Face: Tracks of their Tears

“What did we do for five years? The shit … the business of life took over.” The Stone Roses have been through five years of personal crises that have left them very different people from the young men who said goodbye at Spike Island and never came back. And now … and now, the real resurrection.

photograph by Stephane Sednaoui

First the dark, sinister, sell-your-soul stuff. It is pouring in Los Angeles, big warm raindrops melting across the sidewalk. People scurry home, cars hiss by and the opening address of the OJ Simpson trial flickers on all 500 TV channels. Ian Brown leans conspiratorially across the table of a Thai restaurant on Sunset Strip, lowers his gaze and clears his throat. We are, at long last, alone; his voice is little more than a whisper.

This guy from LA gave me an Uzi,” he says. “It was a present.” The eating stops. I return that intense Ian stare and wait for the tight-lipped pout to curl up at the corners and crack under the weight of its stifled smile. This time it doesn’t. “A house got burnt down in Malibu, right, and the only thing that was left in the carnage was this loaded Uzi that had been kept under the bed. And this guy brought it to me in Manchester, through customs in an Adidas bag. It was all melted and that, but he brought it all that way, especially for me. Why? Maybe he thought it would make me think about something. Who knows? But it did.”

Ian Brown shifts in his seat, scratches his cropped head, sips his Coke. The dark moment has passed. So where, I ask, is the Uzi now? “It’s still in this bag at home, man. Near enough every day I think about that gun – I’m thinking I don’t want that thing in my house any more. I’ll probably throw it straight in the bin now when I get home. My little boy’s never seen it and I don’t ‘want him to either.

“But you know that thing about a crossroads moment in your life; well, that was one for me. You can either go this way or that, you see two different paths. And I was given this gun and I just thought what a sick, upside-down world it is. America, what a fucking sick nation. There was only one path for me to take then and it was the same path I’d been on all my life. And I’m not going to waver.”

The Face - March 1995 Cover

Aside from the Uzi then, The Stone Roses intend to stick to their guns. This much is certain. We meet as the band undertake all the sorts of promotional duties expected by an American record company who paid a £2 million advance and kept sending hefty cheques via airmail. Apart from Reni, it is the first time any of the band have visited the West Coast and the general reaction is that, yes, the place is “all right”. “Pretty good” in fact. “I loved that Blade Runner cityscape you got from your balcony,” guitarist John Squire will reflect once he’s been shuttled on to New York.

For four days I stay at the band’s hotel in West Hollywood, and for a couple of these I get to follow, watch and talk to The Stone Roses, a band who now bear little resemblance to the anrogant scally hyperbole of old. Here is a group who have changed, grown up and moved on; who have each, like Ian, stood at their own personal crossroads.

“We were never just arrogant lads, anyway,” says Mani on the afternoon we first meet. “They got it all wrong,” Reni says. “They called us arrogant because of our self-confidence, because we believed in people. All those writers who called us arrogant hoolies and all that, they weren’t ‘people’ people,” claims Ian. “I read this article recently which said we were supposed to have been throwing knives around,” says John. “That never happened. Anyway, for me, The Stone Roses were never as great as everyone said.”

Crikey. Easy boys. Pull the plug on the musical myth machine at this stage in the game? Cancel that resurrection?

The endlessly-awaited second album “The Second Coming”, landed on record shop racks before Christmas sounding something like Faulkner fed through a Fender. You wanted the big comeback? How does storming heaven, selling your soul, seeking truth., taking it all, losing love and, ultimately, receiving redemption grab you? With repeated listening, the record revealed a band who’d passed a fair few milestones in both their musical and personal development and had looked inwards; those apparently cocksure sentiments (the swagger and suss of, say, “How Do You Sleep”) now directed as much at themselves as anyone else.

