YOU can’t keep a good man down, and Neville Staple is a case in point.
He first emerged as a star with The Specials back in the late 1970s, scoring massive hits like Gangsters, Message To You Rudy and Too Much Too Young, before leaving to join the Funboy 3 and hit the charts again with songs like Ain’t What You Do, Tunnel Of Love and Our Lips Are Sealed.
Staple later formed The Special Beat with ex-members of The Beat before rejoining The Specials for a few reunion tours in 2009.
Now he’s back again with his own band, and will be putting his own touch on those old Specials favourites, as well as other ska classics.
“Now, when I do it, I do it my way whether it’s old Jamaican and ska stuff or Specials songs,” explains Neville. “Of course people want to hear stuff like Message To You Rudy and Monkey Man – they love to hear that – or Gangsters. But we don’t do a rigid three-minute version, we make them a bit longer.
“We don’t rush Message To You – if the crowd are getting into it, I say give them another solo. That’s why I like doing my own band – because everybody has fun.”
The 59-year-old is also not looking for stardom any more, he just enjoys playing his music live. He says he reassessed his career after health problems in recent years. “I had a car crash a few years ago, which brought on a stroke,” he says. “That made me reassess things.
“I pick what I want to do now, plus I let the fans create their own excitement – I don’t do too much running around, I’m getting a bit old for that these days, so I let whoever comes to the show do that.
“They create their own excitement and I take it to another level. I’m not as intense as I used to be.”
But he says he’s ready to keep playing his ska sound as long as people want to hear it – and that could be for ever. “Ska music has lasted because everybody can put their own variation to it,” he says.
“If you put on a Prince Buster or Skatalites song, you get a vibe from that. It’s just a great feeling and it never seems to get old.”
THE Neville Staple Band appear at the Boileroom, Guildford, on Friday, February 6. Other forthcoming Boileroom gigs include JP Cooper on Sunday (February 1), comedy with Brett Goldstein (February 7), Blossoms (February 13), Kilter (February 14) and Mariachi El Bronx (February 17).