Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Sep 29th 2009 11:30AM by Stephen Dowling
The former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown uses this café for interviews when he's in town; his London flat is a few minutes saunter away, and Brown likes to walk a few miles every morning when in town into nearby Hyde Park. His fellow patrons pay him little attention -- you guess this wouldn't be the case if the interview was being conducted in Manchester, the city where the Stone Roses were a home-grown revelation.
Ian Brown helped invent the Messianic mindset of the Manchester band -- a cocksure swagger since made world-famous by Oasis' Liam Gallagher. He successfully negotiated the Roses' long-winded demise, and began a solo career which has so far seen six albums -- the latest of which, the cockily-titled 'My Way', has just been released in the UK.
Is the album's title a nod to Frank Sinatra?
Paul Cook's a pal of mine, out of the Pistols, and when he came down to the playback, he said "what are you going to call it?" and I said "My Way." And he said "that's a bit cheeky," cos he thought it was the Sid Vicious version.
So what is 'your way?'
It's just a reference to the fact I was trying to write the songs about my life as a music maker. The last one was what I call social commentary, singing about the churches, and child poverty and street children and the Iraq War. All the ills and wrongs and how the world's upside down.
I wanted to bring it full circle this time, my own life and emotions, make it more emotional. I thought of it as musical autobiography rather than write a book."
Is it harder fronting up about your own feelings in songs?
No, that's me job. It's the nature of the beast, nature of the game. If I was clever enough to come up with a character like a Ziggy Stardust to hide behind, but I'm meself. I've got me own name on the sleeve... it's me name which sells the tickets. That's part of your job to express your thoughts, that's what you're getting paid for. That's why people follow you.
Mr Hudson's a guest on one track. How did that come about?
Dave, who I work with, he co-produced a few tracks with Mr Hudson, so he phoned Dave up, said "you're working with Ian, I love him, how can I be on his album?" And I was actually looking for someone who could play flamenco guitar, and Dave said "you know what, he's actually got a flamenco guitar." I told him to bring it down. Fantastic. He was full of beans, dead excited."
And on song 'Vanity Kills' was supposed to be for Kanye West?
Amanda Ghost was asked to write a song for Kanye. She said to Dave: "If you write the music, can you get Ian to write the lyrics?" She said: "You've got to make a 'My Way' for Kanye, about him and his life, and it's got to be a little bit dark. He likes to watch 'American Psycho' all day in the studio with the sound down." So although he's singing about love and peace and uniting, he's got this dark side to him that's in conflict.
It was cool to hear something I'd basically had to fill the blanks in. We were a bit late in sending it – it was for the '808s and Heartbreaks' album – and I thought "you know what, it's no big deal, I can have this for myself."
You're a big fan of collaborations, it seems.
Last time I was lucky enough to work with two of the Sex Pistols and Sinead O'Connor, it doesn't get any bigger than that for collaboration. It's much more fun than working on your own.
It's well over a decade since your solo career started and it goes from strength to strength. What's the secret?
It's a combination of hard work and pure good luck. There's no guarantee just 'cos your band were liked that you're going to have any success solo. No guarantee of that. There are many that have tried and fallen. I'm really lucky that I'm still here.
This is my life. I eat from the fruits of me labours, which is expressing meself, and then I get the chance to travel the world to sing songs I've made up with me mates, sing to people who don't speak the same language as me, what I job. I give thanks every day.
'My Way' is out now in the UK and the US.