Many critics decided the whole thing was not only stretched-out and sprawling, however, but actually rather sloppy and, in fact, fairly shite (they should all be dining on their words; it is one of the best British rock alburns of the last five years). The band, meanwhile, chose to speak only to The Big Issue, an inspired move that ultimately paid for flats for six homeless people and allowed Ian, John and Mani to get away with five-year-in-the-making-answers like, “We’re pleased with what we’ve done. Anythng else is a bonus.”

Only three months after that record’s release, the big issue would seem to be as much “where the hell are they going?” as “where the hell have they been?” Just who are The Stone Roses now? Dig behind the epic bluster of “The Second Coming” and those sweeping statements actually start to pale in comparison with the reality of their inception. Birth. Death.

love. betrayal. Separation. Divorce. And people wonder what The Stone Roses did for five years.

So what would you like to redo on the album now?

Ian: I’d redo the vocals on “Driving South”. Do it stronger.

Mani: I’d change the bass line to “How Do You Sleep”.

Reni: I’d want to change half the drums!

John: What did the other three say? Oh, I didn’t know any of that. I think I’d darken the album sleeve.

When John Squire gets sick, strange things seem to start happening this most unorthodox of bands. As he languishes with what is variously described as flu, pneumonia and pleurisy, the timing and location my meeting with the group become ever-changing variables. Meanwhile not only are the B-sides of the next single not getting finished as quickly expected (“the other three seem to be slacking a bit” comes one report from the studio), but the A-side seems to have become somewhat erratic well. Since the release of “The Second Corning” in December, the world has been under the impression that the follow-up single to “Love Spreads” will be the swooping swooner “Ten Storey Love Song”. Now, “Breaking Into Heaven” and “How Do You Sleep” (the latter playlisted Radio 1) are suddenly also being whispered about.

Smoke on the water, Mani and Ian drag it out

John Squire, meanwhile – unaware of much of the deliberation going on, it later turns out – is only getting worse. The studio clock ticks on, decisions are made then reversed, and the band, insisting all four of them will be talking together, manage to shift the interview from Wales to we London to Manchester. And then to LA.

All of these details would not be too important if they were not indicative’ of the sort of band The Stone Roses turn out to be one part assertive deliberate 5 tight-knit and passionate, the other part shambolic, lethargic and utterly wayward. They are full of bold intentions to speak as a unified unit, to avoid the run-of-the-mill, and yet they are hopelessly ill equipped to meet their own exacting standards. A great group ultimately destined to underachieve? “I know, I know, I get that vibe sometimes,” Reni will cot fess before they leave LA. “But, personally, I’m sick of underachieving now.” Meanwhile, I watch as American promotional duties are rearranged missed altogether or attended by only a couple of the band.

The LA circus reaches something of a climax for this writer when on] three of the band arrive for THE FACE photo shoot. “Yeah, Squire’s still feeling dead rough,” says Ian, bouncing energetically on the spot in the pouring rain on Hollywood Boulevard. “No way he’s up to it.”

What follows comes as something of a shock. One minute Ian Brown Is jigging around, apparently keeping that top-buzz-in-the-area-love-vibe in fill effect for the benefit of the photographer’s camera, the next he has my head locked tightly under his arm. “Alight there John?” he says, slapping me hard on the back. “Pull that hat down more, mate. Keep your back turned. That’s it, yeah, you’re John you are!”

Er, hello. John?

“You want to rough your hair up more at the front, John’s got bigger hair than that,” chaps in Mani. “Here, put this tiger tea towel thing over your face,” says Reni, brandishing a colourful square of home furnishing.

The Stone Roses’ alter ego – the homespun, let’s-make-do mob – has just kicked in. Pennie Smith, the band’s on-the-road, in-house lens-woman, is not remotely fazed by the scenario. “You just don’t often get all four of them together in one place at the moment,” she says. “You have to make do. There’s one press shot I did of the four of them before Christmas with Reni wearing a Mickey Mouse mask. Except it’s not Reni. We just dragged someone else into the shot. No one knew that time.”

