FOLLOWING last year’s record breaking sell out Ruby Anniversary tour, plus a performance at Virgin Media’s V Festival in Chelmsford, bad boy British rockers The Stranglers are back.
Embarking on a tour across the UK, including a stop off at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend in two weeks time, the band may be older – but they still pack a punch.
“I’m 50 but in my head I’m still 18,” says guitarist Baz Warne. “But that youth never leaves you, it never goes away. I think a lot of people will be surprised because we really do go for it when we’re on stage.”
Formed in 1974 as The Guildford Stranglers, the band were initially based in The Jackpot, an off-licence run by their drummer Jet Black from Ilford. However, it wasn’t until 2000 that Baz joined the bad boy rockers.
“It was surreal joining the group at the start,” says Baz. “It took me about six months of head shaking before it sank in, but I was thrown right in at the deep end, which was good for me. It wasn’t long before I felt like I belonged.
“Jet Black is actually two years younger than my dad so it’s like I’m performing with my dad every night on stage,” says Baz of the band’s 76-year-old drummer. “But he’s said before that he’d happily die on stage, so I don’t think he’ll be slowing down.”
Famed for their hits Golden Brown, Skin Deep and Peaches, the group became known as the iconic band with the bad reputation. Accused of being both sexist and racist by critics in their heyday, the foursome went to war with the media, punching journalist Jon Savage at a public event and taking a journalist half way up the Eiffel Tower before taking his trousers down, tying him up and leaving him there.
“That French journalist up the Eiffel Tower? He deserved it,” laughs Baz from Sunderland. “But I think that was all part of the exuberance of our youth. Back in the 70s there was a punk explosion and it was unknown to everyone and I think journalists were frustrated because they couldn’t pigeon hole us.”
Having celebrated their 40th anniversary with the spectacular Ruby Tour last year, the group are back on the road this March promising a thrilling programme of music, spanning five decades.
“We ended up selling out almost every venue last year so to see the affection that people still hold for this band was incredible,” says Baz. “I cannot tell you how much I want to get back on the road. We crammed everything into last year’s tour but I needed knee surgery so I was off for four months. I couldn’t walk, so I spent a lot of time working on new material as well as relaxing and recuperating.
“There are rumours of a new album but it’s something we need to discuss,” he teases.
“We’ll be playing stuff off the last three albums but we’ve always stead fast refused to be a nostalgia show,” he adds. “At some of the big festivals we played our greatest hits, which surprised everyone with how many hits we had. But we are very much still relevant and people are still interested.”
Coming to the Cliffs Pavilion on Friday, 13 March, Baz says the group are looking forward to spending some time in Southend.
“Southend is a great part of the country,” he says. “You’ve got the Canvey Island and Dr Feelgood connections, so it’s lovely to be there.
“Right now, we’re just focusing on the tour and making our song selections as we go,” he continues. “I do have a favourite, which unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be performing on this tour. It’s a cover of Walk on By and there was a BBC poll which rated it the third best cover of all time. It gives us seven minutes to just wig out and cut loose. I love it.”
Of the new tour, entitled The Stranglers March On, Baz claims that audiences should ‘expect the unexpected’.
“We call this a black juke box because we’ve got 18 albums to choose from and we just pick and choose as we go and have fun.”
The Stranglers perform at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on Friday, 13 March. For tickets call the Box Office on 01702 351135 or visit southendtheatres.org.uk.