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Easy, Ryder; Shaun Ryder has ditched sex and drugs to focus on rock and roll. 'I plan to remember the next 25 years' he tells Marion McMullen.

Byline: Marion McMullen

HE'S scoffed a croc's rude bits and caused trouble for Chris Evans by swearing live on TFI Friday, but Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder is taking it a little easier these days.

"Sex and drugs has gone and it's just rock and roll," he chortles. "It's great."

The strongest thing the 53-year-old pops in his mouth these days is a boiled sweet.

He reveals with a laugh: "I'm sucking Uncle Joe's Mint Balls. I just noticed them in the Co-op and had to buy them. They're just fantastic."

It was a different story 25 years ago when Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches first came out on November 27, 1990.

At the recent launch of the anniversary tour for the album, Ryder said: "Here's to another 25 years. I'm going to remember it this time."

He admits: "I remember the 60s better than I do the 90s.

"I was seven back in the 60s and playing with Action Man and trains and I was partying in the 90s.

"I remember the third time we went to LA. We stayed in these swanky apartments that people in the music business stayed in and people who made porn films and up-andcoming actors.

"It was very glam and very flash. It had a swimming pool and a jacuzzi outside the flat and people came and cleaned for us. We just thought it was very Hollywood.

"You could order anything you wanted for the apartments and a firm would come in with everything and decorate. You just ticked things off the list.

"It was so different when we went over with the first album two years before. We stayed, all six of us, in one room in a flat with six beds. The whole band was in one room. It was like, Disneyland and drugs."

Ryder explains with a shrug: "We were young, getting on with life. At the end of the day, we were young lads partying and doing what young lads have done before us. There were drugs but we never stuck needles in our arms or anything. We were recreational drug users."

Now Ryder has cleaned up his lifestyle and jokingly describes himself these days as "good looking with an old man's pot belly" before adding: "It's better when you now get the chance to enjoy everything.

"When you hit 40 you don't want to still be one of the guys going out all the time. There's something sad if you turn 40 and you are still doing drugs, booze and nightclubs."

Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches was the album that really put Happy Mondays on the map, spending 31 weeks on the UK album charts.

Ryder says he is chuffed the band's early music has stood the test of time.

"I'd not really listened to much of it since it first came out and I just thought 'Give yourself a pat on the f***ing back son. You did some good work.' "It still sounds good more than 20 years later. It's brilliant that I can now go on stage and enjoy what I'm doing. There's no bulls**t. I'm enjoying it more the second time around. Confidence comes with age."

The Manchester band have confirmed a 20-date tour for November and December which will see them celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches.

They will be performing the album in its entirety, in addition to other hits, in places including Birmingham, Newcastle, Wales, Leicester and, of course, Manchester.

Now as well as music, Ryder is finding success in front of TV cameras and has proved a television natural since his memorable appearance in the jungle on ITV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.

"Reality TV. I didn't get it at first. I got offered Celebrity Big Brother and turned it over to Bez in the band and he ended up winning it. Even when I did the jungle I went in kicking and screaming even though my wife, my children and my management told me to do it.

"I still didn't quite get it, but it was the right thing to do. The music business is the entertainment business and the game has changed so much. Look at Tom Jones. He's had this amazing career but appearing on The Voice on BBC1 has brought him to a new audience."

Ryder already has new TV projects in the pipeline and also made a return visit to Channel 4's TFI Friday this year... he appeared with tape across his mouth to stop him swearing.

"I'm lucky enough to be able to pick and choose," he says.

He might be older and wiser, but Ryder has no plans to follow bandmate Bez into politics any time soon. The dancer stood in the General Election to be MP for Salford and Eccles, but lost to Labour.

"I'll leave politics to Bez," says Ryder. "Mind you, I voted for the first time last year. It was the first time I felt my vote would make a difference so I did it."

Go | to www.happymondaysonline.com for tour details.

CAPTION(S):

Happy Mondays' Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches and dancer/ politician Bez

Less manic Monday: Shaun Ryder has toned down the excesses of The Happy Mondays' early years
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2015
Words:880
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