Journalist gets a Pollocking from the Stone Roses
Journalist gets a Pollocking from the Stone Roses


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Just before the Stone Roses arrived like an avalanche in 1989 the London music press was bemused by them. In this interview in the late lamented Sounds, which was the first music paper to write about them way back in 1984 by Gary Johnson and then their second interview by LTW! boss John Robb in 1987 before the NME arrived a few months later. In 1989 there was more press as the band began to arrive…they were still playing to handfulls of people in London when in March 1989 Sounds sent the wonderful Mr. Spencer along to interview the band. It’s interesting to note how punk rock in attitude the band were at the time…this interview gives quite an interesting angle on the the early Roses…
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INTERVIEWING THE Stone Roses is like being left alone with the toughest gang in school.

Journalist gets a Pollocking from the Stone Roses
Journalist gets a Pollocking from the Stone Roses

The secret is to keep your voice at a normal pitch and, above all else, don’t panic. Perhaps you can be mates?

These Mancunian pop marvels have got the lot: vicious irony, deadly sarcasm. And, worse still, their guitarist likes nothing more than disdainfully tossing matches at you in response to questions that don’t meet with his approval.

“Twat! F*** off, arsehole!”

This is what John (for it is he) would say to someone who called The Stone Roses unoriginal. He doesn’t quite say it to me.

But then, I wouldn’t call his group unoriginal. I’d say their interest in the breezier end of ’60s psychedelia is obvious, but so what? They mix it with an equally strong liking for Acid House culture, and end up with a sound that falls somewhere between druggier Beatles and a new prole pop heroism. Seriously.

Like soulmates and fellow casual Mancunians Happy Mondays, the Roses pull huge crowds whenever they play their home city. But only now is the buzz showing signs of reaching London.

Tonight the band take on Middlesex Polytechnic, in Tottenham, North London. It’s a low-key affair, unadvertised, miles from anywhere – a mere warm-up for the following week’s sell-out gig at Manchester’s Hacienda.

Do The Stone Roses approach a London show any differently to one at the Hacienda?

“We set off earlier, that’s about it.”

Ouch! John’s being disdainful again. This calls for tactical manoeuvres. Perhaps I can convince them I’m on their side…

Does the fact that the London rock press are showing an interest make you want to quit? After all, you’ve done alright so far.

“What, you mean being ignored by them? You bet.”

FOUR FACES. Next to John sit bassist Mannie, floppy white-hatted drummer Rene, and singer Ian. They play Acid House on their personal stereos and, even more worryingly, they wear blouson leather jackets and baggy, flared jeans.

Mannie: “It’s the Manchester style.”

John (pointing at official dancer and master of the guitar FX panel, Cressa): “He got turned away from a club in town, with a bald head and pink, 20-inch-bottom, cord flares on. So what’s ”˜alternative’?”

Cressa: “Best trousers in Manchester as well. I’ve seen no finer.”

Do you take great delight in not being what people expect of a band?

Rene: “Appearances don’t mean shit.”

What’s your idea of perfect music?

Ian (who once got a detention for not tapping his foot to Beethoven in music class): “Something that sounds good all the time, whether you’re tripping, stoned, speeding or straight.”

Rene: “Something like ”˜Dear Prudence’.”

You mean the Banshees’ version?

“Easy man, that’s fighting talk!”

I should have guessed he meant the Beatles’ original. Not that there’s anything vulgar about the Roses’ Fab Four fixation. They’re not plagiarists, but they do share with their heroes a number of useful attributes – delightfully precise backing vocals, catchy titles, irresistable choruses and a crafty cosmic undertow.

The new single, ”˜Made Of Stone’, flaunts the supreme hookline, “Sometimes I fantasise” (you have to hear it), which begs the question: What about?

John: “I once dreamt that I owned a pair of really shitty marbled denim jeans. I woke up sweating.”

Ian: “I fantasise about putting a blanket over the Queen Mother’s head.”

No, really – he’s serious, you can tell. Ian says he’s stopped admiring George Best’s football wizardry since discovering Best is “a royalist twat”.

Heavy stuff. And to prove the point, next month’s debut LP, ”˜The Stone Roses’, will include a song called ”˜Elizabeth My Dear’, which is about putting the Queen to death.

“I saw it on Clive James last Saturday,” Ian recalls. “They were talking about how the British will never have another revolution because, at the end of the day, who’s going to be the man that puts a blanket of the Queen Mother’s head? I’d do it!”

Don’t you hate Margaret Thatcher more than the Queen Mum?

“No, Thatcher’s nothing, she doesn’t make any decisions, she’s just a puppet. It’s the Civil Service, MI5 and the Army who run it all.”

But surely…?

“She’s from a working class background, and so is Norman Tebbit. There’s no way they’d be allowed to have any real power.”

Huh?

“She lived in a bloody greengrocers!”

Psychotic, revolutionary, inscrutable, piss-taking bastards they may be. But The Stone Roses know a few things about pop music. Tonight’s gig is a revelation, ending with a long, instrumental freak-out that sends their itinerant Manchester following into a total go-go frenzy.

They leave me flushed by that early matchstick bombardment, but convinced by the rowdiest guitar rampage I’ve witnessed in weeks. They’ll go far.

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