WITH almost 40 years behind them you’d think that The Stranglers would now like to take things easy, but the band are having none of it as they are about to tour the UK during March and they’re going to present us with a few surprises.
In recent years, after a number of tours where they played mainly a greatest hits set, the band have been mixing up the set list. This tour will continue in the same vein.
“Believe me,” says guitarist/vocalist Baz Warne, “this will be the most mixed set you’ve heard.
“We like to mix it up as much for ourselves as for the fans, and there are some songs that we have to play, as you have to cater for everyone.
“But,” he adds, “we’re gonna play some songs that even the band haven’t played before.”
He won’t be drawn on which songs they will be, but, tantalisingly, he says: ”There may be two or three new songs, and,” he laughs, “some that may not even have been written yet.”
Formed in 1974, The Stranglers have had 24 top 40 singles including the likes of Peaches, Golden Brown and No More Heroes, and their most recent albums, Norfolk Coast and Suite XIV, have been widely lauded as amongst the best they have ever made.
Three of the band have been together since 1975: bassist and vocalist JJ Burnel, Dave Greenfield with his swirling keyboards and drummer Jet Black (who still drums up a storm in his seventies), with Baz joining the band in 2000.
“It was a day I can’t forget,” he reminisces. “There’s been some tumultuous changes in my life since I joined, but it’s been a great 11 years.
“I’ve made some fabulous friends and we really are like a family.”
And the family is getting along fine, as Baz says.
“Everything is peachy.”
he says. “Me and JJ are ensconced in Bath writing for the next album which is due out next year; it’s all sounding alarmingly fresh and alive.”
The Sunderland football club fan explains how they work.
“JJ and I tend to collect material. Sometimes we’ll use a Dictaphone or a mobile. Some will never be Stranglers material, but some will.
“Then we’ll get together and play each other the songs and deconstruct it.
“As these songs are our legacy we can’t have anything that is substandard and we work very hard to keep the standard up.”
He concludes: “This will be our 17th studio album and it will be all killer, no filler.”
Last year, the band made their debut appearance at Glastonbury and the compilation Decades Apart featured tracks from all five decades of their career.
Their tours sell out very quickly as they have an incredible fanbase.
Baz acknowledges the fans’ influence.
“They make us what we are.”
And why not? Their gigs thunder along with a raw energy born from the pub-rock movement from where they sprang in the mid-Seventies.
So we can expect memorable classic songs delivered with that trade-mark sound that hits you so hard you’ll be black and blue.
For The Stranglers’s show at Leeds Academy next month, they will be accompanied by Wilko Johnson, of Dr Feelgood.
l Mar 12, O2 Academy Leeds, Cookridge Street, Leeds, 7pm, £23.49. Tel: 0844 477 2000. www.ticketweb.co.uk