This article was first published in the CFCnet magazine in Nov 2007, with an impending gig near my home town tomorrow (30th July 2011). I thought it would be apt to run it again.
Some bands define a generation. After punk, two tone came along and, led by bands such as The Specials and Madness, revived 1960s Jamaican music by fusing elements of ska, punk rock, rocksteady and reggae.
Madness in particular have been popular with Chelsea fans of a certain age for the last 30 years. The fact that Madness has Chelsea- supporting band members probably has something to do with it. Billy Bluebeat from the cfcuk fanzine went along on our behalf to ask questions which you sent us via the CFCnet web site, to the home of Madness drummer Daniel Woodgate aka Woody.
What was it like working with Dave Robinson (joint owner of Stiff Records), and which Chelsea manager do you think he resembles in the way he went about things?
Blimey! That’s a tricky one… He was really good at buying. So I would say Ranieri. Ranieri was a good buyer of players. I mean who had heard of Petr Cech? Ranieri did. As in Dave knowing a good tune. He knew the business quite well and he could get good little deals. He could get unknown acts. He could get a single out of the bands. He would only do “one off” deals with them. Definitely like Ranieri he liked to tinker.
How do you mean?
It’s like when the Go Gos came to Britain. He knew they were going to tour. So he put out a single with them.
A “one off” single?
Yes, a “one off”. It immediately charted. It did well. He cleaned up, did a really cheap video. Things like that. He was good at picking people who weren’t very well known. It was good working with “Robbo”. He was good.
Definitely good for Madness?
Yes, definitely good for Madness. He was brilliant at picking the singles. We didn’t necessarily agree with him. And in hindsight I’m glad he did pick the ones he did. They were all good hits. We wanted Bed and Breakfast Man. I wonder if that would have been a hit. I just don’t know.
What singles weren’t you sure about then?
One Step Beyond, we didn’t want as a single.
Yeah, it was an instrumental. So we only played a couple of bars and gave it to him. Little did we know that you can loop a tape. He just cut it up and looped it. Not the longest track in the world is it? It was only a couple of minutes. (Laughs) it was a lot shorter when we gave it to him.
We were unsure about Night Boat to Cairo. We certainly didn’t want that. We couldn’t make out why he wanted another instrumental. That was half the reason we wrote Las Palmas 7, because he wanted one for Europe. We thought he was barking mad. But that was another hit. (Laughs) we did alright. We were definitely wrong about One Step Beyond.
And what’s your favourite single? Or your favourite Madness track?
I like It Must Be Love.
Yeah it gets me every time.
Yes, that’s half the reason I like it. Watching big skinheads getting all soft. Seeing them all hug each other. It brings everyone together. Regardless of background or look.
Which is your favourite Madness track for percussion?
Oh… for drumming purposes… Night boat to Cairo. I can let me hair down to that one. I can get indulgent.
I didn’t notice any 10 minute solos at Glastonbury.
I do secret solos.
Do you agree that Night Boat to Cairo and Embarrassment were two of the greatest records ever made?
Laughs… No! LAUGHS, well if you’re a Madness fan I suppose they are. I can’t say that, as I made them!
What would you say were the greatest ever?
There are loads
Name some records that do it for you.
No… they are too many. Because someone comes along and says “can you remember that record?” And you go “Yeah! That was amazing” and then you think I wish I had remembered that one. So I always stay clear from saying top fives or top tens. I always stay clear of saying how great Madness are as well.
They’re not bad though, are they?
Nah they’re alright.
We are talking the day before you go and see the Sex Pistols. Are you looking forward to that?
I can’t wait. I’ve never seen the Sex Pistols play. I’ve seen them on the telly of course.
Are you ligging it?
Oh yeah. I’ve met Paul Cook a few times, Cookie. Steve Jones I’ve met a few times in LA. He’s got his radio show called “Jonesy”. It’s absolutely brilliant.
You been on it then?
Yeah, Carl, Suggs and me. Brilliant, we were just in stitches roaring with laughter. The whole show.
Are they going tomorrow then?
No they are not…
As affluent as you…
(Laughs) No. Glen Matlock of course was a Rich Kid.
Yeah. What did you think of them then, the Rich Kids?
They were alright.
Not as good as the Pistols?
No. Glen wrote some blinding songs. John Lydon used to turn up to our Finsbury Park gigs.
It’s only round the corner for him.
Yeah and Brixton’s just round the corner from me. He owes me a gig. I have entertained him, he can entertain me. Let’s see if he has still got it.
We mentioned Glastonbury earlier. Were you impressed by the turn out for Madness at Glastonbury?
Oh it was amazing.
How many people were watching you?
I’ve no idea.
There were thousands. It was rammed. Not just in the marquee.
I walked a around the field and it was a good size. The field was rammed and the approaches to it. It was fantastic. It just goes to show that we should have been on the main stage in the first place.
