Shaun Ryder says Black Grape's new music has ''topped the first album'' because they've ditched the party lifestyle

The 54-year-old frontman - who formed the group in 1993 with his Happy Mondays band mate Mark 'Bez' Berry , Paul Leveridge (Kermit), Carl 'Psycho' McCarthy and drummer Ged Lynch - believes ''not feeding habits'' like he and Bez openly admitted to doing in their earlier years, helped them focus on their new tracks for a better sound.

He said: ''I think we've topped the first album. We had certain restrictions on the first album, at the time there wasn't many people who was a black guy and a white guy trying to do hip-hop, especially in the States. What we had to cater for was that big white rock audience, to make it grow we had to have a few rock tunes in there so it didn't quite come out the way we'd have liked it.

''On this our writing's better, we're not feeding habits anymore or living in that world where that was very important to us.

And the outspoken singer admitted that being drug-free and leaving behind a wild lifestyle has made him ''do more than'' he's ever done before as he now has a ''busier schedule''.

He told NME: ''If somebody had told me years ago how simple it'd be. You get off your face and everything because you think it's gonna make things easier, but now I've probably got a busier schedule, I'm doing more than I've ever done, and there seems to be more time.

''20 years ago, apart from the drummer (Ged), everyone was a party-head, everyone liked getting off their faces, it was one big party. Now the guys we've got in the band, they're all in their mid-30s, they really are musos and they're really good.''

Black Grape is now just formed of Shaun, Kermit and Danny Williams.