Q&A – Shaun Ryder on Black Grape, 100 Club & Fred Perry for Independent Venue Week

I’ve been creating ‘content’ for Independent Venue Week – the yearly celebration of the UK’s grassroots venues – since taking over their social media on November 2016. We’ve interviewed a lot of the artist who’ve played and created bespoke ‘blog’ posts for the sponsors and supporter. Recently, I spoke to Shaun Ryder for them – the full article is at www.independentvenueweek.com, but here is the gist our our Q&A.

How are you Shaun?
I’m good. I’m sitting in the 100 Club!

So this Fred Perry Subculture gig is your first time at the venue?
I think so. I don’t think I’ve played it before and I’ve not been a punter. Well I don’t know think so, I might have been in one of my wild hallucinations, but I ever remember coming here. It’s a proper rock’n’roll gaff isn’t it. I’m sat here looking at pictures of the Pistols and one of Mani, a few reagge guys and all that.

How important have independent venues been to your career?
This is where you learn. You learn how to deal with an audience at these gaffs. I have absolutely no problem walking on a stage in front of 12,000, 20,000, 100,000 people. No problem, it’s showbiz, it’s unreal. It’s almost X-Factor. These venues when you get on the stage and you’re touching some fuckers’ forehead and you’ve got to start wiggling your hips and dancing about when you’re singing are fucking hardcore!

With the Mondays you must have visited some interesting places in the early years?
There’s a venue in Hull where it literarily is someone’s frontroom. It’s a terraced house with a bar in it. We played loads of venues like that, then what happened with us we missed out the mid sized places and jumping to G-Mex sized venues back in the day.

Black Grape never really got the chance to play small shows till now, it was nought to 60.
Yeah! We didn’t do the tiny, rock’n’roll bones shows.

So what made you return to Black Grape now?
I had a choice between the Mondays and Black Grape. The thing about the Mondays is, it’s better than ever, we’re all old men and we get on and are playing better than ever. The sex and drugs have gone, it’s just the rock’n’roll it’s great… but it’s six of us and practically everyone gets a say! And they live round the world so it’s a ball ache to put something together. With Black Grape, it’s just me and Kermit, so when we make and album, all we have to do is find a producer. It’s dead simple. It’s a piece of piss.

So you enjoyed making it?
Personally, I think it’s a better album than the first one. We’ve moved it along a bit. We did the whole lot in four weeks! That’s how I like to work. With me the longer you start keeping something the more you start fucking about with it and changing stuff.

You can be topical too? You have a crack at Trump on the single Everything You Know Is Wrong (below)…
Well it’s an intro, I’ve got to be honest. I had some resverations about that because of that Big Top album that I did [2003’s Amateur Night In The Big Top]. It was free-flowing madness and I worried putting something like that out again that people would worry and think it’s another Amateur Night, an experimental thing. So the Trump thing is an intro. We were secretly recorded, me and Kermit, talking about Trump by the producer Youth. Next thing it’s got a beat to it so we used it as an intro. So, yeah!

So what is the album about then?
All sorts! Me and him write these miniature cartoon movies really about anything. The first album sounds like we’re obsessed with religion. We’d actually handed in 35 tracks by all the ones the label picked had a religious theme going through it, so we thought we better not go there again. I think we’ve touched on God once on this new one. [laughs]

What are you ‘obsessed’ with this time then?
All sorts of shit! I won’t name who it is, but [album title] Pop Voodoo comes from a band our manager knows, who back in the day put his whole career down to selling his soul to the devil, so we had to make some comment on that.

And you’re looking forward to playing it all live?
Yeah! We had a great band last time and an even better one this time. They’re all in their lare 30s so they’re packing in the partying. We’ve got them at the right age!

So an early night after the gig?
Oh for me, yeah. Hopefully I’ll be back for Newsnight!

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