A message for Michael Eavis if he’s reading CFCnet magazine? Get Madness on the main stage?
It’s up to them. It’s not for us to ask.
Why do you think they don’t fancy you on the main stage?
There’s a perception that Madness attracted the wrong kind of crowd. Which I think is almost 30 years out of date. Which is a bit naïve, because we appeal to families now – all generations.
Was Cardiac Arrest about a bloke having a heart attack on a bus? And if it was, what inspired you to write a song about it?
It was about Carl’s dad or uncle, one of his family members, who had a massive heart attack. It was all due to the fact of stress. So Carl wrote a song. Don’t you worry, don’t you hurry. It’s a lovely day, calm down.
A lot of the Madness songs are down to personal experiences aren’t they?
Such as Embarrassment. Lee wrote that. It was an observation of the reactions of people to his sister who had a mixed race child. There were a lot of negative reactions going on. He could never understand why people shunned his sister.
What involvement do you have in song writing?
Just music. Someone just finds some lyrics knocking around the music that fit. That’s how it happens.
When you decide who to credit the songs to, is it a Madness credit or individual writer?
It’s the individual writer. So you see words and music say McPherson and Foreman it means that Suggs wrote the words and Chris the music. We have a formula where the writers get 50% and the rest of the band get the other 50%.
Is there any hard and fast rule, the words then the music?
No. Sometime Suggs will have a tune in his head and he goes to Mike (Barson). Mike is really good he can hear a tune and then put it down on the piano. Really clever.
Makes you want to hit people that clever?
You don’t want to hit Mike (Laughs).
What was it like doing Madstock?
Unbelievable. Absolutely brilliant. Emotionally charged. It was fantastic. We didn’t expect that kind of response. We had never played in front of 30,000 people as a headline act. We had been across America and supported David Bowie and the Police. Massive stadiums like that. But never for ourselves. Everybody who was there was there for us. Incredible.
What was it like on tour with The Police and David Bowie? I wouldn’t have paired you with The Police. I hate them.
Laughs. They were nice enough, friendly. At that point they weren’t talking to each other. Well, they didn’t appear to be talking to one another. Separate limos and dressing rooms
Have you thought about re-releasing some of your old tracks? Like Baggy Trousers and Embarrassment?
We did have thoughts about it, and it’s been a categorical no. Because we need to move on.
Back in 1992 when we did Finsbury Park, we did re-release My Girl, and I think it got to number 10.
How many times do you get to home matches these days?
I haven’t been going recently, for my sins.
But that’s because of work though?
Yeah, and when I do go I like to take my girls (Iona and Mary) so that they can meet the players. But with the recent events I don’t like to hassle the players with autographs. They have enough to concentrate on. They do love football, they love going. They are like real fans. They seem to switch off when it’s on the telly. It doesn’t mean much to them. But actually going to the game is everything to them.
Mary loves Shaun Wright Phillips?
Yeah she loves him. She’s so excited when he’s in the team. Or I have to explain to her why he has been dropped at times.
And what about Iona?
Iona still likes Joe Cole.
OK not a bad choice. World’s greatest footballer?
Yeah we all like Joe.
Will you and Suggs ever consider becoming season ticket holders, and if you did would you sit in the Shed?
I would, but I would go Matthew Harding Lower. Definitely. It’s the only place to be. Get in there with the plebs! (Laughs) I have to say I’m fortunate enough to be given tickets at times, and they are always in the West Stand Upper. It’s like a library up there.
Tell us about the last time. When you were getting quite irate.
You turn round to talk to people and they don’t know who you are talking about. People with bags from the Chelsea shop leaving about 15 mins before the end. It’s just ridiculous… just ridiculous.
It’s going pear shaped in some ways isn’t it Woody?
Yes it is, it is. It’s become a global market thing. As long as there are places for real fans to go. I think they should bring in standing. Definitely!
So you would be in favour of a return to “safe standing”?
Yes.. SAFE standing. If you dish out a certain amount of tickets to go into a certain area. You can’t get into that area unless you have a ticket. The same a seat. You are allocated an area to stand. I can’t see what the problem is. It could be the same at both ends. It’s a shame that we have lost the Shed.
But there’s a campaign to get it back again.
Is it working?
Sort of… early days yet. But really… the fact is now of course, that the Matthew Harding Stand is the “home” end. Without a doubt. Talking about the Return to the Shed Campaign, could you pen a song on behalf of the Return to the Shed Campaign? One Shed Beyond…
..The Shed and Breakfast Man? (Laughs)
Would Madness consider playing a gig at Stamford Bridge if the club gave them the go-a-head?
I’d consider it!
What about the other lads? They’re Arsenal a couple of them?
We did a gig at Old Trafford once.
Could you give us a categorical “No!” if they asked you to gig at White Hart Lane?
No we couldn’t, no we couldn’t possibly. No
That’s it from Woody for now look out for part two in the very near future.