Pop: What next for the chairmen of the bored?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It was only a matter of time. Having spent the past few years studiously affecting an onstage posture of sullen indifference, Noel Gallagher has finally come out and admitted that he's bored with being a rock star. He's not the first rocker to find that the attractions associated with money, cocaine, groupies and adulation pall after a while. Andy Gill stifles his yawns to see if there are any interesting alternatives for the moody one.

One is tempted to wonder, given the lack of discernible change in his public demeanour throughout his career, whether he has ever been quite as "mad for it" (whatever "it" is) as he has constantly claimed. He looked bored then, he looks bored now and, frankly, the chances that he'll ever look anything other than bored in the foreseeable future must be rated as pretty slim, whatever he decides to do. Noel has mused upon the possibility that he might have to go to the jungle to find himself: a variation on the old music-biz predilection for "getting it together in a country cottage" which rather over-states his self-proclaimed wildness - he's such a fierce chap, presumably, that his real self could only be located in an Amazonian fastness, rather than the Cotswolds.

Even then, what are the chances that this new, junglified Noel would be any less bored than the old St John's Wood model? After all, even Sting, lion-hearted friend of the rainforest, prefers to spend more of his time in an English country mansion than in the depths of the jungle. But then, having paid rather more attention in class than Gallagher major, Sting has managed to develop a few more interests to occupy his time, not all of which involve having sex for six hours at a time without reaching orgasm. He's known to read books, for instance, while all that's known about Noel's home life is that he's got a telly the size of his brother's ego. And whatever the attractions of the box, it still lags way behind the printed word in terms of intellectual stimulation.

That's the problem with being a rock star in the Nineties: nobody expects you to have any other interests beyond those of the average scally. There was a time, not so long ago, when rock stars were expected to be founts of wisdom on practically any subject under the sun, and would spend many a spare hour boning up on the latest trends in literature, philosophy and science purely in order to have a few bons mots to drop into their next round of interviews, or a thought-provoking theme for the upcoming album. What do you think are the chances of Oasis doing a song called "Synchronicity"?

Not, of course, that intelligence or eclectic interests are any guarantee that a rock star might fend off the creeping cancer of boredom. Judging by the recent biography of Paul McCartney, The Beatles were intrepid devourers of avant-garde ideas, art and literature along with their LSD, yet to watch the film of them recording Let It Be at Twickenham Studios is to see a band slowly dying from terminal boredom, unable to arrest their decline into disillusion. And Bob Dylan, at one time the coolest, sharpest man on the planet, with a literary gift both prodigious and acute, became so thoroughly sick and tired of the whole rock-star rigmarole that he seized upon a fortuitous motorbike accident as the pretext for a sustained bout of reclusion, recasting himself as an all-round Jewish paterfamilias at exactly the time that the generation he inspired was adopting wholesale the contrary notion of a counter-culture. By doing so, he managed to retain the impression of being one step ahead of the game, without the impossible burden of having to top Blonde On Blonde. A year or two later, he invented country-rock, the musical equivalent of moving from the city to the country.

The rural option has, since the late Sixties, been a popular way of alleviating or escaping the boredom of life on the road, with many a little village now boasting its own resident retired rocker. For some, it's more than a mere escape: just as the route from professional footballer to horse- racing trainer has become firmly established by such as Mick Channon and Micky Quinn, so too have rock stars like Roger Daltrey and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson popularised the less obvious link between music and fish- farming. One can see the attraction of rural bliss for the moneyed muso, offering as it does a modicum of peace and quiet while simultaneously feeding the adulation-addicted ego with assumptions of squire-archical superiority. Why, some even learn to ride horses, rather than Range Rovers.

It is, however, vitally important for the bored rocker to have other interests to pursue before turning his or her back on their industry. The alternative, as Kurt Cobain, Billy Mackenzie and other members of the Prozac generation have demonstrated, is just too awful to contemplate, although their disaffection would seem to come from somewhere rather deeper and more troubling than mere boredom. Or so one would hope. In earlier, less nihilistic times, the combination of boredom, despair and tortured integrity which now drives rock stars to suicide used to drive them to religion: one thinks of dog-loving Cat Stevens transformed into Rushdie- hating Yusuf Islam; or of Fleetwood Mac guitarists Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green, the one disappearing mid-tour into the arms of the Children Of God commune, the other so appalled by filthy lucre that he deliberately grew his fingernails too long to fret his guitar.

Perhaps the best role model for young Noel, given the equally boring options outlined above, would be the former woolly-hatted Monkee and Liquid Paper heir Mike Nesmith, the music world's equivalent of a renaissance entrepreneur. Having grown increasingly bored with the Sisyphean task of trying to bring a little musical integrity to The Monkees, he initially lit out for a career as a literate, intelligent country-rocker (an endeavour oxymoronically doomed to failure) before finding intellectual salvation as an alternative media magnate.

Besides devising the original MTV format for Warner Brothers in the late Seventies, Nesmith dramatically altered film industry perceptions by funding and producing movies such as Repo Man and This Is Spinal Tap in the Eighties. His Pacific Arts Corporation now has fingers in all manner of multi-media, interactive pies, enabling Nesmith to indulge his music more as a hobby, treating his first love with the love it deserves, rather than as a bore and a chore.

So if Noel wants to retain his interest in music - and there's little indication that, outside of drugs and football, he has any other interests - he could do worse than take a leaf out of Nesmith's book. If he can be bothered, that is.