Clive Langer likes to be busy.

For much of the final two decades of the last century this was far from being a problem. In partnership with Alan Winstanley, he was one of the most in-demand record producers in the UK, the sonic brains behind the run of impeccable singles by Madness, Everyday I Write The Book-era Elvis Costello, Dexy's Midnight Runners and even Cliff Richard's only credible hit since Move It, We Don't Talk Anymore. Now Langer is working his studio magic with Glasgow's Amazing Snakeheads.

Clive Langer had come into the big world of pop as co-leader of the hugely influential, still widely admired, but never commercially successful theatrical Liverpool band Deaf School. In 1980, when Elvis Costello And The Attractions took the sixties soul sound of the Get Happy! album round the UK, rediscovering lost dancehalls, Clive Langer and his band The Boxes were in support.

At a gig in either West Calder or Dunfermline, I overheard two young women happily convinced they had just seen the headliner when Langer had only just finished his set, probably with his radical revision of Bobby Womack's It's All Over Now that added a riff the Stones never thought of.

It is Langer's tune to which Costello supplied the lyrics for seminal anti-Falklands War song Shipbuilding and his melodies that make up a large percentage of the Deaf School back catalogue. And when that band reformed recently, it was his propulsive guitar playing that powered them along.

The Deaf School revival continues, with an invitation to Japan in March likely to be accompanied by some home nation gigs as well, but Langer doesn't like being at a loose end.

"So I started another band," he says. "It's complicated, but really there was just not enough going on."

The band in question is called the Clang Group, and for the first time since Clive Langer And The Boxes, Langer is centre stage, with a microphone.

"I wasn't going to be the singer, but then I remembered that I had been. And it's easier with one less member."

Another two-fifths of the Clang Group share some Deaf School DNA. Drummer Gregg Braden is the veteran combo's latest recruit behind the kit, and keyboard player John Wood is better known to Deaf School fans as the Rev Max Ripple, the dog-collared mock-clergyman who has been there since the beginning.

It was over dinner with Wood in February that the Clang Group was conceived. Completing the line-up is token Scot, bassist Malcolm Lunan (also part of the Eugene McGuinness group which Langer has produced), and - roll on the drums, please - Andy Mackay, bequiffed saxophonist with Roxy Music.

Mackay, it transpires, was also a musician who felt that there was not enough going on in his life. Langer reveals that he has a special reason to hurry things along, having been diagnosed with an condition that is diminishing the articulation of hands - not uncommon in orchestral strings as well as horn players - that doctors estimate means he has just eight years left performing at the top level.

Mackay took to what he calls the "London character" of the Clang group's initial demos, and Langer says of the saxophonist: "He technically great but he's not ever predictable, neither pure jazz not r'n'b."

The first fruits of the Clang Group will appear on an EP on the Domino label early in the new year, comprising four Langer compositions. The lead trap is the poppy Rhoda, but Places + Things is Langer's favourite in that it best captures the sound of his new band.

"It was all one-take recording, there was no trying to be clever, and that one epitomises how the band really sounds."

Live, Langer anticipates the inclusion of some of his older songs for The Boxes like Splash (A Tear Goes Rolling Down) and Had A Nice Night, while a cover of Love Is The Drug will nod to Mackay's past.

Much interest is likely to focus on the EP's closing track, Langer's own version of Shipbuilding and very close to the original, which was sung by Robert Wyatt to Langer's demo, but with guitar instead of piano as the main instrument.

"It's a calling card, but really the Clang Group is about me writing new songs and seeing if they work. I still exist as a performing musician because of that 35 year middle section when I got stuck in the studio. Without that, who knows what would have happened. But just like with Deaf School you find renewed interest in playing, and find that the playing is still good, if not quite as energetic. You find nuances you wouldn't have found as a younger man.

"We are not a young band - the average age is over 60 - but we all like making a lot of noise."

The Clang Group's Rhoda EP will be released on Domino in February.