Ian Brown: You Ask The Questions

So, what did you learn from your time in Strangeways prison? And is Liam Gallagher just a pale imitation of you?
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Why did you want to be in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and what spell did you cast to make your tea stir itself?

I did it for a laugh. I've got no ambition to be a movie star. I know the director because my wife's Mexican, and the director's a Mexican called Alfonso Cuaron. Once, at dinner, he said that he had a part for me, so I asked my lads and they said, go for it. I think J K Rowling is brilliant - I love the story that she wrote the first book in a café when she was on the dole, and now she's richer than the Queen. As for the tea, I used my magical powers as a bohemian wizard!

Do you think that you are a good role model for children?

I'm a better role model than Elton John, put it that way!

In one of your songs, you talk about forgiving everybody. How do you reconcile this with your fraught relationship with your ex-bandmate John Squire?

Only God can forgive.

The Stone Roses split a decade ago, but people still whisper hopefully about them getting back together. Why do you think that is?

The love for the Roses is massive, and it has grown through kids getting into their parents' records. We were fresh at that time, and I think that freshness has stayed, somehow. Plus, the English love nostalgia, don't they? I'm not complaining, like, it still feeds me. Tribute bands earn me about three grand a year off the Roses songs they play - that's a holiday to Thailand, that.

Apart from using the experience to write Golden Greats, what did you learn from your time in Strangeways Prison?

I learnt that prisons are full of kids from kids' homes, dumped on the street at 16 where they fall into a life of crime because there's no one to look after them and they've had no love. They end up institutionalised. That prison is full of kids from the poorest areas of the city, and I don't think imprisoning them serves any purpose whatsoever. Ninety per cent of the kids are junkies - if they're not junkies when they arrive, they soon are. It's the same as it was in the Victorian times. It's about keeping the poor away from the rich.

Have you ever considered writing a book about your experiences?

I wanted to write a book about when I went to jail to put my side of the story across. I wanted to write about what it's like to be known and be in prison. As far as I know, I'm the only guy categorised as category D that has served his full sentence in a category A prison. I started a book, did about 80 pages, then, all of a sudden, the music took over. But, hopefully, one day when I'm sat in a Bath chair listening to the birds singing, I'll write a book.

One of the links on your website is to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Would you play a gig in the Occupied Territories?

I've been offered a few gigs in Tel Aviv but, to me, Tel Aviv is like Sun City, so I've turned them down so far. Israel is an extremist state - they keep offering me more money to play there, but I won't do it, which is a shame for all the innocents who live there.

Knowing that you are a Bruce Lee fan, if you could have asked him one question, what would it have been?

I'd have to ask him if he could teach me some of his skills. But I know what he would have said. He said that true mastery transcends any particular art and stems from a mastery of oneself - the ability to develop oneself through self-discipline, to be calm, fully aware and completely in tune with yourself. Only then can a person know himself. He said it all.

Liam Gallagher copied his stage persona from you. Do you take that as a compliment or do you find it annoying?

I take it as a compliment because he was only a 16-year-old lad when he saw us and we wanted people to get influenced by us, that was why we were doing it. The fact that someone did, and then took it massive, I get a buzz off it.

How do you maintain your originality amid a depressingly bad mainstream music scene?

If I write a song and it sounds like somebody else, I drop it straight away. A lot of the bands that sing about miserable things seem to do really well. I never had that teen angst, me. But it's an easy thing to sell, heartbreak.

How is your Spanish coming on?

Slowly. I know all the lovin' and I know all the cussin'! I suppose that's all you need to get by in life, isn't it? When I get time, I'll do a course - I've got to because my little 'un is cracking jokes about me now and I don't understand!

Ian Brown's new single, 'All Ablaze', and his album, 'The Greatest', are out now on Universal

Your questions, please

For the author Anthony Beevor and for rock legend Francis Rossi
Send your questions to: You Ask The Questions, Features Desk, The Independent, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9RS (fax: 020 7005 2182; e-mail: myquestion@independent.co.uk).

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