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Rat Scabies talks Professor and the Madman, Damned, pandemic
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

» See more SOUND CHECK

It's been a productive five years for Professor and the Madman.



Since first coming together, the quartet of punk rock veterans -- D.I. bandmates Alfie Agnew and Sean Elliott from California, Rat Scabies and Paul Gray from London and the Damned -- has released four studio albums and a live set. The new "Séance," which comes out Friday, Nov. 13, is the group's most ambitious to date, a concept album, recorded remotely, about a friends who gather to say goodbyes to loved ones.



For Scabies, meanwhile, some reunion concerts for The Damned's original lineup are on tap for July in the U.K., marking 45 years since the release of the iconic group's debut single "New Rose"...



• Scabies (real name Christopher Millar) says the pandemic recording of "Séance" wasn't really much different than the way Professor and the Madman work, anyway. "They're in California and I'm in London, so just like before I kinda got the bones of the songs sent to me and then I went into the studio with an engineer and worked my way through it -- the loneliness of the long-distance drummer! (laughs). The songs are always pretty well constructed but they haven't necessarily written all the lyrics; I get a lot of la-la-la, but I get the flavor of it, and they don't really tell me anything other than 'Here are some new tunes. Can you put drums on them, please?' and I do what I want. And usually I've done my bit before they put Paul Gray on."



• Scabies adds that he did notice a greater level of sophistication in the material Agnew and Elliott sent him for "Séance." "In some ways it was almost as if they'd grown up a bit. The first record I made with them, it wasn't tongue-in-cheek but you could tell they were enjoying themselves. This one, I found, is a lot more reflective, in a way, but not in a sad way. It’s not a gloomy record, but they seem to be taking what they were doing from a different angle. I guess they'd done the kind of punk rock thing, so now they've grown up a bit."



• Scabies does enjoy his younger bandmates enjoying their opportunity to work with a couple of their musical heroes in him and Gray. "I think The Damned is quite an influence on them -- they've certainly said as much. When we are together they take me to a Mexican restaurant -- neither of them drinks, but they just buy me margaritas and I start telling stories."



• Scabies and Gray were in The Damned together from 1980-83, including “The Black Album.” "Professor and the Madman brought Paul and I back together again. It was very good for us. There's a lot of under the bridge and all that blah, blah, blah. And we hadn't seen each other for years due to various differences. I sort of remembered a) what a great bass player he is, which is the main thing and b) he's a pretty good guy, crack a beer and tell a joke with you. I think that opened me up to being a bit more receptive to this (Damned) reunion that's happening."



• Scabies is hoping the Damned shows in July will be able to happen, and he's looking forward to rejoining the other founding members in the new year. "It seems (frontman) Dave Vanian thought it would be a nice thing to do to put us all back on the same stage. It was probably the lineup of the band with the most impact. We were only together for about a year and not many people got to see those four individuals together. There are plenty of regrets, so we don't want to be standing over a grave saying, "We should've done the reunion...' Hopefully life will be back to normal, or something like it, and we can play these shows."



Professor and the Madman's new album, "Séance," is out Friday, Nov. 13. More info via professorandthemadman.com.

Web Site: www.professorandthemadman.com

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