12 August 2018 (released)
15 August 2018
Manchester band, the Happy Mondays, are as legendary for their partying as they are for their songs.
Years of high living as Twenty Four Hour Party People had them hitting the headlines in the 90s for more than just their music, but their classic hits have more than stood the test of time.
Twenty eight years on from the release of their biggest chart hits, and songs like Step On and Kinky Afro still feel as fresh as ever. Taken from their 1990 platinum-selling album Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, both songs were top five hits in the UK.
Having reformed six years ago, the Happy Mondays – with a mainly original line-up of Shaun Ryder, Bez, Rowetta, Gary Whelan, Mark Day and Paul Ryder - are now back playing gigs, and also hope to release new material next year.
Their return to performing is sweet music to the band's vocalist Rowetta, who has been with the Mondays since they hit the big ti me with Step On.
Not that Rowetta hasn't kept herself busy in the meantime. Credited as being one of the most sampled vocalists ever, Roweta has seen her work sampled by numerous artists including the Black Eyed Peas on their hit Boom Boom Pow and Todd Terry among others.
She has also worked with artists including Paul Weller, and New Order and Joy Division's Peter Hook, and even found time to dabble with reality TV too with a successful stint on the X Factor.
Rowetta believes the Mondays now sound better than ever, and is looking forward to their performance at the Cool Britannia Festival at Knebworth on Saturday 1st September.
Have you played Knebworth before?
No I haven't. It's an honour for me to play there, because it's so renowned really. I'm so glad that I'm with the band, the Mondays, playing better than ever, so it's a great time to be doing Knebworth.
It's six years now since the Happy Mondays reformed, what's it like being back?
It keeps getting better. It's amazing that we even reformed at all. When we reformed in 2012, we thought it would be for one tour, and six years later, we're still going strong. To have the original lineup still together and loving it and playing better than ever, and we're all getting along, it's just amazing. I can see this going on a few more years. We're probably now going to be able to do the 30th anniversary of when I joined in 1990, which is when Pills 'n' Thrills n Bellyaches came out and Step On. Back in the day, there were some gigs that weren't great, that you weren't proud of or you can't remember them, and now it's completely different. It's just been a joy and I'm dead proud of all of us.
It must feel like you're back with your family again?
Oh it's very much so. Me and Bez were like brother and sister anyway, we're just like best friends. We just did Celebrity Bargain Hunt together!
You must have amazing memories from back in the day?
Yes, we played Glastonbury a couple of times. We also played Rock in Rio with George Michael and Prince. A lot of these people are not here anymore and you think they're gonna last forever. At Glastonbury, David Bowie was watching us from the side of the stage when we were on, and when I came off, he said it was really eclectic. He had his portacabin next to mine, so my friends couldn't believe it. He just came out, chatting to everyone. They were my best memories. I've got so many great memories, and many that you can't even mention, I'm not a kiss-and-tell kind of person but you can imagine how mad it's been over the years with the Happy Mondays. A lot of it was shown in the Twenty Four Hour Party People film. If you see that film, you'd know what it was like - a bit mad on the tour bus back in the day! There was a lot of addiction going on, so it wasn't all fun and games, and sadly we did split up for a bit but everything's for a reason and it's all come good at the end.
How did you first get involved with the Happy Mondays?
Because I was such a fan, and as I was managed by Simply Red's management whose offices were next to the Mondays', I gave their manager a ticket to come and see me sing at a venue just across the road and it all just worked out perfectly. I wasn't going round just singing to everybody, I was telling them I should be in this band. I wanted to be like the Gloria from T-Rex. You might hear my backing vocals on a record, I just don't like being called a backing singer, because it's rubbish, I'm a singer and a writer; I've got a name and I work really hard.
You first sang on Step On. What's it like to be involved with such a classic song?
It's absolutely amazing, the same with Kinky Afro. Step On was so special for me and it still sounds great today. I still get a buzz when it comes on the radio, and I do not get sick of singing it.
It was a dream come true for me. I liked the band when they were more of a cult band, and I saw them on a Tony Wilson programme, and then within a couple of months, I ended up singing with them. My first gig with them was a big G-Mex concert, and then I did Wembley, and then Top of the Pops, and this for me was so quick. With Step On, it all just happened, I couldn't believe it.
You've done an incredible amount in your career, from singing to acting and radio work, do you enjoy your solo work too?
I've just got back from Ibiza where I've been working with amazing people again. I mean, I love the Happy Mondays, but I joined as a fan, I didn't need to to join the band, it's just the sort of music I love. I might have done better doing cabaret type stuff or house music all the time, as I've done so well being on Boom Boom Pow with the Black Eyed Peas, and other stuff, but I love singing with the Happy Mondays. I have never got bored of it, and it's the closest I'll ever get to being in a punk band. That was my dream as a kid. I wanted to be in a punk band, not particularly singing, and marry Sid Vicious so it's all worked out brilliantly for me.
Your musical inspirations were probably a lot different to most girls then?
A lot of girls follow far too much, and they want to be singers to be famous, I can't stand the way the world is. Even though I know I've done things like X-Factor and stuff in the past, (for my Grandma more than anything), I didn't want the fame that goes with it, whereas a lot of people are doing it for the wrong reasons, or they're trying to sing like somebody. If Adele's no 1 they all want to sing like Adele. Or in dance music, a lot of people want to sample the same samples. I'm not going to moan coz I get money from being sampled, but that's the way the world is - that's a hit, so let's go and make loads more. It's a shame but I think that's why people like the Happy Mondays.
At Cool Britannia, you're playing alongside other 80s and 90s bands including Peter Hook and The Light who you've worked with before. Tell us about that.
We brought out something in 2011, and I sang with his band The Light and him for quite a few years. I love the tunes and I've always got such great feedback from Joy Division fans, and still do. I'm very proud because I know a lot of the girls who do the other sort of stuff I do, couldn't take on Joy Division.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I've done a tune called Mantra with Paul Weller and myself on vocals, Noel Gallagher is playing drums and bass, Steve Craddock from Ocean Colour Scene on guitar and even Kate Bush's nephew is playing on it. It's amazing, it lasts for about eight minutes, it's just the best thing I think I've ever done, it's just phenomenal. It's coming out next year. The producer is Gaz Cobain of The Amorphous Androgynous. I'm on about four of the tracks on the album, I'm very very honoured to be working with heroes like Paul Weller and Noel; I wish they were playing Cool Britannia, maybe next year..
Is there anyone you'd love to collaborate with in the future?
Yes Nile Rogers. He said on my birthday he was going to write me a smash, and possibly get Johnny Marr on it, but I don't know if it'll ever happen, he's just so busy. He's such a great guy, he's so down-to-earth, and because he said it would, it actually might happen.
Other than that, I really wanted to work with George Michael, and Marvin Gaye would have been my dream, and David Bowie so a lot of them have gone; Prince as well and I loved Amy Winehouse. To work with Paul Weller has been a dream.
Any plans for new material with the Happy Mondays?
Yes, we've had these plans since we reformed. The fans have also been asking when we will be doing something new. We want something definitely for next year so we're hoping we'll get it done for then.
The Happy Mondays headline Cool Britannia Festival at Knebworth Park on Saturday 1st September. Tickets at www.coolbritanniafest.com