Mani about the house: interview with Mani, Front, 2002

Mani about the house: interview with Mani, Front, 2002


Bass guitarist with Primal Scream, once with the Stone Roses, Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield looks like a coalminer who has won the Lottery. He’s got a rugged face but a posh gent’s haircut. Mani was out in London last night filming the Beta Band for his show Nu Music on Play UK. As he bowls through the revolving door into the hotel, he looks on the pale side. ‘Shall we do this over a beer?’ Mani is asked. ‘You’re talking my language, ha-ha-ha!’ he replies. He laughs a lot, does this Mancunian, but when you were an integral part of one of the best albums ever made – The Stone Roses – there’s much to smile about.

Front, 2002

What’s the best new music for you at the moment?
Obviously I’ve given The Strokes a listen to and The White Stripes and stuff like that. I think it’s good. And the Beta Band, for me, they’re amazing. They do it on many levels, d’yer know what I mean?

What about dance stuff? Do you keep an interest in that?
Yeh, cos I go out doin’ spots of DJing and all that. I’m still a complete vinyl junkie. I spend way too much money and me missus just kicks me arse because of it. I’ll go out to get the shoppin’ and I’ll come back with three bags full of vinyl.

Do you buy two of everything?
Well I should do, cos you trash ’em, and you get some people pinch ’em, stuff like that. Ian Brown nicked some of me best reggae albums, heh-heh-heh. I lent ’em him years ago and then it all went a bit pear-shaped. Last I time I seen one of ’em, there was a jam butty on it, heh-heh-heh. So I knew what the rest were gonna be like, heh-heh-heh, d’yer know what I mean?

Do you like trance?
Well, it’s all right but I’ve been at it since 1989 in the house scene. The shine’s beginning to rub off a bit for me. A lot of the dance music now is just bland.

Next year it’ll be breakbeats.
I’m bang up for breakbeats and hip-hop and stuff like that. Strip down all the crap away from it and just leave it as what it is.

You’re doing telly now, presenting Nu Music on Play UK with Leeroy Thornhill from The Prodigy. Live bands, interviews – are you two mates from ages back?
I first met up with The Prodigy guys in Tokyo at a festival. They played on the same bill at night. I’ve nicked this loudhailer and I think everyone was a little bit spannered and I was shoutin’, ‘Has anyone got any drugs?’ just windin’ ’em up and we just palled up and have a good laugh every time we meet up. They’re good guys, man. Leeroy’s excellent.

Is television a new direction for you?
Oh no, I’m a bass player, a guitarist, mate. It’s only because I was bored and I had two weeks off. So instead of sitting there with a big bag of skunk and doin’ nowt I might as well get out there and earn a few bob.

Will you be taking tips from established music presenters like Jamie Theakston and that tart Vernon?
No. I was just busking it.

Theakston’s got to be a knobhead.
He’s lovely. I met Vernon at Reading actually this year. He’s all right, he’s just young, dumb and full of come, int’ he? He’s got in on the back of a blag and he’s doin’ well for himself.

But he thinks he’s the lead singer of The Verve in his head.
Yeh, but I think I’m Barry White, heh-heh-heh, d’yer know what I mean? There you go, ha-ha-ha!

Will we be seeing any boy bands on your Nu Music programme?
I f***in’ hope not. No way, man. Not in any life to come or previous. Never. It’s basically a platform for unsigneds, to give ’em a shot. It’s really difficult, even more so now than it was in 1989 to get on the TV or on the radio or anything like that. So we just give ’em a break.

How do you think up a bass line?
Usually I’ll pinch it from someone else’s song. Music, it’s finite, yer know what I mean? There’s only so many chords and progressions you can use. But that’s how I’d approach it. When I’ve written a song I look at some of that and use it as a template. For years I was trying to nick I Want You Back by the Jackson Five to go in a Stone Roses song. I can play it, but I couldn’t just change it enough.

So what do you do – reverse it and chop it up?
Yeh, that’s the way it works. But I’ve got away with some beauties that I’ve never got caught for.

Didn’t the Roses sue MC Tunes for ripping off a bass line on Tunes Splits The Atom?
Well no, he asked me in the Hacienda when I went, and I said no, I don’t want no money for it, do it, just to give him a hand, because it’s not about money, d’yer know what I mean? I’ll never be looking in a skip for me tea, so I don’t have to be so mercenary that I have to chase people for 10p’s.

