Arriving fashionably late Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays swaggers on to the stage to the sound of 200 raucous cheers. Planting himself in the chair, Lyricull host Russ Litten, opens by asking Shaun about his early years working as a postie. “You had to sign the Official Secrets Acts didn’t you?”
“It was like living in the Sweeney man,” comes the reply and Shaun is away talking about the wild west show that was Salford his hometown, in the seventies.
Discovered by music impresario Tony Wilson in 85, the Happy Mondays released their first EP, then debut album Squirrel and G-Man followed in 87 both on Factory Records. “We got on vinyl too early,” Shaun reveals explaining how they weren’t ready musically as a band back then.
When The Happy Mondays played the Adelphi in Hull, Russ recalls how the band were sporting Dunlop Flash trainers and how six months later it seemed every kid in Hull was wearing them.
It was no holds barred for over an hour with Shaun dispelling myths here and adding fuel to the fire of notoriety there. Showbiz snakes, Piers Morgan, advocaat in Jersey, Brazilian Customs and ‘when Bez met Julia Roberts’ were all on the table, each story greeted with roars of laughter.
We learned how the Channel 4 ban was lifted after the jungle, how celebrity survivor Bear Grylls killed a pet shop bunny because he couldn’t catch one in the wild… Appearing incredibly savvy Shaun explained how he played the media game. “Most people in show business are up their own ‘arris,” he concludes, which results in more whoops and applause from the Hull crowd.
The music was discussed, Shaun’s relationship with music videos, he didn’t like doing them… the supposed rivalry between the Mondays and the Stone Roses likened to that of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I liked the idea that they had almost swapped band mates to throw the media into disarray, for their Top of the Pops appearance. Sadly it was deemed to serious a moment in both their careers so they didn’t do it. “Nobody knew who the f**k we were,” Shaun continues, “Not the audience, the DJs, the producers, one of them said that we’d never do the show again…”
Talking about the remix of WFL (We Think About The Future) Shaun describes how the young Paul Oakenfold, his head full of ideas, beats and sounds, couldn’t work a desk early on and had needed Steve Osbourne to unlock all those things, in order for them to produce the platinum disc Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches in the early nineties.
A rowdy Q & A concludes the night then more queues as fans get pictures, autographs and signed copies of Shaun’s biography Twisting My Melon.
The Happy Mondays have spanned over three decades of British popular music, with a new Black Grape album due in 2017 and a brand new Happy Mondays LP the following year, they show no signs of stopping just yet.
Tonight we welcome punk legend Viv Albertine to Hull Central Library, as guitarist in influential band the Slits she provided inspiration to many. In July of this year Viv reportedly defaced a punk exhibition for erasing women’s involvement in the movement.