The June 1996 Q article:
"I want," says John Squire, as the beginnings of a smirk edge across
his features, "to carry on with the mission."
Exuding a more straight-laced aura than the last time he met with Q
(the attire is more casual, the hair noticeably less "big"), Squire is
perched in the ivy-lined atrium of a West London hotel, explaining the
latest instalment in the world's most elusive rock-group-cum-ludicrous
soap opera: his departure, on March 28, from The Stone Roses. Following
the 1995 exit of first drummer Alan "Reni" Wren, the rupture means that
the group now contains half its founder membership. However Squire's
ex-compadres - singer Ian Brown, bassist Gary "Mani" Mounfield, drummer
Robbie Maddix and new keyboard player Nigel Ipinson - have vowed to dig
out a replacement and continue without him.
Tellingly, Squire and Wren were the group's two true virtuosos: when
Squire seized the reins of 1994's Second Coming, writing most of the
songs, he seemed to be acting as the band's leader.
"I can honestly say that I didn't really feel I could leave until the
day I rang and told them," says Squire. "There was always something
clawing me back, saying, What are you letting go? Is it worth it? Maybe
it'll all get better. It was all very last-minute. I've had grievances
in the past, and there's been friction, but I think that's part of
being in a group."
So what was it that finally convinced him of the imperative nature, in
the Mancunian vernacular, of "doing one"?
"Erm... I got a letter from the group's lawyer saying that positive
noises were being made about going into the studio which is indicative
of the dysfunction of the group, the fact that it had come to that. I
just thought it was... fair. I wouldn't have scuppered a tour or an
album, but as we were in a rest period, that was the time to do it. And
I feel a lot better for it."
Inevitably Squire is guarded about the web of factors that led to his
flight, but concedes that the exit of Wren was important.
"It was another crack, I suppose. It made the group feel less
He's prepared to admit the Roses' lack of a manager hardly aided the
situation. Inevitably the band's progress from adolescent gang members
to child-rearing adults - facilitated by the four year lay-off between
their debut and Second Coming - is crucial.
"I just wasn't in the band I joined," he says. "I don't think any of us
were. All that kept us together during the break was the name. We saw
very little of each other. We just... drifted apart. Crumbled."
By the time Squire began the band's UK tour in December last year -
after the 12 months of mishap that had followed Second Coming's release
- the signs were hardly encouraging.
"It's no secret that I spent most of my time with the crew, on their
bus," he recalls. "I didn't feel like I belonged in the other camp. I
felt like a phoney on stage, presenting myself as part of that unit in
front of an audience."
Despite his despondency, the shows on that tour were well received -
although whether they will stand up to close critical scrutiny on a
soon-come live album (recorded at Manchester Apollo on December 23,
1995) remains clouded in doubt: if the slivers of live material that
have so far been heard are anything to go by, their allure may be
sullied by the shouting-in-a-bucket vocals of Ian Brown. Was that a
factor in the split?
"No. I knew he was doing his best. It wasn't sabotage. We all started
out from that same amateur level. None of us were any good apart from
Reni. He was the only natural. I'll deny any attempt to say I left as a
result of Ian's voice.
"The thing is," he cautions, "all this is very difficult to talk about.
I do feel this obligation to the gang. It does feel dishonourable to
discuss the band without them being present."
Even when they've issued a statement saying they feel "cheated and
disgusted" by his exit?
"Yeah. If I had four cheeks, I'd turn them all."
Squire has begun writing the songs for his post-Roses ensemble (he
thinks he's found a bassist, discovered on a post-departure pub crawl
in York, and he's looking for a drummer and a vocalist), in which he'll
take the key creative role. There is, he says, no possibility of him
mutating into a Johnny Marr/Bernard Butler-type freelance axe.
"I've always been into the idea of a group," he says. "I don't want to
be a solo artist, I want to contribute to a band."
And does he feel any degree of trepidation about starting, once again,
from the square marked "Go"?
"Oh yeah. I don't take it as read that any band I assemble is going to
be successful and will merit attention. It's going to require a lot of
work, but it's worth the risk. I enjoy sticking my neck out."
Will he be avoiding, ahem, prolonged lay-offs?
"Oh yeah. But not as revenge. This is what I should be doing, and if I
do it with the right people, it should be..."
He pauses, just long enough for the grin to fit back on his face.
"...it should be a hell of a life."
p.16 Q117 June 1996