Do you think we’re developing as many good bands now as we did in the late 80s when you were coming through?
I think music’s gettin’ healthier again. It went through a real bland phase and all this boy band shite and all the manufactured gear, but it’s getting back to organic guitar rock again and I’m happy about that cos I do like it.

Do you like Radiohead?
Do you know, hand on me heart, right, I’ve never heard a Radiohead or a Blur album or anything like that, or a Travis album.

You’re lucky.
I’ve met ’em as guys and I think they’re great guys, but it’s a little big proggy. Good luck wi’ ’em, yer know. Anyone who picks up an instrument and does it, you can’t knock ’em for it.

There doesn’t seem to be any life to these bands, Coldplay, Radiohead…
I think Radiohead approach it in a more intelligentsia sort of way.

But the best music has always been made by lads from council estates. And if you want to be miserable, just listen to Joy Division.
Ha-ha-ha, it cannot be beat. Closer, is the album for misery. When I want to feel miserable, I put Closer on. A great comedown album after a good Saturday night out.

Do you watch music programmes?
I’ll watch anything.

CD:UK’s not too bad.
CD:UK refused to have Primal Scream on. I think we’d gone in the charts. I think we’d gone Top 10, and they said we didn’t quite fit with their musical policy. Then you have Slash on, swearin’ and what have you. The Scream have got somethin’ of a bad rep, haven’t they, in the industry?

You’d have thought Ant and Dec would love you on the show.
They probably imagined we’d have ’em tied up and givin’ ’em Chinese burns and everythin’, man. That’s probably why, and it’s probably a good job they didn’t.

Do you still watch Top Of The Pops?
I do occasionally but not as much. The singles chart is just so banal. I can’t have it no more, so ergo, I don’t watch Top of the Pops. But that’s a programme I did grow up watching when I was a kid, seein’ Gary Glitter and all that.

When Stone Roses and Happy Mondays were on Top Of The Pops, that was the best ever show.
Us and the Mondays on. What can be better than my men getting E’d off yer tits. You can tell I’m f***in’ so obviously E’d off me nut on Top Of The Pops. I’ve got it somewhere lurking about on video. But that was a really, really funny day. Us and the f***in’ Mondays were just out of control and we was knocking on other peoples’ doors. Sidney Youngblood, we met him. Sidney Youngblood come knocked on our door and come in and said, ‘Hey, love your album.’ We were sitting and waiting and that was his song, ‘All we can do is sit and wait.’ So he said, ‘What are you up to?’ And we just said, ‘Oh, sitting and waiting,’ ha-ha-ha. And then we burst in on the Fine Young Cannibals and they were all sat like a bunch of complete fistheads and we were like, ‘What’s the matter with you, have half of one of these?’ you know, trying to get ’em bang at us. So it was one of them kind of days.

Who do you support?
Man U.

Do you go to games?
Not as much as I used to. I used to be home and away every bloody week but a vicious outbreak of music has put paid to me football hooligan career, heh-heh-heh.

Did you used to have a bit of a runaround?
Yeh. Back in the day.

Were you naughty?
Well the best one for me, there was a riot on a ferry going to a pre-season tournament in about 1983/84 with United and West Ham and I was on it, heh-heh-heh!

Was somebody chucked off the boat?
I think so. I was on it but the worst thing about it is, I was only going to Amsterdam to get a bit of puff, d’yer know what I mean? I never knew there was a tournament on, that’s how arsed I was about it, and the next thing you know, I bumped into all these Mancs and it’s like, ‘Alright, man?’ and it’s gone off and it’s gone mad. Really, really mad. Everyone was hanging each other over the side of the ship. Mad. Madness. West Ham was in the upstairs bar and United was in the downstairs and it all come to a head on the stairs. People were just stabbin’ people in the legs. But I’m glad ecstasy came and calmed all that shit down cos it’s just f***in’ pointless. The dole-queue boredom, man. All you had to look forward to was slapping someone on a Saturday. It’s not very good, is it?

Who did you used to have trouble with?
Always been Leeds, Liverpool, City and West Ham. But enough of that idle banter, heh-heh-heh, d’yer know what I mean?

Do you keep in touch with Ian Brown?
Yeh, I’m the only one who keeps in contact with the other three. It’s only music, right? There’s no reason why you should f***in’ hate each other. But certain people won’t ever speak to certain people ever again, d’yer know what I mean? It’s really bloody sad, you know. Really, really sad. And it’s only music. We’re not gonna cure any major diseases, we’re just making tunes, so why get completely out of your pram about it?

