Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Happy Mondays’ Bez

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: the beloved dancer, percussionist and fitness don

1
Which historical landmark did you tell Q magazine in 2015 that you once attempted to steal?

“God, I don’t remember that whatsoever! Do you know the answer?”

WRONG. It was Stonehenge.

(Laughs) “I should have got that! It was a polystyrene replica of Stonehenge we were using for a photoshoot, like in the film Spinal Tap. My mind’s not working good today!”

Ever nicked anything else as memorable?

“Not quite as big as the monument of Stonehenge! (Laughs) When we recorded [the 1992 Happy Mondays album ‘Yes Please!] in Barbados, I often found Shaun [Ryder] either upside down on a road somewhere or offering another piece of furniture he’d stolen from the studio to swap for crack. It was fun at the time, but the islanders weren’t too pleased, because we were on the news when we left. The first day we got there, the leading dignitaries were out to welcome us, and by the time we left everyone from the Chief of Police to the Prime Minister were readying the flaming torches! (Laughs)”

2
You stood as a candidate for the Salford and Eccles constituency for your Reality Party in the 2015 general election. How many votes did you receive?

“Gah! I can’t remember, but we didn’t get that many. We did better at raising awareness of the fracking issue than we did politically. Nobody got half of my politics because I was saying everything should be free. Was it something like 1,800 votes in Salford?”

WRONG. You gained 703 votes. Would you ever considering throwing your hat in the ring again?

“No, because I was standing as an anarchist and a revolutionary and I realised that you can’t be in the system if you’re fighting the system. I would never do politics again. We had loads of people wanting to stand for our party, but for every man standing, you’ve got to pay £500. We stood three candidates – two in Salford and one in Ramsgate – and I was the party whip, and it was unbelievable. I was having such a difficult time with my own party members that I did the I-Ching on it to get some Chinese philosophy, and that told me to become the little island instead of the big island, which was great advice.”

3
What piece of office equipment did the Happy Mondays take to Glastonbury in 1990?

“Was it a printing machine?”

CORRECT.

“That was our first Glastonbury. We took all our friends and the backstage area was like inner-city Manchester, because everybody had a AAA backstage pass that we’d printed. That was the normal thing to do back then – we didn’t think anything of it.”

Is there any chance of any new Happy Mondays music?

“No. I don’t think we’ll ever do any new music because we’ve got that thing like Oasis with a brotherly relationship going on [between Shaun and his brother bandmate Paul Ryder] so for that reason, I don’t think they’ll be any new Mondays music any time soon. But Shaun’s done a solo album that’s really good. There’s a track that he and Noel Gallagher have done together that’s going to be big. It’s going to be Number One. It’s two Manchester legends singing together and it sounds amazing.”

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4
Before you and Happy Mondays bandmate Rowetta were disqualified from daytime TV show Bargain Hunt in 2018 for cheating, what three items did you buy?

“Erm… a record player, a mad mirror made from some gypsy horse thing and… I can’t remember the other item. It must have been pretty rubbish!”

WRONG. You bought a record player and rustic novelty mirror in the shape of a horse collar – but the third item was a biscuit tin. You originally beat Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Candida Doyle with a profit of £8, before being disqualified for artificially inflating prices by having your girlfriend bid on your items.

“God knows why we bought the biscuit tin! We were badly advised there (Laughs). It was a good day out but we’re forever known as Bargain Hunt cheats. We actually got really told off for doing that. The producer was angry at us, saying that we’d ruined the show, but I think Bargain Hunt never got as much publicity in their lives. I think we made the show!”

Talking of unusual horse-related things, you recently launched your own Racing Club…

“I’ve got involved with a racehorse and called it Mystic Moonshadow. She’s a beautiful, two-year-old filly. I used to like Dick Francis novels as a kid, who was like Enid Blyton but based around horses, and he’d write about the skulduggery of the racing world. That side of it appeals to me – like nobbling horses before the big race! Which I haven’t resorted to yet, but it’s always an option (Laughs).”

What do you think someone’s response might be if you asked them to invest in a horse with a Happy Monday?

“They’d say: ‘Are you mad?!’ (Laughs) But it’s all the joys of owning a horse without the bills and hopefully it will get a whole group of people into racing who weren’t into it before. I can’t wait until Shaun comes to see her. We need to get him down to do some horse-whispering!”

