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Interview with Steve ‘Adj’ Atherton

If you weren’t already aware Shiiine On is hosting a boat party up and down the Thames before The Stone Roses play their biggest show of their career at Wembley on 17th June. Joining us on the journey is the “5th Stone Rose” – Steve ‘Adj’ Atherton.

Ahead of the big day we caught up with the man himself just after his 60th birthday celebrations to get the low down on what to expect on board, the latest on his forthcoming book and some tales about the Roses…

Hello Steve! Happy Birthday for the other day…
Hurrah! Six nil, mate.

So what’s the latest with the book release?
It’s nearly there mate, building it slowly, slowly, catchee monkey, build it up. I’m adding a couple Seahorses stories in and now I’m tying in bits of my youth, to sort of bring it around to being where I ended up.

Are you going to put the Shiiine On Mini Cruise in the book, if you haven’t finished it off yet?!
Oh, I’ll put all that in. There’s one or two other bits I have done, like I nearly got murdered by Harry Houdini, and all that!

Speaking of the boat party, you’re going to do a bit of a talk on there. What can the punters expect?
I’ll tell them tales of how we did our first trips around London, before sat-navs and everything, when we just used to take acid, and then drive around at night, and find a way around. I’ll do the Ally Pally story, because it’s quite funny. My Dad comes out of it as a bit of a twat, which always makes me smile. It depends how long you let me go on, as you know, I go off like a machine gun. They’ll get tales of how I started out, they’ll get the hermaphrodite story at the beginning, and how I became a plumber and onto putting the first warehouse parties on. Then I go into some London things too, such as the lack of gravy and shit like that, that they’ve got down there. And finish it off with Wembley, where we should have gone many years ago, really.

I’ve heard the show before, and it’s hilarious. Without wanting to spoil it all, have we got one quick story as a teaser?
Let me think of a very quick one off the top of my head. Just waiting for one of our early trips to come to London, when we first started getting a splitter van. Well, it wasn’t a splitter, it was a 16-seater minibus, with the two back seats taken out, and we just put all the kit in there. That’s how small the back line was back then. And we were going down to London, and I was waiting for everybody, and the last one to arrive was Reni, and I’m thinking, “God, I’m going to have to pick him up on the motorway here”, but sure enough, true to form, he came round the corner in his yellow Ford Escort, no parking space available, so he just banged it into two cars. A bit like how the Parisians park. And just bashed everything out of the way, and jumped in and went, “Are we right then?” And then we set off down to London. On the way down, we’d stop off and do the normal things that all bands want to do when they go into the services and go and get essential purchases, which consists of CDs, that they don’t fucking need. We had a journalist with us as well, that was following us down, I think it was the NME. When we came out Ian Brown spotted an opportunity, where the bloke had left a small steamroller, you know, an electric steamroller, for doing the tarmac, and Ian was on it in seconds. But the NME bottled it and wouldn’t get photos. He always knew an opportunity to grab the headlines, did our Ian. I’ll do the one where the “amateurs, BBC amateurs”, that was done down there. That was a cracker, and I’ll tell you why that went wrong. So I’ll do that one while I’m down there, as well. So, that’s just come into my head. So you know I don’t plan anything, nothing is written down, it’s all fucking just the times out with Mountfield, Squire, Wren and Brown. I’ve got a rolodex of a memory, where fun’s concerned.

Happy days. You’ve got your book coming out soon, as well. What made you want to do that?
It was when I went in hospital, to have my new artery put in, due to excesses on the road. Under the influence of morphine, I just started tapping all the old stories down in my phone and pretty soon, I’d knocked up like 7,000 words, just in notes. It’s all been written on my phone, I can’t use the computer, I’m a luddite. So, everything’s on notes, and then I send it off to people, so it’s like 80,000 words so far. When I started doing it, I thought, “Well, it’s quite funny this”, I put my criminal record in, I put all that, which is one of the funny stories.

Could you remember everything, or was there anything which was a bit blurry?
No, I can remember it in chrome colour, it’s like I can remember being a kid, and it being black and white and dusty. And I remember as the city changed first of all, and then the music changed, and just before the explosion of E, everything changed into mad colour in Manchester. And it was probably down to the acid trip or whatever. But, everything changed. That’s why I’m writing it down now, so I don’t forget it, before Alzheimer’s kicks in.

And what were your first memories of coming across the Stone Roses, how did you come to know them?
I’d met Ian before, in the old Manchester Poly, where there was like this gang of knob heads, a big gang of knob heads that were doing what their kind do, and pick on like a smaller little crew. So, I asked Ian if he was okay. I went over to them, I might have taken my belt off, and the knob heads just fucked off. Now, that’s no brag, I’m not hard, I never have been hard, but I don’t care what happens, when it happens. Like, if someone throws a punch at me, I’ll throw an ashtray back. And from there, I then started working at the rehearsal rooms where they turned up. And out of that, a little fucking room, came these first blips and tunes, and ones so angry, so young, but so fucking good. And I knew then, that that’s where I wanted to go.

And from getting to know them, you ended up being the tour manager and on the road with them. How did you get the gig of that?
The best qualification I have is the driving licence, and because I’m slightly older than them and I’ve got a van, I went, “I’ll take you there.” Obviously I did the warehouse parties too. The band used to say, “I don’t like being told to go home off anyone at like fucking half one.” So when they said they wanted to play in the middle of the night, I just said, “Let’s put a warehouse on”. And then it just grew from there.

And the rest is history. The anniversary of Spike Island has just passed, do you have any particular memories of that day which stand out?
Blowing the globe up, with my lungs full of weed, then giving it to Ian, and saying, “Here you are, this is what we’re going to do”, and I went, “Hold it in your hand, and then in the papers it’ll just say, “Stone Roses have got the world in the palm of their hands.”, and he did, and it was, and they wrote it. They gave me a globe on the 2012 tour and all signed it. But I gave it to my son, who’s now got it halfway round the world in the Philippines, he just takes it everywhere with him.

What’s your top three Roses tracks?
‘What The World Is Waiting For’, I love ‘Begging You’ and I love ‘Waterfall’ too.

And what about your top three Roses gigs, if you can remember, on the spot?
There’s five really, Northampton Road Members Club, Glasgow Green, first time round, Blackpool Empress Ballroom and Saturday Night, Heaton Park, 2012.

Any gossip for the Roses? What’s next for them? Are they going to do the album?
I’ve no idea, mate. I know that I’ve stepped away from it, that avenue of pleasure holds no mystery to me, I’ve come off the road. And I’m liking what I’m doing now, I like doing you gigs – a lot! I will say now, I will say when I first did the first one, I didn’t know what to expect. I went and did the one at Minehead. But I had such a fucking buzz, that weekend. And I’d been seeing the people of a certain age, still up for it.

Thanks Steve, good to hear mate – we will see you on the boat
I look forward to it! See you after.

One Love – the Shiiine on Boat Party sets sail from Temple Pier on Saturday 17th June – 1-4pm.
Remaining tickets are available HERE