Do you like Ian Brown’s recent material?
I think Ian’s moving in a pretty cushy direction at the minute. All I’ve heard from the new album is the ‘FEAR’ single. It’s good, and the video on the BMX bike going backwards, man, heh-heh-heh. He’s a quixotic f***er him, a fuckin’ strange boy. I’m really chuffed cos about the same time we were doing Second Coming – I’ve always hated Led Zeppelin… and to hear John going mad in a Led Zeppelin style. Me, Ian and Reni were more for doin’ funk, kinda proper twisted funk.

Funk’s always going to come through – it’s the good-time sound.
We were the blackest white guys on the planet, know what I mean? I had such a knowledge from growing up with northern soul and Funkadelic and Parliament and all that kinda stuff. We’ve always plundered that kind of stuff, for ideas more than anything. The whole Ibiza thing for me right now is soulless, and it should burn and die, so the phoenix from the flames, something new can come from it. It’s gone really corporate. It’s totally corporate, man. I got a DJing slot at Manumission a couple of years ago. Check this out, Mixmag voted me the worst DJ in Ibiza that year. At Manumission, there was 8,000 there and I came out of me blocks with Exploited ‘Barmy Army’, ‘Cranked Up Really High’ by Slaughter And The Dogs, ‘Never ’Ad Nothing’ by The Angelic Upstarts and I just started playing loads of punk. They just froze. It spoilt everyone’s E buzz and it was Richard Norris from The Grid who just went clunk and dragged me off. But mission accomplished.

Trouble is with Manumission, it’s five quid for a bottle of water.
Yeah, the corporate angle again. As soon as big business gets involved it’s ruined immediately. You end up saying, ‘Are you taking the piss, man?’ It’s mad innit?

What’s Bobby Gillespie like to work with?
He’s such a beautiful human being, and he’s a poet, man. He’s very, very knowledgeable, very wise about his music.

There’s few people like that in the pop industry.
A lot of people dun’t know shit from shineola, but Gillespie is a music lover and that’s one of the main reasons why I decided to join the Scream.

Whose idea was that? Did he come to you?
What it was, was, when we were recording the Second Coming, we’re in a residential studio. Me and Squire had been beavering away in our rooms on porta-studios. I’d heard these sounds drifting across, something new, and I go and knock on the door, stop, and it was him working on his Seahorses LP while doing the Stone Roses album.

Oh dear. Did you like The Seahorses?
Yeah, nothing against them, man. I thought they were great lads. So I caught John, he had a hidden agenda kinda thing. And good luck to him. I can’t hold it against him cos it was getting’ really f***in’ smelly at this time. So we played in 94, the Second Coming tour, we played at Brighton Conference Centre, and Bobby and half the Scream guys were there, and I ended up kidnapping them onto our tour bus and takin’ ’em to South Wales. But I was havin’ words in his ear sayin’ it’s gonna end, and he was like, ‘F***in’ yes! We’d love to have you in our band!’ I’d kind of done me business. I had to do it cos I’d caught other people doing it. It broke me heart to see me dream go up in smoke with the Stone Roses, and that was me dream for all me life. But you’ve got to move on. Under the Bosman free-transfer rule. I think it’s been an absolutely wonderful transfer.

How long you been with the Primals now?
Five years now. Can you f***in’ believe that? A f***in’ armed robbery stretch already, do you know what I mean? Yeh, it’s flown by.

With the records you’ve done, what have you been most proud of?
The XTRMNTR LP I thought was great. I only made it onto the tail end of the Vanishing Point album, with ‘Kowalski’, and that’s when everyone just went ‘F***in’ yes!’ But the XTRMNTR LP I’m real proud of.

XTRMNTR and Vanishing Point – they’re both really different albums.
Yeah, but that’s what we endeavour to do with the Scream. Every album is different than the last one. But then within an album, we try and make every track different. Just to keep us interested, cos musicians have got really short attention spans, so you’ve got to just try and keep it fresh to keep yourself interested otherwise you just end up bored shitless.

What’s the new album going to be like?
The new album, we’re about six or seven songs into it. It’s sounding once again really, really diverse, but then it’s like a mish-mash of everything we’ve ever done. Absolutely everyone throws stuff in, gives it a stir. Then I’ll do something funky with a bass and take the song in a totally mad direction.

Does it still make you smile when you come up with a good tune?
It does man, and the day I start not doing that is the day I should go and get a paper round, d’yer know what I mean? But I’m proud of stuff from both really. Have a look at these man [points to feet], Adidas. I set Adidas the task of finding me really vintage Adidas training shoes and they get ’em.

