Once New Romantics had moved on, style was a big factor in the mid-eighties with Bowie, Paul Weller and Duran Duran leading the way.

There was also The Blow Monkeys who combined earworm pop-soul with clever, often political lyrics and were fronted by Dr Robert - all sharp suits, floppy fringe and model's cheekbones.

They formed in 1981, but had to wait until 1986 before registering their first major hit with Digging Your Scene which scored in the UK and the US and focussed on how AIDs sufferers were being treated.

It Doesn't Have To Be This Way came a year later - picking out how divisive then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's policies were. It came from their anti-government album She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter which also produced the single Celebrate (The Day After You) which was banned by the BBC as it coincided with the general election that year.

Bigger hits, Wait and Choice followed, but the band struggled to make the charts and the band split in 1990.

After reforming in 2008 they have returned with five new albums and toured regularly, as well as appearing in 80s music festivals.

"We've been back together for longer than we were in our first incarnation." says Dr Robert (Robert Howard) from his home near Grenada, Spain.

"There was no real point of conflict. We have always been like a family," he adds.

He moved to Spain some 20 years ago but the rest of the band live in Britain, as well as his children, so he returns regularly.

With or without the band, Robert has always written, produced and collaborated and has made 12 solo albums.

"The main thing was to keep making new records, that is what keeps us playing.

"We have a history and play songs that people know, but the whole thing for me was to carry on being in a band and making new music.

"Some bands are happy doing their old songs and we play those 80s festivals, but we include some new songs as well as the old ones."

Now 57, there's still an appetite to perform and he'll be playing that mix in Carlisle next week.

"We like playing places we've not played before. I don't think we've ever been to Carlisle, it is a long old drive, but I'm looking forward to it," he says.

"The things that used to annoy me about being in a band, like the long drives and the hangovers. But I like the drives and I don't drink so I don't get the hangovers.

"It is a great thing to to be able to play music and take it round the world."

The Blow Monkeys, Old Fire Station, Carlisle, April 25. For tickets, go to www.oldfirestation.carlisle.city or call 01228 598596