Do you think The Stone Roses will still be together in 1999?

John: I think the group’s really strong. I hope we will be.

Ian: I know we’ll still be together. The best is yet to come.

Reni: I’d like us to stick an album out every year until 1999.

Mani: Listen, I’m not going back on the dole for nobody.

Ian Brown is the first member of The Stone Roses I meet. Leaving the hotel lift soon after arrival, I virtually walk straight into him slumped over a chair in reception. He is wearing a deerstalker hat, beige skate wear, his recent severe skinhead now grown out into a crop. He looks every inch the younger brother of the tousled rocker who was still the central, charismatic presence in the “Love Spreads” video. He now looks 21, not 31.

Ian Brown is far friendlier than you’d ever imagine. Our conversation starts with a discussion about arrogance, or, more to the point, modesty, and ends that night shortly after Ian has philosophised, “There’s nothing wrong at all with being a big head.” He contradicts himself as fantastically and frequently as his chosen reading matter, The Bible (“I don’t read novels”), offers a stream of mixed messages and mumbles whenever it suits him. Despite this, the overall effect is that of an intense martial arts guru (It is not Ian, though, but Reni who reveals that the singer used to teach black belt kung fu: “He’d cut your head off, you know, if be wanted to”).

Throughout the day, he talks in hushed lullabies: short sentences, often barely audible, almost always streaked with conviction. “So we’re not facing up to life’s problems?” he challenges at one point. “Listen, we won that court case against Silvertone and if you read Music Week the week after, the director of every single record company was saying what a disgrace the result was. We were attacking their whole fookin’ industry.”

But Ian’s been to the crossroads, says he’s got a perspective on what’s important. You see, Ian’s a dad now.

“Yeah, I’ve got one boy, he’s two and a half. It just doubles your joy for living, having a child. I don’t consider myself to have ever got wrapped up in some fame game anyway and now I’ve got a boy I definitely know what’s what. You’ve got to bring them up right, man. Tell them what to do in life, like my father did with me. You’ve got to make sure your child grows up in a place where there’s as much peace as possible.”

Where are you bringing your son up, Ian?

“I want to stay around Manchester, but I’ve moved out of Safford. I’d rather you didn’t print where I’ve moved to because loads of people will be flicking round. But I’m splitting my time now between there and Wales. I bought this place in north Wales up in the mountains in an old slate village. It’s got a coal fire and you can see the sea. It’s beautiful. It’s two hours from Manchester and it’s unspoilt. I can take my boy to the beach any day I like.

Reni

“What it means is you have to start writing songs at seven o’clock at night, because you make sure you deal with your son first. Seeing my boy singing and dancing and jamming about, right? That’s the best. He sits there and he puts the headphones on and..,” Ian Brown stops talking and. sways his bead about in an impersonation of his two-year-old listening to Bob Marley. The whole Brown filmily have probably got that goldfish pout.

So did fatherhood account for all that time?

“Well, after the court appeal in June ’92, I just travelled about. I went to Rome to see where the emperor put his foot down in the Coliseum. I went to Barcelona to see where Christopher Colombus set sail before he went and robbed everyone. I wanted to see where my head was at.

“I just thought it was funny that there was so much concern about four people going off and making a record in their own time. I didn’t feel responsible. Between us we’ve spent a million pounds and about half of that’s gone on tax and the rest on recording. That thing Tony Wilson said about working-class bands going off and spending money as soon as they get it. Well I’m from a working-class background and I went and spent it. But we didn’t go to Monte Carlo and spend it all on a black jack table. I gambled away exactly £5 of it.

Ian currently has about eight grand in his bank account, Reni tells me that later (“I’ve got about three, Mani’s probably got even less and I really can’t speak for John”). “The Second Corning” apparently cost over a million dollars to make in total.

Did the reactions to the album surprise you, Ian?