Very nice. The best thing to do is buy good trainers now, keep them in a room for 20 years and sell them…
Sell ’em to Japan. Funnily enough, I’ve been doing that for 20 years. I am the Imelda Marcos of Manchester.

How many pairs of trainers have you got?
F***in’ hundreds.

What size are you?
Seven. Ah-hah-hah-hah-hah, look at him fishing!

Are you a bit of a labels man?
I’ll wear anything. What I love more than anything these days is getting free stuff. Levi’s were sponsoring us for ages and I’ve got racks and racks of top jeans and stuff like that.

What size waist are you?
That would be f***in’ telling, hah-hah-hah. You’re well after fleecing me wad, man.

And your home address is?
25, The High Street, Anytown, Anywhere.

I know you’re a Paul Weller fan. What’s your favourite Jam record?
Well The Jam for me, I love really obscure things like ‘Life From A Window’, stuff like that. I love The Jam. I love Paul Weller.

You’ve got a Paul Weller haircut.
No, he’s got a Mani haircut, hah-hah-hah.

Isn’t Weller difficult to get on with?
He always says to me, ‘Still got it geezer.’ It sends f***in’ shivers up me back.

Do you consider yourself a mod?
Yeh, I’ve still got a Lambretta.

Were you in a scooter club?
That’s where I first met Ian Brown and John Squire. Cos I had a gang of scooter boys when I was livin’ round Moston in north Manchester and we was having some real shit with these National Front f***in’ skinheads, right, so we got in touch with Ian and John and their crew from south Manchester and we joined up and went and hospitalised them, these fascists, and that’s where I first met Squire and Brown. A good way to forge an alliance.

What bike have you got?
I’ve got an SX200 Lambretta that’s beautiful. In my scooter gang, it was no mods allowed. It was all scallies. We were called The Bogeymen, and we were just thieving little bastards, when we’d go on scooter runs – hah-hah-hah! Wait for the mods to start smashing things up, then we’d go in.

Did you have any run-ins with mod crews?
Oh aye, yeh. A gang called the Scunthorpe Pathfinders, and we had run-ins with them in Scarborough in 1979. It was f***in’ massive. There were 10,000 scooterists there.

I was on holiday in Scarborough in 1979 and my dad told some mods to get off his car bonnet. A Vauxhall Carlton 2000 Estate in blue: SVY 441T.
Hah-hah-hah, respect, man! Well I was there! It was bananas! I still live for scooters, man. I love ’em.

Have you got all the mirrors on it?
No, no. It’s a 1966 restoration. Armando’s in Sheffield, this scooter shop did it there. Every nut and bolt gleams, man, and it looks like it just rolled off the production line. It’s the first Lambretta that I’ve ever had that kicks up first time. None of that bumping it down the street. It’s 66 or 67, Innocenti white, just plain and it’s beautiful. You can have No.1 records and all this acclaim but the day I knew I’d made it, these kids I know from Halifax started On Target, this scooter magazine, and I made the front cover. They did a feature on me and it made me proud, being on the front of a scooter magazine.

So being a mod, you would have felt uncomfortable making a Led Zeppelin album – which Second Coming was
Very much so. But at the end of the day John was just flowing, you know, and we just decided to leave him go. And I think the Second Coming ain’t a bad album. People were quick to pre-judge it, kinda thing. But I listen to that more than I do the first album.

‘Ten-Storey Love Song’ is a good record.
It is a great record. Do you remember the video for it? Reni didn’t bother turning up so we made a Reni mask and had a guy in it and me brother Greg ends up being Ian Brown’s stunt double. My brother gets in the video when Ian Brown says, ‘Ahh, can’t be arsed doin’ any more stuff.’ We got me brother in for a certain few scenes, from behind of course.

This fella from the Smashing Pumpkins, who has joined New Order, wears a Reni hat.
From the Smashing Pumpkins, aye, I’ve met him. Do you know what, I went to see ’em when they played in Liverpool. I went to meet Hooky, Peter from New Order, to get me tickets and Billy Corgan come over immediately: ‘Mani, Mani, I love the Stone Roses!’ Instantly, a beautiful guy, man. Bernard Sumner was telling me he went out to lunch with some friends in Chicago years ago and they brought this little kid along and it was Corgan. He’s always been a complete Mancunian music fan. He’s a lovely guy, man.

