Interview: The Stranglers

26 March 2012

Tristram Fane Saunders talks to Baz Warne, lead singer for the new-wave legends…

You’re the most recent band member to join.

Did you feel there was a certain Stranglers sound you had to aim for, or were you free to experiment?

The Stranglers have always been experimental, if you ask me. When it comes to brand new material, we play together and I do what I do. We wait to see what comes out, and 9 times out of 10 it sounds like The Stranglers.

A lot of critics have said the last two Stranglers records (2004’s Norfolk Coast, and 2006’s Suite 16) were their best. What can we expect from the new album?

Expect the unexpected. We spent quite a long time on it, with no constraints from the label. It’s linear.

The Stranglers are often seen as part of the 70s punk/new wave explosion. Will we ever have another phenomenon like that?

I don’t think anything like that will ever happen again. There’s no risk-takers anymore, no-one willing to stick their necks out. Today, the term “punk” – all that describes is a few snotty American kids with a lot of eyeliner and a low-slung Les Paul. Adopt a bit of “aggression,” and people call it punk.

Would you describe The Stranglers as a punk group?

No. Journalists are a load of lazy bastards. There was a lot of lazy journalism when we started. It was easy to lump the band in with , because we came around at the same time, and journalists are always looking for an easy ride. It was like, “let’s put them in this box, because one of the guys wears a leather jacket, and the people that go to see them spit sometimes. Let’s put them in this umbrella with the Sex Pistols, and the Clash, and The Damned.”

But if you had to describe the band’s sound to someone who’d never heard them…

A very good musical unit. There are a lot of sides to the band – not many albums sound alike.

You’re in your 40s, JJ has just turned 60, Jet Black is in his 70s. Aren’t you a bit old for touring?

No. As long as you’ve still got some lead in your pencil and something to say, why should you stop? Why should you get to a certain age and think, “It’s time to settle down with slippers, and 2.4 children, and a pipe, and a dog, and not be a musician anymore?” We’ll keep going. We’re musicians – it’s how we express ourselves. There are many bands who are older than us and still… well, there are a few bands, not many, but there are a few.