Forget the sex and drugs – it’s all about the rock’n’roll these days for renowned hellraisers Happy Mondays.
The legendary Madchester band are back on the road to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their classic album Pills ’n’ Thrills and Bellyaches.
The tour – which will see the reformed band perform the 1990 album in its entirety – kicks off in Southampton tonight and includes a date in Sheffield next week.
And frontman Shaun Ryder says: “It’s great to be doing 25 years of Pills ’n’ Thrills. Here’s to another 25 years. I’m going to remember it this time.
“There’s some really great work on Pills ’n’ Thrills – it’s the album that put us on Top of The Pops.”
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Released on November 27, 1990, the album spent 31 weeks on the UK albums chart, peaking at number four, and spawned a string of hit singles, including top-five smashes Step On and Kinky Afro, as well as top-20 hit Loose Fit.
And Shaun, whose substance abuse at the band’s peak is well documented, admits he is excited to take the whole album on the road.
“I can’t really remember playing most of the shows in the 1990s,” he admits. “Now the sex and drugs have gone and we are just about the rock’n’roll and it’s great.
“We’re now just boring old men who really enjoy playing.”
Fame struck the band in their early 20s – and Shaun admits the hedonistic lifestyle was as important to him as the music.
“We were young men – the sex and drugs was just as important as the rock’n’roll,” he says,
“We really wanted to live that lifestyle.”
We were young men – the sex and drugs was just as important as the rock’n’rollShaun Ryder
The band came to prominence in an era where pop acts were dominating the charts, with bands such as Bros or Stock, Atiken and Waterman acts like Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley – and Shaun admits they were keen to counter the goody-goody image these musicians presented.
“We grew up with The Velvet Underground, The Doors and Sex Pistols,” he says. “We weren’t the most talaented musicians, but we wanted rock’n’roll back.
“When journalists came to interview us, we’d get the drugs out and that became the story. We used that as a ploy.”
Now, after several splits and reunions the band are back, all grown-up, with the original line-up of Shaun, brother Paul on bass, drummer Gary Whelan, guitarist Mark Day, keyboard player Paul Davis and legendary dancer Mark “Bez” Berry, plus backing vocalist Rowetta Satchell.
“Before when we were doing it, we were making it a career,” says Shaun, now aged 53. “We didn’t have time to enjoy it.
“We are better than ever before. It’s all about us playing the music.
“Then we were living the rock’n’roll lifestyle, Now we go and play the music and enjoy it and if you enjoy it, you keep going.
“I was 18 when I started. When you reach 40, you’re officially a grown-up man.
“I have such a wonderful life now. The first time around, I was a child.
“Now, I have a got a young daughter and I do it right. I take on jobs I want when I want. I get to be the dad who does the school run.”
And Shaun is looking forward to bringing the new improved Mondays to the stage in Sheffield.
“We’re going to do Pills ’n’ Thrills in order and play the full album. There are about three tracks on Pills ’n’ Thrills we have never done live and we have also never done it in order.
“We have always done the greatest hits – Loose Fit and Kinky Afro are always there – but not this.”
* Happy Mondays play the O2 Academy in Sheffield city centre on Thursday, November 12. Support comes from Pete MacLeod. For tickets, priced from £28.50, visit www.o2academysheffield.co.uk
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