The Happy Mondays are undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names from the 80’s/ 90’s; about to embark upon an anniversary tour, we got hold of Rowetta for a chat…
This summer they performed at a number of festivals including Herefordshire’s Nozstock, Kendall Calling and what would have been Y Not had it not been canceled a day early. This November/December they’re off on tour again in celebration of the anniversary of 24 Hour Party People.
“The reviews and responses we’ve been getting from the shows have been amazing,” Rowetta tells us. “We’re all getting on really well, too, Shaun’s banter is on top form, Bez is… Bez, you’re gonna get a good show from us and the hits that you like.”
But what’s it like to be In a band with so many hits? We’re sure that the process of choosing a set list isn’t the most straightforward, right? “Everybody’s got their favourites, so every day it’s like ‘can we do this one?’ and as long as it’s been rehearsed, we’ll swap and change songs out all the time” Rowetta explains.
“I’m looking forward to this tour because hopefully, we’ll be doing more songs we’ve not done for a while, like ‘Angel’ and maybe ‘Stinkin’ Thinking’, we’re at least going to rehearse them anyway,” she reveals.
It’s not just the classics that you have to look forward to, however, as the band has taken to revamping the tracks and each adding their own fresh, new ideas to them. “I work with so many other people now that when I come back to the Mondays I definitely lean to putting more of a house style onto it, because that’s what I’ve been doing lots of,” Rowetta tells us.
“Everyone just comes up with new ideas, or new samples for intros, we just change it up all the time and, of course, because of the internet, emailing each other ideas, I quite often do vocal ideas when I’ve heard something new, I’ll send it to the lads and see what they think.”
“If it gets an overwhelming response then it’ll get used in the set, if they just go ‘yeah that’s nice, Ro’ then it’s not going to be used.”
For them, Rowetta explained to us, rehearsals are less for them to acquaint themselves with the tracks, but more of an opportunity for experimentation. So, with that in mind, could we be in for a surprise when they come to create new music?
“I think it’ll still have that Mondays feel to it, because of the guitars and obviously because of Shaun’s lyrics and voice, but it’ll just all sound a lot fresher,” Rowetta explains to us, adding “I think it’ll depend, as well, on whoever does the production, as that’s always had a big influence in the past.”
That said new material, however, probably won’t be with us until next year, as although Rowetta tells us that everyone is keen to get started on it, it’s proving fairly difficult to get everyone together to write. Rowetta herself has spent the summer between performing at festivals with the Happy Mondays, to performing for Hacienda Classical.
Rowetta, in her own right, has had a pretty impressive career, from proving her worth to the Happy Mondays back when they didn’t want a girl in the band. To her work in the house music scene, not to mention a variety of other accolades. When asked about new artists she likes, she’s quick to mention Cabbage and Blossoms.
“I love the early stuff of Blossoms, I think the way they’ve risen has been amazing,” she comments. “I love stand out voices, I was one of the judges on this competition at Manchester’s Printworks where Babalola, who has this amazing Marvin Gaye/Sam Cooke voice, won and since then I’ve done a duet with him, written and performed with him… I really hope something happens for him.”
So what advice would Rowetta give to musicians starting out? “I’ve always done it for the right reasons, I think too many people are trying to get into the business for fame or money or just the wrong reasons, it should be about the music and you’ve gotta be really committed, you’ve gotta work hard.”
Rowetta’s Tips: Keep your own identity
“Don’t worry about other people and how famous they are, it can come, but if it doesn’t just make sure that you’re enjoying making music,” Rowetta stresses.
Rowetta’s Tips: Make sure people know your name
“I’ve just made it so I can support my children and just make enough to be happy, I’m in a very fortunate position right now where I am very busy, but it’s because I love working and I’m one of those people that doesn’t enjoy sitting and doing nothing,” she reveals. “The Happy Monday’s didn’t want a girl in the band, but I kept on and was really persistent and I created a role for myself because I really loved the band and I really wanted to do it.”
“It was for the right reasons, it wasn’t because they were the biggest band in the world because they weren’t at the time, they were more of a cult band.”
It’s clear that hard work, persistence and the right attitude has paid off for Rowetta. So, be sure to catch her with the rest of the Happy Mondays gang this November/December.
“We’re all getting on great and loving making music together, at the moment we’re all like one big happy family… I don’t know how long it will last, but at the moment, it’s beautiful.”