Interview: Britpop era music hero is back!

Mansun in their 1990s heyday with lead singer Paul Draper, second from right.
Mansun in their 1990s heyday with lead singer Paul Draper, second from right.

Harrogate fans of iconic 90s band Mansun will be thrilled to know its former lead singer has his first highly-anticipated solo album out and is back on the road.

And he might be doing an extra gig in Leeds next year following his record-signing visit in Leeds next week.

Known for ducking the widespread Swinging 60s nostalgia of the Britpop era with proggish hits like Taxloss, I’d Only Disappoint You and Wide Open Space, Paul Draper says this incredibly inventive group is finally starting to get the dues its 14 top 40s hits and playful originality deserve.

Paul said: “We were never go to be The Beatles but other other musicians have come to revere us since we split up in 2003.

“We were completely out of time during Britpop, we were a little but dark and a bit interesting.

“But we never took ourselves too seriously. Our first album was full of childhood influences, a lot of skits like The Goons who I loved.

“We fought a lot in Mansun between ourselves but our fans were hardcore fans.

“The new album contains all my thoughts about the band since I left it.”

Released tomorrow, Friday, Spooky Thoughts is as poppy and provocatively honest as the band he led from its formation in Chester in 1995 for nearly 10 years.

A particular favourite of mine, the band featured regularly in my own Leeds, York and Harrogate-based music magazine Charm which ran for four years in the late 90s.

Thankfully one listen to tracks such as Who’s Wearing The Trousers, Friends Make The Worst Enemies and lead single Don’t Poke The Bear says nothing much has changed in the quality department.

Paul said: “After Mansun it seemed like I’d disappeared; my career took an odd curve.

“But I’ve got busier and busier in writing and production for other acts, as well as the Mansun box set.

“I felt burnt out from the band. We were the Sex Pistols of Britpop. We shone brightly and then exploded.

“Until recently I just loved being in the studio.”

Turn apart by stormy musical and personal differences with regular changes of personnel – one drummer even died of a heroin overdose – the price of creating groundbreaking albums with Mansun like The Grey Lantern and Six was high.

But that was 20 years ago and fans who turn up at Jumbo Records in Leeds next Monday, August 14 at 6pm will discover a Paul Draper who’s happy to sign copies of Spooky Action.

Although his show at Brudenell Social Club on September 14 is already sold out, Paul is keen to tell to tell me that he hopes to return to Leeds in February at a larger venue.

Who knows, there might even be a Mansun reunion at some point in the future?

Paul said: “The rest of the band do want to do it. To be honest, I don’t think I would have any time now.

“I intend to take it one step at a time. I’m fairly successful and everyone seems to be behind the new album.

“I want to move forward but I’m not going to pretend the old stuff doesn’t exist. I will be doing a couple of Mansun tracks in the solo tour.”