“Yeah, they did. I really thought every review would say the album was brilliant. I think they listened to the music and wanted their heads to be blown straight off and that’s never going to happen. You know what I remember, the NME gave us like six or seven out of ten for the first LP and said it was a Sixties rip-off. Then they went and made it the LP of the Eighties. The same thing with Q. Now they’ve done it again. They’ll have watched other people go for it, then they’ll all go for it too.”

You’re sure about that one?

“I was in London just before Christmas, right, and I had all these kids coming up to me in the street saying, ‘Man, it’s even better thin the last album. Don’t listen to them Ian. The record’s fucking great.”‘

So the kids are still all right, then. You walked out in front of 27,000 of them at Spike Island in 1990 and all you said was, “The time is now, do it now, do it now.” Do you think it ever got done then?

“Well for me it was like acid house music was really big – great big love vibes out there, millions of us all into that. But then there was the drugs taking over and the gangsters. Now, I haven’t taken E for four years. Cocaine? I think that’s a really bad drug, it turns me into this fucking massive ego, I haven’t done that for two years. Hut other people are still necking. I’d always thought that us and the Mondays would make things more real, but – and I don’t know why it happens – it all peters out and goes wrong. You know those lads in the Mondays, I feel proper sorry for them, They’re great musicians and they can play, but I seen Mark Day a year ago and you know what? He couldn’t afford to buy a cot for his daughter.”

What about the next album then?

Mani: It’ll be soon and it won’t sound like this one at all It’ll be dub, funk, fuckin’ jazz music…

Ian: We’ll do a funk LP next, something completely different for 1996. And a live LP too before that.

John: A funk LP? I don’t intend making a funk record, personally. I’ve got another album almost written, I made a list of songs up yesterday actually.

Reni: Look, if the next one takes as long, I’ll have my solo LP out first.

Over dinner I run through some of the great Stone Roses rumors with Ian and Mani, the rules apparently straight-forward – I name the rumour, they give their version of events. The session, predictably, develops rapidly into farce. Ian – the allegedly seriously ill, smack-addicted, teetotal, fat-arsed, health-obsessed, chip-eating exercise freak – does not really have a lot to answer to (“I don’t drink any more except for rum, but I’m smoking at the moment,” he says. “Blow? On and off. I took nine months off smoking, because it turned my head to mush. Smack, no, I’ve never touched it.”) Mani, meanwhile, is soon naming his own classics.

You all fell out with each other and weren’t talking.

Mani: It’s all a load of shenanigans and bollocks. We’ve been close for ten years. We’re not The Partridge Family or The Osmonds and when four boys get together there’s going to be the odd altercation, but we love each other. It’s never came to fisticuff blows.

You’d go into the studio separately to record your parts.

Mani: Bullshit. Every track on the LP is played live.

Ian: The guitar, bass and drums are almost all live on every track. Everyone was there, man, and no one can get near the sound these three make now. I might never be able to sing like John Lennon, but these three play better than The Beatles now.

You held the album back when you heard what Primal Scream had done on “Give Out But Don’t Give Up”.

Ian: What a load of bollocks. We’re not in competition with them. There was that old one too about us following Primal Scream around the country once. Rubbish. I’ve only ever seen them twice. And then there was that rumour that we wouldn’t do Wogan because he wouldn’t interview us. It’s because we wouldn’t ever go on a shit program like Terry Wogan.

Mani: And what about the fleet of Ford Fiestas?

Yes. You all hired a fleet of Ford Fiestas.

Mani: Bullshit! And then there was the one that John brought in all his songs and we said they were shit. I mean, can you imagine that? There was a time, according to rumour, that bass player Gary “Mani” Mounileld’s wayward behaviour had earned him the title of “Rogue Rose”: Mani mover and shaker, close friend of Shaun and Bez, football fanatic, fond of a few pints, renowned up-all-night hedonist, sporter of suspect haircuts. Mani, how do you plead?

