Ask the Stone Roses’ soft-spoken lead singer, Ian Brown, if his band is the next big thing, and he says “Oh, yeah. We’ve always thought that. So it’s not like we’re just imagining it — we were already a big thing to ourselves.”
The less-than-humble Manchester band hopes the U.S. will get a contact buzz from Britain, where Brown’s dreamy vocals and guitarist John Squire’s paisley jangle have kept the band’s debut LP, The Stone Roses, at the top of the U.K. indie charts for months. And despite a welter of such bands, the press is swooning over the band’s effervescent Sixties-derived pop.
Although its members were all boyhood friends, the band was formed about two years ago. Before that, “Mani [bassist Gary Mournfield] worked in an abattoir, I used to wash pots, Reni, our drummer, was a soundman, and I don’t think John had a job,” says Brown. “We’ve always tried to avoid working. It’s not that we’re lazy, it’s just that we don’t want to do things we weren’t meant to do.”
One way the band stays off the rock & roll treadmill is by playing unusual venues, like a barn in Stratford-on-Avon or Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom, which normally hosts pantomimists, comedians and, of course, the occasional ballroom dance. “It makes it more of an event,” Brown says.
The band will not settle for second billing. “We don’t think we should warm up for anyone,” says Brown. “We know what we’ve got – it’s just up to the rest of the world to find out.” For all the bravado, Brown comes across as a genuinely good bloke, the kind you’d want to wish good luck. But the way he talks, does he need it? “Oh, we always need luck,” he says.
This story is from the October 19th, 1989 issue of Rolling Stone.