With 23 UK top-40 singles and 17 UK top-40 albums so far in a career spanning more than four decades, The Stranglers are one of the longest-surviving bands from the UK punk scene of the mid-1970s.
For the past 15 years, Baz Warne has been at the heart of it all, delighted to join a band he’d admired (Assembly Hall, Worthing, Friday, July 10, 8pm).
“I am so much looking forward to everything that’s coming up,” says Baz, on the back of a hugely-successful 40th anniversary year last year.
“It was wonderful. I don’t think anyone could have guessed that it would all be just so well received and attended. It has been 15 years for me, but it has been an absolute rollercoaster. Really it has been building up since the mid-noughties. We went back to being a four-piece in 2006, and really it has just built slowly but surely since then.”
When Hugh Cornwell left, he was replaced by a singer and a guitarist, and so the four-piece became five, and that’s the way it stayed for 16 years: “And then in 2006, the singer decided he had had enough. We were thinking ‘What do we do? Do we go for another guy?’
“Until his departure there was quite a bit of bad blood in the band. He would refuse to stay with us, and the tension would just increase when he was late (for rehearsals).
“We would just start without him, and I would do some of the singing, and then I found myself really really enjoying the singing to the point that when I looked out the window and saw the singer arriving, I would think ‘Oh s***!’ When the singer actually left, we were in the middle of an album, and they just asked me if I would like to sing.
“We had a low-keyish festival coming up about three weeks after it happened. We were playing Cheddar Gorge-way, and we didn’t make any announcement. We just turned up and played as a four-piece, and people liked it. We have just gone from strength to strength ever since. For us, really after about six months, it just sounded like the most natural thing in the world. People just seem to like the way it has gone.
“I was a fan, but I was not a rabid, partisan, slavering mess of a fan that hangs on your every word. But I was a fan nonetheless. When they formed in 1974, I would have been ten.
“I suppose I was aware of them in about 77. But growing up in Sunderland, in some ways it was a bit of a provincial outback and still is.
“All you would get to know about music was reading the music rags and watching the weekly dose of Top of the Pops. If I had been aware of The Old Grey Whistle Test, I still wouldn’t have been allowed to stay up and watch it!”
Looking back things were simpler then, and Baz admits to a degree of nostalgia – though he’s quick to stress, nostalgia absolutely isn’t what The Stranglers are about.
“Nostalgia would be anathema to the likes of us, so really we have to walk a very careful tightrope. If it was just all about nostalgia, I think we would rather not be doing it at all.
“We are just about to start writing again. We are still valid. We are still relevant. We can still make good records, and some of our most recent records sold much better than the later Stranglers albums did first time round. You have got to be moving on as well.”
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