Issue #787 (June, 2017) is out today, available via the usual stockists and our online store.
For this month's cover-story feature, Rolling Stone examines a year in the chaotic life of former One Direction-er-turned-solo-artist, Harry Styles.
January 2016. There's a bench at the top of Primrose Hill, in London, that looks out over the skyline of the city. If you'd passed by it one winter night, you might have seen him sitting there. A lanky guy in a wool hat, overcoat and jogging pants, hands thrust deep into his pockets. Harry Styles had a lot on his mind. He had spent five years as the buoyant fan favourite in One Direction; now, an uncertain future stretched out in front of him. The band had announced an indefinite hiatus. The white noise of adulation was gone, replaced by the hushed sound of the city below.
The fame visited upon Harry Styles in his years with One D was a special kind of mania. With a self-effacing smile, a hint of darkness and the hair invariably described as "tousled", he became a canvas onto which millions of fans pitched their hopes and dreams. Hell, when he pulled over to the side of the 101 freeway in L.A. and discreetly threw up, the spot became a fan shrine. It's said the puke was even sold on eBay like pieces of the Berlin Wall. Paul McCartney has interviewed him. Then there was the unauthorised fan-fiction series featuring a punky, sexed-up version of "Harry Styles". A billion readers followed his virtual exploits. ("Didn't read it," comments the nonfiction Styles, "but I hope he gets more than me.")
Alongside features of fellow local artists Amy Shark, City Calm Down, Bad//Dreems and San Cisco, Rolling Stone spends some time with punk-infused Melbourne outfit, the Smith Street Band, following the release of their third full-length, More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me.
A constant, prolific songwriter, [Smith Street Band frontman, Wil] Wagner began writing the album at his Footscray home, sneaking out of bed in the early morning so as not to wake his girlfriend at the time and retreating upstairs to pour out his confusion and pain at their dysfunctional relationship. Both were songwriters and musicians, and it was the inequality in their lyrics about each other that first worried Wagner. He was writing love songs, but only hearing "mean, throwaway lines" in return.
"It was completely torturous, and this was someone who was aware of that and enjoyed it. It was super-strange, plus songwriting is such an obvious window into someone's soul," observes Wagner. "Anyone can be complimentary in a conversation, but lyrics and songwriting are such that if you write like me and my friends do, it can't be bullshit. You can tell what's fake straight away."
Other features include an interview with American folk legend, Joan Baez, offering a rare insight into her life as a protest song pioneer, plus a catch-up with You Am I's Tim Rogers, talking about his new album, An Actor Repairs.
"I'm getting old and I like it," is Tim Rogers' opening line. The gallery guffaws. A drunk at the front table makes her first nonsensical interjection. It's the gala premiere, to use theatrical vernacular, of An Actor Repairs, and the plot is thickening by the moment.
The You Am I frontman's new solo record is a loose, nylon-stringed narrative "concerning the retirement from the stage of an elderly actor". Its live debut at Brisbane's Old Museum is all bare-boards and footlights, just the violin and voice of Xani Kolac colouring Rogers' intimate reflections on "Youth", "Age" and "One More Late Night Phone Conversation".
In addition, we go deep into the world of psychedelic drugs — and their medicinal benefits — plus sit down with Billy Bragg for a run down of the songs that have defined his life, step into the darkness with Father John Misty and open the Sgt. Pepper vault, unearthing the iconic album's unreleased outtakes — fifty years on, as well as chat to mega-star DJ Dillon Francis, rapper Brother Ali, and our latest Living Legend artist, former Men at Work frontman, Colin Hay.
View a digital preview of the issue below: