Ahead of Level 42’s performance at Watford Colosseum, the band’s lead singer and bassist Mark King discusses tarty bass guitars, being starstruck by Elton John and his £3 million thumb with Amie Mulderrig.

Level 42 are back on tour, what can we expect?

We’ve got a lot of new material in the set. There’s a lot of old songs too – but with new arrangements. I wanted to make this seamless transition between the new songs that we have from the Sirens EP and also play songs from the 1980s.

You’ve performed with an impressive roster of musical talents, including Elton John. What’s he like?

Elton asked if I would play bass in his house band, which consisted of Elton on piano, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler on guitar, Phil Collins on drums, me on bass and all these guests – including Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Bryan Adams, the Status Quo boys, Midge Ure and Tina Turner came up too. What really sticks in my mind about that time was that it didn’t matter who was the bigger talent, there was this momentary look of terror on everyone’s faces, because we’re all the same. That buzz you get from being on stage is because you don’t really know what’s going to happen until the lights go up and you start playing.

Did you feel starstruck at any point?

When you meet these people you do. People like Midge or Elton, who’s this incredible talent, so you can’t help but feel startstruck.

Did he mention anything about Watford FC at the time? The only reason I ask is because as you’re coming to Watford I wondered whether he tried to convince you to become a fan...

(Laughs) No he didn’t, although he might have slipped the odd lyrical reference in. But I am indeed coming to the Colosseum. Who knows, maybe I’ll call Elton up and he can come along and we can do a jam...

I love the Colosseum, we’ve played there before and it was heaving, it was such a great vibe. It reminded me of where we started in 1980-81, where you had these big old, barny rooms, and you just got this feeling, with the crowd right there in front of you, you really feel like you were part of the evening. It’s great to be coming back, it’s full circle in terms of perfoming the dance music we started making in the ‘80s. We’d be doing all-dayers and all-nighters at these big old places like the Colosseum. Great times.

Your bass guitars are always something of a marvel. What will you be playing on tour?

They’re quite tarty aren’t they? I’ve been using my favourite bass which is a chrome bass... my guitar’s got a chrome finish. I’ve got a bass called the Swarovski bass, it’s got 1,600 Swarovski crystals on it. When you’re moving about on stage it looks spectacular.

What’s all this about your thumb being insured for £3 million?

When we signed with Polydor Records at the end of the ‘80s, I think they thought, well his thumb’s a key thing. It’s all very good us giving them this money, but what if he goes out and cuts his thumb off? I’m clumsy!

Does the thumb sleep on a velvet pillow?

What are you on about? It’s got its own bed! It’s got its own Hyperbaric chamber! It’s a really youthful looking thumb, it looks 30 years younger than me...which is a bit odd.