Following the success of their album Pop Voodoo (Universal Music) which showcased the band’s first new material in 20 years, Black Grape are on the road with a series of dates which takes in Brighton’s Concorde 2 on Friday, November 16.
Shaun Ryder and Paul Leveridge, known as Kermit, teamed up with producer Youth on the album, who has previously worked with The Verve, U2, Primal Scream, Guns N’ Roses, Pink Floyd and Depeche Mode among others.
They are delighted with the results.
“We are playing better than ever,” says Shaun. “I suppose we have got a lot older and a lot wiser, and also it is all still relatively new. It is fantastic. Me and Kermit are the writers, and we have grown up. I suppose we are now about the age of 17! When we started we were about three! We have got another few albums in us now to mature.”
It is 23 years since Black Grape’s first album: “We split the Mondays in 93. Black Grape was going a bit before 95. We were both wanting pretty much rock meets hip hop. It was great. It was just me and Kermit, and the other guys were sessions musicians. But it was just the two of us while with the Mondays there were six people with six egos and six people all wanting their say.”
But then they split in 98 or 99: “We had a bad second album. I was left to do most of the writing on my own. It was all starting to crumble by the second album. Kermit also had a lot of people in his ear.”
Shaun did a Black Grape gig in about 2013 in London: “But that was not with Kermit and I never carried on. And then I got an email reminding me that it was 20 years since the first album came out and that it would be good to do something to celebrate it, so I gave Kermit a call. We got together and did the Black Grape album. It was great to be working with him again. It was totally different. There was no (rubbish). We were friends again, and we worked pretty fast. We wrote and recorded and produced the album in four or five weeks. We did a couple of weeks in Spain and then tidied it up back in London. And we are really pleased with it.
“And we will stick with it now as long as it is enjoyable. The Mondays are better than ever, and this is better than ever. I think we are able to appreciate it. Before we were on a treadmill of making an album and then doing a tour and then making an album and doing a tour. We didn’t have time to breathe. And it helps when you are no longer off your nut! It doesn’t look right when you are 56! You can maybe get away with it when you are in your 30s, but not when you are 56!”