We’re The Best Band On The Planet
So say those mental, mouthy, “modest” Mancunians The Stone Roses. And who’s going to argue with them when their new guitar wig-out experience “One Love” is roaring towards the top of the charts and they’ve stopped wearing crap flares? “Not me mate, I think they’re top!” says Miranda “she’s in the area” Sawyer…
Brinng! Brinnng! Brinng!
“Er, ‘ello. Is that Smash Hits? It’s Steve ‘ere. The Roses’ road manager. Just to tell yer that they won’t be comin’ till two.”
That’s two hours late!
“Yeah, well, I can’t get ’em out of bed before then. Are you gonna want them for a long time? You are? It’s just that they’ve got to edit their video later.”
Well, we could go out for a drink and a chat afterwards then.
“They don’t go out for drinks.”
Oh dear, viewers. It looks like Britain’s favourite mop-top space cadets, The Stone Roses, are going to live up to their “difficult reputation. After all, everyone knows they’re bolshy – they refuse to talk in interviews, they never let a smile ruffle their pouting lips, they’re always late… and they don’t even go out for a “jar”! Oh lord, it looks like a larks-free day today…
Ian, John and Mani come shuffling into the photographer’s studio two and a half hours late, fags and baggy-trolleys flapping.
“Is there a shower ‘ere?” whispers Ian, who’s got a piece of paper stuck on his cheek, where he cut himself shaving. “Me water’s off at home.”
Off he totters, to return half a minute later with his hair a-fluff, looking like a five year old Artful Dodger street urchin.
Reni arrives and he’s got a bit of tissue on his shaving cut too! They just don’t care, the Roses. Still, they’re certainly a lot less intimidating than you’d think. They chat! They smile! They’re (gasp) friendly people! With Snap’s “The Power” rumbling out of the stereo, Mani and Reni start dancing around the room.
“I’m the lyrical Jesse James!” booms Turbo B.
“I’m the lyrical… Tommy Trinder!” trumpets Reni, amiably punching the air before him.
“I’m the lyrical… Sydney James!” retorts Mani before retiring to have a scrap with Ian.
Ian’s rather quiet – “I’ve been deaf since the Glasgow gig on Saturday. I think I’m shoutin’ and no-one can hear me.” He’s very slight, with the most enormous sparkly dark brown eyes ever and a sort of mesmerising quality that makes you not want to stop looking at him. He’s checking out the sample polaroids of the group which have just been taken.
“Look at me! Poutin’ in every one! Always the same… even as a kid. I can’t help it – the camera goes ‘an I just go ‘hoo'”.
As the Hits photographer snaps away, it soon becomes clear that all the Roses pout in pictures, even the silent John (“he’s got no time to talk, he’s too busy thinkin'” – Mani). They all make wavey hand movements, throw their arms about and, rather strangely, all mouth “You know, you know” at the camera.
But other than that they’re all entirely different. Mani’s completely hyper, always dancing with his wrinkly face changing expression all over the shop. Reni pulls cheesy “I’m a film star” grins at the camera and does a bit of snazzy footwork in his – erk! – sandals: “I’ve got slippers on underneath ’em. I can’t get shoes to fit me.” John watches everybody with a little smile from beneath his enormous hair.
Ian chats quietly, joining in with the tomfoolery but also pottering over at one point to write “Please tell them: FLARES NO MORE. Too many sheep” on a pad. “I got these trousers from Umbros in Glasgow”, he says proudly. “Only a fiver. And they’re ‘ipsters too.”
“Flares are gone”, announces Mani. “Never worn a flared kek in my life though. Flares are for oldtimers…”
John Thomas Squire, born 24/11/62 in Broadheath, Manchester. Mum, Margery, works in a chemist. Dad, Tom, is an electrical engineer. Brother Matt (21) is a photographer. Has two black and white cats called William and Ruby. Owns five guitars. Started playing at 14 after hearing “God Save The Queen” by the Sex Pistols. Isn’t very patient. Once nearly fell out of a car when it was doing 60 miles an hour and has a scar on his chin from falling off a go-cart when he was three. Hates “people with power that aren’t using it to the right ends.” Hasn’t any heroes, but would like to meet Martin Luther King or Percy Topliss (The Monocled Mutineer – a sort of fictional war hero as portrayed by Paul McGann on the telly). Would like to live in a caravan so he could go to Egypt, Russia, the Barrier Reef, the Cayman Islands, Japan, and Alaska. Talks sparingly and very quietly, thinks before he answers, pauses in-between sentences. Rarely smiles and looks about four when he does. Smokes constantly
What’s your room like?