“Well, I am into football and beer, but I don’t wear it like some badge. I’m fucking bulletproof me, but I don’t fight, I don’t treat people with violence. In fact I’m too flicking nice for my own good. I’m soft, I am!” (“I think lad culture is really dangerous,” Ian will comment. “What is it? Just drinking beer and falling on the floor.”) So, Mani, less Rogue Rose than Soft Stone, what’s happened?

“My dad died from a heart attack in 1990 and that just knocked me fucking head sideways for a year and a half. Him dying really was a big crossroads point for me. He’d stopped work because he was poorly but he couldn’t pay the bills and had to go back to work. That’s when he had the heart attack. That fucked me right up, me and him were so close. And then my mum got really ill and that was another big one. But I’m still here, you know. Stronger than ever. I fell in love last year and I’ve got a baby on the way later this year – that’s just going to be double by for me.”

Mani says that The Stone Roses are only now getting to know each other musically, that, personally, he’s now playing bass better than ever before. “Listen, the only bass players I rate are faceless people who played on old soul and Northern Soul tunes. At the risk of sounding a big head I’m now the best fucking bassist in the world. We spent the last six months before the 1.P came out working day and night. I’ve got tapes of us playing through the night, blues gear and that, that no other band could touch.

One of the most persistent, and believable, rumours concerning The Stone Roses is that Mani and Reni have increasingly resented the fact their names don’t often end up in the songwriting credits. Both of them deny this when asked, Mani claiming that he’s only now getting'” into the realm of songwriting”, that “John comes up with the original ideas” and that “there’s been no one better than John for eight years

“Your name only goes into the brackets if you come up with the chord structure or the lyrics,” Reni will add later. “That might seem unfair to mc, because I’m just the drummer and backing singer. But if the initial

idea is good, then it deserves getting paid. It’s all about the guts to come up with a concept, put it down and then push it out there; say, ‘Here it is; what do you think of that?’ That takes real guts.”

How important is success in America?

John: All I desire is to make enough money to make another record.

Reni: Yeah, it’s important in that if this LP doesn’t sell we might not be making the next.

Ian: It’s only important that they can see us and we can see them.

Mani: The boy and girl shagging to our record- that’s what’s really important.

Reni at the crossroads. “These things don’t change the way you look, but you grow up so much inside,” he says. “You stop being a surly, sulky little bastard, basically.”

It is 11am, the Stone Roses’ drummer has just got out of the shower, and he is already in hill flow. He tells me has drumming could currently do with some real work on it, that he now meets better drummers in the New York subway. He’s the most replaceable member of the group, he believes, although you sense that, right now, he’d far rather be sampling Gang Starr loops than blowing his own trumpet. “In every band I’ve been in, I’ve always been the best player in the room,” he says. “And that’s not true any more.”

Reni is a dad now too – and has been for longer thin he ever knew, in fact. “I’ve two kids at home now, two boys, and that wasn’t really planned at all. But I’ve got another little girl as well, she’s nine now. My daughter, right, she’s being chased around at the moment back home by journalists. Her mother’s being hounded out of a bar job because these people keep turning up asking all these questions. Now what’s happened between me and her in the past and what money I give them has got nothing to do with the fucking News Of The World.”

So what’s the story? “Millionaire Star’s Secret Daughter!”? “Stone Rose’s Thorny Past!”? Reni says the story’s not there, and that no one

concerned would be selling it even if it was. “None of us are millionaires, anyway, not even quarter millionaires, not even ten per cent.”

“I never knew this little girl was mine, right, and I’d been told in the past it was nothing to do with me. But then when I saw her as a seven-year-old child it was just this self-evident thing. So I had the DNA tests straight away and that was it for me, since that day I’ve seen her weekly as often as I can. I took her straight home to mine and introduced her to her two little brothers. The whole parenthood thing, it just knocks you sideways.”

