T in the Park
The lads’ lad, Shaun Ryder, is just out of his scratcher. Scott Rowley pours the cornflakes for Black Grape’s main man.
t’s Sunday, 5pm, and in a comer of the Newcastle Mayfair, Shaun Ryder’s ﬁnishing a reefer and reading the Sunday Mirror. He just got up, he says, half an hour ago and it looks like it. He downs a bottle of Fruit Punch-ﬂavoured Ultra Fuel (‘The Ultimate Carbohydrate Energy and Recovery Drink’) and chases it with a bottle of Holsten Pils. In the Mayfair’s dressing room, he rocks on his chair, paces around, tries another seat, and swings on it too. He’s not hyper or nervous, just restless, full of blow and Ultra Fuel and Holsten Pils and full-on-no- bullshit-take-it-or-leave-it-attitude.
‘l’m 33 years old now,’ he says, from out of nowhere. twenty minutes into the interview. ‘1
I The List 28 Jun-ll Jul 1996
Slim liner: say It loot, I'll a Ind and proud
did what any eighteen-year-old wants to do, which is live rock and roll. Be in a rock ’n’ roll band. I mean, the music wasn’t even that important to us. It was like, “Fuck me, let’s leave this and be rock ’n’ roll”. And eventually we got to our mark, which was the biggest hotels, the biggest fuckin’ dirtiest chicks, and all that lot. So we did all we wanted to do in the Mondays, which was to be rock ’n’ roll . . .’ Shaun Ryder, hero to wannabe yobs, boozers, losers and substance abusers everywhere, the boorish clumsy wide-o who’s been compared to Mozart (by Anthony Wilson), called The Baggy Dylan (by Q Magazine), and has one of the most unique lyrical voices in pop, is a 100 per cent genuine, bona ﬁde, time-served rock
n roll star. Stylish. self-destructive. irreverent, funny, dangerous, rogue-ish and lovable, his mythological credentials are impeccable. The Jack-thc-lad. working class. petty criminal who formed a band with his mates, and whose hit singles and critical acclaim ended in rehab clinics, crack habits and record company bankruptcy, his legend was secure even before he reappeared with Black Grape and one of the finest and freshest albums of last year.
Not that he hasn’t got his problems. First of all there was the small matter of Kermit nearly dying of septicaemia, then there was the English FA choosing the Lightning Seeds’ ‘Three Lions’ over their ‘England’s lrie’, and then to top it off, Michael bloody Hutchence joined them onstage at Brixton. Oh yeah, and then Bez left.
‘I only bothered explaining what was happening with Bez in Glasgow.’ says Shaun about their last tour. ‘I thought ’cos they’re our
‘I dld what any elghtoen-year-old wants to do, whlch ls live rock and roll. I mean, the music wasn’t even that
Important to us. It was Ilka, “Fuck me,
let’s leave thls and be rock ’n’ roll”.’
wildest fans, man. they deserve a bit of an explanation, so . . . basically, Bez is just taking some time off until we sort business out for him, so he gets treated fairly off record company people. They were expecting him to do a lot of things and he was like -— he wasn’t getting paid. So he’s just on strike at the moment. You can’t accuse him of doing it for the fucking money, ’cos he done it for nothing, and people are making off him now, so it’s like, fuck this. Bez has got his own business to do. He don’t have to do this.’
Shaun Ryder — the Oliver Reed for the E generation, the Poet Laureate of Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches — is keen to stress that he’s just a normal bloke. He can’t believe the shocked reaction to his Johnny Rotten impersonation on TFI Friday (‘lt was a fookin’ JOKE, supposed to be FUNNY,’ he says in moronic, spelling-it- out voice), won’t accept that he’s anybody’s hero (‘I don’t think that at all, man, I really don’t’), and generally acts as unpretentious and friendly as the normal bloke he says he is.
He talks about recording Yes Please in Barbados, about the rest of the band becoming musos while he was ‘sat there on the toilet smoking more and more crack . . . bored of this fucking cack that’s going on’ and he says it like, y’know, like it’s perfectly understandable. Shaun Ryder thinks it’s all perfectly understandable. He’s just a normal guy, who wanted what all young men want, who’s got all the virtues and vices you’ve got. Well, maybe just a few more vices.
‘l’ve got members of my family who go on anti-abortion things,’ says Shaun. ‘They go and see the Pope twice a year, proper Catholic family. But they still laugh. Me Auntie Whinnie, me Auntie Mary an’ that, they have eleven children each, so they obviously don’t use condoms. Never did. And they can laugh at all the stuff I say ’cos they just think I’m not a bad lad. Which I’m not, you know what I mean, and they can understand my humour . . . ’ Black Grape play the Main Stage on Sun 14.