Former Happy Mondays hellraiser Shaun Ryder discovers that it’s great when you’re straight

Shaun Ryder
Shaun Ryder
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WHAT’S the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the name Shaun Ryder?

Is it that he was the frontman of the Happy Mondays, the Salford band that helped change the whole cultural landscape in the UK in the mid-80s, influencing a generation with their music, attitude and baggy clothes?

Perhaps, but more likely it’s the image of a perma-wasted, drug-addled mess of a man who raised hell during his decade of chart infamy with the Mondays and subsequently Black Grape.

But while those may be your first thoughts of the Madchester icon, they’re not Ryder’s.

In fact, the 49-year-old, whose wild exploits were immortalised in the film 24 Hour Party People, says he doesn’t really remember much at all from his brain-frazzlingly wild past.

“It is a bit of a blur,” laughs Ryder, ahead of his solo gig at Liquid Room on Sunday night. “I can actually remember the 60s better than the 80s.

“I can remember some things, of course. But I had to do a lot of research by reading newspapers and the NME and Melody Maker, and pals told me stories I vaguely remember. But we got through it.”

Indeed they did. After lengthy addictions to heroin and crack, Ryder is now clean, sober and making a decent stab of getting his career back on track.

After coming runner-up in last year’s I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, he released his warts-and-all autobiography last month to rave reviews. And now, with his first solo album since 2003’s Amateur Night In The Big Top set for release next year, he’s back for a string of live dates, including this weekend’s visit to the Capital.

Surprisingly for someone who used to be so cocksure on stage while fronting the Mondays, the singer says he’s a little nervous about the gigs.

“They terrify me these small gigs,” he admits. “I prefer playing the big venues as it’s more showbiz.

“These little ones, when you’ve got punters right up your nostrils, really frighten the hell out of me. I’m looking forward to doing it, but at the same time it’s a bit scary, but I’m keeping it raw and alive.”

These days it’s all about the music for Ryder, who says he’s keen to distance himself from the bad boy image he had in the past.

“The Shaun Ryder in the Happy Mondays isn’t the real Shaun Ryder,” he explains. “It’s a caricature. Always has been.

“We really wanted to be rock and roll, so we became rock and roll - and really good at it. But you pick up loads of layers and you completely forget who you are and what you are.

“So it’s just about getting back to being me, and being happy with me,” he adds.

Shaun Ryder, Liquid Room, Victoria Street, Sunday, 7pm, £20, 0131-225 2564