Returning to Australia for their first tour in eight years, Madness bring their zany antics and dozens of pop hits including House of Fun, It Must Be Love, Baggy Trousers and Our House to Fremantle Arts Centre on Monday, April 10. SHANE PINNEGAR pinned down drummer and band member since 1978, Daniel “Woody” Woodgate, to find out more.
How is it for you, being in Madness almost 40 years after you joined the band?
Well, I wake up every day thanking my lucky stars, thinking I’m a very lucky individual. Not many people get to do what they want to do, musically, and get paid for it, and travel the world. So, there you go – what more can you ask for?
You joined the band before they were even called Madness – you were there pretty much at Ground Zero for the band. For a bunch of late teens and 20-year olds, having those big hits on your first album and onwards, that must have been a very exciting time.
It was exciting. But it’s funny, it’s only in retrospect when you look back, you often see it for what it was. Because it was a roller coaster ride that kind of whooshed by at incredible speed, and most of the time you’re absolutely knackered [laughs], not knowing what had hit you! [We] didn’t go home for years, lived out of suitcases on tour… It was bloody hard work, and very tiring, and sometimes [we] wondered what it all meant, because it wasn’t the dream that [we] thought it was. This image of glamour, and stardom and stuff, it was hard to grasp.
There seems to be a bit of a contradiction within Madness. You guys can fight like cats and dogs, but, at the same time, you’re staunchly loyal and understanding of each other.
Oh, yeah, absolutely – it’s like a family. Come on, don’t tell me that you don’t fight with your brothers and your sisters and your mum and dad, come on – of course you do. For us, we speak our minds, and it’s like a family. Of course we fall out and we come back together again. But it’s like, I can have a go at one of my band members, but no-one else is allowed to have a go at one of my band members!
We’ve been through a lot, and the whole fact that we’re still together, I think says a lot. We tolerate each other, and as you get older … I think we all become a little less tolerant of things as we get older and stuck in our ways. But I do think that’s our strength: love and tolerance, really.
Do you feel that as a band and as individuals, you’ve coped well with the highs and lows of the pop world over almost 40 years?
I think we all deal with them in different ways, but the strength is in unity. We do look after each other, and we’ve had an open-door policy for years, where people can go off and do their own thing at times. It was all a bit much for Mark [Bedford, bassist] at one point – he went off and he wanted to expand his world and get into his art world. He’s a fully qualified graphic designer now, because he had a couple years out where he went off and got re-educated, and then he came back.
Chrissy Boy [Foreman, guitar], at times, he couldn’t cope with it all and left, and is back again. Mike Barson [keyboards] was the first to leave, and now he’s back. It’s because I think everyone’s got to be able to… there’s got to be a valve to let [the pressure off] – you’ve got to be able to explore other avenues at times. We allow that. It’s a bit like that song Hotel California, “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” [laughs]. You can never leave the band.
Last year you released twelfth album Can’t Touch Us Now. How’s that been received by fans?
It’s been extraordinary. We’re normally very wary of putting too many new songs in our set, because we’ve got, you know, 20-odd top 20 hits – that’s a long enough set as it is. We try and mix and match it, because obviously people come to see the hits. But it’s surprising how people have been demanding that we put more [new songs] in the set. It’s gone down incredibly well. We snuck in three, and we thought, let’s see how it goes, and it went down really, really, really well. So we added another, and all of a sudden we’ve got about six songs from the new album in the set, and they’re going down really well.
I think we’ve got a nice mix now. The last show we did in Britain really went down well, so we’re hoping to bring that to Australia and do the same show, and see how you lot like it!