Their first gig out of Ireland was in East Lancashire and now — after touring the world, having two multi-million selling no 1 singles and playing Live Aid — two of the Boomtown Rats are back. We spoke to drummer Simon Crowe.

THE Rats are back — but let's get one thing straight from the start: Bob Geldof isn't coming along for the ride.

“We asked but Bob politely declined. He said he's doing his own thing now,” said Simon.

“Bob's gone in a different musical direction and we're about taking it back to basics."

Simon wants to make sure I make it clear that it's just two of the original line-up reuniting — himself on drums and Garry Roberts on guitar. They're being joined by The Animals' Peter Barton on bass and Darren Beale on lead guitar.

“I wouldn't say 'just' two of us though,” said Simon.

The implication is clear. Although only two of the original six former members are reforming, they're determined to bring the old magic back, and missing a few former members ain't gonna change that.

“We'll be playing the songs we used to play when we first started off in 1975 — all the early stuff that really defined the Rats," said Simon.

“We're drawing the line after the second album.”

More than 20 years after the original band split in 1986, Garry and Simon are returning to the live music scene — and they've chosen Clitheroe's Key Street Music Bar as their warm-up gig, which is fitting as their first gig out of Ireland in 1977 was at the Lodestar club in Ribchester. The comeback, which Simon reckons is “long overdue”, was masterminded by Ribble Valley-based Animals musician Pete Barton.

“Garry and I talked about it before but although we could have got a few pub gigs we didn't really have the contacts in the music business to make it work from a commercial sense,” said Simon.

Simon and Garry contacted the other Rats but they were all too busy.

“We thought we'd just carry on anyway,” said Simon. “The music comes naturally to me and Garry but the new guys have had to do a bit of homework. It's not been a problem though. They're such good musicians they've slipped into it.”

At 56, most of his peers are looking to slow down, but not Simon.

“I'm not ready for an allotment yet. I don't know why not," he said.

“A lot of people at my age are looking to retire but I don't think that's what life is for. I've got the energy, stamina and fitness to do it, so why not? I tell you though, it is physically demanding, really energetic, full-on music.

“We did a gig in Devon the other day and the place was hopping — it was absolutely electric. It was so long since it's happened like that I forgot the feeling.”

The band hope to record a new album in 2009 but they're not getting carried awayt.

“We're taking one step at a time,” said Simon.

"We're just going to get out there and see what reaction we get. But the message is watch this space. We're back, we're in action and it could be Boomtime again.”

* See The Boomtown Rats at Clitheroe's Key Street Music Bar on Monday, August 4. For tickets call 01200 422 588. Doors 7.30pm.