Manchester’s legendary Happy are back out on the road later this year, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the band’s classic album ‘Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches’ - with the band set to perform the album in its entirety, in addition to other hits. Released in 1990, ‘Pills 'n' Thrills…’ spent thirtyone weeks on the UK albums chart, peaking at #4, and was preceded by the release of Happy Mondays’ biggest hit singles, ‘Step On’ and ‘Kinky Afro’, which both reached #5 in the UK singles chart. It was the album that put them on Top of The Pops. It’s the soundtrack to an era which, for many, was a blur of raves, smiley faces and 24 hour party people.
The tour kick-offs on Thursday, 5th November at our very own O2 Guildhall and frankly, we couldn’t be more excited that they’re coming our way so we jumped at the chance to spend a few minutes with legendary frontman Shaun Ryder…
What's the vibe like in Happy Mondays now you're older and a little wiser?
It’s alright y’know. It’s better than it was back in the day!
You’re playing the whole of ‘Pills n Thrills & Bellyaches’ in full on this tour. What's your view of pills, thrills....now - 25 years later?
It’s a good album, y’know, it’s great. I enjoy playing it. I put it to bed a long time ago so I only sort of still know the songs we still play on stage so I got it out a couple of weeks ago and I’m enjoying it, I think it’s great.
Do you have a favourite song on that album?
No, I enjoy ‘em all. D’you know what, we do most of ‘em anyway so I’ll just enjoy it – that’s it.
You’ve got a new track coming out…that you recorded in the rainforest, is that right? What was that like as an experience?
Yeah, that’s right. We did it for a TV show that airs in September. We went and lived with the Embera tribe in the Amazon jungle in between Peru and Panama and we lived and hunted with them and drunk hallucinogenic concoctions and got initiated into their tribe and then we made some music with them. And what it is, you can download the track when the TV show airs and all the money that it raises goes to the tribe so they can keep living their way of life.
And is there the potential for a new album?
I’d do an album tomorrow. I really would. I’m game to do an album tomorrow but the thing is, unlike Black Grape where really there’s just me and Kermit so it’s a lot easier to do so we’ll probably have a Black Grape album before there’s a Happy Mondays album, cos there’s five people that have all got a big say on what goes on in the Mondays, it’s a lot harder to get anything done. But I would be up for doing one tomorrow. I mean it was easy doing that track. We did a Happy Mondays album back in 2007 but that wasn’t with all the original members but doing that track, it was so easy to work on y’know with everybody so I can’t see why we can’t do an album.
Do you find it different working with everybody now you’re off the drugs?
You know it’s all different. Everybody is a lot older and wiser so it’s totally different. It’s a ball. It’s a breeze.
Your history with drugs has been widely publicised – and Happy Mondays achieved so much over the past 25 years, is there any particular event you wish you could go back and do over now you’re sober?
No not at all. I mean we used the press y’know. Being in a band and getting well known in a band, it’s like being a professional footballer – it’s only a few people out of thousands and thousands of people that are able to do that so we used every bit of our knowledge that we could to make it and that included the press, and letting onto things that really got a rise from them and used it. So as far as getting off our faces, we were young lads travelling the world in a rock band, living the dream so y’know you just do what you do. I would advise that to anybody – make sure you stay alive and get through the other end but certainly go and have a good time because before you know it you’re 52.
Do you prefer the music or the business of being a personality?
Well they both go hand in hand. You can’t do one without the other. If it was just as simple as making music and putting it out that would be great but it’s not, it’s called the Entertainment Business. The music business is all still part of the entertainment game and that’s how it is.
TFI Friday returns to our screens this week and we hear Chris Evans himself had to pull a few strings to get you back onto Channel 4. Are you going to behave yourself this time?
Well it’s after the watershed this time y’know and I’m 20 years wiser haha.
So that’s a ‘no’ then…
Well it doesn’t matter because it’s after 9 ‘o’ clock so we’re gonna have a bit of fun.
What do you think it is that endears Happy Mondays to their fans?
D’you know what? Our fan base is great. They go from 9 years old to 80 years old, we’ve got a proper cross-section. We picked up a load of new fans from me and Bex doing reality television so I really don’t know. I don’t know, we made some great albums and we’re great people.
What else is on the agenda to achieve? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do that you haven’t done yet?
Oh gosh! I don’t know. I’ve just released some new solo stuff which we’ve done quite sneaky. You can download two new tunes on iTunes and I put a 12 inch out which have all been sold, rather than drop a Shaun Ryder’s back thing cos we’ve got a solo album releasing next year, so we’re releasing stuff under the radar. So if you wanna go check them out, I’m quite chuffed with that.
Catch them live @ O2 Guildhall Thursday 5 November 2015