In what could be construed as an effective warning as to the risks of cognitive impairment that can accompany long-term ecstasy abuse, Happy Mondays vocalist Shaun Ryder has traveled the world seeking evidence of UFOs. His travels were documented for air on a forthcoming new program, Shaun Ryder on UFOs, for the ever-increasingly misnamed History Channel, TV home of God, Guns and Automobiles, Storage Wars, and Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy.
In advance of the show’s debut, Ryder spoke to The Guardian about the close encounters he believes he experienced in his youth, his ongoing passion for UFOlogy, and his most recent sightings:
His sentences become disjointed. “Well, all I’ll tell yous, right, is that I’ve seen one, really close up, about 50 foot above, and it looks like a cartoon. It doesn’t look real. It looks like it’s made out of Airfix kit. They look like toys. When you’ve seen something as close as I’ve seen – and bullshit drink, drugs, bollox, none of it, absolutely normal and straight – and you see it and you know they’re here … “
Tell me more, I say. “I can’t go into any more detail, apart from that it was literally 50 foot above me.” Did he have any contact with it? “No, no, but the thing is I wasn’t frightened one bit. I was very peaceful and placid when I was looking at the thing.” He says it happened after he finished making the documentary series.
Well, there you go, someone call SETI and tell them to turn off the machines that go ‘ping,’ England’s most wasted saw it with his own bleary eyes, so clearly the matter’s settled.
(Before any believers go all berserk on me in the comments, I’m not dismissing the likelihood of life elsewhere. I just think it’s telling that the world’s best and most dedicated scientific minds have thus far located none, despite decades of rigorous search, but we’ve got plentiful anecdotal testimony from hayseeds, drug and alcohol casualties, the mentally ill, and profiteering charlatans. In a universe as vast as the one in which we occupy a pitiful little corner, it’s incredibly unlikely that self-reproducing organisms and sentience are unique to Earth. But it’s even less likely that whatever technologically advanced E.T. life as may exist has made it its mission to traverse the vastness of the cosmos and stick things in our butts.)
Truth is, though, it’ll probably be a vastly entertaining show. Ryder is a gifted bigmouth. I was so fortunate as to interview him face-to-face in the late ‘80s, and though he was only just barely coherent from God knows what he and Bez were dosed on, it was massively enjoyable - captivating, really - just to be in a room with him talking. The sheer force of his lively personality is nothing to dismiss, which is why he’s lately experienced a career renaissance as a UK reality television personality. If his show turns up on Hulu, I will most certainly check out an episode or two. After all, the Mondays were basically a rickety band whose sheer energetic joy pushed them into transcendental greatness, maybe Ryder can tap that magic again on television? Failing that, he’ll still be himself, merrily opining, a sort of lumpen, less-literate Julian Cope. And that’ll be fun, too.
Enjoy Ryder in his prime, in 1989 on BBC Four’s “Club X”