Live in Lancashire: Shaun Ryder on Black Grape's visit to Blackburn's King George's Hall

Black Grape are heading out on tour and will be dropping in to Blackburn
Black Grape are heading out on tour and will be dropping in to Blackburn

A man like Shaun Ryder needs no introduction... for the hard man of drugs and rock 'n' roll has a reputation that deeply precedes him. But these days he has mellowed somewhat and is more 'compos mentis' he claims.

And that may be the reason why he has teamed up with Kermit once again to produce another Black Grape album - Pop Voodoo - the band's first new material in 20 years.

The fans have reacted well it seems. "It's been alright," says Shaun.

"We got a midweek number one and then it dropped to about 14 or 15. So it did really well for us. You know, a 20-odd year gap since we released the last Black Grape album, so, yeah. It did great, we are well pleased."

And Irvine Walsh writes of Pop Voodoo in the band's biography: "I'm delighted to report that Black Grape are back on the road, and with new album Pop Voodoo that really does rock out the discotheque. 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. We need Manc street sass, intelligence and wit more than ever right now. This album has that in spades."

High praise indeed. And it seems Shaun and Kermit are in agreement. Shaun said: "Me and Kermit think it's better than the first one we did. It's our favourite album. I don't know whether it's because it is brand new or what. But we're loving it. And actually can't wait to get out and take it live."

Kermit and Shaun Ryder (front) make up Black Grape

Kermit and Shaun Ryder (front) make up Black Grape

The album was produced by Youth, who has previously worked with The Verve, U2, Primal Scream, Guns n' Roses, Pink Floyd and Depeche Mode to name but a few.

"Youth's just brilliant. He's a proper old hippie. He's great. He really is. He's just genius. It was so easy. We wrote it, recorded it and produced it all in four or five weeks. I think we did 10 days in Spain and the rest in London. Wrote and recorded all in five week, " said Shaun.

But being in the music industry for as long as Shaun Ryder has, and with an often difficult time in the limelight, he must have some opinions on it.

"It's great. I'm still in it," he laughs. "It's good. And it's changed a lot. I say that because it really has ant'it?

"There's just no wastage any more. Everything is on a budget. Even the album cover. There's somebody there at the record label that designed that album cover, they've got it all in-house, so it's great."

Despite this long marriage with the industry, he hasn't really been on tour for quite a number of years. And on looking forward to getting back out on the road, including a visit to Blackburn, Shaun said: "Oh yeah, it's great. It's just great to go out and do something new innit?

"And it's Black Grape so it's dead easy. I mean Happy Mondays, there's like six of us and everyone has got an opinion, but with Black Grape it's just me and Kermit, so it's dead easy."

Fans will be hungry to find out what to expect on the night, and Shaun tells me: "What are we gonna do? Well we're going to do as many as we can get away with off the new album. And then obviously we've got to start throwing in the old favourites.

"I'm not just saying it, we're better now than ever. I mean me and him [Kermit] are both compos mentis and it's a better show than ever."

And for those with long memories, you might be curious as to whether Shaun has spent time in Blackburn before. The now infamous acid house raves of the 80s springs to mind. He said: "Gary Aspden is a really good pal of mine. Gary is the guy worked at adidas for like 20-odd years and now he's got his Spezials line. He was Worldwide Head of Entertainment for adidas and he's from Blackburn. And he's been a pal since the 80s. So I did get up there to a few.

"But don't ask me when, what and why. Because I mean we just jumped in a car and the next thing you was there!"

But he has left all that behind him now for his more sedate lifestyle, adding: "I'm trying to get these interviews done as quick as possible so I can take the dog out.

"That's what I do now - I'm dog walker."

Black Grape will be heading to the King George's Hall Blackburn on Saturday, November 24. Support comes from The Rainband. Doors open 7.30pm and tickets are £26.50 in advance or £31.50 on the door. Book online at https://www.kinggeorgeshall.com/whats-on/black-grape/ or call the box office 0844 847 1664.