After four solo albums, two compilations, a remix album and a former life in one of our most loved modern bands, Ian Brown releases The Greatest this month. He told Jake Kennedy all about it.
Talking about music with Ian Brown is to walk a thin line between sour memories, a love of music and an eternal optimism brought on by a colourful life. After Manchester’s Stone Roses degenerated in the mid- 90s, after just two albums, he was, as is widely accepted, the boy least likely to, of the four members. But by picking himself up, dusting himself down and working with friends, he has turned in four vibrant, sunshine-filled albums, with an astonishing 13 singles to boot.
As an avid music fan (from the days of punk, through to being a scooter boy, then a Northern soul fan, right through to the acid house-era and on into ‘Madchester’), Brown is nothing if not down to earth. His recollections of darker times (he served a stretch in prison in 1999 for a much reported ‘air rage incident’, and the toll of working with John Squire on The Second Coming) are always followed by the lessons they taught him. His outlook is sunny. You can still tell he was once the archetypal arrogant young singer whom countless stars have copied, but he has mellowed with age. He checks himself regularly; perhaps he has been burnt before?
A friend in Japan sends him a box of clothes every six months. “I gave up shopping in 1997”; Ian Brown is a pop star now. And I think he loves it…