Interview: The Stranglers
Published on March 15th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Rocksucker was sufficiently bowled over by The Stranglers’ new album Giants to award it nine quails out of ten in our recent review, so we fired some questions over to the legendary band’s office and were thrilled to receive back the following set of replies from co-singer/songwriter Baz Warne…
Hearty congratulations on a fantastic new album! It sounds so fresh and full of vitality; do you think the six-year gap since Suite XVI had a bearing on this?
Possibly. We didn’t deliberately set out to have such a long gap between records, it just worked out that way. We had some success with Suite XVI and so we toured on the back of that for a while. Also we didn’t really have any pressures to make another record from record companies etc and so we just took our time and concentrated on every song to make it count.
Did you go into it all with an idea of what kind of album you wanted to make, or was it more a case of getting together and seeing what resulted?
We knew we wanted to make an album that would be stripped back, with not too many parts and overdubs on it so it could be replicated live, and to create more space in the music. We wanted it to sound like four guys in a room playing together…and it does.
Are you able to provide a breakdown of who wrote which songs, or is it more complicated than that?
JJ [Burnel, bassist/co-singer] and myself wrote all the songs. Generally whoever wrote the melody line would sing it, but that wasn’t always the case. With a song like “Giants”, for example, JJ sings the verses and I sing the choruses. We contributed a lot to each other’s ideas before we took them to Jet [Black, drummer] and Dave [Greenfield, keyboardist] for their contributions; so although two of us wrote the songs, all four of us made it a real team effort.
Who wrote the Spanish-language lyrics for “Adios (Tango)”?
JJ wrote “Adios (Tango)”. It was around for a while and we weren’t sure what to do with it until I added some real heavy metal guitar. Then he had the lyrics translated into Spanish and strangely it all made sense.
To my ears, you sound a fair bit like Jarvis Cocker on “My Fickle Resolve”. Any thoughts on that? (Sorry, that’s a rather vague question, I know…)
Jarvis Cocker? Haha…got no thoughts on that, really. I just tried to sound like myself and keep the delivery low-key to get the sentiment of the lyric across. Means a lot to me, that song.
“My Fickle Resolve”
What will become of the twenty-or-so songs that failed to make the cut?
They’ll stay in the archive and live to fight another day hopefully. There’s some good stuff there that we didn’t use. We never throw anything away.
Have there been any thoughts yet about a next album?
Only that we made a really good one this time and that we could make another equally as good with some of the stuff we didn’t use. One thing at a time though.
Do you ever get the impression that people write you off because of your relative ‘veteran’ status? If so, does it bother you at all?
Write us off? Not at all. It makes us more interesting to most people; they can’t believe how powerful and fresh we still are. (Rocksucker says: Simply check out our review of Giants for evidence of that.)
Do you know yet which festivals you might be playing this summer?
There are a few confirmed, yes. The biggest British one we’re doing so far is V Festival. They’ll all be up on our site soon.
You’ve already done a lot of touring in support of Giants; does it ever get tense, spending so much time in each other’s company out on the road? Do you get much time to relax and enjoy yourself?
It never gets really tense, although we do have our moments! We’re all really good friends still.
Baz Warne, thank you.
With thanks to Al Hale of Cruisin Music Management and Owen Carne