Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson is back in the region this month Mick Burgess catches up with him.

You're out on tour in the UK next month. Are you looking forward to the shows?

The way it works these says is that we tour then get time off. In the old days we'd just tour all the time. We went to Japan and then Spain a while back but we've had time off since then so we are definitely looking forward to getting out on the road in the UK again. To be on the road with the guys rather than sitting at home is great.

On March 15 you're at Newcastle's Tyne Theatre. That's a lovely venue. Have you played there before?

I think I have at some point. I actually spent three years in Newcastle studying English as a student at the university. I love Newcastle so much. I had such a good time there. The whole of Tyneside is such a wonderful place. I'm hoping to catch up with a few old friends while I'm there.

What sort of setlist do you have lined up for this tour?

We'll be doing stuff from all across the years but we'll also be doing some from the current album called Blow Your Mind. We might do a song or two from the album I did with Roger Daltrey too.

Last time we spoke back in 2013 you had received a diagnosis of terminal cancer and were given months to live. You were very laid back about it. Had you resigned yourself to your fate at that point?

The strange thing is, when I got that diagnosis, it was the start of a fantastic year for me. A lot of mad things happened and then being in this place thinking that you`re going to die. It did get pretty bad at times sometimes in the middle of the night but when I was walking around I'd be feeling quite high. When I went to different places and visited friends, when I said goodbye I wondered if it really was for the last time.

How are you now?

It seems very unjust but I'm in the clear and feeling pretty healthy other than I'm missing a pancreas but apart from that I'm really fit.

Last year you released Blow Your Mind, your first album of new material in 30 years. That's a long, long time between albums. Why the big gap?

I kind of had my go in the '70s with records and hits but after that I was a working musician going around the world playing so recording didn't come into it. I couldn't really be bothered and record companies weren't looking for new music from me so I didn't think about making any. Of course, when I was sick Roger Daltrey said that we should do an album and that was extremely successful and then I was back in the situation where a record company wanted to invest in me to make an album.

Did some of the ideas that made the album date back 30 years or did you write all new material specifically for the record?

We did the album in 13 days at Rockfield in Wales. I had two or three songs already done but when we got there, I was writing songs and then recording them. It was very intense but we got so much done very quickly so most of the songs were written for the record.

Did the lyrics you wrote reflect your experiences that you`d had with your health over the last few years?

There's a couple of songs about women but there is one called Marijuana and I'd written it just after I'd got my diagnosis and it's about sitting at home with the night drawing in, waiting for death. I never thought I'd use the song but when I was at the studio, I started playing it and the guys loved it and insisted that we recorded it. I think that's the closest I got to writing about my cancer.

How was it recording again at Rockfield Studios in Wales?

Rockfield is a great studio. The last time I was there was making Dr Feelgood's fourth album during which I was chucked out of the band. That was 40 years ago and I haven't been back there since. Driving in there I thought it was just the same as I remembered it. I even took the same room where the argument happened that led to me leaving the band. It was strange as when we'd done some recording, I'd go outside into the courtyard and look at the doorway thinking that the last time I'd seen it was 40 years ago. The last time I was there everyone was screaming and shouting at each other but this time was so tranquil. I felt like a ghost looking at a scene. That was one weird aspect of it.

Were you pleased with the reaction the album received when it came out?

I was really pleased with the reaction. I didn't know what to expect but it really has been great. I didn't want it to sound like one of the first Feelgood albums, I just wanted to do what I do and hoped people would like it.

The album was one of the great success stories of that year and was your highest charting album since the mid '70s. Did that success surprise you?

It took me completely by surprise. While we were making that record, I used to walk outside in the night and just reflect on the fact that I was going to die. It was pretty intense. Anyway, I didn't think I'd see the record released. The doctors at Addenbrooke Hospital saved my life. When I was lying in bed on all the morphine in hospital people came in and told me how well the album was doing. It was really strange as I kind of missed everything that happened around that time with the record.

What do you have lined up for the rest of the year?

I really don't know. I just get in the car and someone tootles me about and I get out and play. We've got this UK tour and in the summer we`ll be doing some festival shows so I’ll be playing a lot, I just don't know where.

*Wilko Johnson performs at the Tyne Theatre, Newcastle on March 15