Baz Warne of The Stranglers talks touring, the band and Giants

Words by Natalie Wood

This month a great iconic band get back into the gigging routine, touring Europe to promote their new album Giants. To be honest they’ve never actually left the routine. The Stranglers have been around and touring since before I was born. They were touring before they were even signed in 1974, and don’t say you don’t know who they are. Surely you’ve heard the hits Golden Brown and No More Heroes?

I caught up with lead guitarist and vocalist Baz Warne before they kicked the tour off in Leeds. Baz joined The Stranglers 12 years ago and feels it’s as much his band as the original member Hugh Cornwell. 12 years is still a long time by today’s standards: “It’s probably four times a bands life span these days if they’re lucky.”

So why are The Stranglers outdoing the well loved bands of recent days? Baz mentioned it’s the “enduring nature of the songs” Their songs have come through, and survived, some of the roughest music eras ever seen.

“Personally you can dress it up with whatever you like but if the musics not good what else have you got to hang it on? To me it’s always been the songs first and foremost to those ends here we are 40 years later.”

The 1970’s brought the Punk era and with that bands like The Sex Pistols, The Who, The Clash and loads more but the Stranglers are the “longest surviving” band from the era. “I never, even as a kid and fan, saw the Stranglers has punk.” Most punk bands literally died. Careers addled with sex, drugs and rock n roll, yet the Stranglers missed this stereotype. As Baz says: “Journalists are inherently lazy and it was very easy to put the Stranglers in that category because we came around at the same time.”

Since the 70’s music has changed and so has the bands sound. With each album came a newer, different sound, “you’re trying to constantly evolve sound.” When we talked about the sound of the new album, Giants, Baz said it “sounds like a much more urgent and better recording of early stuff, where there’s just four guys in a room.” He certainly sounded pleased with it and after listening to it myself I can see why. It sounds like music should, no interference and stress. All your own work and passion in one place.

The title song has great meaning behind it for all the wrong reasons. Another Camden Afternoon did have lyrics to it, and then the band decided the instrumental was prominent enough. The song is basically written about a women who had her handbag nicked, by a man and woman, outside Euston railway station a few years ago. “She had the piece of mind to chase after them. They jumped into a car and she got hit by it.” They then reversed over her and killed her. Just from the basic story you can see no lyrics would be good enough to retell this tragedy.

Their last album came out about 6 years ago. They do have an excuse for the time away from the studio though. “We haven’t really been off. We’ve been touring which is why the records taken so long to come out.” With the Stranglers being a mature and responsible band they don’t have a manager, as Baz put it, “coming around with a sharp stick poking us saying come on time is money, get on with it.” This album is like a fine wine, it’s taken time to craft and each part counts. Just how the band and fans like it.

Baz on the music industry today: 

With three members of the band being originals it’s fair to say they’re not the youngest band out there but they do put some bands today to shame. Jet (the drummer) suffered a heart condition a while ago yet he still plays the drums with the energy and passion of someone much younger. “As for the rest of us we’re all young whippersnappers compared to Jet so we’ll just do what we need to do.” I don’t think there’s any signed band going that tours as much as the Stranglers and just for the sheer pleasure of it.

This tour they have a massive 18 dates to play in the UK and then they go on to the rest of Europe. With such a long running band still comes nerves. “The opening night of tour is always nervy. Is it going to sound right? Are we going to play right?”

They really have nothing to worry about. When I spoke to Baz they’d nearly sold out the whole tour. Roundhouse in Camden had gone and Glasgow, Sheffield and Manchester were pretty close too.

Does Baz ever get fed up of Golden Brown?

They play Sheffield at the end of the UK side of the tour. Now when Baz talks about Sheffield he talks like a proper local. The guy has plenty of mates here and has enjoyed coming here socially for years. “I probably know Sheffield better than any other city on the tour probably, that includes Newcastle.” When I asked what he was looking forward to most about the city he laughed and said a greasy chip butty. “Sheffield’s great. I used to enjoy going to Greasy Vera’s but of course thats not there anymore. What a shame. I used to love getting a cheggburger.” The man certainly knows his local food and sounded quite happy when reminiscing over Vera’s.

With a fan base including generations of the same family and an extensive back catalogue of great music and gigs the Stranglers really do have it all. Baz said this while we spoke: “We’re just up and ready to go. Unfortunately we’ll all be dead in 40 years time, it’ll be nice to think the legacy’s still going at that time.” Weirdly this describes the Stranglers spot on and if their music has lasted 40 years up until now it’ll definitely still be going in more than 40 years time.

They’re touring the UK until the end of March and their new album is out now.

Go check them out at:

http://www.stranglers.net

http://www.facebook.com/thestranglers

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