Never mind its status as an icon of Madchester and forerunner of Britpop. Happy Mondays remains in easy contention for another rock superlative: rudest fookin’ band. The drugged-up, blissed-out Mancunians made some pretty memorable, influential music around the late ’80s and early ’90s (see especially Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches), but mostly they earned notoriety for frontman Shaun Ryder’s antics: a very public heroin addiction, explosive comments, several threats made with unloaded guns. The band fell apart in the early ’90s, and Ryder went on to form Black Grape. Since then, he’s reformed the Mondays twice, in 1999 and in 2007. (The current incarnation stops at the 9:30 Club tonight with another great ’80s band, Pyschedelic Furs, and Islands.) All the while, Ryder—once a thuggish, pranksterish lothario—has remained insanely quotable. After the jump, some of his better bon mots.
- On fame and the media: “We were hanging about in Little Hulton doing fuck all before this happened. Sometimes I’d have to go and steal potatoes off people’s doorsteps. Now there are articles about us saying that we’re in Los Angeles unavailable for comment. I think that’s pretty funny.” [The Observer, March 17, 1991]
- On the beginnings of Madchester and the Hacienda club: “Everyone in the place was on E and it made us look better and sound better. I know they were all on E because we used to go out in the audience selling E like T-shirts.” [The Independent, July 7, 1991]
- On recording The Happy Mondays’ 1992 album, Yes, Please, in Barbados: “We were in the studio for a total of three months. I was supposed to be writing, but instead I got into all the local niceties, like water-skiing and paragliding on crack. I had no idea what I was doing.” [The Independent, Oct. 5 1992]
- On paying The Mondays’ dancer/mascot, Bez, for a short 1999 reunion tour: “We got him down to pounds 500. Well, pounds 500 and a free T-shirt.” [The Independent, Feb. 6, 1999]
- On being clean: “It’s great. But it is freaky. I don’t know whether it’s all the rearranged molecules cos of the methadone, but I went through some kind of godly experience. It was pretty mental. It should have been on the Discovery Channel.” [The Guardian, Feb. 25, 2007]
- On the film 24 Hour Party People, which depicts Happy Mondays and other Manchester bands: “It was a load of bollocks, right? It was entertainment, it wasn’t a true story – which I’m glad about. The script that I first saw, when I said I didn’t want anything to do with it, was gangsters, guns and drugs, right? When me and Bez wouldn’t get involved with it, they decided to concentrate on Tony Wilson and it became a vehicle for that fucking comedian [Steve Coogan] to do a bit of acting. I watched it and yeah, to me, it was entertaining, but it wasn’t real.” [Expletive Undeleted, May 12, 2009]
Photo courtesy of Happy Mondays’ MySpace page. Happy Mondays perform with Psychedelic Furs and Islands tonight at the 9:30 Club at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35.