I recently had the chance to sit down and talk to Baz Warne, guitarist and co-lead vocalist of legendary punk band The Stranglers, to chat about their upcoming UK tour and the possibility of some new music.
So you have a pretty big UK tour starting in March, are you looking forward to that?
Always, always do, yeah. It’s the first thing we do of the year now. We sort of hit on to the idea of touring in March about ten years ago, and we tour this time of the year every year now. You would think it would tend to get a bit old now, but it doesn’t. There is still a great buzz, people still come to the gigs, they still sell out, and we are down here, rehearsing, playing the songs we love, and it is exciting. We have over forty years’ worth of songs to pick through, which is always great fun, [I] love it.
Several dates on the tour are already sold out, with still 6 weeks to go before the tour actually starts, how does this make you feel as a band?
It’s amazing. We get the figures sent through to us, and when you see that it’s amazing. I mean it really is a privilege to get to do what we do, we consider it a privilege to still be able to make a living and be appreciated for what we do, even after all this time.
Is there anywhere you are looking forward to playing in particular?
Well I personally really like playing in Scotland. We usually start in Scotland, last year or the year before we finished the tour there, but I absolutely love playing Glasgow. There is something about it, it is a proper rock ‘n’ roll town. So many great albums and bands come from there, so I always look forward to it. I like to play Newcastle, being a Sunderland lad, my family come, my children and my mates and things, and I get to take the piss, what with football and everything, bit of Newcastle/Sunderland banter. To be honest I love playing them all, but you always have ones that have more significance to you as a person.
So 2017 is the 40th Anniversary of both your debut album Rattus Norvegicus as well as second album No More Heroes, should fans expect to hear plenty from those albums on this tour?
Yeah, always. Not necessarily for nostalgic reasons, just that they are still fantastic songs. Those albums were recorded pretty much together, so [No More Heroes] was released only six months later. There are gems on both that we will be playing, as well as some stuff that we haven’t played in thirty-odd years. With as many song as we have you can never please everyone, but we try, and during the first three or four gigs we iron the wrinkles out, and you soon get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Because while something might work fine in rehearsals, once you get in front of 3000 mad Glaswegians, will it still work? So that is always interesting. I always have two mental folders, the please everyone, and the please your f****** self one. I mean some of that stuff is pretty obscure, which doesn’t mean it is good, but you want stuff that is both interesting to play, and please your audiences, without becoming too self-indulgent. Although that does happen sometimes. It’s a fine line, a balancing act.
With such a large back catalogue, are there ever any disagreements when it comes to the set list?
Not really, I mean if one person really, really wants to play a particular song we’ll take a look at it, but not all of us live in the UK now, so a lot of planning has to go into this, I mean we do what we do, we play together and then go our separate ways again. We keep in touch mainly via email, and those have been flying about since September, so by that process alone, we have it all pretty much agreed well in advance. Although there are a couple of times where you are like ‘God do we really have to play this one? Does everyone feel the same way I do?’ or ‘We haven’t played this one in years, shall we have a go?’ Its things like that which make the first two or three weeks of rehearsals so exciting really, its great fun.
Is there anything new we will be hearing on this tour?
Probably not to be honest, but we never say never. There are a lot of new ideas flying about. We used to road test songs on tour before we recorded them, and when we stay here down in the West Country we rent a cottage that has amps and guitars, so we can go back on an evening with a glass of wine and see what comes out, and in fact we have done that the past couple of nights, so whether or not any of it will be in good enough shape to play in March is another thing, but there should definitely be something new coming to light this year.
So a follow up to [2012 album] Giants is definitely on the cards?
Well we have no deadlines, no time constraints on us at the minute, such is the nature of the business, but I would say this band definitely has at least one last great album in it. At least one, you never know.
The Stranglers embark on their UK tour on the 7th of March, starting at the Engine Shed in Lincoln.