Old punks never die... they just keep on touring.
Rather than get a ‘proper’ job, former Damned drummer Rat Scabies is still criss-crossing the UK, and on Easter Sunday arrives at Bathgate’s Dreadnought for ‘Scabies and James play Damned Damned Damned’ - a celebration of the first UK punk album.
And for Rat this is a natural show to perform.
“We’ve been working on and off together since ‘76,” he says of guitarist and chief songwriter, Brian James. “It just seemed right with the 35th anniversary of the album - since it was him that wrote it!”
The duo have been forced to bring in some hired hands - bassist Austpig, and Chex, who “does a good job” of taking on (original vocalist) Dave Vanian’s vocal duties without simply impersonating him.
Rat still seems surprised at the longevity of the release - “It was supposed to be disposable pop music! But it stands up as a record - and people still seem to like it...”
One unique aspect of Rat and Brian’s shows is that they cover the second ‘forgotten’ album Music For Pleasure - produced by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, it wasn’t as well-received as their seminal debut.
“We wrote it in three months versus three years for the first” he points out. “We’d toyed with being psychedelic, but it didn’t really work out.” By then the band was “starting to disintegrate - there’s not a lot of happy memories from that period.”
However, Rat is enjoying the prospect of the multi-date UK tour, which he will combine with his other hobby - some might say obsession. A book entitled ‘Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail’ documents his many trips to Rennes Le-Chateau in France as well as Rosslyn Chapel.
“To be honest I got fed up with being the mad drummer bloke, so I’m pleased to be seen in a different light”, he says. He’s often up in Scotland anyway, producing (Edinburgh punks) Gin Goblins, “I’m a part-time resident,” he says.
But does he not tire of the constant travelling? “We suffered for our art,” he cackles. “ Now it’s your turn!”
• Scabies and James play Damned Damned Damned, at Bathgate’s Dreadnought on Sunday 8th April, with support from Cash From Chaos