Think ‘Ade Edmondson’ and the chances are you’re picturing him with spiked ginger hair and silver studs in his forehead as Vyvyan in The Young Ones; as ultra-violent drunkard Eddie Hitler in Bottom; or in his most recent incarnation as the presenter of The Dales and Ade in Britain.
What might not immediately spring to mind is Ade the musician but, as he explains, it is music that is his true love.
“I’ve always been a musician trapped in a comedian’s body,“ says Ade, 55. “When I left school there weren’t many dosser’s courses at university so I chose drama. Had there been a dosser’s course in music, I would have done that.“
The Idiot Bast**d Band was born when Ade and a number of other comedians, including Phill Jupitus, Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey and Paul Merton, were invited to perform at a Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band reunion gig in 2006 in place of their late singer, Viv Stanshall, to try to bring a little of his comedy genius to the proceedings.
“In my mind they were the only band that could actually play proper music while doing comedy songs,“ says Ade. “I idolised them as a teenager.“
The comedians went on tour and recorded an album with the Bonzos before the band disbanded again. Ade, Phill Jupitus, Rowland Rivron and Neil Innes then decided to form their ‘own little band’ with banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, kazoos, triangles, bongos, coconuts and rude shouting. This year sees them go on tour for the first time.
“The name has been a bit of a publicity shot in the foot,“ Ade admits, “no-one can mention it on the radio and they have to use asterisks in the papers. It comes from the Frank Zappa song The Idiot Bast**d Son. And it describes what we are as a band, we’re slightly nonplussed by ourselves.“
Channelling the essence of the Bonzos, TIBB play a mixture of comedy songs by the likes of Jake Thackeray, Syd Barret, George Formby and Mel Brooks, as well as a number of their own compositions.
“I do a song about a blues singer who’s really happy, he’s on top of his mortgage and everything, he’s got nothing to complain about,“ says Ade. “And there’s one by a man called Nervous Norvus, an American novelty singer from the 1950s, about a driver who keeps having blood transfusions after motorcycle accidents.“
What do people make of the music, and of seeing these big names of comedy performing them?
“I always ask people ‘what induced you to come along?’ but I don’t think anyone knows! I think they see our names and the array of instruments and the people who are intrigued enough come along.
“So far it’s going remarkably well. For the first three songs, they look a bit puzzled while they work it out, but then they get into it. It’s very exciting.“
- The Idiot Bast**d Band play the Alban Arena, Civic Centre, St Albans on Friday, November 30 at 8pm. Details: 01727 844488, www.alban-arena.co.uk