‘We never realised just how good we were...’

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“We’re certainly not alone in the universe, that’s for sure...according to mathematical equations, it’s teaming with it.”

Shaun Ryder is talking about life forms, aliens, UFO’s.

It’s a topic close to his heart, and much has been written about his passion: “When I was at school, there was no life on Mars. No water anywhere – now there’s water on Mars, right? So there is life...”

Shaun knows there is something, because he has seen it.

As a 15-year-old lad heading to work with his pals, he saw something that couldn’t be otherwise explained.

“This thing was flying about, left to right and up and down at about 10,000 miles an hour.

“We stood there watching it and then it stood there watching us for a bit, then just zoomed off.

“It was definitely controlled and moving in such a way that it is supposed to be impossible to move...”

Shaun’s colourful past makes him an easy target for the disbelievers.

But he’s got news for you: “You’ve got people like (Canadian Minister) Paul Hellyer coming out, and astronauts making their final statements before they die. These people don’t suddenly start dropping acid and then talking b******s. They are not just starting to talk c**p to embarrass their families when they are dead.”

During our chat the great conversationalist also discusses Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift (“I think they are f****n’ brilliant!), how he would like to walk in Dean Martin’s loafers, and the day his dad punched him on the nose – in front of 10,000 people: “...he was very p****d off,” he laughs, “Fantastic.”

Incredibly, three decades have passed since The Happy Mondays put out their first release.

“It just seems five minutes ago, it really does. As you get older I suppose time does go quicker, but no-one told me that when I was young...”

But when you put on a Mondays’ disc it still sounds potent, there’s still the swagger it was blessed with originally. It hasn’t aged, has it?

“No, it hasn’t...” he agrees, “It’s like when I listen back to Velvet Underground or The Doors or The Stones... to me, that’s not aged. You can put Jumpin’ Jack Flash on now and it will sound as smart as when it was recorded.”

You can’t have realised the material you laid down then would be held up as a beacon today?

“No, not at all. You can only hope. You think you’ve got something that is pretty alright, or good... we did something right.”

Music aside, the whiff of controversy that escorted ‘Madchester’s’ aces in the pack everywhere was a heady one. But there are no apologies to make and there is no regret.

“It’s not as if the press crippled us, we understood the power of the press,” Shaun says.

“We did want to be rock n rollers. We weren’t doing anything we were ashamed of.

“It was just part of being young kids and doing what young kids do, but making music while doing it.”

There have been a few splits and reunions over the years, but, speaking with me in advance of tomorrow’s headline date for ParkLive in Bedford, Shaun says he is perfectly happy in the here and now.

“You go through a lot of bull**** when you are young, and all sorts of c**p that really doesn’t mean a lot years later, but it’s because you are finding out who you are and understanding yourself... we are just fat old men now who enjoy playing our music and there’s no rubbish that goes with it.

“It’s great, it really is.”

And Shaun is juggling his music making; Black Grape are on again, and he has his solo material bubbling.

“Me and Kermit have started with Black Grape stuff, and I’ve got a solo album coming out next year... the Grape stuff will be out before the Mondays, but we will get a Mondays one done,” he promises.

“It’s still got that looseness, but we are tight and better players now than we were back then.

“One of the things about us back in the day was that we never realised how good we were.”

Happy Mondays will be joined by Ash and Stereo MCs for ParkLive, at Bedford Park tomorrow (Fri).

Gates at 6pm, tickets £32.50

Visit www.lphconcerts.co.uk/parklive/