How do the internal politics of Primal Scream differ from those of the Roses?
“The Primals is more of a democracy, whereas with The Stone Roses we were more looking over our shoulder seeing if Ian and John were pleased. Because they were writing the songs and being touted as the Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards kind of thing. For me now there’s a lot more freedom. Primal Scream are as good at bullshit detection as The Stone Roses ever were.”
Who’s a better singer, Bobby Gillespie or Ian Brown?
“They’re both equidistant and beautiful. You can’t have one without the other, because Primal Scream and Stone Roses were running on parallel courses for years. Bobby went to the same gigs in Glasgow that me and Ian and John went to in Manchester. They’re mirror images of each other, except they wore shit-stopping trousers and winklepickers, and we wore baggy fucking jeans and Adidas trainers.”
What are your memories of that final Roses show at Reading in 1996?
“Good memories, in a way, because I knew one way or another that would close the book. Ian had a fucking hell of a lot of weight on him at that point. Just imagine your best friend leaving you in the lurch like that – it ain’t good. There were reasons, and I’m still good friends with John – I’m godfather to three of his kids. But with my hand on my heart, I can proudly say I stuck with Ian until the fucking end out of an absolute sense of dignity and love.”
How often do you see John Squire?
“I spoke to John last week. I last saw him about a month ago. I go up to his farm in Macclesfield, because like I say, I’m godparent to his kids. We phone up, and in his usual wry way we have a good laugh. A lot of people have John down as being very quiet and insular, but I know how to tickle him. He’s a great kid.”
What’s John up to musically?
Didn’t he say last year that he was planning to reform the Roses?
“He did, and I think that’s what really pissed Ian off. Its like, how dare you without asking me? Me and Reni would be bang up for it. But he’s got to square things with Mr Brown, man. Come on, they’ve both got hair around their knackers, they’re both 43 years of age now, be adult about it for fuck’s sake, guys. Listen to me! Henry Kissinger is in the house!”
How’s your scheme coming along to bring John and Ian together without their knowledge?
“I’d just love them to phone each other up, just straighten it out. It’s like a Mexican stand-off. If I could get them together I fucking sincerely would because we were the tightest gang in town. But then it could be claret, snot and teeth flying about the place. It could go either way! Basically it’s a pride thing. Ian’s still very hurt and I think John – I hope he doesn’t hate me for saying this – but John should pick up the phone and give him a call. There’s no need for John to be penitent, because it was so dysfunctional at that time, and John’s a driven guy. But he could have gone about it a better way.”
You have made it clear you’d be up for one last Roses tour. Have you had serious offers from promoters?
“There’s probably been fucking loads. I’ve been spoken to by a certain big promoter.”
Presumably Simon Moran of SJM, John’s sometime manager?
“Yeah. He’s mad for it to happen. I can’t go into figures but we’d all be able to fucking retire. But we always said it’s not about the money, otherwise we could have fucking sold our souls to the devil 10 times over. We did it just for making music and trying to change people’s attitudes to the Royal Family and racism and all that kind of shit. It was about being the vanguard of change and showing people off council estates that they can fucking form bands and do it. And then you got Verve and Oasis and all these kids.”
So, in that sense, the Roses were a success?
“Absolutely. I never can see it as a failed mission. Fucking hell! I’m from north Manchester – not the best part of town – yet I’ve been around the world two or three times playing music. I’m still comfortable, I’ve got a house. I could have ended up dealing crack or stealing cars or robbing houses, like a lot of my friends. Or dead.”
How about reforming for charity?
“A one-off gig for charity would be fucking awesome. It doesn’t matter if we do it for 37-and-a-half pence. Just to do it would be a joy in itself. Then I could close that chapter in my life. The door is still ajar.”
Ian seems doubtful that the other Roses would reform for charity.
“I’d do it for charity, in an instant. I’m sure John would. And Reni.”
Reunion rumours went into overdrive after you, John and Reni were spotted out at an Arthur Lee and Love gig in Manchester last year…
“Yeah. It’s weird what people assume. We only went out to watch Arthur Lee and have a few beers. But basically it was the first time Reni and John have met since Reni walked. And maybe this is a lesson for Squire and Brown, but as soon as they met it was just a big hug. Almost like there had never been animosity. It was joyous. All it needed was Mr Brown there and it would have been just the most special moment.”
There was speculation you were jamming together. True?
“It’s a myth. I’ve thought about phoning John up for a jam but he’s got his three kids, and I’m double-busy in the Scream. As we sit here now, I’ve had more years in the Scream than I had in The Stone Roses. I’m now in my 10th year with the Scream. The thing is with Ian, he’s the biggest fish in his pond, and he’s created his pond. Why would he want to give that up? It would be a backwards move. But for the charity angle, I’m stating my case now, I would do it.”