Rowetta Exclusively chats to Revive Magazine about being a shining role model to women and all about the clubbing scene in the ’80s.
An icon of the Manchester scene, a role model to women and shining example of how doing things your own unique way always works, Rowetta first hit the Manchester club scene in the 80s before becoming a singer for the acclaimed groups Inner City and the legendary Happy Mondays.
From then she was at the epicentre of the Manchester music scene, travelling up the charts and touring the world. After a few years out of the limelight Rowetta was back conquering prime time television as a contestant on X-Factor coming third overall.
Fast forward to today now the Happy Mondays have reformed Rowetta and the band are well and truly back with a bang and are as popular as ever topping festival bills across the UK. Alongside this Rowetta regularly makes club appearances across Europe.
How’s it going?
All really good thanks. A really busy start to the year… just the way I like it.
So as the undisputed Queen of Manchester how do you think the music scenes compare with then and now?
It’s really difficult to say. A lot of the music from back in the day still sounds fresh now and a lot of the bands are still performing to packed houses, and nights celebrating that period and even festivals always do really well.
There are some great up and coming bands. Very punk and I love punk. Music with attitude and bands with swagger and something to say.
There’s probably less ecstasy about, but I think that’s a good thing. You shouldn’t need a pill to dance and have a good time. If the club, the band or the music aren’t enough, go home.
What are your fondest memories of that time?
I have so many. Touring the world and doing my first Top of the Pops. Glastonbury, Rock In Rio and the reaction to my singing often blew me away back then and still does now. Best feeling in the world.
What was it like to work with the late great Tony Wilson?
I loved him so much. I have so many great memories. My favourite day with him was the two of us compering an anti-racism gig in Heaton Park with Ice T and his band Bodycount headlining.
There was trouble at the event, but I got to spend the most amazing day with Tony. Very special. He was a great man and inspired me a lot, even before I met him.
I was also lucky enough to spend quality time with him during the making of 24 Hour Party People. I played myself in the film and Tony was often on set. We even all got to go with him to the Cannes Film Festival.
A surreal and beautiful trip that I’ll never forget.
Did you have any idea when the Happy Mondays first released music the songs would be as popular so many years later?
I always thought that if I got to sing with them, it would add something special. Much like when Gloria sang with T-Rex.
During the making of Pills & Thrills, I think we all believed that some of those tunes would be timeless classics. It was magical.
Why do you think music fans and the city are still so obsessed with the Manchester scene? What’s the appeal?
The music still sounds as good today and the characters from the scene are unique, funny, clever & cool.
You’re still making music and performing headline shows, are you still as passionate as you always were?
Absolutely. Probably more so now as my children are grown and it’s much easier to work with producers and other writers and bands from all over the world thanks to the worldwide web and I love the interaction with fans and supporters.
You are also huge on the house music scene and a regular in the Ibiza clubs, how do muddy festival appearances compare to the house scene?
Well I don’t really get too muddy at the festivals as I’m usually in my dressing room before and after appearing and then back on the tour bus or to a hotel. I love baths too much to do the whole festival thing, but I love performing at them and I’m lucky to have performed at so many.
I love the house scene. It’s like a one big family and everyone comes together at the music seminars. This year I’m doing BMC (Brighton), IMS (Ibiza) and ADE (Amsterdam). Last year a lot of collaborations were conceived at these events.
I write and record house tunes all the time in my studio at home and it’s such a buzz to hear them played in a club. I’m lucky that I still get played a lot in Ibiza which is the world’s clubbing Mecca.
Are you listening to any new bands at the moment?
I love Fontaine’s D.C. and have followed them from the early days. Amazing to see them do so well now. To me, as a band, they’re perfection and really good lads too.
So what’s next for Rowetta?
Watch out for an Amorphous Androgynous release coming soon from Gaz Cobain. It’s called ‘Mantra (Crossing Over)’ – Paul Weller and me on vocals, Steve Craddock on guitar, Noel Gallagher on drums and bass and Kate Bush’s nephew Raven Bush on violin. It’s epic!!!
I’m ambassador of The Pankhurst Centre & Women’s Aid so will be doing lots of things with them this year as well as other charities I’m involved in.
Justice for Yousef Makki is a cause close to my heart. I just sang for his family and friends to celebrate his life on the first anniversary of his passing.
I will be releasing lots of house tunes this year and some dream gigs are happening but haven’t been announced yet.
My next gig is Paradiso, Amsterdam with the Mondays. It sold out straight away which is great, 30 years after I first played there with them.
Myself and Bez have our own club nights now ‘On the sixth day God created Manchester’ which we love. Proper party nights with Bez’s son Arlo on the decks.
When can we next catch you live in the UK?
My next Manchester gig is Manchester Adored presents The Circus at Bowlers on March 28th. That is going to be a great night. Me, Bez, A Guy Called Gerald and loads of top names as well as the best tribute bands from the Manchester scene with a circus theme. It’s one not to be missed!
Thank You Rowetta
Image credits – Angie Wynne
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