They are one of the most outrageous, adventurous and colourful bands of the last 20 years and now they’re back on the London stage. Inventors and boundless promoters of the cultural ‘Madchester’ movement back in the nineties, The Happy Mondays will perform two special Christmas gigs at the Roundhouse on the 18th and 19th December. Inspired by their contemporaries, The Stone Roses, the full original line-up of the Happy Mondays reunites for the first time in nineteen years. These days they are less wasted and less irresponsible but the vibe is still on and they sound better than ever! Volt Café spoke to the only female band member Rowetta about growing up, the secret behind that unique Happy Mondays vibe and magical Manchester.
Volt Café: The original line-up of Happy Mondays reuniting almost seems to good to be true! Did you ever think you guys would come back together again? Why did you decide to do it and how did you manage to convince Bez in the end?
Rowetta: I didn’t ever think it would happen as some of us hadn’t spoken for many years, after huge fallouts. I always felt like the fans were being cheated when other versions of Happy Mondays played, with only one or two people from the original band, so this was a great opportunity for the real fans to see us back together again. There ain’t nothing like the real thing! I also missed singing the songs and spending time together as a band.
Bez is my best friend. We’re like brother and sister. I told him we needed him, and he was keen not to dance to every tune with his maracas, but to host the show and the after shows and just dance to a few tunes. He thought he was too old, but he’s better than ever.
VC: Your come-back tour has been called a triumph with your homecoming gig as one of the highlights! What was it like to be back on stage in Manchester again?
R: It was magical. I love Manchester more than anyone I know. I was born here and have always lived here. Manchester Arena erupted that night! It was really special and the fans, new and old came out and celebrated with us.
VC: Back in the day Happy Mondays promoted a wild rock and roll lifestyle and very much influenced the Madchester movement. However now that you guys are older and more sober, the magic is still there! What’s the secret behind this unique Happy Mondays vibe?
R: The music is the key, but also there is a chemistry throughout the band, because of our history together. We have grown up a lot and are all musically better so I think if anything the vibe is stronger.
VC: Considering that you all have very outspoken personalities and the disputes you have had in the past, it’s hard to believe that you all get on so well right now! Haven’t there been any arguments? Or any funny tourbus anecdotes perhaps that show that the Happy Mondays members might be more sensible these days, but didn’t loose their craziness?
R: We have really grown up now and we respect each other more than ever. We also don’t live on top of each other now. We only really see Shaun on stage and this works better for us. The rest of us do spend more time together, but we have always got on well. Now everyone has families and so nothing can get too crazy, and it’s for the best.
VC: It’s also been mentioned that Happy Mondays is recording a new album. How do your new songs differ from the old ones? We heard you guys came up with some unusual titles such as ‘Designer Vagina’. I’m quite curious to what that song is about?
R: The song titles are only working titles at this stage. All songs are different, but I think because everyone has grown musically, the songs come together more easily and with the technology available now, we’re all able to do a lot of the work and writing in separate studios, and then send ideas to each other. The songs are up there with the best Mondays’ tunes. Very excited about playing them live next year.
VC: Everyone is looking very much forward to your special Christmas shows. Will there be any special surprises? Will The Stone Roses join you on stage as speculated?
R: That would be amazing, but I haven’t heard the one about the Roses. I haven’t heard anything. I know there has been talk of maybe a special collaboration, but I’m not sure it can happen in time, but the shows will be great and both 808 State and Dexters will be performing.
VC: In between your solo career got a boost as well, with your successful participation in the first X-Factor. Which important lessons did you learn from that experience? How does your personal growth affect your performance in Happy Mondays?
R: I really grew in confidence, as I considered it a huge challenge. Being recognised everywhere was challenging and the internet criticism can be very character building. I think I dealt with it well and I’m definitely a stronger person now.
The Mondays and working with Peter Hook and some of my other collaborations, is easy for me, as it’s what I know and very natural to me. It’s good to step outside the box though and challenge yourself.
VC: What’s next for Happy Mondays? And for your solo career?
R: Hopefully a new Mondays’ album and gigs and festivals around the world in 2013. I have started my autobiography and am writing a new solo album as well as more collaborations. I work with many dance producers around the world and I am one of the most sampled artists, so I would like to write and record more of those and work with new bands. I’m asked to sing with many bands, but they have to be great and if they’re from Manchester, that’s a bonus.
Happy Mondays Back 2 Back
Wednesday 19/12/12 and Thursday 20/12/12
Doors 7 pm
Chalk Farm Road
London NW1 8EH
Words by Juliette Sijnja
TagsHappy Mondays, Juliette Sijnja, Rowetta,