Reni has not had a quiet five years. As well as helping to bring up two (then three) children, he’s built a four-track studio at his home in Manchester, seen it get burgled, rebuilt it, started writing his own songs on keyboards and guitar, suffered the divorce of his parents and then found time for a few months drumming on a Stone Roses album too.

The way both Reni and Mani are describing the current state of the Roses’ garden, the world can expect to see individual songwriting credits for all four of the group in the future. Ian, for his part, says he already has “about 20 new halves” starred, while John claims “this band’s never been about holding anyone back creatively”. The situation obviously recalls the way that the bands’ idols, The Beatles, began to draw increasingly on all four members to bolster songwriting depth.

Reni plays me the latest song The Stone Roses have recorded, a new Squire/Brown co-composition “Ride On”. One part swampy atmospherics, one part towering guitar slabs, “Ride On” is a dark, cosmic slop with a Marvin Gaye sample buried in its midst. Reni thinks it’s “technically so-so, but spiritually spot-on”. Others will, no doubt, see it as a further sign of the dreaded “muso” disease afflicting their pop prophets. Where once there was the strict three minute-aesthetic of, say, “Mersey Paradise” and “She Bangs The Drums”, now there is talk of a loose, musical maturity. “But I’m really looking forward to when we don’t write pop stuff like that,” says Reni, “because even when we were doing it we were thinking, ‘This will do until we write something really good.’ We’re writing tunes now in the way I pictured a great band doing it when I was ten. Pure and live, with space and depth, get it together in ten minutes and stick it down.

“There really is nothing I’d rather do, you know, than be in this band right now. Even if a guy knocked on this door and said, ‘Hey! Reni, man! You want a big walk-on part in the next Star Wars movie?’ I mean I’d do it if he was going to pay me £12 million tomorrow, but if I had to hang around while he built the set, forget it. I couldn’t be arsed with the wait.”

The wait, Reni?

So what’s John like then?

Mani: He’s a real lone wolf I don’t know where the kid gets his juice from but it’s a joy to be in the room with him when he gets in the swing.

Reni: It wouldn’t be right to just say he’s the craftsman. He’s really meticulous, but then he puts those messy guitars lines over everything.

Ian: He’s different. The kid’s a fucking artist, that’s all there is to it.

John: What did they all say? They probably said I’m miserable, capricious and inscrutable, didn’t they?

John Squire doesn’t manage to leave his room during my time with the The Stone Roses in LA. The doctor visits every day. Meal trays come and go, the sound of Natural Born Killers on his TV spills sporadically into the corridor and the gut-wrenching, terminal coughing is never ending. The band’s guitarist, principal songwriter and sleeve artist is not well at all.

A couple of days after I arrive back in London, however, the phone rings and John’s voice is on the line, agonisingly faint, but full of apologies. He still breaks off sentences to cough violently, but is much improved; he’s been playing guitar to himself in his room (“some of the old songs, ‘Waterfall’, ‘Adored’, ‘Resurrection”‘) and has now managed to watch Natural Born Killers “four or five times”.

While the other members of The Stone Roses have been professionally vague about the more specific upcoming plans, John is soon revealing all. “Yeah, we’re playing all those small clubs in March – Blackwood, Ipswich, Belfast, Glasgow and Liverpool I’ve got on my itinerary here. They’re secret dates: bloated four-hour sets, I think!”

Anything else you shouldn’t be talking about?

“We’re planning to release ‘Begging You’ later in the year. It’ll be a double- or triple-length version. Bill Price who mixed the album struggled over it and thinks he can get much more out of it. That should be great.”

I tell John about the crossroads thing, about the other members of the band talking about having to face up to big Issues during the lay-off period. He mentions touring Sweden in 1985 and realising for the first time that he wanted to commit to the Stone Roses full-time, although, he says, there’s been nothing so dramatic in the last three years.

