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Happy Mondays

February 2012
FOR a man who spent close to 20 years enjoying the usual excesses of being a rock ‘n’ roll star, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Shaun Ryder has been close to death. But, according to the 49-year-old, it had nothing to do with sex and drugs and rock and roll.For starters the frontman with The Happy Mondays, a band at the heart of the Madchester movement of the late 80s, a very British fusion of dance culture and indie rock, says his drug use wasn’t as bad as some of his rock star predecessors.
And secondly, his close shave with the Grim Reaper was down to a thyroid problem.
“When I blew up and went to 17 stone I had no idea what it was,” says the father-of-six about his weight gain.
“I thought, what’s all this about? Getting to your mid-40s or what? I had no idea my thyroid had disappeared.
“I’d been walking around with no thyroid for a couple of years and that’s why I ballooned up and my hair started disappearing.”
He only discovered the condition during a routine medical check-up.
“I was going to the States to do (music festival) Coachella with Gorillaz and I had to go to the American Embassy to get a visa and have a medical. They told me that my blood cell count was all dicky. I was lucky because if you don’t get it treated you go into a coma and die.”
As well as the weight gain and hair loss, he suffered memory loss and a fall in his testosterone levels.
The treatment is on-going.
“Every three months you have to get a testosterone shot in your backside and you need (anti-depressant) paroxetine to keep your (serotonin) levels up.”
Because of the treatment, his abstinence from drug use and only the occasional beer, Ryder is these days feeling much healthier.
“I feel like Bambi,” he says.
“I feel 20 years younger.”
He lives in Salford with his wife and three of his six children, an 18-year-old son and daughters aged two and three.
The three eldest are, in his words: “Doing very well. They went to good schools. One of them is studying law.”
The fitness regime includes cycling and a daily dip in his home pool.
The diet is healthy, due to his wife’s cooking and he rarely drinks.
“I smoke cigarettes but we don’t smoke in the house. We don’t have alcohol in the house. I’ll have a pint and a glass of wine now and again.”
He adds: “I was never really a drinker anyway.”
Ryder’s dalliance with drugs is well documented.

“It’s rock’n’roll, isn’t it? I played the rock’n’ roll game but I’m sure back in the day, people like Fleetwood Mac did a lot more rock’n’roll things than I did. We just put that up front and got very famous for it.”
The band were discovered by Tony Wilson at the Hacienda in Manchester and along with the Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans and 808 State, became synonymous with the city’s emerging music scene, dubbed Madchester. Since their first album in 1987, ludicrously titled Squirrel And G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out), they released Bummed, then Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, both of which made the Happy Mondays one of Britain’s biggest bands.
Hit singles included Step On, Kinky Afro, Hallelujah and 24 Hour Party People.
This week it was announced that the original line-up will be touring the UK tour for the first time in 19 years.
For Ryder it’s not a case of having to dip back into the songbook because he’s been performing most of the hits with his own shows, including a tour that came to Rock City just last year.
And he also fronted a re-formed Happy Mondays in 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2006.
Missing from those line-ups were Mark Day, Paul Davies, Rowetta and his brother Paul Ryder.
“They just got out of the music business,” he says.
What were they doing?
“I’ve no idea.”
Even your brother?
“I hadn’t spoken to him since 1999 until recently.”
Was that your fault? It was, wasn’t it? It’s obvious.
“Why is that obvious?”
You seem like a troublemaker.
“I seem like a troublemaker? Give over!”
He adds: “It’s that long ago I’ve forgotten why we fell out. Let’s just say that. You know, brothers fall out over things.”
It’s no coincidence that the Happy Mondays’ reunion comes soon after the Stone Roses announced their long-awaited reformation.
“After the Roses, me and my manager got lots and lots of offers. The offers got bigger and better and we thought that if we’re going to do this again we might as well do something different. And so here were are.”
Was he surprised at the Roses reunion?
“It was going to come sooner or later, let’s just leave it at that.”
For the Mondays, life on the road will be very different to their early days.
“I’m 50 in a few months,” he says.
“We started out as a bunch of young kids being rock’n’roll in a rock’n’roll band. And we’re all basically the same kids except that we’re all grown up.
“It’s like Bez, he’s nearly 50. He doesn’t have to do the full-on wacky nuttiness. He can DJ then have a little jig about and take it easy.”
He’ll be doing the Bez dancing though, surely?
“Oh, you’ll get some Bez dancing because that’s what he does. Although he doesn’t like to call it dancing, he just calls it Bez being Bez. It’s not exactly choreographed is it?”

The Happy Mondays play Rock City on May 18 supported by Inspiral Carpets. Tickets are £35, to book visit

“I got offered Big Brother years before and gave it to Bez. I didn’t see the point.
“And I didn’t want to go in the jungle. My record company wanted me to do it because I had a solo album and a greatest hits album to push. Management wanted me to do it. The wife wanted me to do. I didn’t but I’m glad I did it.
“At the age I was, I wanted to start doing other things outside of music and it led to TV shows, my own TV show and stuff like that.
“So as a business move it was the right thing to do.
“And I enjoyed it, which I never thought I would, being in the jungle with a bunch of luvvies.
“But it was the most relaxing thing I’d done in 20 years. I could have stayed in there another six months.”

My Weekend: Shaun Ryder

LAST weekend I was finishing off the English leg of the UFO series I’m making for the History Channel.
The next step is filming in the States, South America and Australia but I’m free this weekend so I’ll be taking the kids to the park or to The Ski Factor.
It’s an indoor ski-ing place just around the corner from where I live in Salford. They’ve got snow in there so you can imagine you are somewhere else.
I have a go, yeah. I’m all right at it. I just about get to the bottom of the slope without breaking my neck. I don’t ski though, I usually sit on the rubber rings.
I always do whatever my two youngest want to do at weekends.
I have six children in all. Three are grown up but I live with the youngest three.
The lad was 18 last Saturday and I have two girls aged two and three.
It’s the same with the TV, they dominate that. So at the moment I’m watching Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer, Fifi and The Flowertots and Hannah Montana.
If I’m lucky I get to watch the news.
I record Law & Order: UK to watch when they’ve gone to bed. And that new show that’s started on Sunday nights about the midwives (Call The Midwife).
The last fantastic show I really got into was The Wire. I was into that when it first came out in about 2002. And the one that they made before The Wire called The Corner. Even though I’ve got all the box sets, when The Wire is repeated on FX I’ll still watch it.
Of course I watch the X Factor when it’s on. I was doing the Xtra Factor on the last series so I had to keep my eye on that.
I don’t do Big Brother, although I watched it when Bez was on it.
I keep fit by swimming at home. Mind you, don’t say that: ‘Ooh I’ve got a pool in my house!’
I suppose I have done one of those magazines, where they come round your house... OK or Hello... I suppose it’s been in there already.
So I swim and bike ride but when you’ve got kids you keep fit anyway. They run you ragged.
The missus does all the cooking and she’s a healthy cook which is good.
If we manage to get out at all we go for a meal but our free time is mostly about spending time with the kids.
Through being in the band when I was younger, I really missed seeing my other kids growing up. I was travelling the world and playing shows.
This time it’s all about spending time with the young two.
We don’t go to clubs, we don’t go to pubs... everything we do is with the two young ones.
They don’t like me going out too often and I like staying home as much as I can.

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