Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

I'm Back with a Great Bunch ; in His First Interview about the Rumoured Rebirth of Black Grape, Shaun Ryder Says He's Never Been So Capable of Multi-Tasking. Which Is a Good Job, Because He's Currently Rehearsing for Two Reunions, Gearing Up to Release a Second Solo Record, and Working on a Host of TV Projects, as He Tells SARAH WALTERS

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

I'm Back with a Great Bunch ; in His First Interview about the Rumoured Rebirth of Black Grape, Shaun Ryder Says He's Never Been So Capable of Multi-Tasking. Which Is a Good Job, Because He's Currently Rehearsing for Two Reunions, Gearing Up to Release a Second Solo Record, and Working on a Host of TV Projects, as He Tells SARAH WALTERS

Article excerpt

THE Shaun Ryder sitting in the country park hotel just down the road from his home in Worsley is half the man he was.

As the Happy Mondays frontman walks towards me, in perfect simian stroll, he looks trim - better than he's looked in a decade. Certainly, his time in the jungle with I'm A Celebrity, in 2010, might have helped him shake a few pounds, but there's more than winning the battle with the scales at work here: this is the look of a man with purpose.

In fact, Shaun's never had quite so much purpose. For several weeks now, he has been rehearsing at an independent studios in the Northern Quarter preparing for two reunions - the most surprising of which is to mark the 21st anniversary of Black Grape's debut album, It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah.

There'll be 25th anniversary shows for Happy Mondays' Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches this year too (the anniversary is November), and a second Shaun solo record - all done, he says, "gone on its journey - everybody is going to get to hear it soon".

And then there's television: more UFO hunting (his hit show with the History Channel), and when we meet he's only hours away from boarding a plane for another secret TV project.

The first chance Mancunians will get to hear Black Grape's return is on April 11, when the band - which sees Shaun reunited with co- songwriter Kermit - will play an 800-capacity homeless and antifracking benefit gig at Old Granada Studios for Bez's All Star Reality Party election campaign.

In the months ahead, Shaun reckons Black Grape will play 20 festivals and announce a full international tour for 2016. There'll also be new material - although that is still a work in progress.

Black Grape were a band that burned brightly - a chart-topping debut album, top 10 singles with Reverend Black Grape and In The Name Of The Father, worldwide success that left the Mondays in the shade - and all too briefly, putting out music from 1995 to 1998.

There were too many egos, says Shaun: "When Kermit and Carl (McCarthy, the group's second rapper) had their first taste of success, Top Of The Pops and TV shows, they ended up thinking they was Biggie and Tupac.

"It was, 'Get rid of the white kid. …

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