WITH their imaginative mix of influences as diverse as post-punk, ska, techno and easy listening, Liverpool band Space always felt like uninvited guests to the mid 90s Britpop party.

Hit singles such as Female of the Species, Me and You Versus the World, Neighbourhood, Avenging Angels and The Ballad of Tom Jones, the latter a duet with Cerys Matthews of Catatonia, saw them become regular visitors to the top 10 before they disbanded in 2005, only for a band tragedy to bring them back together.

2018 was a busy year for Space, with the release of Give Me Your Future, the band’s fifth studio album, and 2019 sees them back on the road ahead of the release of a new box set looking back on their 25 years together.

“We’ve never really stopped,” laughs frontman Tommy Scott. “We’re forever putting records out and still being creative and I couldn’t do it if it was just about nostalgia. I’ve got to have some kind of artistic creativity, do you know what I mean?”

Space’s debut album Spiders, released in September 1996, enjoyed huge success, going platinum in the UK with 1998’s Tin Planet hitting number three in the UK albums chart.

“I really enjoy playing the old songs to be honest,” says Tommy. “It’s good seeing the crowds we get because there’s people there in their 40s but there’s also kids there in their 20s and younger whose mums and dads have got them into it. Seeing them get just as much enjoyment out of something like Female of the Species is very special.”

The band became known for their deliberately tongue-in-cheek, dark humoured lyrics, which frequently dealt with topics such as serial killers, failed relationships, social outcasts, and mental illness.

“We were a bit of a fluke,” chuckles Tommy. “I’d been in bands before that hadn’t done anything and then we hit on this formula which came after thinking ‘well I don’t want to just be one sound’. I like loads of different types of music and I really love movies, so I wanted to throw all that into the mix and that’s how we got our ‘thing’.

“It made us stand out because we weren’t a typical Liverpool 60s sounding band. It was typical really because all the bands who were getting signed from Liverpool were getting signed for a million pounds and I think we signed for £1,500. Luckily it meant when we did make it we didn’t owe anyone any money.”

Female of the Species became a hit across the world and soon Space were touring Europe, Japan and America with varying degrees of success.

“None of us could really handle the culture shock of touring, especially in America,” says Tommy. “We’re hoping to get back there this year because we haven’t been back since then. I couldn’t cope with how you had to behave - you had to phone radio stations and thank them for playing your record and it was like ‘arrrgh’. It sounds mad but I’m quite a shy person and it was hard to do.

“Japan was great - it was just like Bladerunner, especially when you’re flying into Tokyo. The people there were fantastic and they look after you really well. The record company actually took us to a local serial killer’s house because of the song Neighbourhood and they were dead proud that this where a serial killer lived!”

The band’s fortunes began to fade when their third album Love You More Than Football was shelved in 2001, with Space taking a long break before returning in 2004 with Suburban Rock ‘n’ Roll and disbanding the next year. Tragedy struck in 2009 when drummer Andy Parle was knocked down and killed while crossing a street close to his home.

“I played in The Drellas for a bit which was basically my midlife crisis punk band,” remembers Tommy. “We couldn’t do Space any more and it was the old routine of all falling out with each other and needing a break.

“Every gig The Drellas played there would be Space fans there shouting for the songs but I was really anti-playing them, so we would only be playing to about five people.

“It was Andy’s death that brought us back together. It was so sad because he was the funniest fella you could ever meet in your life but he had this really dark side too with some of the things he was into.

“We all met again at his funeral and we were like ‘let’s do this again for Andy’. It was brilliant.”

Recording sessions for Give Me Your Future took place in early 2016 with producer Steve Levine, with the band leaving much of their usual kit behind and working almost exclusively with synthesizers and other vintage electronic instruments that belonged in Levine’s studio.

“I don’t really listen to music much anymore,” says Tommy. “I just watch films all the time and the new album is definitely more ‘filmic’ but it’s also got that queasy listening thing we do and it’s got quite a lot of hip hop in there too and a bit of punk. I’d just get really bored if every song was the same.

“We’re not expecting to be massive again but the fans we have just love coming along to the gigs. At the same I don’t want us to be safe and I want keep pushing my own boundaries.

“It’s just nice to know I don’t have to come up with another Female of the Species because that was always the pressure from the record company and it was a one-off - I don’t even know how I wrote it!”

Space play The Live Rooms, Chester on Saturday, February 16, 2019. Tickets £16 from www.seetickets.com