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Doing it his way


09/30/2009 10:30 PM

It's common, natural progression, if you like: become famous, then write an all-too premature autobiography.

Not so for Ian Brown, former lead singer of the Stone Roses and UK national treasure.

His latest album, My Way, released this week, IS his autobiography. And the title is something of a life motto for the singer. "It's my statement of intent," 46-year-old Brown says, speaking exclusively to tabloid! ahead of his first concert in the Middle East tonight.

"It's my way. I write the way I want to write, I record and release what I want and I'm lucky enough to have an old-school record deal which gives me control."

It's the way the music industry should work for more artists, according to Brown.

Sitting on the terrace of a Dubai hotel dressed in black, being surprisingly chirpy considering he hasn't slept for 19 hours thanks to a London gig and night flight, Brown's "my way" theme continues.

The Stone Roses had the courage to "make it" from Manchester, against the advice of industry heavyweights who claimed success would only be found in London. Their self-titled first album, released in 1989, was a massive success.

Images of the typical arrogant Manchester indie artist are quickly dispelled and replaced with new ones of a humble man with a true passion for music and a definite grip on the truth - and more importantly, reality.

Brown tells the truth - about everything, from doing time, to why he once gave up music and his feelings about Michael Jackson.

"When the Stone Roses split in 1996, I didn't want anything to do with music," he says, glancing over his shoulder at his current six-piece band. "We weren't businessmen. We didn't want to change numbers for a company, we wanted to change the world with music.

"We ended up messed up by record labels and the music suffered, so it all ended.

"Things changed when a young boy stopped me on a Manchester street saying, 'You're Ian Brown, you should do something.' I realised there and then it was time to start writing again and it all just went from good to better."

Six albums, six sell-out world tours, three appearances at Glastonbury, a record five at the UK V-Festival and four at Fuji Rocks in Japan, Brown racks up his 39th country performing in Dubai.

This latest studio album is written as a semi-autobiographical account of Brown's 21 years in the industry.

Inspired by turbulent decades on the front line of British pop, Brown says My Way is modelled on Jackson's Thriller - due only to the fact that each song is a hit in its own right. "Michael Jackson was a man I looked up to," he says, deep in thought.

"But that changed when the accusations started surfacing. He didn't deal with it well and became odd. I did my grieving for MJ at that time, because for me he and his music were gone."

At 42, Brown was sentenced to four months in Strangeways Prison for air rage, after threatening an flight attendant with plastic cutlery. "It was all blown out of proportion," he says. "I was travelling first class with a few children of different nationalities and the woman just looked at us as we didn't belong.

"But it's in my past, so it's over."

From every bad experience comes a good one, as Brown was soon snapped up to play a cameo role in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. "I wanted to be a Bohemian wizard but ended up as 'man by leaky cauldron reading book'," he says, rolling his eyes.

"My wife knew the director and he said he was fed up of reading about Ian Brown in prison and wanted to change things. It was fun, and Daniel Radcliff was a great kid."

The future looks good for Brown as he plans projects with the infamous Gallagher brothers, good friends of his. Proving his honesty spans the entire circumference of his interesting life, Brown doesn't mince his words, even when it comes to friends. "I love them as mates, but that's it. Their music is way too retro for me."

Various bands over the years, including Oasis, The Verve, Arctic Monkeys to name a few, all claim Brown and the Stone Roses are the reason they started singing in the first place. "I'm proud people say these things."

Then a cheeky smile creeps across his face and he adds: "I'd rather they follow me than Elton John."

Don't Miss it

Ian Brown will be performing at the Madinat Arena tonight to launch the Duabi Soundcity festival taking place in November. Tickets, priced Dh278, will be available at the venue from 5pm. There are still tickets available for Dh228 at the website boxofficeme.com.

 
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