Madness are on track to score their first ever studio no1 album with Theatre of the Absurd presents C’est La Vie in this week’s UK Official Charts.

Last night, all six band members did a Q&A at Pryzm in Kingston with journalist Stevie Chick. Some quite funny quotes about playing Asteroids (the game) and drinking Guinness with Paul McCartney and the story about when David Bowie tried to rip off ‘My Girl’.

On their 1992 Finsbury Park shows that caused an earthquake

Suggs - A guy called Vince Power said that we could use the staging from an Irish festival that he’s put on to save money. We’d split up at the time so we were using it as a farewell tour but then 35,0000 turned up and when we started One Step Beyond they started jumping up and down in unison and they had to evacuate flats.

We stayed together after that, it took us to the next stage in our career

On how it felt to be writing new songs

Mike - It's nice. Part of what our job entails is playing live and the other part is writing and recording. It kind of refreshes what you’re doing. We don't just want to be a band that didn’t write so when we came back, it wasn’t an option for us to just do old stuff. We love writing music, that’s what brought us together. It unites us. We’re very fortunate to be able to do that.

Suggs - When you look around at this group, there are some crazy things.. For starters, we’re all still alive and we’re still all friends. We’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve been making music for a long time. It doesn’t get better than that.

On playing Paul McCartney at Asteroids

Chris - We were at Air Studios with Macca

Lee - Looking over our shoulders because John Lennon had just been shot. We got on the Asteroids game.

Suggs - I did beat him at Asteroids

On having a Guinness with Paul McCartney

Suggs - We used to go to the Toucan in Soho Square and his (Paul’s) office was just round the corner. The mate I was with was the biggest Beatles fan. So Paul walked past and I asked if he wanted a drink and he said “yes”. He stayed for a little while and chatted, which was nice but when he left, my mate drank the dregs of his drink.

Favourite bands to see live
Lee - ELO or Muse
Suggs - Kid Kapachi
Mike - David Byrne
Woody - Gong, New Gong

On why they included The Specials’ song ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’ in their set list for their KOKO show recently

Suggs - We did Radio 2’s Piano Room recently and you have to do one old song, one new and a cover and we'd been thinking about Terry Hall so we thought we’d do that song. But the BBC said we couldn’t because the lyrics say “piss stains on your shoes” so I changed them, as if I had just been skiing, to “Piste stains on my shoes” so they were ok with it.

On what songs they wished they’d written

Mike - Happy Birthday
Chris - My Way (Frank Sinatra)

Favourite Davis Bowie song
Mike - Life on Mars
Suggs - The Bewlay Brothers
Mark - Moonage Daydream
Chris - Rebel Rebel
Lee - Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

On David Bowie ripping off ‘My Girl’ in ‘Ashes to Ashes’

Woody - David Bowie told us that he tried to rip off our song ‘My Girl’ but he couldn’t find the right drummer to do it. He should have just asked me. If you listen to both songs, they sound the same.

The governing principle behind Theatre Of the Absurd Presents C’Est La Vie, is: “let Madness be Madness”. The result is an album of typically timeless brilliance that also reflects the wonky years of its creation, these 14 songs representing the cream of the bumper crop of tunes the group cooked up, whittled down this punchy, focused set.

There are moments of ineffably catchy pop excellence (drummer Daniel ‘Woody’ Woodgate’s beguiling, bittersweet carousel ‘Round We Go’, Chrissy-Boy’s anarchic anthem to perhaps-justified paranoia, ‘Run For Your Life’), while the album is bookended by two of Suggs’ finest compositions ‘Theatre Of The Absurd’ and ‘In My Street’. Elsewhere, Lee ‘Kix’ Thompson’s macabre ‘The Law According To Dr Kippah’ recreates the saxman’s memories of the broiling summer of 1976, while ‘Baby Burglar’ recites the true-life tale of being burgled while his family slept. Barso’s ‘Beginner’s 101’, meanwhile, is another tale of crime, a heist movie playing out across a four-minute pop song, echoing Bogart classic The Treasure Of Sierra Madre.

A very special prologue running through the album is supplied by Emmy and BAFTA Awards winning Martin Freeman. A longtime fan, the relationship formed with the band when Madness’ manager found Martin in a meet and greet queue and introduced him to the members.

Throughout their career, Madness have had 10 UK top ten albums, 15 top ten singles and have won a multitude of awards including a prestigious Ivor Novello. They’ve performed on the top of Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and set the record for the biggest ever audience for the BBC’s Live New Year’s Eve Broadcast - the most watched TV music event of 2018. One of the most enduring and evergreen live shows this country has to offer, their everybody’s-welcome celebrations of life’s ups, downs and everything in the middle(s), continue to attract new generations of fans from across every walk of life.