“Got a telly, a video, books… erm, an impressional painting by Degas of a woman drying herself after a bath. A turtle. Some killer whales. And a Jackson Pollock painting. Erm, black curtains, a great big squashy settee with loads of cushions on it, a rug on the floor, gas fire, few plants… er (laughs quietly) a light, one door, one window…”
Do you live by yourself?
“No, I live with me girlfriend, Helen.”
How long have you been seeing her?
“‘Bout four years.”
Are you in love?
“Yeah (smiles). She makes costumes for television programmes. Children’s stuff. People that do Dangermouse, but she doesn’t work on that. She works on little animated films. I used to work there – that’s how I met her.”
You met Ian when you were both four. Can you remember what you thought of him when you first met him?
“I must’ve liked him because I tend to make snap decisions, y’know, about people’s personalities. You either like ’em or you don’t. You can tell straight away – I can anyway, if you’re in tune with people.”
Aren’t you ever wrong?
“I might be but you don’t get to find out, do ya? Hmm? Heh heh.”
Have you ever done anything illegal?
“Yeah, but nothing I’d wanna talk about.”
Not even anything minor?
“Oh, you do little things, don’t you? We’re in court in September – you know about that, don’t yer? The money’s not been decided yet. They’re claiming £23,000 but I don’t think it’ll come out as that much. It’s an overestimation, definitely.”
What was it like in court?
“No, not really. Not when you’re with three of your mates. And 40 of your fans (smiles).”
Who do you get on best in the group?
“(Very long pause) None of them really. You either get on with the group or you don’t. You need to be on your own. I wouldn’t pick any of ’em out as my favourite.”
How would you describe them to somebody that had never met them before?
“They’re all pretty similar. All entertaining company.”
You all seem quite quiet though. Or is it because you’re in a room full of strangers?
“I don’t know. Maybe we are quiet. We don’t feel like we ‘ave to sell ourselves. That’s why we get accused of being arrogant. Because we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. Don’t make it easy for people. You jump up and down on stage – you don’t do it every day of your life.”
Do you feel lucky to be in the Stone Roses?
“(Pause) No. I don’t feel like I’m getting away with anything, if that’s what you mean. I don’t think it’s luck – I just think it’s right. The last job I did was the animation one and I packed that in when we went to Sweden, the first gigs we did there. It just felt right. I’d found my place. It was all I wanted to do.”
What would you do if it stops?
“Summat else. There’s more to life than the Stone Roses… (smiles) but not much!”
Ian George Brown “no nicknames, just E”. Born 20/2/63 in Ancoats, Manchester to Jean (who works in a paper factory) and George (ex-joiner). “Me mam dances at the gigs – she’s right into it.” Brother, David, 23 is unemployed and sister, Sharon, 21, works in an office. Has a two foot model of Elvis Presley that Mani gave him and a three inch tall Robin Hood on top of his telly. Hates dogs. Reckons his worst vice is that he can’t say no. Spent five years on the dole: “I used to get a holiday form and get three weeks money and go away – Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Berlin.” Eats at least a fiver’s worth of fruit a day. Says the others are “naturals, the nicest guys you could ever meet – pop stars without being pop stars.” Is quite shy, talks just above a whisper and laughs like he’s out of breath. Smokes constantly.
What’s your earliest memory?
“Being about five, at school and being asked to give out the school milk. And I refused to do it. I said “No – just put the milk crate on the desk, everyone can get their own.” I don’t know why – I think it was the first day or something, but I thought that if I did it then, I’d have to do it every day, so I said no. In the end that’s what they did – they put the milk on the table and everyone ‘ad to come and get their own. Yeah, I changed the system! From the start. You ‘ave to. Heheh.”
You met John when you were really little. Can you remember the first thing you said to him?
