English legends Happy Mondays are returning to Australia and New Zealand this October as part of their Twenty Four Hour Party People – Greatest Hits Tour. Formed in Salford England, Happy Mondays were one of the most influential groups of the 80s and 90s. Let by frontman Shaun Ryder, the group fused UK’s indie and emerging Acid house scene to help mint the genre-defying sound that would be become ‘Madchester’ creating a unique sound that has stood the test of time
Their music, style and attitude embodied the era, making them one of the most beloved and influential British bands of all time. Fans can expect to hear all their favourite hits, including Step On, Kinky Afro, Loose Fit and the classics from their stellar discography. Hi Fi Way spoke to guitarist Mark Day about the tour.
The Happy Mondays Australian tour starts this week, are you excited?
Oh yeah. Can’t wait to go the country mate. Yeah. Brilliant!
Do you remember much from your last tour here?
My memory’s not as good, but it’s a massive country and so many things to see. Didn’t have enough time to do it because we’re busy working, but we enjoyed every minute of it. To be honest, I’ve got fond memories of all of them, but what I can remember is it’s a very compact tour and you don’t get a chance so much to see much. Adelaide was a bit different. That’s the one in the desert in it! All pretty nice cities, really nice and clean comparing Britain but if you ask me about the gigs, I did a gig last week and if you asked me what it was like. I can’t remember.
Do you enjoy playing these greatest hits style of show more? Must be great seeing the reactions of fans and how much these songs mean to them?
Yeah, nostalgia for the parents and the kids. The parents bring the kids along too now, but the feedback has been great. I mean, we’re doing songs that we did about thirty years ago, so any song that can last that length of time and get a reaction’s is something to be proud of which I am now but at the time I wasn’t.
How do you fit so many good songs in the set list without leaving anything out?
Um, well we don’t play for three or four hours, but getting too old for that. No, it’s just all our great hits. We did four or five albums, got enough material there. There’s still quite a lot of material that we’ve not put out there yet and we’ve not even tried, but in the last fifteen years since I’ve been back with the Mondays, I’ve had to remember what we used to do and that’s been a challenging itself.
Are you continually amazed that the interest in The Happy Mondays is as strong as ever?
Yeah, it’s a bit weird because we’re all old now, you know what I mean? You do feel a bit like, can we bury this and start something new but when you get to our age, it’s all we’ve got.
Is creating new music a priority for the band?
You know what, the market’s changed. People have changed, the whole system has changed. It’s a different beast now, it’s going to cost money and time. Some people have got to get their heads around it and whether we shall we do this one more time, put another album out, is it worth doing? I don’t know, will it be the same? It would be nice to do something different but it’s not my call is it? I’m there if they want me, so we’ll leave it at that!
Are you working on any other side projects outside of The Happy Mondays?
No, it’s, it’s always been a hundred percent happy Mondays. I’ve tried side projects but I can’t change my style. I’ll always do what I’ve done. I’m not one for sitting in the studio writing. I’m just lazy.
Are there any Australian bands that have caught your ear?
I keep my ears open but it’s not something I do now. Music is the last thing I listen to when I, when I finish work. As you can appreciate, you don’t take your work home with you. I’m not a big fan of listening to music and finding new ideas anymore. I’m sixty one now, your priorities change as you get older. Maybe if was younger and I’m still writing songs, but we’re not writing songs, we’re just doing what we do. I do try to change the songs a bit and make it more interesting for myself. But as opposed to new artists, I mean English bands, yeah, because I’ve got a younger son, he keeps me informed of new talent. If there’s something I do hear, I do inquire and find out about, there’s a few bands that I like over here that have actually bought a record, but I don’t know what’s happened in Australia to be honest. Not a clue!
When you look back on your career with The Happy Mondays what moments stand out for you?
Top Of The Pops! Maybe just getting on Top Of The Pops. There’s thirty years there. Playing in Brazil to a hundred thousand people, it’s mind boggling what we did. Even today, still doing what I’m doing, I didn’t think I’ll be still doing this at my age. Everything in its own way is all special. I can’t say it was one thing because it was all grey. I look back at it now with fond memories. At the time I really didn’t understand what was going on. All I just want to do is go home, because it was madness mate! It was madness! I can’t really explain it. It was just total craziness and my mental health had been shot to pieces. I had problems, that’s why I walked away. But everybody’s got their own problems and have to deal with it.
How hard was Paul Ryder’s passing on the band?
It was a total shock because he turned up rehearsals and last thing I said to him was go see a doctor and then we’ll see you tomorrow and if you can’t do it, we’ll just get somebody else in. I was there at the time and it hurts to know that he had been given the wrong advice.
What is the vibe like before you get on stage nowadays?
We’re buzzing. It is like a second revival because during the nineties it was just chaos, but now we’ve had a lot of time to work and think about it. It is a pleasure doing it now, I did enjoy it in the day, but I enjoy it more now than in the past. Everyone has matured a bit.
Is the plan for The Happy Mondays to keep on keeping on?
It’s one of those things that we will just keep going until we can’t. I think you know when you’ve had enough to be honest and can’t do this anymore. The thing that gets to me is the travelling which can be tedious but then you do the gig and you feel great. It’s just like a big night out now. We’re buzzing to go back to Australia because I’ve not been out of the country for a while since Covid. I can’t wait to get on a plane and go to somewhere as brilliant as Australia and New Zealand.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch the Happy Mondays on the following dates, tickets through Destroy All Lines…