Shaun Ryder’s Ten Commandments For New Bands

Budding bands, as you set off on the road to fame, let Shaun Ryder be your guide. He’s noshed the drugs, fought the bandmates, got fooked and been banned from TV, so you don’t have to…

Given his star turn in the jungle, there is probably a piece of Sky 3 reality TV ready to be greenlighted in which Shaun Ryder mentors a series of young bands – guiding them through their first big shows, prepping them for those needy record label encounters, smoothing over the inevitable clashes of big egos. “Look,” he will whisper, as he puts a hand meaningfully on the shoulders of The Launchpacks’ lead singer. “Stop being a fookin’ student and do one.”

Shaun Ryder


That day has not yet dawned. For now, the class of 2011 looking to find their way through an increasingly incoherent music industry will have to take the increasingly coherent potted wisdom of Shaun Ryder as it is rendered here. God – the original magazine editor – put his own commandments in handy 10-point list format. And who are we to mess with His formatting ideals?

“The way things are going, the best way to make money in the present climate is to sell heroin,” Uncle Shauny grins. Sat in the lobby of the K West hotel, he is in lucid form as he wraps up a week in London meant to capitalise on his show-stealing turn in the I’m A Celebrity…Let Me Out Of Here jungle. He downs two Red Bulls in an hour. His pearly new teeth chatter happily as he fills the air with advice and reminiscences about the nature of the rock’n’roll game. “What do you want me to do? Give them my wisdom? Fooking hell…”

1. Butting egos are inevitable
“The rest of the band tend to notice things like the door getting opened for the lead singer. And the door shuts on the rest of the band. The lead singer doesn’t notice that, but the rest of the band does. I only dealt with it ’cos it finished. The rest of my band was all going off with their egos, and deciding among them which one of them would take over being the frontman and the singer. Tony Wilson said to me, to stop all these arguments and shite and jealousy, split everything equal. Even though you write the songs, give ’em all a lick and it’ll stop ’em. And I did. And it didn’t. So that’s the only thing I would take back off Tony and shove up his arse. The rest of his advice was great.”

2. Don’t read the critics
“Don’t read the press if it bugs you. We didn’t really get any bad press with Happy Mondays. The only time we got slagged was on [much-derided fourth album] ‘Yes Please!’. That one bit of slagging seemed to crumble the rest of the band. It took the wind out of them, apart from Bez. And it was their idea to go with those producers and make that record. We split up after that.”

3. Get out when the time is right
“In 1994, EMI came to Manchester with a five-record deal on the table, ready to be signed. And the famous thing is that I went off to get KFC and got stoned and didn’t turn up to sign the deal. But actually I went off the deal…we split up soon after, didn’t we? And I went on to have a Number One album [with Black Grape] and they didn’t. So that’s why I did one. I actually turned up for the meeting, but I wasn’t getting on with the rest of the band, so it didn’t happen. But I think if you get offered a deal these days, fookin’ grab it. You hear a lot about going independent, well you know what, going it alone’s all well and good. But then try making a record and see how many copies you sell.”


4. Get your dad to do your soundchecks
“I got tired of sounchecks. At first it was important. But after a while, there was no point in me doing one. So sometimes when I didn’t do them, me old bloke [Derek Ryder, the Mondays’ roadie] would get up and sing our songs. It doesn’t take much to get my old bloke up doing impersonations of his eldest son. Me old bloke didn’t stop competing with me till I was 40.”

5. Rehab is for turkeys
“Well, I don’t want to put the rehabs out of business but a lot of it is absolute fanny. It’s too comfy. Then again, they do learn you a few tricks. But if you wanna get off drugs you’ve got to exercise through it. Not lay on yer back in a 10-star hotel. Biking, running, anything that fucks you out and tires you out while you’re rattling is good. Is there too much careerism in rock now? Yeah and no. I just think they think they’re a lot smarter. They’ve seen it mapped out for 40 years but that doesn’t stop them from making the same mistakes. They all fall into the same clichéd bullshit traps. I thought I was too clever to fall into the same traps too.”

6. Melt the WAGS
“Wives and girlfriends really shouldn’t be anywhere near the band. Not at all. Anyone who’s listening to their girlfriend, they shouldn’t be involved. All bands have Yoko Onos, and the Mondays were no exception. What I used to do was: any time we used to play somewhere where there was about 15 showers in your changing rooms, I’d turn all the taps on hot, then lock the doors till they melted. Groupies are different, maybe. I feel sorry for kids today, everyone’s got one of them fucking phones with a camera on it. There’s no more ‘What goes on tour stays on tour’.”

7. Producers are probably overrated
“Completely ignore what they say. Martin Hannett was a fookin’ lunatic. He also had a lot of good ideas. But he was also off his tits. So were we, mind. So when Martin used to fall asleep, you’d just take over and do it yourself. John Cale was the first producer we worked with, so we just kept our mouth shut and did what he wanted, but Cale just recorded us like a live band.”

8. Extending the brand into other areas isn’t the career poison it once was
“I didn’t really do any of that stuff until now. When Bez won Celebrity Big Brother in 2005, I got offered that but gave it to him. I went ghost-hunting, but reality? Not exactly reality. But I am glad I went in the jungle. When you’ve got people like Snoop with reality shows, the ballgame is completely different. But definitely don’t, when you get asked to do a film for a big Hollywood director, walk out and go, ‘It was fookin shit, that.’ In the Hollywood world, you gotta say ‘It was fookin’ fantastic’. Or else you’ll never work again, and you’ll never get paid daft amounts of money to do basically fook all.”

9. If you want to appear on Channel 4 ever again, do not swear on live TV
“I was banned from being live on Channel 4 for over a decade. I’m the only person in their handbook to be mentioned by name in their compliance manual on account of having sworn on TFI Friday. I did an interview with Chris Evans where I swore a lot. Then I went and did a performance of ‘Pretty Vacant’ by the Sex Pistols, where I swore some more. After that, TFI Friday had to go pre-recorded. In fact, that ban stood until the day I came out of the jungle. Which was weird, because I basically spent the whole time in the jungle effing and jeffing.”

10. Die young
“My recommended method has gotta be car crash. Or overdose. Don’t be choking on a fookin’ sandwich. That’s shite. Me? I never thought I’d die young. Even at the worst moments, I’ve always thought I was gonna live till I was about 127.”

And now for Uncle Shauny’s verdict on some of NME’s 2011 picks…

“Where are they from? Slough? He’s called Lee as well: he’s called Lee and he sneers. That’s good. It’s got that upbeat thing going. successful. I’d like to hear more of that.”

“I’m sure they’re having a great time staring at their shoes.”

The Naked And Famous
“I like that. Have they got a bird in the band? Hmmm. You can’t have fookin’ birds in bands with all the lads.”

“I like that. They’re from Oxford? Well, I suppose someone’s gotta be.”

James Blake
“Is this dubstep? My lad went to a dubstep night recently and came back and said he fookin’ hated it. My missus likes it. I’m not sure what it sounds like. But it sounds good. I like that.”

Odd Future
“I’m a proper old school hip-hop head, so I like anything like that. Out of all of that, this is probably my favourite.”

“It’s alright, that. I’m sure it’s going to be very successful.”

“Yeah I like that. She’s got a nice voice. She looks like an ’80s art student. In a good way.”

The Vaccines
“It sounds a bit like the Ramones. Or Jilted John. But I can’t really find the centre of it.”

Anna Calvi
“I’m not so into that. OK, I get the idea…”

This article originally appeared in the January 8 issue of NME

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