“I can’t. I think it was in a sandpit though – well, that’s what ‘e tells everyone. I don’t remember. I don’t remember what I said to him. Probably ‘A’right, do you wanna form a group in 20 years?'”
How did you meet Mani?
“Off the streets really, because I used to hang about with loads of lads round here and ‘e used to hang about with loads of lads from North Manchester… I met Reni at a fair. He was trying to get money off me. And I went ‘Nah nah – I’m not ‘aving that.”
First impressions of them?
“I thought Mani looked cheeky. I like cheeky people. And er… I can’t really remember what I thought Reni was like the first time. I can remember when ‘e first played his drums though and I thought ‘e was top. I thought, ‘yeah – I wanna be his mate!’ Heheh.”
Whose phone number would you most like to have?
“Everybody’s. That’s a’right innit? Everyone’s got something to tell you. There’s no-one famous that I’d particularly like to meet because I don’t think they could tell me any more than someone who works in a shop down the road.”
Who do you hate?
“People who try and ‘ave other people over, hypocrites, er… greedy people, people motivated by money, people who don’t respect other people. I hate all those people badly.”
Do you think you meet lots of people like that through doing what you’re doing?
“Yeah. And you meet a lot of patronising people. And people who think they can just come up to you and grab your arse and do whatever they wanna do. As if you’re public property. But you’re not ‘cos you’re Ian Brown and you’ve always been Ian Brown and it’s just what you’re doin’.”
What about fans? They see you as public property.
“Not all of ’em don’t. Some do. The worst kind. The ones that come up to you and stick their tongue down your gob. Huhuh. You just ‘ave to tell ’em they’re out of order. There’s ones that freak out when they see you, but you just talk to them, calm ’em down, make ’em see you’re a real. Some of them don’t want you to be real though.”
Are you in love?
“Yeah. Who with? Lots of people. The group, me family, all me friends, sometimes them people that you just see on a bus and you just love ’em. And then you look at ’em and they grin at you and you just love ’em.”
Have you got a girlfriend?
“Yeah, Michelle. I love ‘er.”
How long have you been seeing her?
“Bout six years. Long time, yeah. In and out though, innit?”
What’s she like?
“She speaks the truth. And that’s enough for me.”
Anything else to say?
“Everybody is a star. It’s true. And if you’ve got a light, don’t let it go out. ‘Cos some people sink under…”
Gary Michael Mounfield, born 16/11/62 in Crumpsall, Manchester. Mum, Ann, (“she’s off it, like me”) does promotional work. Dad (Colin) is a chef and Graham, his step-dad, works for the G.I.C. One brother – Greg, 24, who does lights for Manchester band The High. Keeps his flat “well neat” because he’s only just moved into it. Has a mad cat called Foo – “the name is something to do with Len Fairclough (i.e. Rita’s old husband in Coronation Street) but I’ll say no more.” Thinks that “youth are suppressed and their ideas are cast aside”. Support Manchester United, is a compulsive impulse buyer and a clothes snob – “I get really snappy if summat doesn’t look right”. Has the cheekiest laugh in existance and an incredibly mobile expressive face. Never stops moving. Smokes constantly.
What were you like as a kid then?
“Out of control! ‘Appy. Yeah. I always ‘ad little gangs. Getting on the mooch all the time, round the park bein’ bad. Windin’ the parkie up… Still I was a good boy – played football, never got in trouble with the police.”
Have you had an crap jobs?
“I worked in an abattoir for about four months when I was about 19… it was ‘orrible. The people who worked there were proper ‘eadcases. You’d just walk around and then all of a sudden you’d get hit in the face with a lung or an ‘eart of summat, heheh. Having your ankles tied together and being strung upside down on a meat-hook and having your keks whipped off, heheh. Blood and that poured all over yer. But I always tumbled the plot when they were about to get me.”
You joined the Roses after all the others, about two-and-a-half years ago. Were you in any other groups before that?
“No. In me bedroom pogoin’ about with a tennis racket. Yeah I was dead jealous of the original Roses bassist but… I always knew I was the man for the job. And, you know, I believe heavily in fate and the day it happened I was walkin’ on my lunchbreak from work and they were goin’ lookin’ for a new bass player. We hadn’t seen each other for about eight months and we just bumped into each other on Oxford Road. And I just said ‘alright, I’ll give me job up and do it’. Well weird. Written in the stars definitely.”
