When a band calls itself Professor & the Madman you can pretty much bet on the fact that there’s some serious alchemy going on; fans are about to find out as the new Professor & the Madman album Disintegrate Me is set to drop on Feb. 23. The version of the band that recorded the album features a host of punk luminaries; Alfie Agnew of Adolescents and D.I., Sean Elliott of D.I. and Rat Scabies and Paul Gray of The Damned. The group will soon be playing a handful of shows in the Los Angeles area, without Scabies and Gray but with Agnew and Elliott being joined by Frank Agnew, Mark Tolbert and Nick Scalzo.
It might be expected that Disintegrate Me would be a punk record, but it is not. While there is definitely an attitude present in some of the material, the record is a rocker with plenty of sweet melodies; “Space Walrus” for example is an homage to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and it’s easy to hear love for the Beatles in the song too. We were able to chat by email with Elliott, and among other things he told us why the record is a step away from his punk roots. His commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: With members of Professor & The Madman being located on two continents, you used file sharing to produce new album Disintegrate Me. Were any of the tracks more difficult to complete in this manner, or more difficult than if you had everyone in the studio together?
Sean Elliott: We demo the songs first so it's a pretty easy process. Rat and Paul turn it around fast and they always come back spot on; there wasn't any one track that was easier or harder. This recording lineup has a good vibe and we instinctively know what to provide.
AXS: It looks like you had a blast making the video for “Space Walrus.” Tell us a little about the costuming and the other props used in the production.
SE: Luckily it was right around Halloween so the space suits were easy to find. Frank Agnew and (video director) Diana Bird built all of the spaceship stuff out of toys bought at a thrift store and then spray painted everything silver. The production crew was complaining about the paint smell in the studio. That was my favorite part! We had a blast filming it.
AXS: Disintegrate Me is the band’s third album in as many years, which indicates that you and Alfie are prolific songwriters. Do you have a structured songwriting regimen, or is it more a case of just fleshing songs out as inspiration hits?
SE: No real structure. Alf and I have a ton of songs and we're always writing new stuff. We don't over analyze anything. We're lucky in that ideas come easily.
AXS: Vinyl fans will be pleased that Disintegrate Me is being released on wax. Are you personally into collecting and playing music on vinyl, and if so what are some of your most cherished records?
SE: I don't listen to much music but I do have all of my Damned records. Ironically, they are all signed by only Dave (Vanian) and Captain Sensible!
AXS: Professor & The Madman have five dates coming up in the greater Los Angeles area, including a record release show at the Viper Room on Feb. 22. Obviously your set will focus on the band’s own material, but do you plan on throwing in any cuts by D.I. or the Adolescents?
SE: Haven't given that one much thought. Certainly not on a regular basis, that's for sure. Alfie and I have played punk rock for so long that Professor and the Madman is our avenue for showing what else we're capable of.
AXS: The Los Angeles area shows will be a good adjunct to the release of Disintegrate Me, but do you have any plans or desires to mount a national tour?
SE: We're working out the details. Alf and I have crazy schedules so touring requires a bunch of planning, but we're proud of the new album and eager to play for folks.
The Professor & the Madman live dates in the Los Angeles area are:
Feb. 22 at The Viper Room in Hollywood
Feb. 23 at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach (Free show)
Feb. 24 at The Anchor Bar in Costa Mesa (Free show)
Mar. 8 at The Redwood Bar in Los Angeles
Mar. 17 at The House of Blues (side room) in Anaheim
Follow Professor & the Madman here.