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INTERVIEW: Shaun Ryder
Laurie Tuffrey , December 4th, 2012 10:11

The Happy Mondays frontman gives us his views on 2012 ahead of their year-end shows in London and Manchester

2012 has been a rather good year for the Happy Mondays: in January, they announced that they would be reforming with their original line-up of Shaun Ryder, Bez, Gaz Whelan, Rowetta Morgan, Mark Day, Paul Ryder and Paul Davis coming together for the first time since their early 90s heyday. They followed this with a clutch of sold-out shows on their May tour, as well as dates at summer festivals and a new best-of, Double Double Good, and there's a new album in the offing, due next year.

To cap it all, they're playing two nights at the Roundhouse in Camden on December 19 and 20, followed by a show at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester on December 22. There's support from 808 State at all the dates, and Bez will be playing an official after party, maracas and all, at the Lockside Lounge after both London dates.

And as 2012 draws to a close, we thought we'd ask Shaun to cast an eye over the year that's fast departing, and avail us of the kind of retrospective wisdom that can only come from having once munched a crocodile's member with gusto.

What's been the highlight of the Happy Mondays' year?

Shaun Ryder: Pretty much all of it really: a successful tour and carrying on. I think we'll carry on for about the next 20 years until we get older than the Rolling Stones. Surprisingly, it's been really good. It's probably a lot easier now than it ever has been - everyone's used to each other and gets on well, and that's not a bullshit lie for the press. Apart from the keyboard player who still's fucking raving barmy!

What’s the new album going to sound like?

SR: I'm never good at answering that question! It's not going to sound like back in the day and it's probably going to move on a little bit from Uncle Dysfunktional. We're using the same producer, Sunny Levine, so sort of moved on a bit from that.

What have you got planned for the Roundhouse gigs?

SR: [laughs] I haven't seen the set yet, but I can guess it's just pretty much everything we've ever done, I don't think we're putting any new ones in.

What's been the highlight of his year personally?

SR: Actually, at the moment I've just got back from Chile because I've been running around chasing UFOs. I've got a ten-part series on it on the History Channel, so I get to run around the world and go and interview pilots and military people who've had experiences with UFOs. I've got military pilots tell me that they've come into contact with things that aren't of this world and I've seen some amazing military footage that they've had stashed for themselves, some pretty freaky stuff.

What kind of things have you seen?

SR: One of the ones that sticks out in my mind are sort of what look like - and it's real, validated film this - Storm Troopers from Star Wars coming out of the sky on what look like pogo sticks and they're coming almost to the ground, being spotted, then going back up to the sky and disappearing. I've also got, which some civilians took, a military show and then UFOs flying around and the military won't keep anything back, they'll give it to you, they actually gave us their film of what they've got, and it's pretty much the same: UFOs flying around their air force.

That's quite scary, isn't it?

SR: Not scary, no! It's great!

How depressed are you by the state of the coalition cuts?

SR: You know what, I'm not even going to get into politics mate, I'm not getting on it. I had to pay my kids' fees for university - I should have been on that march the other day in London!

You went on Mr & Mrs this year and you came runner-up in I’m A Celebrity a few years back... are there any other TV programmes you’d like to go on?

SR: Well, the Mr & Mrs, I did for charity, I went on for the Prince Charles charity. It's for Catholic kids and it doesn't get much funding, so I went on for that, which was really good. Any other show that raises money for charity, whether it's Million Pound Drop or Family Fortunes, you will probably see me on it raising money for charity.

How about if Simon Cowell offered the Mondays a guest spot on X Factor?

SR: No, because whether it's Rihanna or whoever, you pay them to go on the X Factor, your act or whoever owns the act pays £150,000 to Cowell to perform. So, no, unless they either drop the fee or take it down to nothing.

What music have you been into this year?

SR: Dean Martin! Early Rolling Stones again, blues stuff, anything, whatever my kids have blasting from the fucking bedroom!

What are they playing?

SR: Oh god, I don't know mate, it just depends which one. I've got one that's giving it all [raps] "I want dough, I want money" - shit, turn that down! I just get back and stick Dean on again.

Have you seen 'Gangnam Style'?

SR: Yeah, yeah, yeah - my little ones like it. What do I reckon to it? Well, I'm brainwashed, 'cos it's constantly playing in the house.

What about collaborations - is there anyone you’d like to get to collaborate with on the new album?

SR: Erm, I don't know. I mean, d'you know what, because it's probably being released on a major they'll probably have the guy who did 'Gangnam Style' doing a remix for us, so I'll keep my gob shut on that!

I know you’re a Manchester United supporter, but would you like Mario Balotelli to switch sides and start playing for you?

SR: You know what mate, I'm not really a football head - I'm a Red because I have to be because I was born and bred near United's ground; I watch a match every now and then, but I couldn't give a fuck really.

But what do you think about Balotelli’s off-pitch activities last Christmas - can you see yourself driving round Manchester dressed as Santa handing out cash?

SR: I have actually dressed as Santa and handed out dibs - I've been talked into doing that a few times!

I read that you had some skills in ventriloquism - how are they coming along?

SR: I didn't think I went public with that! I'm not too bad; it's essential in life that you learn to talk behind your teeth! No one can get on what you're saying.

Will you take the act any further, maybe get a puppet?

SR: No, I think I'll give it a miss! I won't get be [laughs] be coming out with a puppet on DJ sets.

Finally, what would you like for Christmas?

SR: I just want my kids to have a fantastic time at Christmas, that's good enough for me.

What have you got planned? What's a typical Christmas Day in the Ryder house?

SR: Oh god, we've just got to do the lot. We've got to do all the shows, the pantos, go see Father Crimbo, we've got to do the lot. Whatever's on offer, we're doing.