange life

(Image credit: Amazon)

Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by P. D. Ouspensky

"I've just finished a book called A Waiter In Paris by Edward Chisholm (opens in new tab). It’s obviously inspired by Orwell’s Down And Out In Paris And London (opens in new tab). He goes to be a waiter in Paris and takes dog’s abuse, actually. That was very good. But I suppose a book that had a huge effect on me was Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by P. D. Ouspensky. Do you know Gurdjieff, the Russian spiritual kind of guy? Ouspensky was one of his disciples. It’s about this guy who gets the opportunity to go back and change everything in his life. But he still makes the same fucked-up decisions. It says something very deep about karma and habitual tendencies. It's a fantastic book."

Buy: Strange Life of Ivan Osokin from Amazon (opens in new tab)

movie

Get Carter

(Image credit: MGM-EMI)

Get Carter (1971)

Movies? Get Carter, Nil By Mouth, The Third Man. The original Blade Runner, with the narration. I did a thing at the BFI talking about Get Carter the other day, which was fantastic. We play the theme song live. I even do some of the dialogue live. [Quotes from the film] “What you doing here, Jack?” “Find out what happened.” “The police seem satisfied.” ‘Since when was that good enough?” John Bindon, George Sewell. John Osborne is fantastic. I love a lot of the dialogue. "Think again, Jack.” “I will."

Buy: Get Carter (Blu-Ray) is available from Amazon (opens in new tab) 

ALBUM

Mu Jah Wobble

(Image credit: Trojan)

Mu by Jah Wobble (2005)

"If I had to recommend just one album from my career? I really like Heaven And Earth (opens in new tab). Mu is really good. I think probably Mu, as a good 360 degree representation of what I do. Take Me To God (opens in new tab) is pretty good. A heavy album. But then again, stuff like Chinese Dub (opens in new tab) kind of gets to it, you know. It’s so difficult. I think Mu.

Buy: Mu by Jah Wobble on CD and vinyl from Amazon (opens in new tab)

The Ukrainian National Anthem In Dub by Jah Wobble & The Ukrainians is out now – listen and buy the single on Bandcamp.

Scott Rowley
Content Director, Music

Scott is the Content Director of Music at Future plc, responsible for the editorial strategy of online and print brands like Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, Guitarist, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Total Guitar etc. He was Editor in Chief of Classic Rock magazine for 10 years and Editor of Total Guitar for 4 years and has contributed to The Big Issue, Esquire and more. Scott wrote chapters for two of legendary sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson's books (For The Love Of Vinyl (opens in new tab), 2009, and Gathering Storm (opens in new tab), 2015). He regularly appears on Classic Rock’s podcast, The 20 Million Club (opens in new tab), and was the writer/researcher on 2017’s Mick Ronson documentary Beside Bowie (opens in new tab)