What were Shane Meadow’s (director) and Mark Herbert (producer) doing when they first heard the Stone Roses. Could you set the scene for me?
Mark: I’d done A-levels and got into uni, but decided I didn’t want to go, so I went to a kibbutz and went travelling for a year. I took five cassettes, two compilations and three albums, and one of the albums was the Roses. It was the soundtrack of my life: I remember listening to it in Israel, Egypt, working on a farm, getting stoned on a beach when I worked in Greece. So it’s crazy thinking that 20 years later you’re making a film about them. Shane: I was 16 coming on 17 that year and I’d just started at college, where I met Paddy Considine, trying to get some O-levels that I’d not got at school. I’d come across this whole new group of artistic-type people and I’d still got all my mates from Uttoxeter. I was in this transitional period, wanting to do something with my life, and I came across this music in my mate’s flat in Uttoxeter and was just gobsmacked by it. I can remember bringing my first posh girlfriend back — I call her posh; she probably just had a full set of teeth. I’d got the album on vinyl and I remember putting Waterfall on to try and set the mood, and it went down very well. She couldn’t quite believe this slobby tattooed skinhead from Uttoxeter had got such impeccable taste. Those kind of memories — you kiss your first art student and it stays with you the rest of your life.
And by the time I Am the Resurrection came on … (Laughs). Yeah, absolutely.
Why do you think they evoke so much nostalgia in the fans — probably more than any other band of that time? Shane: Because they were taken out of their prime and people had to wait so long for them to come back. Plus a lot of the other music that came out at the time felt like it was part of a scene, but their album; if that came out now it’d still cause a massive stir. And that’s the sign of any great music, any great album. And then you throw in the bravado and swagger with which they carried it all off, and on their own terms — fighting lawsuits against record companies — they were complete one-offs and anyone like that is going to make a mark on a young kid.
I loved all the old home-movie footage at the start of the film, when they were all riding around on scooters and Ian’s got his bleached hair. Where did that come from? Mark: That came from John Squire, it was shot on Super 8, and it’s just gold dust. And it’s not news footage, because the problem with archive footage is it’s available to anyone. But most of the photographs in there are from the families, Ian’s friends, just layers of stuff that’s not been seen by anyone. And that’s what’s amazing for us; we didn’t go to Spike Island but then we found out that this security guard had filmed this footage there and we’ve got it on the DVD. Rather than being news archive, it’s from fans and it’s from the band themselves.
Actually, I was hoping there might be a bit more Super 8 stuff on the extras. Is there much more of it out there? Shane: No, the Super 8’s a two- or three-minute reel, so we got five or six reels and obviously we used a lot of it in there, but it’s not our personal property and a lot of it was John’s family stuff.
The atmosphere at the warm-up gig in Warrington looked incredible. Why did you decide to shoot it in black and white? Shane: When I made (the film) Twenty Four Seven, the first question I got in any interview was “why did you do it in black and white” and I couldn’t come up with an amazing answer. Before I started making films I was training to be a photographer, and any photographer worth their salt, especially back in the days of film, would go out with a few rolls of colour and a few of black and white. Certain landscapes looked like s**t in colour, so you’d throw your black and white in there and it would transform. When I did Somers Town, I went down to St Pancras and the whole area was this mad mesh of ridiculous colours because it was being done up. So I make these decisions early on, and it’s a photographic decision — certain things just speak to you in black and white and it’s no deeper than that really. It’s a decision that gets made sometimes before and sometimes during the editing. Mark: There was something in the (Stone Roses’) rehearsal space that just looked beautiful in black and white, whereas in colour it looked a bit cheap, with the pink curtains. Shane: I’ve always been in love with black and white and if it were up to me I’d probably shoot everything in black and white. And with the nature of the story— looking into the past — it seemed to suit that.
So do you make these decisions when you go into a venue and look at the quality of the light and think “This would merit that kind of treatment”? Shane: I shot on my iPhone in the rehearsal room before I shot anything on a big camera and that was done in black and white, on a little Super 8 app, and it just looked stunning. And that first clip I shot is actually on the DVD — that’s me walking around the room, trying to get a feel for it. I was getting that tickly feeling in my tummy, thinking “bloody hell, I can’t believe I’m filming these people, when 12 months before nobody thought they’d ever sit in a room together again, let alone play together”. So that was probably one of the things that set the tone for me.
I have to ask about This Is England 90. Will the Stone Roses feature on that? Shane: Yeah, hopefully because I’m writing two things at the moment —This Is England 90 and a Tommy Simpson Tour de France idea. I did want Shaun and the gang to go to Spike Island, but the recent Spike Island film, which everyone thinks I made, stole our thunder on that. I’m hoping, a bit like the Smiths’ music features through the series, that the Stone Roses can be part of the backdrop of 90, when we finally get to make it.
Before you go: top three Manchester bands? Mark: The Fall, the Roses and the Smiths. With John Cooper Clarke somewhere in the background.