Forget Noel, forget Liam, everybody knows that the only seminal Manchester musician worth talking to is Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays fame. Daniel Flynn caught up with him to talk about the band’s new album, but as Dan turned out to be misinformed about the existence of said new album, he ended up swiftly moving onto The X Factor, autobiographies, and Margaret Thatcher.
It was announced a while back that you’re writing a new album, how is that going?
We haven’t really the time to be honest; we will do one at some point in the future though, maybe next year or the year after that. We’ve got Monday’s shows, then there’s a load of other projects going on so there’s a load of stuff going on, I’ve got a solo album coming out at the end of the year.
It’s sort of along the same lines as my last one (Shaun Ryder Amateur Night in the Big Top) but in that one we recorded everything in two weeks; here we’ve spent a lot more time writing the songs. We’ll just have to wait and see but it’s sort of, far more… dysfunctional than the Mondays’ sound.
Right. So are there a lot of live dates coming up?
Yeah, I mean we’re all over the place. We’re off to Dubai, then to Japan. I don’t know which ones we’re doing but we’ve got festivals booked in the summer, the management knows and we just turn up where we’re told.
Are the audiences different now to back in the 80s?
Well if the ones who came back then were the only ones who turned up these days, the audience would be full of 50 and 60 year olds! In the gigs we do now the audience ranges from 14 years olds to pensioners. Back in the day I couldn’t have really told you who was in the audience though, to be honest.
What do you think of the music scene in Manchester at the moment?
I don’t have a clue, I’ve heard some stuff about that sounds a lot like how we used to sound. I don’t know about all this chart stuff, like Rihanna, you know, “I’m gonna pop some tags”, all that’s in the charts these days innit? I’m just a boring old fucker really; if I put music on now its Dean Martin and Johnny Cash, i’m just not with it. I’ve lost touch and thank god! I’m sure there are some amazing bands, but I just haven’t heard them.
Oh yeah, we start work on that soon! It’s on ITV which is great because something like 12 million people will be watching. I think we start in a fortnight but I’m not really in it or anything, i’m just there making sure continuity’s right and all that. I have no idea who’s playing me, I’ll find out soon.
You used to write a column for Daily Sport about celebrities, is that something you’ll ever get back into?
Yeah I didn’t really write it, I just put my name to it. The writer was a scriptwriter who writes the sort of shows you get on BBC 3. He sort of insulted everyone in Manchester, Coronation Street and Emmerdale then put my name to it. I’ve spent the last 15 fucking years apologizing to people. What can you do? I can’t say ‘it wasn’t me, it was some other bloke’, can I? I don’t think i’ll be getting back into it though, but never say never.
What would you say is your most interesting story from back in the day?
The best stories are the ones I can’t remember or aren’t in the book. The lawyers only let you say so much, they’d never let me put everything in.
So there’s another autobiography worth of untellable stuff?
Yeah! It’s a shame, isn’t it.
So would you say you’ve calmed down? How does touring today compare to twenty years ago?
Yeah, I mean we’re all 50 year old men. It’s great when you’re 20, it was like we all had mental health issues back then. Bez is still pretty much the same. It was enjoyable, but hard work; you didn’t really have time to enjoy the music. There was so much other shit going on, drama and such; now the sex and drugs have gone and its just the rock and roll, I guess. Its great to get up there and play the original songs with the original band. We don’t make as many mistakes now, so it sounds really good. I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say it used to sound shit. It’s more enjoyable now.
Of course, it was only ever a natural result of the pressure. Apart from Bez, everyone’s matured. Bez still acts like he 21, but he’s just a breed; he’ll never slow down, never! Good luck to him.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Oh God! No, I don’t know. If the right one came up, I’d do it. Dean Martin would probably be mine, but he’s not around any more. He’d be quite hard to get hold of.
You also play the sax, will this be incorporated into the Mondays’ new sound?
Absolutely not! I’m at home now and all my times taken up watching Peppa Pig, so I haven’t got time to be writing things on the Saxophone.
What’s the long term plan with the band then?
We’ll just keep going as long as we can, doing shows for as long as we’re offered them.
With Twitter and everything, these days people seem to be blending politics and music more often, such as Morissey’s comments over Margaret Thatcher’s death. Is this important to you?
Not me, no. I can honestly put my hand up and say I’ve never voted, how irresponsible is that?
Yeah i guess! But our music isn’t political at all. I do have my opinions, like the Thatcher thing, we probably wouldn’t even be in a band if it wasn’t for her, she started us up with the Enterprise Allowance Scheme. Because there was no jobs around at the time, you either went into crime or into making music.
So Thatcher turned you away from a life of crime?
I guess so!
Tony Wilson famously compared your lyrics to the work of Yeats, is that what you were going for?
Oh god, absolutely not!
Last question, would you ever consider being a judge on The X Factor?
Never say never. If I got asked, its something I could possibly have a go at. Our Noel got offered two million and it would be good to see him on it, better than Tulisa, but the show seems to be taking over everything really.