Ian Brown
Interview by Holly Wild
Pix by Steve Bateman
(More here)

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

You’re just about to release your 6th studio album My Way, which everyone involved is really excited about…how do you feel about it?

I feel it’s my best work, yeah, I certainly put the hours in. I started writing it about this time last year, not constantly, but on and off. We worked right through the winter, started recording it in early spring and finished it on July 7th, so we’ve gone through all seasons.

It’s quite a personal album-how was it writing about those sorts of themes?

The first song we wrote was Vanity Kills and Dave McCracken who co-wrote it, who I co-wrote Dolphins Were Monkeys with as well, he was signed by Roc Nation and was asked to write a song for Kanye West. Amanda Ghost wrote the melody, Dave wrote the music and they wanted me to write some lyrics and it had to be a sort of autobiographical song for Kanye. So we had a few pow wows and Amanda told me about him cos she knew him and Amanda text him while I was there and said “Kanye, I’ve got Ian Brown to do the lyrics” and I was made up cos he text straight back and said “Ian Brown-Stone Roses, hell yes” and I was like, fantastic. So we wrote him a song but we were a little bit late with sending it in and Amanda had said it’s gotta be like a “My Way” for Kanye, so I took that and thought, right, I’m gonna keep that for myself, I really like it. So that gave me the brief to make the album like “My Way”.

Me and Dave were also asked to write a song for Rihanna and after finishing it [Stellify], even though she could probably sing it better, I thought “I’m gonna keep this”, so I kept it. That set us off then, we thought, right it’s gonna be a “My Way” album-I’m gonna write about my life in music. I’m gonna write about coming off the dole, going into music, what happened along the way-that was my brief.

You’ve said you’re anti-nostalgia so how does that work with singing about those themes?

It’s not nostalgia to me, it’s my life and all things come around. There’s a point to everything and everything comes around in a circle eventually. By nostalgia I mean repackaging, remastering, reselling, squeezing a lemon. That made me think about the Roses, as I’ve never addressed them in songs before.

Was that difficult for you, or did you feel like it was the right time?

It was easy-I feel great about the Roses, I don’t feel bad about it.

There’s a couple of mentions of them throughout the album-did it just happen or did you think, right I’m going to sing about them now?

Oh yeah, everything’s deliberate.

You’ve mentioned Dave McCracken who worked on most of the tracks with you, but was there anyone else you worked with, who you haven’t before?

I worked with a Japanese guy called Naoto and he’s in a band called Orange Range, he’s a superstar in Japan, he’s sold like millions of records. He’s a friend of a friend of mine, Kazuki Kuraishi, who’s designed the album sleeve. He’s a clothes designer and all the clothes you’ve seen me in over the last ten or eleven years, he’s designed them. I met him in Tokyo and he sends me a box of clothes every six weeks. He introduced me when I was at his birthday party in Tokyo a few years ago to his friend Naoto who offered me his studio on the island of Okinawa. Then we met up again the next day and it turned out Naoto was a guitar player and he was alright. He said “I’d like to work with you” so I said “send us something”. The guitar part of Always Remember Me is what he sent me. So we added some keyboards, added some drums, I did a melody and some lyrics, sent it over. He e-mailed me back and said we sat with tears in our eyes listening to it! So we both loved it and that was it.

Do you get many requests from people to work with them? You mentioned Kanye and Rihanna…

If I like the music, then I’ll do it. At the moment I’m working with a band called Sohodolls. I met them on the M6 about 2 months ago. I told them I was a bit busy with my own album but give it a couple of months and we’ll get it on. I’ve just written some songs for a Muslim singer called Sami Yusuf, who’s an Islamic singer who sings in Arabic and he’s really big in the Middle East. He wants to write an album in English, so he’s written the music and the melodies and I’ve just got to do the lyrics.

I’m always happy to collaborate. I’m supposed to have done something with Scratch Perverts for the last five years, but they’ve not got it together yet. Coldcut are supposed to be sending me a song, Unkle have asked me to come and do something on their next album. So if someone’s got talent and some sort of work and they’re a little bit different, I’m there.

You’ve included a cover on this album, what made you choose In the Year 2525?

I wanted to write a song about global warming cos I’ve not heard anyone sing a proper song about global warming or the effect that it’s going to have being the end and everything. So I then had to come up with a song that’s better than In The Year 2525. Them lyrics were written 40 years ago but they still resonate as powerfully today as they would have done then. I couldn’t manage it and didn’t come up with a tune that was better than that, so I thought “Well, you know what? I’ve got a Mariachi sound sometimes anyway, so if I got a trumpet on it I could make it sound like one of my own songs anyway”. And I was lucky because Dave [McCracken] worked on the last Mr Hudson single so I got Mr Hudson playing guitar on it as well. He came down and put flamenco guitar on it. So it’s my tune now.

How did you decide on the album title?

Well it autobiographical and the brief was a kind of “My Way” so we just though you know what, let’s call it My Way.

You said you were aiming to make an album of singles, so with so many tracks to choose from how did you pick Stellify as the lead single?

Stellify was like the benchmark for the album cos it was the first tune we wrote. As we played it I thought “Wow this is the first tune I’ve got since FEAR that’s up there with it. I end every show with FEAR but now I’ve got a track that I can come on with after FEAR. Stellify was always the benchmark, but it was also the trickiest to mix and we had to do it about seven times to get it right. I’d been laughing at stories about Kanye West mixing his last tune thirty times, but I’m starting to understand how you can, so you can get it exactly how you want it. That was the benchmark so it was always really going to be the first single.

Was it your idea to film the video for Stellify in Manchester?

No I had a different idea, but Colin O’Toole who’s done my last four videos came up with Manchester. He’s from Manchester and wanted to keep it really simple and had found a marching band, which fitted in with the idea, who wear a star on their chests as part of their uniform which goes with Stellify. So I was like, that’s great then, let’s go with that.

For my first four albums I either made the video, co-made the video or came up with the idea for the video, but I realised I wasn’t getting any joy out of making film like I was with the music. It was a bit laborious and didn’t excite me like the music. So I was pretty lucky really when I met Colin and it was for the All Ablaze song, which was a great experience. Obviously “All Ablaze” he said let’s get fire and I went down and he’d made lines of flamethrowers and all that and being a lad I’m still attracted to fire so that was great and then it kind of took the pressure off me cos I didn’t have to come up with the ideas myself, or make it, or spend days editing it. I just wasn’t getting the joy off it that I get off music. I was lucky to meet Colin and he’s made my last four films and we sit and talk in detail about it, but the last four have been his ideas.

To move on to the live side of things, you played Reading & Leeds the other weekend-is it good to be back on the stage?

At Leeds I looked out at the crowd and there was hardly anyone of my generation there-it was all 16 year olds and up to about 25 and I thought I’m old enough to be their Dad and I’m on the main stage, it’s great!

Your next live date is the Dubai Sound City launch party, which will be your first time playing in the Middle East?

Yeah it is. I’ve had two offers before but they fell through. I’ve played Tel Aviv in Israel but this will be my first time in the Middle East.

How did that come about?

It was just an offer through my agent. Like I said I’d had a couple of offers before but this one seemed pretty solid so we gave it a go.

The Sound City organisers want to have a Middle East focused debate during the conference-thinking about the anti-war message in your last album, do you think it’s important for music and politics to crossover?

I think solidarity of every kind is important, however that comes, be it music and politics. I think that no matter where you live in the world, we’ve got governments above us who control us, who we can’t control. We’re no different to the people in Iran or Israel and I think it’s important that we all link up and share everything and music’s the best space for doing that. It crosses all borders, all languages, all genders, race, religion-it crosses all of that.

After that you’re going to be doing a pretty extensive UK tour-are there any cities that you’re particularly looking forward to playing?

Manchester most definitely. It’s going to be my fourteenth appearance at Brixton Academy. I did two with Roses, so the second night of this tour will make it my twelfth time at Brixton Academy, which is big news for me.

Anywhere really, it’s great to go and meet people anywhere. I’m looking forward to Ipswich cos I’ve never played there. Southend because I’ve never played in Southend. I’m looking forward to all of them.

Do you have any stand out gigs from past tours?

Glastonbury ’05 was probably my favourite show because it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever played to. It was pretty emotional and everyone was singing along. There were thousands of people bobbing up and down and we played really well that night.

Usually I do a show, I feel great about it and the next day I’ve forgotten it. But one day, if I make it, when I’m 90 and I’m sat out in the back chair with my Filipino nurse putting a blanket over me, maybe I’ll think about when I played Nottingham Rock City on my birthday, or my first Brixton Academy, but Glastonbury’s the show that I think about every few weeks and think “Wow, that was ace”.

Other than Manchester do you have links to any of the places you’re playing?

I love Liverpool and Glasgow. Liverpool’s probably the best place to play. Crowd and atmosphere wise it’s definitely been the best show on the last few tours. Maybe I shouldn’t say that in case the Mancunians don’t buy tickets!

Also Dublin, it’s amazing to play Dublin, it’s beautiful. You’d think Dublin was a thousand miles away from England from how different people are over there-so warm spirited and friendly. Glasgow is probably one of the best places to play in the world. Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Dublin are the best places to play. There’s something very similar about all them places.

Have you got anything special planned for the gigs? The Manchester date is the last night of the tour and just before Christmas…

That’s right, it’s only the week before Christmas so that will be a big party, yeah.

I’ve got no plans for fire-eaters or jugglers or anything. I’m just gonna get a lot of new songs out cos I think a lot of these new songs sound great live and mix it up with the best of what I’ve got.

Do you always take the same band out with you?

I used to change it up every tour to keep it fresh with different line-ups, but the last five and a half years I’ve had the same line-up and they never let me down. Drummer’s never dropped a beat, guitarist has never hit the wrong note-they’re super reliable and great, great players and we gel really well so I’ve got no reason to change it at the moment. These guys still sound fresh.

To finish on a slightly different note, the big news at the moment is Noel leaving Oasis-do you think this is really the end for them?

Yeah I think it probably is, which is a bit of a shame really. I think it’s been coming for quite a while hasn’t it? Their very first NME feature they were scrapping and their last one they were scrapping, so they came in scrapping and they’ve gone out scrapping. Bit of a shame but no surprise really. I’d heard a few rumours myself this year and I think it’s run its course.


22-Nov-09 Belfast St George's Market
29-Nov-09 Leicester De Montfort Hall
30-Nov-09 Southend Cliffs Pavilion
1-Dec-09 Ipswich Regent
3-Dec-09 Bournemouth Opera House
4-Dec-09 London Brixton Academy
5-Dec-09 London Brixton Academy
7-Dec-09 Cambridge Corn Exchange
8-Dec-09 Sheffield Academy
10-Dec-09 Leeds Academy
11-Dec-09 Leeds Academy
12-Dec-09 Liverpool University
14-Dec-09 Newcastle City Hall
15-Dec-09 Edinburgh Picture House
16-Dec-09 Glasgow Academy
18-Dec-09 Birmingham Academy
19-Dec-09 Manchester MEN Arena

Text by Holly Wild, Chuff Media
Pix by Steve Bateman
Watermarked ones August 26, 2009, O2 Academy Oxford
Others October 25, 2007, Carling Academy Bristol.



wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?