HAPPY Mondays singer Rowetta tells EDWIN GILSON why life with Shaun Ryder and Bez is so different to the band’s 90s heyday

Hi Rowetta. How are you choosing songs for this upcoming tour?

We all sit down and decide the set list together. Shaun doesn’t always come to rehearsals but everything is put to him before we make a decision. He says he doesn’t want to sing certain songs sometimes, that he gets sick of them.

Why doesn’t Shaun attend rehearsals?

He’s just not into it. He did years ago but now he just rehearses alone. There’s no real need for him to come – he doesn’t go to soundcheck either. I don’t even need to go to every soundcheck. The less time you spend together the less chance there is of somebody arguing with someone else. We see Shaun just before every gig and he leaves straight afterwards.

Isn’t that a shame?

No, it works great. It’s just easier. He’s a family man now and goes straight home to his kids when he can. His wife is happy – everybody’s happy. Obviously because of the excesses he used to have, he doesn’t do that any more. He doesn’t want to be partying after the show. You can’t do that for ever – you burn out. The reason we’re getting good reviews now is because we’re not overdoing it every night.

Do you remember times in the 90s when the performance would suffer because of the excess?

Yes, all the time. The Yes Please tour was a bit of a disaster. Everyone had been successful and got money and went a little bit mad. It wasn’t as enjoyable like that. The excesses got really bad in those days. We might have a drink after the show now but then we go to bed, boring as that is.

When you reformed in 2012, did you all have to agree upon ways to make the reunion sustainable?

We had to make sure there were no arguments. For a long time everybody fell out, so the band split up. We got the first reunion tour under our belt and everyone got on. It was only the keyboard player who decided it wasn’t for him any more so left. Shaun and Bez travel separately. Everybody is a lot more respectful now. There are still the odd arguments, but it’s usually out of tiredness rather than hate.

How does Happy Mondays’ sound stand up against modern electronic music? Is there a danger it could seem dated now?

I remember a DJ not so long ago saying that when he puts on Kinky Afro he knows the dancefloor will fill up, so it doesn’t seem to have aged. The sound of the music has updated a bit, because we have a programmer who is brilliant. But the songs are timeless classics and the audience is mixed. There are people who grew up with the Mondays and were gutted they couldn’t see us first time around. We’re not going around with walking sticks – the songs still hypnotise people.

Shaun has talked about a new album.

Yeah, I think we’re going to do one. I make house tunes all the time, so I’m always doing new things, but the Mondays started to write new songs last year. It’s really a question of getting the right producer. It will all be perfect then.

For your own work and with the Mondays, is it a risk to follow modern trends too closely? Can that obscure the sound that people loved in the first place?

With the Mondays, again, I think it’s about getting the best person on board. I remember Fatboy Slim doing a remix of Kinky Afro, for instance, and completely putting a new take on it. It was fantastic and you might get a new audience out of it. I have a certain style of vocal, I’m always going to sing in a certain way. Some people love it and some hate it, but I’m not going to change.

You won a singing competition when you were 12. When did you realise you had a talent?

I got sacked from the choir because I stood out too much. That shouldn’t be a bad thing, but it was in their eyes. I was never encouraged until I won that competition. I never thought I could be a singer but the response from people over the years has been amazing.

You got to the final four of The X Factor in 2004. What made you want to join the show?

My Grandma was in her late eighties and thought it was a waste of talent that I was singing with the Happy Mondays. She didn’t get it. I wasn’t doing anything at the time, so I thought I’d do it for Grandma. I got really drunk and entered. I didn’t do it to be famous – being recognised was a nuisance. People just wanted to know what Simon Cowell was like.

Happy Mondays, Brighton Dome, Wednesday, 7pm, visit brightondome.org.uk