Bobby Gillespie: ‘I wanted to change music culture’

The Primal Scream frontman, 56, on growing up Glaswegian, loving the spotlight and the threat of Brexit

Working-class Glasgow was a very violent place to grow up. I saw violence on the streets. I saw it at football matches and I saw it at school. I had to be careful as the minute I stepped out on to the street anything could happen. If you walked through certain areas and people didn’t know your face you could be in trouble. It was tribalism. You just stuck to your part of the jungle.

I’m a Glaswegian before I’m a Scot. I’ve always been proud of the city and think the city is proud of us and it’s a city with a long tradition. It’s a radical city. It’s an artistic city. It’s got a lot of soul.

Making music was a form of expression . Going to the local comprehensive, we were just factory fodder at best, unemployed at worst. Nobody thought we could be artists. There was a class bias against us.

The success of Screamadelica in 1991 was what I’d always dreamed of. Suddenly we were earning a living as working musicians and I loved the attention it brought. I wanted to be on the cover of the music papers. I wanted to change the culture for the better and I wanted to be centre of the culture.

Things got dark pretty quickly. We started off with speed, which was my drug of choice, then it was ecstasy then coke and pretty quickly we moved on to heroin. But by the end of 1992 we had to make a decision whether to be artists or drug addicts. I gave up drugs 11 years ago.

Nigel Farage is selling a delusional dream, which is that if we leave the EU everything’s going to be fine. It’s not going to be fine except for his cronies who will run the pound, invest and destroy companies then completely deregulate the whole United Kingdom. Environmental and worker’s rights will be thrown out the window. That’s what hard Brexit is all about. It’s about finishing the Thatcher revolution.

I went to Elton John’s wedding and it was fun. He’s a Primal Scream fan. Every time I’ve met him he’s been amazing. He’s always very friendly and happy to see me. There were probably 2,000 people there including Elvis Costello and Paul Simonon from the Clash. I went with my wife [stylist Katy England], but I don’t remember that much about it.

I’ve got two teenage sons, but I’m not worried about them reading about what I got up to. They’re kids that have grown up in 21st-century London and they can see and read way more shocking things on their phones than reading the paper. They could be watching an Isis execution video in seconds. Rock’n’roll doesn’t really compare.

Primal Scream’s new album Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll: The Singles is out on 24 May. They play latitudefestival.com on 19 July

Contributor

Nick McGrath

The GuardianTramp

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