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The Zutons on returning with ‘Creeping On The Dancefloor’ and 18 years of ‘Valerie’

As The Zutons return with their first album in sixteen years, they tell Rolling Stone UK about getting back together - and why they'll never stop loving 'Valerie'

By Nick Reilly

The Zutons (Credit: Jonathan Turton)

The Zutons have told Rolling Stone UK about making their return with ‘Creeping On The Dancefloor’ and the legacy of ‘Valerie’, some 18 years after their signature song was released.

‘Creeping On The Dancefloor’ is the first taste of music from the Liverpool band in 16 years, after the group reunited during the pandemic to work on their upcoming album The Big Decider.

“We ain’t doing it for the money cos we ain’t making any f*****g money, but we’re back together because I know there’s a special feeling between the people on stage and the songs we perform and I’ve missed it,” explained frontman Dave McCabe.

“You only get one band that you can join and feel like you’re a child and have that sense of freedom. The Zutons was that band for me,” added drummer Sean Payne.

McCabe and Payne reunited with saxophonist Abi Harding when they bubbled together during lockdown, giving the band a chance to write what would eventually become ‘Creeping On The Dancefloor’. But where acrimony had previously kept them apart, a stint in rehab allowed McCabe to change his perspective on the band – and what it meant to him going forward.

“I’ve been three years sober now and when I’m at the gigs now I just feel present, I’m not just like getting through it like I used to,” he explained.

“I don’t want to be the one who becomes a voice for sobriety, but just know that if you’ve got a problem with it, you know, it can be sorted, but that’s a positive thing.”

Also present on the record is the production of fellow Liverpool music icon Ian Broudie and, more prominently, disco supremo Nile Rodgers who teamed up with the band after being contacted by their managers.

While Harding hailed his “ridiculous” musical knowledge, Payne explained that his process allowed the band to hit new levels.

“He sung our first comeback single on Zoom, so that was nice and a sign he wanted to do it! He’d tweak little musical things, like if I had a bass drum that needed more, but he just left it to us really, he didn’t get massively involved and he was just great to work with,” he said.

But as well as future glories with their new album The Big Decider, 2024 marks eighteen years since The Zutons released ‘Valerie’, which went on to be notably covered by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse.

Despite becoming one of Winehouse’s biggest hits, McCabe says he’s got no regrets about her version dwarfing their own in popularity and awareness.

“I think that song is a gift from God,” he explained.

“These things don’t happen very often and I’m very grateful and I think everyone else is in the band to receive. People often think we have a problem with it, but there is no jealousy because lightning struck twice. It’s like a hymn now. It’s in the karaoke hymn book. You always dream of having one of those songs that the whole crowd will sing and for it to be something you’ve done yourself is unreal.

And, besides, the royalties from Amy’s version must make it all worth it right?

“Look, I haven’t had to go and get a proper job if that’s what you mean,” said McCabe.

“I haven’t had to go and work in a factory, so I’m good, I’m alright. It still keeps paying me all year round. I’m not gonna complain!”