The new New Order album’s all right.
It’s really good. Have you heard ‘Rock The Shack’ with Bobby Gillespie on it?

Mmm, it’s the only one I don’t like.
I know, it’s shit, in’t it? They should have got me on it. Peter Hook, he’s a funny one, he’s one of the reasons I picked up a bass guitar. He always phones up and says, ‘How’s the world’s second-best bass player going?’ And I go, ‘I don’t know Pete, how are yer?’ See he calls me Number Two and I call him Number One. There’s a good mutual piss-taking thing goin’ on. He’s f***in’ beautiful, man. Respect to the guy.

What’s the best way for me to get a Bernard Sumner story?
Just give him four Es.

I might try a yachting story.
Yeh! Get him there on the ocean waves. Jolly jack tar, he loves it. Funnily enough, the Hacienda, before it was the Hacienda, it was the International Marina, a yacht showroom. How strange.

Haven’t you played with tribute band The Complete Stone Roses?
Have I played with ’em? I jumped up and played ‘She Bangs The Drums’ when I was pissed. I was out of me brains in Glasgow one night, and that’s the last night you’ll ever see me do that.

Last month in the magazine, we held a contest between The Charlatans and The Complete Stone Roses – and The Complete Stone Roses won.
I’ve always had a soft spot for The Charlatans.

But he always wanted to be Ian Brown.
But a lot of people always wanted to be Ian Brown. I went to see The Verve when they last played in Manchester. I was backstage with Dicky Ashcroft, and he introduced me to his mum, and it was let’s behave, let’s be polite, and Mrs Ashcroft said, ‘Ooh, Mani, our Richard used to have posters of you on the wall,’ and I looked at Dicky and Dicky was like, heh-heh-heh.

Does your neighbour tell you to turn your music down?
Funnily enough, I’ve never had a complaint. The only complaint I’ve had in 11 years of living at me house is when I was stripping me floors at 11 o’clock at night with the windows open to get rid of the dust.

Do you play music loud?
Oh, very loud cos I’m a deaf bass-playing bastard and me ears don’t work. D’yer know what I mean?

What do you ask for when you get your hair cut?
A Paul Weller.

Where do you get it done, in Manchester?
I get it done just round the corner from me. I’m living near Stockport now. The last time I went to get it done, I took a picture in from 1994, Stone Roses thing, when I was looking particularly f***in’ sexy, and I went, ‘Do that again please.’

How much do you pay for haircuts?
No more than a tenner. I always used to go to this place called Ken’s The Village Barber in Failsworth, and we all used to get the Joy Division shape, for years with a little flicky thing. Yeh, £1.20. I love barbers.

You love barbers?
Yeh. Old-skool barbers. There was a barber shop called Dave’s in Failsworth as well, where we used to go when we were punks. He was the only one who could do a good spike. You’d sit there reading nuddy-porn mags in the barbers – heh-heh-heh. He’d give you a scuffle mag to look through.

When was the last time you were kicked in the balls?
F***in’ great question. It was three weeks ago. It was just after the Reading Festival and I’d DJed on the Saturday night, I went home on the Sunday, and it was Bank Holiday Monday. It was the Gay Mardi Gras in Manchester. We went out on an all-dayer, a good booze up, a really good booze up. I was completely off me f***in’ ladder, man, and I sees these two coppers stood there. These two coppers looked so uptight. I was out with MC Tunes and an old gang of mates, and as we walked past these two coppers who were looking so anal and uptight, I pinched one of ’em’s arse and he grabbed hold of us and said he was gonna charge me with serious sexual assault. I said, ‘Listen mate, we’re only havin’ a giggle,’ but then later in the night there was some shenanigans outside some club and as I come bowling out this club, a copper’s pushed me, so I’ve f***in’ whacked him against a wall, then he’s riot-sticked me – I’ve just got rid of the bruise. A big long stripe. And on me knee. I was on the floor – check this out – walloped me on the knee, managed to get me in the balls, kneed me in the back, knee on the neck, handcuffed, put in the van and all me mates went, ‘That’s it, he’s nicked.’ I was gonna be charged with breach of the peace and this other copper in the back said, ‘F***in’ hell! It’s Mani out of the Stone Roses!’ and I’ve managed to blag me way out of it. They let me off. They’ve gone, ‘Sorry mate, sorry for pushing you and all that.’ And they give me a lift to the end of me road! And I’ve beat all me mates home! So the Stone Roses get me out of jail!