The Doctors of Madness are “the missing link between David Bowie and The Sex Pistols” (The Guardian May 2017). Exploding onto the music scene in 1975 with their theatrical, William Burroughs-inspired Sci-fi nightmare, they were misunderstood by many, but those who knew understood the importance of the band’s dangerous, uncompromising approach to lyrics, to music and to performance.
Among the many fans of the band were acts as diverse as The Damned, Vic Reeves, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, Spiritualized, Julian Cope, The Adverts, The Skids and Simple Minds. The Sex Pistols supported them, so did The Jam. Oh, and Joy Division. They were the first to combine the avant-garde approach of The Velvet Underground with a distinctly European aesthetic. The blue hair, exotic stage-names, the lyrical themes of urban decay, political propaganda, mind control and madness were all taken up by the punk bands who followed in their wake. The Doctors of Madness were trailblazers, pioneers, adventurers…pushing the boundaries of rock music and theatre to see how far it would go before it bust. What happened after them was due, in no small part, to what they achieved in three short years.
They may not have been Jesus Christ, but they were, arguably, John the Baptist!!!
Now, forty years after they imploded, they are back…with an album seething with lyrical anger and passion. It is the most potent and incisive musical dissection of modern life and contemporary politics released the decade. With tracks titles like “So Many ways To Hurt You”, “Sour Hour”, “Make It Stop!” and the ground-breaking sonic assault of the title track “Dark Times”, Richard “Kid” Strange proves once again that he has his finger firmly on the pulse of our times, just as he had when he founded the band in 1974. The album will be released in September 2019.
Produced by John Leckie (Radiohead, Muse, Stone Roses, Pink Floyd, XTC, Simple Minds), the new album, Dark Times, features contributions from Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Sarah Jane Morris (Communards), Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Tindersticks), Steve ‘Boltz’ Bolton (The Who, Scott Walker, Atomic Rooster, Paul Young Band) and the young protest singer Lily Bud (Sarah Jane Morris, Band of Holy Joy), alongside the current thrilling and thunderous Doctors of Madness rhythm section of Susumu Ukei (bass guitar) and Mackii Ukei (drums) of the Japanese extreme glam-metal band Sister Paul, and Dylan O Bates (violin and keyboards).
Julian Cope, another rock star who, like Strange, found the confines of music too tight for his ambition, his energy and his imagination, was blown away when he first heard the songs, declaring, “These Dark Times are enormously informing: the RULES OF THE FUTURE are indeed being forged right now”. Top producer Martyn Ware, of Human League and Heaven 17, said the album “…reminds me of Iggy Pop’s Kill City album – love it.” and Biba Kopf, editor of The Wire magazine, declared, “Still listening to new Doctors of Madness album with immense interest and pleasure - most recently last night on a ferry crossing from Kowloon to Hong Kong island. Dark Times makes for perfect listening matching HK’s strange aura, drive & exhilaration bordering paranoia/hysteria re future uncertainties.”
The first single, Make It Stop!, (release date July 19th 2019) is an impassioned howl against the global drift to right wing extremism and persecution of minorities, and is already a live showstopper for the band. It features the thrilling cross-generational combination of Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and LilyBud on backing vocals. Prepare to feel the hair on your neck stand on end.
‘Dark Times’ sees Richard Strange back with all of the vim and vigour of the early days, with an incredible set of songs, and with some fantastic collaborators. It’s time to make an appointment…
Richard “Kid” Strange
In the period since the last Doctors of Madness gig in 1978, Richard has written a memoir, collaborated on a cantata with internationally celebrated composer Gavin Bryars, worked as an actor on films with Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese, Harmony Korine and Jack Nicholson, toured the world in a Russian version of Hamlet with James Nesbitt as his grave-digging co-star, played Glastonbury, sung baritone in the British premiere of Frank Zappa’s200 Motels at the Royal Festival Hall, executed John Cleese in nine different ways for a Norwegian chocolate commercial, directed a multi-media evening celebrating the life and work of William Burroughs, won Best Art Film Prize at the Portobello Film Festival last year, had his own live talk show, opened a Cabaret club, played a butler on a long running German TV show, worked with Tom Waits and Marianne Faithfull on the William Burroughs/Robert Wilson stage play The Black Rider, curated events for the Tate Gallery, and sung Walt Disney songs with Jarvis Cocker. Oh, and he still finds time to teach contemporary music to degree students from Finland, Sweden, Japan, Portugal and the USA.