Space Monkeys are a band that originated in Middleton, Manchester in 1995. Their debut album The Daddy of Them All was released in 1997 with single ‘Sugar Cane’ reaching 58 in the Billboard chart. They split up in 2000 and reformed 15years later in 2015, we caught up with them for a chat ahead their show at Band on the Wall in Manchester on Saturday 8th April.

Hi Richard [McNevin-Duff], Space Monkeys originally formed in 1995, during a time when Manchester music was was all over the media with Oasis and the end of the Manchester era. What influences did you take from this period to create such an iconic sound?

I was already in a band in 87/88 just starting out, still at school. The Stone Roses & Happy Mondays were the catalyst for me believing that I could actually do it myself, sing in your own accent, dress how you wanted, have a bit of attitude. My first band split up in 1992 after a gig at the first In The City festival in Manchester. The support band that night was Oasis. The week before we had played in Oxford and Radiohead supported us. Two years later they were both massive, great bands doing their own thing, so that made me determined to push on and that’s when I started Space Monkeys and we made our own sound by mixing up beats & loops & samples on top of the guitars.

You were the last ever band to sign to Factory Records and sold over 250,000 copies of your debut album ‘Daddy Of Them All’. What was it like to be signed to such an influential record label?

The first thing Tony Wilson said to me was ‘I can’t make you rich or famous but I will let you make the music you want and I guarantee we will have a lot of fun’. There was never any talk of marketing budgets, sales strategies, band image, none of that corporate nonsense you hear these days. I read an interview the other day with Ed Sheeran talking about his ‘brand’ and how his music ‘filled a gap in the market’ – shut the f**k up, it’s music not the stock exchange, it’s supposed to change people’s lives not be a pension plan.

We had five years of fun with Factory, as promised. We made a great record and toured the world. The last thing Tony ever said to me was equally memorable – ‘I think you should go and talk to someone else now, darling’. 

You’ve had various different line up changes and split in 2000. What has happened in the 15 year gap and what’s changed for the band now that you’ve reformed?

There’s a quote from the Stone Roses that says they split because they were all on different drugs at different times. Towards the end of the 90’s we were on all of the drugs all of the time. Now we just stick to Vimto and everything is lovely and mellow.

Having been playing in the 90s and now 20 years later, what’s changed in the music scene over this time?

I preferred it when people used to write songs. 

It’s hard for bands these days to find the time though to be fair, so much time stood in fields of tulips wearing Top Shop clobber for photos and tweeting how awesome every gig was they just did.

You formed in Manchester during a fantastic time for bands like Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Northside and many others. Are you proud to be classed as part of the Manchester music scene?

We were too late to be part of it and we swerved Britpop completely cos we hated it. We were more into Chemical Brothers, Biggie Smalls, Wu Tang Clan at the time funnily enough. But yeah we are a guitar band and we come from Manchester. I met Ian Brown after they played Carlisle last year and I told him it was inspiring when I first heard Sally Cinnamon in 87 cos it was the first time I’d heard someone singing in a Manchester accent. He smiled at me and said he wasn’t signing in any accent and he was from Warrington. Cool as f**k.

The music scene has changed dramatically since then, what are your views on the new bands coming through the Manchester music scene like you did 20years ago?

Cabbage are my favourite new band, really great – a breath of fresh but dirty air. And The Blinders are cool too. There’s a new band called Scuttlers, mates of ours, who are a band to keep an eye on for the future. 

You’ve recently played the Shiiine On Weekender cruise to Amsterdam. How was that experience sharing a bill with the likes of Peter Hook & the Light and Dodgy?

Everything about the whole Shiiine On Weekender festival is just a top, top vibe. It’s all about the music and the people and living life to the full and opening your mind to new experiences. Who else would put on a gig on a boat to Amsterdam? You need mavericks like that. I jumped off stage after the gig and landed in the arms of James from EMF. Unbelievable. He is a really lovely guy and we had a top weekend on that trip. So I’m told.

Looking forward what are you plans, do you have an album lined up or plans to release new songs?

We have a load of songs and plan to get in a studio as soon as possible to record a new album as soon as possible. We have two offers to do some kind of deal but may stay independent and do it all ourselves in the old Factory Records spirit.

Where can people catch you over the next few months and during festival season?

We play Band On The Wall on Saturday 8th April with Déjà Vega and Scuttlers and Brian Cannon from Microdot DJing at the aftershow. We play Lille at L’Aeronef on June 10th. After that we plan to hit the studio. Catch us while you can.

Words: Stuart Daley