Stranglers: We’ve still got something to say
THE annual UK tour by The Stranglers is upon us and they will be performing tracks from their extensive and acclaimed catalogue in Birmingham.
Unlike many bands that have been going for over 40 years, the Stranglers still have two of the classic line-up present in the form of bassist J J Burnel and keyboard player Dave Greenfield.
The lead guitarist is Baz Warne, who has been with them for 20 years, and the drum stool is the domain of Jim McCauley, who stepped up to the mark after original sticksman Jet Black retired.
“Jet is still involved in the band,” JJ tells me. “And he is the band’s archivist. He has mentored Jim and has given him his 100 per cent blessing.” The fans, too. have accepted Jim. “The fans love Jim. He actually drums a bit harder than Jet. It was good to have an injection of new blood as there is always the possibility of us going a bit stale.”
Happily, The Stranglers can never be accused of being stale.
“We still have something to say and are still working on new material,” says JJ, who was recovering from a flight from Australia when we spoke, following a successful tour Down Under.
“It was fantastic,” he grins. “Our audiences are getting bigger, and they have realised that we’re not just a nostalgia act. We are a hard working band that always gives their all.
“It was pretty intense though. We did seven shows and 12 flights in 15 days.”
The Stranglers came to prominence in the late Seventies with hard-hitting rock songs like Peaches, Five Minutes and No More Heroes and their image was of a gang of menacing musicians.
They had their biggest hit with the controversial Golden Brown which just missed getting to Number One in the Eighties.
‘‘The spirit of the band doesn’t disappear and we’re probably better than ever,” JJ adds. “We’re older, but we have a lot more to offer – the proof being that all the shows sell out.
“We’ve always made the music that we want to. We’ve never been told what to do. Some have tried, but we tell them to ‘f*** off’.” And there are still ambitions to be fulfilled. “I’d still like to play South America. We booked tours there, but they always got cancelled. Or even China, that’d be good. And we’re still seeking to make the perfect record.
‘‘We are working on the new album – that’s the main thrust of the year – and there’s also a movie (hopefully) next year as we’ve found loads of old footage.”