'Mani' good years of Primal Scream

Emma Lee Ahead of Primal Scream headlining the NME Rock 'n' Roll Riot at the UEA in Norwich this Sunday, Emma Lee spoke with Madchester’ legend Gary Mani’ Mounfield.

Emma Lee

It's every rock musician's dream to be in a band which makes it onto one of those greatest acts of all time lists. Gary Mounfield has managed to do it twice. And all by accident.

Known as Mani, he was bassist in the Stone Roses, who ruled the 'Madchester' music scene in the late 80s and early 90s.

Fronted by the charismatic Ian Brown and driven by guitarist John Squire, they were responsible for anthems such as Fool's Gold, I Wanna Be Adored and I Am the Resurrection. In the early 90s the band went on hiatus, returning with the album Second Coming in 1995, which received a mixed critical reaction.

They finally imploded the following year, but Mani wasn't out of work for long, joining the already well established Primal Scream.

It turned out to be a shrewd move, as, thanks to regular reinventions - sometimes they're rock, sometimes they're dance, sometimes they've got the blues - they're still going strong.

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They recently released their ninth album Beautiful Future to great acclaim.

And one of the most exciting live acts around (despite the fact that they've got a good 20 years in age on the Arctic Monkeys), there's a chance to see them in action when they headline the NME Rock n Roll Riot Tour at the UEA in Norwich tomorrow night.

“When Bobby [Gillespie, frontman] asked me to join Primal Scream I thought, 'that's brilliant. I'm going to get meself another stretch of time off the dole,” Mani says.

Mani is great company. Mancunian, with a razor-sharp wit (he sounds just like Frank Gallagher from Shameless, especially when he says the word “paaaaarty”) he admits that he's ended up having a great career in music quite by chance.

“I was just really into the Clash, you know? And I ended up joining the Roses. And then I joined the Scream.”

He makes it sound so simple.

Although Primal Scream released their first album, Sonic Flower Groove, in 1987, the band actually dates back an astounding 26 years.

It was their 1991 record Screamadelica - an exciting collaboration with house music producers which was a groundbreaking crossover for the time - that assured them their place in the music hall of fame.

Their back catalogue is bursting with anthems, including Loaded, Movin on Up and Country Girl.

They've also got a reputation as a party (or should that be “paaaaarty”?) band.

“Do you know, the Scream have hung their spurs up a little bit,” says Mani. “I've not been drunk for a year now. We had a reputation as a party band, but we'd rather be known for our playing. There's tours that we can't actually remember being on. It all blurs into one.

“It's all about the music for us. I'm 46 now - let the Arctic Monkeys party like it's 1999, they're young enough,” he laughs.

So do they get in training for going out on the road?

“No, there's no going to the gym or anything. Can you imagine us in the gym? That would be what kills us,” he says.

The band's current line-up is completed by guitarist Andrew Innes, keyboard player Martin Duffy and Darrin Mooney on drums.

And they're raring to get out on tour in the UK after a mini warm-up jaunt around Europe.

“The Scream are on fire. We just wanted to carry on playing,” Mani says.

“We've got a great back catalogue - nine albums. On the European leg of the tour the set was up to an hour and three quarters. We can change it every night and freshen it up. It keeps it exciting for us as well.”

For their latest album Primal Scream have moved to a new label - B-Unique. It's also their only album (so far) to feature the same marimba and piano that Sweden's finest musical export, Abba, used on some of their best-loved hits.

That came about because some tracks were recorded in Stockholm with Bjorn Yttling (of Peter, Bjorn and John) at Atlantis Studios, where Dancing Queen and Money, Money, Money were made.

The band started recording Beautiful Future in February 2007 in their own studio in London's Chalk Farm. There's an eclectic list of collaborators on the record - duets with Lovefoxxx from Brazilian electro popsters CSS and folk icon Linda Thompson, and guitar riffs from Josh Homme of rock behemoths Queens of the Stone Age, plus Youth and Paul Epworth among the producers.

So how did the different collaborations come about?

“It depends on the type of song. If it's an anthem then Youth's your boy,” he says.

“Myself and Bobby ended up partying with CSS. We thought it was a bunch of kids - and then we saw them on TV. Lovefoxxx is a lovely young lady.

“And me and Darrin are big Queens of the Stone Age fans. We'd been trying to turn Bobby and Andy on to them for years. Josh and Queens love the Scream and Bobby did a vocal for them in LA. We collared Josh in London and got him into the studio and had a jam with him. And from that jam they somehow managed to lift out his part and we built a song around it,” he says.

Coming back to his previous life in the Stone Roses, rumours regularly do the rounds that they're planning a reunion to say a proper goodbye - they went out with a whimper rather than a bang. But Mani says it's not on the cards just yet. Although he hopes people power will win out.

“Ian Brown doesn't want to do it. Much as I love him he's got the power to say no and he's saying no. I would love to do it. Go on Ian Brown's MySpace and shame him into doing it,” he says.

t Primal Scream headline the NME Rock n Roll Riot Tour at the UEA, Norwich, this Sunday. Box office: 01603 508050 (information on www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk). Support comes from RTX and Christine. The latest album, Beautiful Future, is out now.