Influential ska revivalists Madness are re-forming with their original lineup to play a series of U.S. shows in April, including one to be headlined by their most vocal fans in the industry, No Doubt.
The band's U.S.-based manager has confirmed that the founding lineup of the group -- one of the most popular and well-loved second-wave ska bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s -- would be re-forming for the first time in 15 years.
The two-week "Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour" will kick off April 22 in Las Vegas with a show featuring punk-rockabilly artist the Rev. Horton Heat and third-wave ska-punk bands Face to Face and Hepcat.
"I think they just felt like doing it," manager Peter Rudge said of the decision to tour by the original seven: singer Graham "Suggs" McPherson, guitarist Chris "Chrissy Boy" Foreman, trumpet player/dancer Cathal "Chas Smash" Smythe, drummer Dan "Woody" Woodgate, saxophonist Lee Thompson, keyboardist Mike Barson and bassist Mark Bedford. "They're all living comfortably, but they've just become aware of the huge resurgence of the ska phenomenon in America."
The decision was also spurred by the vocal championing of the band in the press by such multi-platinum modern ska acts as No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rudge added.
Some fans are apparently willing to go well out of their way to see the rare shows. Denver native Paul Andrews, 30, said he'll be flying to L.A. to see the April 26 show at the Universal Amphitheater, which will also feature ska-punkers the Dance Hall Crashers and soulful-ska bands Royal Crown Revue and Hepcat. "I don't [normally] do things like that," Andrews said. "I have no place to stay, will be on my own, have no idea how to get around, and I'm still going. In my opinion, Madness was the band that brought the sounds of ska to an American audience in the '80s."
The group -- which had its biggest U.S. hit with the pop/ska tune "Our House" from 1982's Rise & Fall album -- broke up in 1986, with a handful of members grouping under the Madness name for sporadic live dates. The band, which debuted in 1979 with the upbeat collection One Step Beyond, has also re-grouped on occasion for annual festival shows in the U.K.
In fact, 22-year-old U.K. fan Robert Hazelby wrote that "as a U.K. Madness fan it makes me chuckle when I receive mails from Stateside Maddies asking about Madness' recent re-formation." Hazelby reported that, in England, the band re-formed in 1992 at the fan-appreciation gig "Madstock" and have been together ever since, performing at such annual events as "Christmas Madness" tours and similar events such as "Man in the Madsuit," "Mad Dogs," and "Madstock 2 and 3." Madness are expected to be playing for the upcoming "Madstock 4" in June.
"I think it's great that the lads are going Stateside after all this time," Hazelby wrote. "Hopefully, it will drum it into people's heads that the band, who have such a strong place in people's hearts this side of the Atlantic, wrote and released more than just 'It Must Be Love' and 'Our House.' Over here, Madness are almost an English institution!!!"
Just a month ago, No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont described Madness as the band with which his group is most interested in performing. "I feel like we've pretty much played shows with everyone we've ever wanted to," said Dumont, going on to cite the upcoming Hawaii show with Madness as a highlight of No Doubt's schedule.
And while there are no plans for new recordings at present, Rudge said that more U.S. dates may be added depending on the success of the West Coast tour.
Madness Tour Dates:
April 22; Las Vegas, Nev., South Padre Amphitheater, with Rev.
Horton Heat, Face to Face and Hepcat
April 23; Davis, Calif., UC Davis Rec. Hall, with Blink 182, Royal Crown Revue,
Hepcat and Aquabats
April 24; Santa Barbara, Calif., County Bowl, with Blink 182,
Royal Crown Revue and Aquabats
April 26; Los Angeles, Calif.; Universal Amphitheater, with Dance Hall Crashers, Royal Crown Revue and Hepcat
April 28; San Diego, Calif., UC San Diego's Rimac Arena, with Reel Big Fish, Dance Hall Crashers, Filibuster, Royal Crown Revue and Aquabats
April 29; Oakland, Calif., Henry Kaiser Arena, with Blink 182,
Dance Hall Crashers, Royal Crown Revue and Aquabats
May 2; Oahu, Hawaii, Turtle Bay, with the Vandals and No Doubt