FROM Doctor Hook to Doctor Feelgood, via Doctor and the Medics, the musical landscape is littered with spurious medical credentials.

So, Boo Radleys frontman Dr Simon ‘Sice’ Rowbottom is a bit of an anomaly: the genuine article, a doctor of psychotherapeutic psychology with his own practice in Chinnor.

But more importantly for fans of ‘the Boos’, who straddled the 1990s shoegazing and Britpop scenes before splitting in 1999, the band are back on the road. They’re touring with fellow ‘90s indie favourites Cud and will be playing Oxford’s O2 Academy today – Friday, November 3.

However, with two new albums under their belts since reforming in 2021, Sice and fellow founding members Tim Brown and Rob Cieka aren’t simply taking a trip down memory lane.

“We didn’t get together and say ‘let’s do a tour, do the circuit’ or any of these things, it was about new music,” explains Sice, originally from Liverpool but now happily ensconced in Thame. “Before we’d even come back, we had an album ready to go and that was the way it happened.

“I don’t think we’d feel inspired if it was just a kind of retread of old stuff and doing the nostalgia circuit. We’ll do a bit of that – we’re not averse to that stuff – but we’ve got to keep it fresh, otherwise it would just be pointless.”

This year they’ve already toured to mark the 30th anniversary of their acclaimed 1993 album Giant Steps, while Sice himself has just taken his one-man show The Secret of Happiness, in which he discusses mental health as well as music, around the country.

Oxford Mail: The Boo Radleys. Picture by Dom Foster

“I’d done one earlier in the year which was testing the waters to see what people respond to, says Sice.

with you. But we’re doing it because we’re enjoying it. Now we do it for the thrill of the process whereas before it was always ‘we wanna be bigger, we wanna sell more records’. So it was very difficult to stop and smell the roses while now we’re really enjoying what we do.”

One man missing from the line-up is Martin Carr, original guitarist and the band’s chief songwriter, who is performing with his new group Martin Carr & What Future, who were last spotted in Oxford supporting the Charlatans at the O2 Academy in 2021.

In his absence, did the rest of the band feel they had a point to prove when it came to writing new material?

“Kind of, but not really,” says Sice. “The foundational process was different in that back in the day Martin would bring us demos or a song and then we’d work on it and do our bits.

“The difference is that there are different songwriters, so that in itself makes it different. Plus, especially with the second album, we started to notice stylistically that Martin was all about screwing things up – but not in a negative sense. If something felt too nice, he would immediately want to change it or throw something in and that’s possibly one element that we miss.

“I think me and Tim have always been more about pop music, we veer towards that side of it. That’s the collision that was always kind of a good thing, but it’s bound to be different and that’s good.”

And while the band are loving playing together again, it probably wouldn’t be happening if Sice hadn’t accepted an invitation to pick up his guitar and play a one-off gig at Oxford’s Jericho Tavern back in 2018.

Oxford Mail: The Boo Radleys

“That was massive,” he admits. “That started everything. Over the years I’d get requests to do musical things and I’d always said ‘no’, I’d lost interest. But then there was a request from a guy called Jules Reid. He’s Oxford based but originally from Liverpool, the same as me. He would have artists from Liverpool come down and play Oxford and then have other artists on the bill.

“For the first time in a long, long time I actually said ‘yeah’. I did another couple of acoustic gigs, one up in Liverpool where Tim came to see that, and I think we began to think ‘oh yeah, I’d love to be doing this again’.”

The Boos’ rebirth has given Sice’s friends and family the chance to see him perform. What have his children made of their dad’s pop star past?

“It’s interesting that now my son’s 24 and to them the ‘90s is a bit like the ‘60s was to us,” he says. “So suddenly he’s coming along and he’s reading these interviews now and he’s saying ‘why didn’t you tell me you knew Radiohead? They are like gods to us! You knew Oasis?’. Yeah, they supported us!

“So, I get a kind of respect from that now, but mainly through association! That’s good enough!

Oxford Mail: The Boo Radleys

“I wasn’t a good pop star! It was really interesting because Creation Records chief Alan McGee always said the thing about Oasis is when they say they want it, they mean it.

“Most of us – us, Ride, any of those bands that got to a certain level – I think we actually found it difficult, whereas I think Oasis thrived on it. On the outside we were all like ‘yeah, bring it on’, but when you get there, you think ‘this is a bit much’.”

Family and friends are likely to be out on force on the Cowley Road for the O2 Academy show, which promises to be a cracker.

“It’s a bit of a party tour,” says Sice. “It’s two bands for the price of one, and people can come out and have a good time. We’ve done the kind of ‘serious’ gig with Giant Steps and this will be a bit lighter.

“We’ll be chopping and changing headline and support each night, so that will be interesting. We’re headlining in Liverpool, Birmingham and Oxford. Those three are places that, for different reasons, have got connections to us so we’re really happy about that.

“Back in the day we might have been a bit more precious about it, but now we just want to play for people and we absolutely don’t care. If it was two men and a dog, we would be happy to play!

“I might cajole my mates into coming to the Oxford gig. The good thing is it’s a Friday night, it’s not a school night, so they’ll be laying on fleets of taxis to get home to Thame from Oxford!”

The Boo Radleys + Cud play the O2 Academy Oxford today Friday, November 3.