Rowetta with the reformed Happy Mondays
Published: 13 December, 2012
by ROISIN GADELRAB
ROWETTA has just left the gym – having got up early on Saturday to train on doctor’s orders after wearing too many painful heels during this year’s Happy Mondays reunion tour.
This week’s interview with possibly the chattiest member of the Mondays – speaking from the Manchester gym car park – is limited to around 300 words, and Rowetta is doing her best to cram the entire quota into one single sentence.
The original Happy Mondays play two gigs at the Roundhouse next week (December 19 and 20) and there is talk of a secret special appearance.
Delighted at the reviews of the band’s tour so far, Rowetta says they have come a long way from darker days when they split after her huge row with Shaun Ryder on a ferry to Ireland in 2000.
She said: “We had a horrible argument. We weren’t together, although people thought we were. We went too far and shouldn’t have, and never spoke for 13 years.
“All of a sudden I went home to nothing. I was in a proper state. Bez came and looked after me. I had therapy in America for the whole lot. It’s good that happened. I can look at Shaun, he can come over and kiss me. Whenever we feel an argument we all support each other and know to step back.”
Prompted by The Stone Roses’ reunion, it took some diplomacy to convince them to reform.
“Shaun was getting lots of offers, and the rest of us were saying, ‘I don’t think we all can, please don’t say anything until we know we can get along’. Now, it’s totally different. The dynamics in the band have changed, there’s a lot more respect for each other. Shaun is easier to work with. We don’t see him offstage, we don’t socialise together. If we’re in another country, he goes back to his room. After the gigs, as soon as he comes offstage, he goes back to his children.
“We don’t talk about the past. We’ve all moved on. Nobody’s got any drugs problems now, everybody’s clean. I don’t think people would have expected us all to live until now. I didn’t expect it.”
She added: “In the 90s we didn’t have the internet/mobile phones. It’s so much easier now. I can record something and send it to Paul Ryder in LA.”
Rowetta is feeling much more positive about the band’s future: “There used to be drugs being done on the side of the stage, people being sick. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it was when everybody’s got drink and drugs problems. Now it’s completely different. Everybody’s playing better, Shaun and I are singing better. We don’t want a day off. I’ve missed them.”
However, it all hangs on a knife-edge, she says: “That chemistry, why we don’t get on, this tension, that’s why we work well together.
“With me and Shaun it could all kick off any moment, but we admire each other as performers. I hope we go on next year. You never know, one argument with us and it could all be over. Shaun is going on about us going on as long as The Rolling Stones. It would be nice to go on as long as we can and not because we’ve all fallen out.
“The worst point was this horrible memory of when we left for different reasons.”
The Roundhouse show will feature the original line-up, with Bez joining in for the odd tune.
“He only dances to a couple of songs now,” says Rowetta. “He said his hips have gone. He wants to be onstage for a couple. He does the after-parties, he dances all night. The one in Camden is at the Lockside Lounge. If you go there after you get to dance with Bez. For the tour he’d come onstage and introduce the band. When he appeared it would be brilliant. He announced it like a boxing match.
“I’m really proud because it’s the originals. Now it’s the proper ones. We really needed to do this to let people see the real band playing really well. Luckily, with the UK tour, we got our reputation back.”
She added: “A lot of people say London crowds are difficult but we’ve never experienced that. A lot of friends are coming, people who have left Manchester and moved, we’ve had such a great year together.
“After this we’re going to start completely new. This is a proper end to the year. We’re going to do one new song that nobody will ever have heard as long as it goes well in rehearsal.”
Next year, the band plans to return to the studio to record a new album, while Rowetta also has her own solo work and guests on the albums of promising new bands – the latest being Manchester band Post Zero’s upcoming single The Shallows.
She has also just returned from Bangkok with Bez, appearing on the Hacienda anniversary tour, which comes to Koko on Saturday (December 15), each stop featuring a different line-up of artists connected to the legendary club.
Rowetta said: “Me and Bez are still young. We recently had a Halloween party, he dressed as Count Bezula. We have been best friends throughout for the past 20 years, we’ve always been close. It’s great, I would have been sad if he hadn’t.”
Having been part of one of this year’s more difficult reunions and witnessed The Stone Roses’ successful return, Rowetta is well placed to muse on whether or not one of Manchester’s other splintered groups may ever get back together.
She said: “We toured with Oasis and Liam just sat in our room and just wanted to be in a band. He’s nothing like how he’s portrayed. He’s a big softie. He had just fallen in love with Nicole (Appleton).
“[Noel and Liam] both say too much in interviews. It’s hard to retract things said in the Press. You don’t know, they were talking about an anniversary reunion. I can’t see it happening to be honest. I had thought it might happen around us.”
Rowetta, who came fourth in the first ever series of X Factor, wasn’t watching last weekend’s final live despite it being held in Manchester, with plans to watch the Mancunian football derby on Saturday and a date on Sunday, but she still follows the show.
She said: “I think James is wonderful, I don’t even like Jahmene – he does too many runs. The show has lost something, it’s the judges’ fault. The competition has always been the same. People are now seeing it for what it is. It’s not fixed but it’s very manipulated.”