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I keep young by not marking my birthday, says Screamer Bobby

PRIMAL Scream's Bobby Gillespie could talk for his native Glasgow. He knows it, too. "Sorry, if I'm rambling too much, just say, 'listen, man, shut up!'" he laughs.

I wouldn't dare. For the best part of an hour, Gillespie – the face and voice of Primal Scream – discusses everything from politics and music, to the time he threw up on stage during a gig at Trinity College in 1989. Oh, how times have changed.

He's a new man, Gillespie. Gone are the days when, as former Primal Scream bassist Gary 'Mani' Mounfield once joked, people would pay to see just how out of their brains this band could get.

A 20th anniversary tour of their 1991 seminal release, Screamadelica, turned things around.

It definitely gave us a lot of great energy," notes Gillespie, "and a lot of confidence".

Originally a two-man project, formed in Scotland in 1982, Gillespie and chums never did take over the world.

Had it not been for the drug-taking, along with a series of "f***-ups" and poor business choices (the band always cared more for experimental studio work than touring), things might have been different.

Protest

"But everybody in rock 'n' roll makes wrong decisions," says Gillespie. He makes a valid point.

Ten albums in and the Scream are still at it, swapping protest lyrics with cinematic sweeps, psychedelic riffs and a guest vocal appearance from Robert Plant on the ambitious, David Holmes-produced More Light.

The first Primal Scream album in 15 years not to feature the aforementioned Mani (he's back with the Stone Roses) it is, at times, an angry, heavily politicised album. Gillespie has his reasons.

"It just seems that we're living in really revolutionary, right-wing times," he explains.

"We're going backwards and we're losing freedoms, and life is getting harder for most people, and I wasn't hearing or seeing any art that reflected the reality of the situation."

So, good old Bobby stepped up to the plate. An articulate and highly opinionated frontman, Gillespie quotes British novelist JG Ballard and talks at length of his interests in media and communication.

But one thing is for sure – he could never have followed in his father's footsteps.

"No, I'm a rock 'n' roller. I could never go into politics," he says. "My dad was a trade unionist.

"He was involved in politics, and it's a lifelong commitment. It wasn't really for me, but I do have an opinion and a conscience about this kind of stuff.

"I think you're trying to pick up on the mood of the times in your art," he continues. "When I was a teenager, that's what I loved about punk. I could relate to the Sex Pistols way more than I could relate to the Eagles."

Gillespie turned 50 last year. But it was just another birthday. "I feel kind of young in my head," he shares, "I've got good energy. I never have birthday parties."

In fact, the singer – who lives in London with his wife and their two sons – leads a fairly normal life ("I don't go abseiling or anything like that ... ").

It must have been for the sake of his family, then, that he decided to give up a serious drink and drug habit in 2008.

"It was a lot of different things," he answers. "Self-respect ... a lot of things.

"Family had a lot to do with it. I'd reached a point where the stuff was making me very unhappy ... I'd had enough of hurting myself and hurting other people.

"You have to make the choice, man. I made the choice of doing what I'm doing now and I think I've become a better artist as a result.

"I learned a lot about myself and I'm still learning. I'm a happier man now."

He's also just created what he describes as "one of the best records of my f***ing career".

Indeed, Gillespie and his band mates may not have made things easy for themselves along the way but at least they're still with us.

"We're kind of a weird band. And maybe being a weird band and not becoming too big is why we're still here," he says.

"If we'd made another record and it wasn't great, you might think 'Oh, you've gotta give this up'.

"But I think we've still got something to say..."

More Light is on sale now. Primal Scream headline the Forbidden Fruit Festival on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Sunday, June 2


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