Last month, The Stone Roses released a new song for the first time since 1995. Here we dissect ‘All For One’ and speak to those close to the band to see if they know the answer that’s on everyone’s lips: will there be a new album?
Fans have speculated about new material ever since the band’s reunion. Ian Brown confirmed they’d be releasing new material at some point, but when would it drop? “We’ll just keep writing and if it’s our standard, we’ll go,” he said, adding, “We’ll ride it until the wheels fall off, like we did last time…”
All for one, one for all
If we all join hands, we’ll make a wall
Inside of me, for all to see
In harmony, all designed to be
The mystery, all eyes can see
Chemistry, all one family
Inside of me, all over me
Behind of me, right in front of me
Inside of me, for all to see
In harmony, all one family
The Ian Brownisms
Although the words are economical, there are tropes familiar to much of Brown’s work in ‘All For One’. There’s a whiff of the biblical in the line “inside of me, for all to see” (see also: ‘I Am The Resurrection’, ‘Second Coming’), and a floating reference to “the mystery” of it all, without telling us what the mystery actually is. Typical Brown.
The Main Theme
There’s an underlying feeling of unity about what Ian Brown sings, and how he sings it. It’s the kind of schoolyard sloganeering that harks back to classic acid house songs of the late ’80s. This feels pertinent, because the Roses have been dogged by rumours of internal strife since a June 2012 warm-up gig in Amsterdam at which Ian Brown told the audience Reni was “a c**t” after the drummer failed to return to the stage for an encore. If anything, what ‘All For One’ insinuates is that The Stone Roses are very, very tight right now.
John Squire’s guitars are all over this track. His two-note riff kicks things off, and from there he gallops along while the rest of the band try to keep up. He sounds like he’s been unleashed from the traps after decades locked away. There’s a nod to the ‘Whole Lotta Love’-era genius of Jimmy Page, especially in the 12-bar solo Squire plays halfway through.
‘All For One’ was recorded with Paul Epworth – easily the UK’s most in demand producer in 2016 – at his plush north London studios The Church in late March. It was here that NME collared an upbeat Ian Brown, who told us the sessions were going “like a dream”.
Although he’s best known for being Adele’s producer, Epworth was a product of the mid-’00s UK indie scene. He got his start working with bands including Babyshambles, Bloc Party, Friendly Fires and Florence + The Machine, and his production on ‘All For One’ is far closer to that than anything else he’s done this decade. Just note Reni’s rollicking drums, which sound far heavier than normal, and the gliding bass line from Mani – both seemingly taking great influence from ballsy ’70s glam rock acts like T-Rex and Slade.
The 59 Words
Some fans derided the words, both for their quality and quantity. But 59 is loads, compared to:
Nirvana – ‘School’ – 15 words
The Stone Roses – ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – 15 words
Joe Cocker – ‘You Are So Beautiful’ – 15 words
Iron Butterfly – ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’- 30 (despite the song being over 17 minutes long)
What The Insiders Know
“All I know about is the same as everyone else”
Friend of the band. Director of Made Of Stone, 2013 film about The Stone Roses’ reunion and Heaton Park shows
“What was beautiful about the single release was it was announced really late, and felt like a real throwback – me and all my mates were stood around our radios listening to a new song by our favourite band of all time. Towards the end of filming Made of Stone, I knew they were demoing – I saw Ian going around with a little four-track cassette recorder, and I was ridiculously excited by that, although I never got to hear anything. What’s amazing about ‘All For One’ is you have no concept what the album is going to sound like. All I know about is the same as everyone else – I don’t ever lean on the band for information, and as a fan, I just try and follow it the same as everybody else. But the statement of intent is there after ‘All For One’.”
“I doubt many people know what they’re up to”
Boss of T In The Park festival, which the Stone Roses are headlining on July 8
“The Roses are a band who keep things close to the chest – I doubt there are many people who know what they’re up to. When we booked them to headline it was never a guarantee that they’d have new music, but we knew the intention was there and they’d been in the studio. We were optimistic.”
“A year ago, the dust on Reni’s drum kit was an inch thick”
Owner of the Vinyl Exchange in Manchester, which was plastered in lemon posters for the release of ‘All For One’
“A lad came in and asked if they could fill all our poster space on the upstairs counter, but there’s zero info on them – just a lemon. They’ve always been good at stunts like this, going right back to 1985 when they rather naughtily sprayed their name all over many public buildings in the centre of town. There’s scant information regarding their current activities, but the recording must have moved pretty quickly, as someone I know who has access to their rehearsal space said only about a year ago that the dust on Reni’s kit was an inch thick and it looked like they’d done nothing for a while!”
“The album was always going to come later rather than sooner”
Ex DJ at legendary Manchester club The Hacienda, who has frequently supported The Stone Roses on tour
“There was studio time booked a while ago but it wasn’t used, and even though the band had always wanted to record new material, the timing was never quite right – they’ve all got busy lives. So the album was always going to come later rather than sooner. There’s always been a creative tension between Ian and John – Ian’s solo career has featured a lot of electronica and experimentation, but John’s much more into basic psychedelic guitar rock. That’s something I first noticed way back at Spike Island, and I think it’s probably still there today.”
“Ian told me it’s sounding ‘f**king top’”
Friends with Roses bassist, Mani. Starred in Spike Island, the 2012 film about the band’s legendary 1990 gig
“When the lemon posters started appearing, I texted Mani to ask what was happening and he said, ‘Make sure you’re listening to the radio this time on Thursday’. They’ve been at the studio in Crouch End for the last few weeks, so I knew they were recording, but I was still sat there like a schoolkid listening to the radio. I spoke to Ian about it after the Finsbury Park gig [in 2013] – I asked him what the new material was sounding like and he said, ‘F**king top’.”