Where else to meet the musician son of the agelessly groovy Modfather but at London’s trendy Met Bar? And there’s more than a hint of moody Mod style about the Japanese parka that Paul Weller’s eldest child Natt has slung over his Vivienne Westwood top.
Yet there all similarity ends, for singer-guitarist Natt has inherited the exotic beauty of his mother – former Wham! and Style Council backing singer Dee C Lee – rather than the famously angular features of his father.
‘Everybody always goes, “Luckily he took after his mum…”’ laughs Natt, whose mother is from France and St Lucia and whose great-great grandma was Japanese. Hence Natt’s fascination for Japan, where he moved in 2006 for a year to learn the language.
To pay for his studies, he modelled and deejayed, ‘I felt like an outsized monster,’ confides Natt, 21, a 6ft 1in beanpole. He returned a fan of Japan’s popular culture – from manga cartoons to punk-goth music – and with a different spelling to his name, which now features two ‘t’s because that’s what the Japanese do.
Natt has now formed his first band, Mercury and Ice, and is working on a debut album full of Japanese influences to be released early next year. Natt was 12 when he asked to tag along on his father’s tours, and he made his stage debut at London’s Hammersmith Apollo at 15, duetting with his dad on ‘Come On, Let’s Go’.
As he says, ‘I’ve always known that I wanted to be in music.’ Educated at Nicholas Lyndhurst’s old stage school Ravenscourt, Natt then launched his own club night called Dangerous To Know at Soho’s Camouflage in 2007 and now socialises with Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Kelly Osbourne (who both starred with Natt, his mother and Sadie Frost in last year’s short MySpace horror film The Town That Boars Me).
Yet he remains a low-key soul who insists: ‘I was never brought up to sponge off anyone’s name.’
‘Dad wore loads of make-up in the Style Council, so he wasn’t in any position to tell me to take mine off’
Our cabbie, John from Epsom, heads for Hyde Park’s Serpentine where Natt used to play in the pedalo boats as a child. Passers-by stare at this tall, gentle-mannered guy whose pale skin is cleverly enhanced with a touch of man make-up.
‘My skin is sensitive to sunlight, so I keep out of UV and wear a lot of sun block,’ he explains. ‘I’ve had one microdermabrasion treatment because of sun damage and I’ve also had facial hair removal, as I never want a beard. But that’s a very Japanese thing. It’s hard to shave properly if you have sensitive skin, and I don’t really like body hair.’
Despite his androgynous look – which was inspired by an early obsession with Marilyn Manson – Natt, who is currently single, says that he is not gay.
‘Everybody says I look like a woman, but I’m not trying to. I started wearing make-up at 15 – black nail polish and badly done eyeliner. Maybe my look isn’t for everybody, but I never got beaten up at school, ever – as I’m still quite a boyish boy,’ he says, pointing out that his ultra-masculine dad also had his metrosexual moments by dressing like Ziggy Stardust in homage to his hero David Bowie.
Adds Natt with a grin: ‘Dad used to wear loads of make-up in the Style Council, so he wasn’t in any position to tell me to take mine off.’
Natt’s parents split up when he was five and his sister Leah (now a 17-year-old student and hot new model) was one, but Paul and Dee C Lee shared the childcare with the help of Paul’s parents in Woking.
‘We were never spoiled rock-star brats,’ says Natt, who seems to have taken the acrimonious divorce and his parents’ continued fiery relationship in his stride.
‘When Mum smashed their wedding photo over Dad’s head when I was a child, it seemed kind of comical at the time. But now that they don’t live together, they get on well,’ adds Natt, who has three half-siblings, sisters Dylan, 13 (from his father’s relationship with make-up artist Lucy) and Jessamine, eight, and brother Mac, four, by his father’s partner Sami Stock.
Natt admits that growing up with a style icon for a dad meant that he didn’t have anything to rebel against (‘wearing make-up doesn’t count as a rebellion’). In fact, father and son are still pretty close.
‘My dad has been touring since he was 15, and he always says, “You’re a musician first and a rock star second.” I learned more on tour than I ever did at school – because that life gives you a sense of work.’
He may not look like his dad, but Natt sounds like a real chip off the old Modfather block to me.
From The Daily Mail