LONDON (Reuters) - Ian Brown was lead singer of Manchester-based indie band the Stone Roses, which formed in 1984 and are considered one of the pioneers of the northern English city’s “Madchester” music scene.
He released his first solo album “Unfinished Monkey Business” in 1998 and was given a “Godlike Genius” award by the NME in 2006.
Brown lives and works between London and Warrington, his home town, which is near Manchester. His last album, “The World is Yours,” was released in September, 2007 and he is playing a number of music festivals around the world this summer.
He spoke to Reuters recently at a screening of a new DVD from British punk band the Sex Pistols, alongside whom he headlined at the Isle of Wight music festival this year.
Q: What’s better about being a soloist compared to being in a band?
A: It’s twice the joy and half the grief. You never have any arguments and I can work with whoever I want without anyone becoming jealous.
Q: How does it feel to be seen as a Manchester or Madchester icon?
A: I let it go through one ear and out the other, I just try to do everything day-to-day.
Q: Creatively, is there a difference between how you write music in London and Warrington?
A: All the Roses records, we used to write them in Manchester and always record them in London and I still do that now. I do all the writing in Manchester and try and do all the recording in London. It’s all about the ideas.
Q: What’s in the pipeline for you?
A: I’ve got a load of shows this year, lots of festivals. I’m writing a lot of songs so hopefully by September I’ll have enough songs to go and start the new album. I’m working with a Japanese kid who’s got his studio in the south of Japan so I’m hoping them Pacific sun rays are gonna give me some little extra thing.
Q: Anyone you would like to work with?
A: Jay-Z. He was brilliant (at Glastonbury), fantastic, out of this world. It was the best live thing I’ve seen on the TV.
Q: How much does politics influence your work?
A: I call it social commentary and I think it’s vital that you try and say something about it. I mean back in the day with the Stone Roses, we did “Elizabeth My Dear,” which was about monarchy and songs about revolution, it’s part of music — anyone can write love songs
Q: Any chance of reforming the Stone Roses?
A: No chance. Not in the next three life times.
Q: After your role in Harry Potter (Brown made an appearance in the 2004 film “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in an uncredited role) would you like to do more acting?
A: Not unless they do a remake of “Scarface,” but based on marijuana. If Daniel Craig steps over, I’ll move in if they want a Manchester James Bond.
Q: You’re here at a Sex Pistols DVD launch. What do the band mean to you?
A: Sex Pistols is the best band that’s ever been. I think they’ve got the best set of songs any band has had, any time. And for me to be here and invited personally by Johnny Rotten is a dream. Q: How much have they influenced you as an artist?
A: I think they probably showed us as kids ... that you didn’t have to be some middle class virtuoso musician. It was all about expressing yourself and it didn’t matter where you came from, you could get into music and that’s what he showed us. That we could then get into music.
Q: Is it easier now for such bands to break through, compared to when you started?
A: I think it’s harder than it’s ever been, yeah. I think to get a record deal is like wanting to be number 7 for Manchester United.
Q: Is there a band out there now that you think has the same attitude or is similar to the Sex Pistols or punk bands of that era?
A: No one ever, no. Nowhere near. In the last 30 years there’s not been anyone, no. People haven’t got that courage that they had.
Q: Do you think courage is what’s lacking in young people who want a career in a band?
A: Yeah. I think people just want to be stars, they don’t want to change the world. If they’re on the front of a magazine, they’re happy with that. We (Stone Roses) got into it to try and change the world.
Editing by Paul Casciato