Have you got any health tips?
“Just say no if you wanna say no… but say yeah if you wanna say yeah.”
That sounds like hippy talk.
“I’m no ‘ippy. I’ve got a few ‘ippy ideas but as for the fashion it’s just nish, innit? I just believe in peace, love… one love, world unity… no wars, barriers down.”
Are you in love?
“Yeah. With me girlfriend Lisa. We’ve been seein’ each other for over a year now.”
Do you love lots of people?
“Yeah, but it’s different kinds of love for different kinds of people. Yeah, heheh. You can love your mam and dad or your brother but it don’t mean you want to play ‘ide the salami with ’em, does it?”
How good do you think the Roses are?
“I think we’re the best band on the planet. More relevant than anybody I could think of.”
Do you think you’ll know when to stop?
“Course we will, yeah. That’s what we pride ourselves on. We’re not gonna milk it. You know the day we do summat and everyone goes ‘that’s crap’ is the day that we’ll all be goin’ back signin’ on. We ain’t gonna just carry on for the sake of it. ‘Cos then you turn into Bruce Forsyth, don’t yer?”
Alan John Wren (it takes about ten minutes to get this out of him because “when I give me full name more people seem to find out where I live.”) Born 10/4/64, somewhere in Manchester. “No-one knows where I was born. Me mum was movin’ about a lot at that time.” Mum’s called Marion. Reni’s the second eldest of six – three boys, three girls. Went to collage to do graphic design but got kicked out for missing two weeks of the course when his family split up. Has a nasty scar between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand from when he came off his motorbike. Hasn’t got a “serious” girlfriend – “I’m living alone. But I’ve got friends… that are girls that I spend time with.” Hates “the passive comfortable people who don’t think about people who’ve got nothing”. Good looking, extrovert, puts on silly voices, holds onto the endsss of his wordsss. Smokes less constantly than the others – but only slightly.
What’s your room like?
“It’s a mess, just a mess. I wanted to clean it up today – I’m sick of not being able to find anything. I don’t have posters on the wall. Clothes everywhere, books everywhere – I don’t have any records. Never ‘ad any records, never ‘ad a record player. I haven’t got time for records, too… crap. I hate the way people treat their records like pets. I like tapes and CDs – you can chuck ’em about.”
What’s your most treasured possession?
“The purity of my soul.”
And how do you keep it pure?
“By knowing what’s right and what’s wrong?”
Don’t you ever get confused?
“All the time. You have to keep clearing your head out, stay focussed. You ‘ave to figure out what’s the real deal. And what isn’t the real deal.”
Do you spend a lot of time figuring it out?
“All me life. No, I ‘aven’t got it right. It’s not like an exam or anything – it’s just seeing life and what you’re mixed up in. And not just learning from it, not just soaking it all up like some sort of data collecting computer, but putting into effect what you know. So I haven’t got time for all this ego shit you’re meant to go through. I’ve always ‘ad too many problems for that… You know, who’s got the best eyeliner on… all that fizzing, charming effervescence! Stick it. I don’t believe in the pop star bubble.”
Have you ever done anything illegal?
“I’ve done lots of illegal things, tons, loads, loads… I remember once I was driving me girlfriend’s car and I wasn’t insured or taxed or ‘ad a licence or anything. And I ran into the back of this woman in the middle of Rusholme! So I just ‘ad to leave the car with the doors open, right in the middle of the rush hour and just walk off like I was Clint Eastwood! Hehe! The traffic was stopped for miles!”
What’s your worst vice?
“(Pause) Telling white lies. Just to get through the day. My worst vice is probably hurtin’ people’s feelings when I didn’t have a right to. (Pause) It’s difficult to talk about. Me worst vice is not brushing me teeth, I dunno. You know, you can hurt people’s feelings without being grumpy or ignorant or being this or being that. You can hurt people’s feelings just by giving someone time and then not giving them time. That’s a difficult one to fathom out, because I like to be friendly to people, I like to know people – and I don’t mean in a physical sense either…”
Are you religious?
“No. Religion’s too small a word for what I have. I don’t believe in religion – I believe in man and woman, the planet, people, everyone pulling together before it’s too late.”