5
Which actor did you turn down for a date, resulting in post-punk band A Certain Ratio blasting Happy Mondays songs through the wall of a New York hotel room to troll her?

“Was it Julia Roberts?”

CORRECT. After she had chatted you up in LA’s The Viper Room. 

“Nice one! That’s one story I won’t forget! It’s like the one that got away when you’re fishing, but I‘ve got lots of witnesses to me almost getting the Big Catch! I knew who she was, but it took me a while to recognise her and by the time it had slowly sunk in at a later point in the night, I’d blown it. My life story could have been so different. But it wasn’t to be!”

Would you have enjoyed the Hollywood lifestyle?

“I can take to any lifestyle given half the chance. I’m sure I would have adapted, but I don’t think I would have lasted long there before being kicked out (Laughs). I didn’t have two-bob to rub together either – that wouldn’t have gone down well.”

6
When you appeared on Ghosthunting With…The Happy Mondays in 2009, what drink did you solicitously offer a spook?

“I know it was some spirit. Whisky? Vodka? Brandy?”

CORRECT. Brandy. 

“I didn’t believe in ghosts until I was on that show and got thrown down a hole and saw something that made my hair stand on end and I had to get out of there quickly. A big metal chain that they used to chain prisoners to the wall started spinning in its socket. It wasn’t from the wind. I proper shit meself.”

Any other paranormal encounters?

“No. The house I live in dates back to 1645, and we’ve had no paranormal events – considering all the life and death involved in the house, you would expect to see something abnormal.”

 

7
Who played you in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People?

“Chris Coghill – he’s become a good mate of mine since.”

CORRECT.

“I still haven’t watched it yet. I chose not to watch it at the time, because I didn’t want to talk about it to people when they asked me what I thought. I’m waiting until I’m old and on my deathbed to finally watch it! Chris does a good version of me though. He’s better at being me than I was! And he’s taller and more handsome than me as well.”

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8
According to producer Paul Oakenfold, what item of clothing did Shaun Ryder refuse to take off for two days in the studio when Happy Mondays were recording a cover version of the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’?

“Was it a gold shirt?”

WRONG. Apparently it was a black robber’s ski mask. He claimed that if he removed it, his head would fall apart.

“I can’t remember that now! It was a long time ago! I remember making the video for it with Malcolm McLaren [for his Christmas musical The Ghosts of Oxford Street] because he was a big hero of ours. I have great studio memories connected to every album, from living the LA lifestyle and driving around in top-of-the-range cars during ‘Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches’ to ‘Bummed’, where the army soldiers stationed nearby hated us and wanted to kill us until we gave them all Es. (Laughs) They came round to our way of thinking instead!”

9
Complete the following lyrics: ‘I’m just a face in the crowd/Singing ‘God Save the Queen’ out loud…

“I remember that it’s from my [2006] World Cup song ‘One Dream’, but I can’t remember the next lines.”

WRONG. It’s: ‘And all I wanna see / Is England play for me’.

“It was good fun. I just wasn’t a very good singer unfortunately – which helps when you’re doing a song!”

Ever been tempted to try any other occasion songs? Maybe enter Eurovision?

“No, I’ve learned my lesson – I’m leaving the singing to the professionals!”

10
How many people performed with you when you broke the Guinness World Record for maraca-shaking?

“I don’t know.”

WRONG. It was 406. Have you hung up your maracas for good now or will you dust them off when Happy Mondays’ upcoming winter tour?

“When we’re back on the road again after lockdown, no doubt I’ll be pulling out the maracas and shaking them. In fact, because of my workout videos, I’ve been a lot fitter than I have been in the last 10 years so I’m in better shape for going out.”

Your Get Buzzin With Bez fitness videos have been a lockdown highlight. Any chance of a collaboration with that other pandemic workout don Joe Wicks?

“You can never say never! Who knows? I doubt he’ll want to work with me, but he does a good job for the nation. We’re at opposite ends of the scale. He’s fit and I’m unfit.”

The Body Coach received an honour from the Queen for his rallying of the nation, When will you get your MBE?

“Well, now I’m in the racing world I might get it when I start rubbing shoulders with the aristocracy! (Laughs) I might even get knighted! Sir Bez has a good ring to it!”

 The verdict: 4/10 

“Considering all the questions were about me, that’s not good! (Laughs)”

It’s a higher score than Shaun Ryder achieved

– Bez’s latest venture is his Racing Club. More details can be found here 

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