Meeting him today, for the fifth time in 10 years, he’s still thin as a whipping post; as he goes to shake my hand in a photo studio in Chalk Farm, I suddenly worry I’m about to get paper cuts from him. The disarmingly large, wolfish smile that frequently cracks across his face shows up an elaborate network of spidery laughter lines, and there might even be the a strand of grey in the mop of black hair that hangs down to his shoulders. But his skin, is a vibrant pink, the sclera of his dark brown eyes clear and bright. Although he might not be about to run a marathon any time soon, he looks remarkably healthy. He’s dressed well, too, in a brown knee-length Italian coat borrowed from a friend for the Uncut photo-shoot, a black polka dot shirt like the ones worn by Dylan in the ’60s (and like Gillespie himself favoured in the earliest days of Primal Scream), navy blue jeans and tapered alligator skin shoes.
Sitting in an airy office space in Primrose Hill, picking sporadically at a tuna salad, Gillespie ponders the duality of life as a card-carrying rock’n’roll star onstage and a devoted father off.
“I guess you’ve got to do everything you do to the best of your abilities. Be a man, really,” he laughs. “You’ve got to be great in a rock’n’roll band and be a great dad, whatever that means. You’ve got to pull your weight and contribute.”
Does it mean changing you lifestyle?
“Yeah, well, that’s pretty fucking obvious, isn’t it? You’ve got to be there for your children, and if you’re fucked up on drugs and alcohol and everything else, you’re not present. You may be sitting there, but you’re somewhere else, a million miles away, so.”
“I suppose Bob has changed since having kids,” says Paul Weller. “We all do, don’t we? You want to see them grow up, so you have to calm down a bit. You can’t be a hellraiser all your life, I think Bob realises that.”