So we talk about the royals (“They’ve taken up the baton and carried on the good fight for us, haven’t they?”); about why the “One Love” single hadn’t really been much cop (“It just wasn’t ready”); and about John’s latest sleeve art (“The idea’s just been to get away from the Jackson Pollock impersonations. This new single features a square box full of cheap models of Michelangelo and for the one after that I’ve smashed up some floppy discs from my sampler, glued them down and painted over them”).

John talks about the writing of the album: “Well, Ian and I had this spell of going away to write together and invariably we ended up avoiding work. But we realised we needed songs, the agenda had speeded up and it wasn’t just a question any more of doing it when we felt like it, Then I went off on my own to write, and really it all started to flow from there.

These songs are certainly more introspective because I wrote alone a lot.” And finally, in a roundabout way, we manage to do something John says

he feels intensely uncomfortable doing. We talk about John Squire. About his state of mind, his state of circumstance, his state of grace. In particular we discuss some of the “raw nerves” he hinted had been addressed on the album when he spoke to The Big Issue. While John is still cagey about putting too much on the record, the current personal dilemas he faces do seem to be documented fairly clearly on “The Second Coming”.

“Our love girl is going through changes, I don’t know if I’m alive,” begins “Tears”, the song he wrote last for the album. It continues: “Someone throw me a line, you know I need it, I need it bad” and tells of a man “lost in a maze of my own making” with “no way out”. John Squire, alone and under-the-weather in a hotel room in America: a man currently at his own personal crossroads?

“I don’t really understand why I go into such personal detail in my songs,” he says. “There’s something embarrassing about the need to go through public analysis. To bare it all. Maybe it’s because when you get the initial ideas for a song you’ve no idea if it will just end up in the bin. It’s so far removed from finished product. In general I seem to return to these sentiments about the endless search for love. Have I found it? Well, I’m a bit fucked up in that area of my life.”

Are you happy right now?

“Well, I’m glad we came to America. I like to get away and travel, you know. I’ve got a little girl, she’s three now. That’s had an immeasurable impact on me. I notice being far away from her.

“I’ve been spending most of my time recently, though, in a rented cottage near Lancaster on my own. It’s in the middle of nowhere. I feel more comfortable in an out-of-town environment – I’ve still got strong ties with Manchester, but I grew up in a suburb and I was never some terrorist from a tower block. This cottage in Lancaster is just a one-bedroom place with mountains of guitars and amps in the kitchen and everything, it’s lust set up for me to do one thing, really. I intend to move when I get back. Get somewhere bigger, get things sorted out.”

John Lennon once sang: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” John Squire’s been thinking a lot about that recently.

“I’m going to make a conscious effort to live in the present now, rather than in the past or in the future. I’ve been thinking a lot about that in the last week. About life as a journey and how the journey’s more important than the destination. I’ve started to feel really empowered.”

The last time I see Ian Brown, he is drinking rum and talking about Marvin Gaye and his “humongously massive soul”. Suddenly, he leans over: “I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before,” he says. “I went to this party in Hulme once and a mate of mine had come to the party with Geno Washington. Yeah, the Geno Washington, who’d been playing this gig at the university. And Geno came up to me and said to me:

‘You’re a star man, get in a band and go for it. You’re a star.’ And that’s the only reason I’m here now, because Geno Washington told me at a patty to go and fookin’ do it. I’d never thought of doing a band until that.” Ian Brown, kung fu guru, (nearly) teetotal rock star, sussed dad and white soul man, rises to go to bed. “God bless you my son,” he gently whispers in my ear. It might have been friendly, it might have been pity; it could have been meaningful or just more Manc wind-up bollocks. The Stone Roses still aren’t talking loud, but they are, without doubt, trying to say something. And, however hard John Squire might protest, at the end of the day they’re actually worth far more than everyone always said.

The Stone Roses release, er, “Ten Storey Love Song” on February 27 and are planning to play a series of secret British dates during March

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