Black Grape have announced their first new album in 20 years, launching the record ‘Pop Voodoo’ with huge comeback track ‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’. Check out our exclusive interview with Shaun Ryder below.
The Happy Mondays man is back with his comrade Kermit, and the first taster track ‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’ from the forthcoming LP is a blistering but witty and danceable attack on Donald Trump and the current state of world affairs.
“I’m delighted to report that Black Grape are back on the road, and with new album ‘Pop Voodoo’ that really does rock the fuck out of the discotheque,” says ‘Trainspotting’ writer Irvine Welsh. “Shaun’s word play has never been deployed to such devastating effect, and he scores a bullseye whether he hits the obvious targets (Trump), and the more obscure ones…well, find out for yourself.
“The world is in a bit of a state right now, and bullshit reigns more than ever, and perversely disguised as candour. We need Manc street sass, intelligence and wit more than ever right now. This album has that in spades.”
‘Pop Voodoo’ is out on 7 July, and Black Grape play London’s 100 Club on 11 May.
We had a quick chat with Shaun Ryder…
Why reform Black Grape?
“The story goes back a bit. Round about 2009, just after the jungle or just before, I thought about doing Black Grape. I seemed to get a big burst of energy, obviously the Thyroxine and the testosterone, and so we did a one-off show. My manager at the time didn’t think about taking it further but I didn’t have Kermit involved. When I spoke to him I don’t think he was quite there yet, he wasn’t where I wanted him to be. I got Tom Piper in, who’s a well-known drum ’n’ bass guy, to cover Kermit’s bit and we did one show and that was it. Then we were on the 20th anniversary of the album, which was something like 2015, and I spoke to Kermit again and he was in a good place. Why not? It was twenty year since that album, let’s do a few shows and go from there.”
What were his problems?
“He still had a lot to deal with. His mother’s got Alzheimers or one of those things and he had a few other things going on so he wasn’t in the right place.”
How’s it been?
“It’s great. The thing about Black Grape is, it’s just me and Kermit. I don’t know if people are aware of this but that’s how it always was. The first band were session guys. We got very friendly, we had Wags, who was a friend and a great guitarist, but it was initially me and Kermit. It developed into that becoming more of a band thing in those sessions. This time around it’s me and Kermit and we’ve got a great band, they’re all brilliant. Twenty years ago, apart from the drummer, everyone was a party-head, everyone liked getting off their faces, it was one big party. Now the guys we’ve got in the band, they’re all in their mid-thirties, they really are musos and they’re really good.”
Is it still great when you’re straight?
“It’s actually better, mate! If somebody had told me years ago how simple it’d be. You get off your face and everything because you think it’s gonna make things easier, but now I’ve probably got a busier schedule, I’m doing more than I’ve ever done, and there seems to be more time. If someone had told me how easy it could be I’d have probably poked them in the eye. I seem to spend more time at home as well. The first time around I was a kid having kids, I was building a career and I never got to se my kids. I’m lucky enough to do it again so it’s good. It’s so simple. The Mondays is better than ever, we’re all old farts so all the bullshit that goes with being young and all the crap that you’re arguing about just means nothing. We’re playing better, we’re all enjoying it more. Back then it was just as important for us to get off our faces and party, in fact that was probably more important to some of us than playing the shows.
“So with The Mondays it’s great. Because you’re on that treadmill of ‘right, we’ve finished that album, now let’s do something better’ you don’t really get time to enjoy it. You just did it and all the things that come along with that. So it’s enjoyable for The Mondays, but with The Mondays there’s still five people – we’ve got six with Rowetta but there’s still five big personalities who all get a say. Then you’ve got one in LA and one in Canada. Originally it was supposed to be the Mondays album first and then Black Grape but because Black Grape is just me and him and it’s so easy to do it became Black Grape and ‘when will we get a Mondays album out?’ We’ve got to have one, sooner or later we’ve gotta do one because we’re out doing the Greatest Hits at Christmas again and we could sort of probably go on the road and take ’24 Hour Party People…’ out and do that in its entirety, but we’re gonna have to do an new album sooner or later.”
Any antics now?
“Once you get in your fifties, and we all are, well in our fifties, you’re just so far away from that scene. It’s great what you do in your youth and your twenties but for us it’s totally different, for me it’s totally different. I enjoy where I am now just as much as I did then. On the writing front, I think we’ve topped the first album. We had certain restrictions on the first album, at the time there wasn’t many people who was a black guy and a white guy trying to do hip-hop, especially in the States. What we had to cater for was that big white rock audience, to make it grow we had to have a few rock tunes in there so it didn’t quite come out the way we’d have liked it. On this our writing’s better, we’re not feeding habits any more or living in that world where that was very important to us. Sex and drugs has gone, it’s rock’n’roll. It’s not that it’s boring or you’re not gonna have any ideas, this album is just as good and writing-wise even better.”
What record did you want to make?
“Exactly what we did. Our thing when we was talking to Youth was we wanted to take The Beach Boys, The Ghetto Boys, Bee Gees, you name it, we wanted to stick in and scramble it all out and come out with something.”