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.

" should be a hell of a life."

John Harris

p.16 Q117 June 1996