Interview: Paul Ryder On Life With The Happy Mondays

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All the way from LA the funky half of the Ryder Brothers and now ex-pat Paul Ryder recently gave Carl Stanley the chance to throw a few questions at him. Questions like: how life is state-side, his rehabilitation and the reason he picked a bass guitar up in the first place.

Sounding very happy and settled, plus quite busy with a recent house move and wedding, Paul took time out to give his thoughts on what it was like watching brother Shaun in the jungle, and his time with the Happy Mondays.

CS: How’s life treating you then Paul, you’ve been living in LA for a few years now haven’t you?

PR: Yes, I’ve been in LA for almost three years now, I’m much more relaxed here. It’s not Hollywood down-town where I am, I’m in the Santa Monica mountains which has quite a slow pace and lots of old school hippies who’ve been here since the seventies, so you see lots of men wearing denim shirts with long grey beards who hug each other in the local store.

How come you made the change to LA and what about Manchester do you miss the most?

Manchester’s a great place to be born – I just needed a change from all the rain, obviously I miss my family and friends and Holland’s pies and puddings.

What or who got you into playing the bass?

When I was eight years old I saw David Bowie on Top of the Pops looking like an alien, I realised at that moment that I wanted to be a musician. When I was 13 my Dad bought me a bass and I thought it had to be easier than playing guitar as it only has four strings.

Your bass playing was a big part of the Happy Mondays sound wasn’t it, emulating that Chicago dance vibe.

I’d been listening to Motown from a very early age, James Jameson was a big influence as his bouncing groovy bass-lines really stood out to me.
Later, the the Chicago dance stuff came along and I tried to emulate this on my bass and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get the bass-lines right. Then realised they were all done on computers and keyboards, which was why I was having trouble. So the later Mondays stuff was just me trying to replicate that style but using a real instrument rather than a computer which I suppose was a happy accident.

Is it true you once knocked on Peter Hook’s door when you were on your rounds as a postman and handed him a demo back when you started out with the Mondays?

Yes, this is true. We were members of the same gym and I sneakily took a look at the membership details to find his address, I went to the house and knocked on the door

What did he say?

I said, “can you do me a favour?” and he said. “if your looking for money I’ve got none,” typical Hooky. I asked him to pass on our demo to Rob Gretton, and to give him credit he did pass it on and the rest is history, wonder if he ever regretted doing that.

What was the best and worst things about being in the Mondays?

I kind of liked it all. I liked writing, I liked rehearsing, I liked being in the studio and I liked all the travelling doing all the shows all around the world. It’s the perfect job for me – or should I say a well paid hobby, not actually work. The only bad thing was the inevitable tensions that arose and the eventual destruction and the excesses those days had on my life.

Do you reckon the Mondays would get back together again, you have in the past?

It doesn’t look likely, change is good but some things just never change.

Tell me what you did after the band split up, you went on to make your own music didn’t you?

I had five years off, sat in a chair depressed and didn’t listen to much music, and when I did listen to music I put a sub-bass under my chair to relax me! I finally started to make music again and made an album with my band Big Arm which was a critical success and I’m proud of it. Someone wants to re-release it over here but is insisting it’s released under my own name so the people know who it is

You had a band with your former wife as well didn’t you?

Girlfriend not wife. We sounded like Morcheeba before Morcheeba existed.

What about your rehabilitation? You’ve been through it in the past with substances haven’t you, how’s it working out for you these days?

Yes you could say that. My main reason for leaving the Mondays back in 2000 was that I’d just managed to get clean and stay that way and realised that being in a band with my brother was not going to be conducive to sobriety. I’ve struggled over the years but now I’m very happily clean and sober. I never thought I could live life without going for a pint, but I don’t miss it at all.

Shaun Ryder2.Did you see your Shaun in the jungle last year? You must have had a little laugh watching him wrestle snakes and eat insects?

Yes, I watched some of the catch up shows on the internet and thought he did really well. I especially liked him with the flat back furniture – typical Shaun, threw it on the fire, never was a DIY man!.

Would you do reality TV?

I don’t think so….

So what’s next for you Paul? Any more work with Tina Weymouth?

Not lately, I did two shows with The Tom Tom Club last year, one in LA and one in San Francisco It was so good to see Chris and Tina again and great to see they’ve still got that magic.

(Carl Stanley)

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