Jan 9th – 2024 . I remember the date well when my editor – Gary Skentelbery of Warrington Worldwide Magazine asked  “Do I fancy interviewing Baz Warne of The Stranglers”, what do you think my response was?  Answers on a postcard are not required readers because my decision took nano-seconds , a resounding Yes!!  

Just seven months ago I would never have imagined such an opportunity for a voluntary writer, yet here I was gearing myself up for an interview with the lead vocalist and guitarist of the iconic punk rock/new wave band -The Stranglers. 

Of course I had to refresh my knowledge and watch a number of other interviews so I didn’t look a real ‘numpty’ but it was scheduled to be a voice Zoom call anyway so there was no chance of that, I just needed to sound confident didn’t I ? 

Luckily my knowledge of The Stranglers material was all in there somewhere, ok it was from a number of years back when I first saw them and Hugh Cornwell was in the original line-up but Baz Warne had been the frontman since 2000 so he was hardly a ‘new kid on the block’. 

So, on the 16th Jan at 1.50pm I calmly joined Zoom nice and early in anticipation of a scheduled 2pm call but sods law, Zoom wanted to update!  Arrrgghh , not now go away ………but despite my frantic efforts it would not and insisted on the update, blind panic set in as the minutes ticked away and at 2 minutes past 2pm I joined the call only to find Baz waiting on video!

Unbeknown to me the Zoom call type had switched to video instead of voice only and Chuff Media brightly announced  “Hi Glen, you’re live with Baz for 20 mins!! “

Now readers , they say composure is key but I had nothing to worry about as Baz was completely disarming and after a good laugh about my predicament I relaxed for my first perfect interview, what an experience. Baz is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about music and you can read the full transcript of the interview at the link further below, but if you want to see the band on this 50th Anniversary Tour be sure to book early as it will be a sell out for certain. 

Here is the transcript of that interview for your enjoyment!

GS: Thanks for your time Baz, in what must be a busy schedule. You have the 50th Anniversary tour coming very soon starting in Glasgow on March 8th, how are the preparations going?

BW: Yeah , it’s going very well but there’s a lot to get through with picking the songs. I mean, how do you start with that? JJ and I were always responsible for selecting them and we would start talking in late September/early October about what we thought might be a good set list, and I suppose with a tour of this magnitude, you’ve got to try and cover as many different bases as you can which isn’t an easy thing to do.

I mean, it would be very easy to just go out and do all the hits, piece of cake, play them all! But no, there’s a lot more to the Stranglers than that, as I’m sure you know.

October was the introductory thing and if I’m honest, we got to the end of the week and looked at each other and thought, well, we’ve actually broken its back in the first week of rehearsal.

GS: That was one of the first questions Baz. How do you select from such a massive back catalogue? How do you actually produce a set list?

BW: Well, from my own personal point of view, I’ve always liked to do at least one song a tour that’s never been played before and there will be one of those on this tour.

I like to play some more obscure stuff, album stuff. Obviously, on top of that, there are songs that must be done , you’ve got to do your ‘Golden Browns’,  ‘No More Heroes’ and you’ve got to play ‘Always the Sun’, because of two and a half thousand people in a concert hall, probably two thousand of them people are just members of the public. I mean they’re not diehard Stranglers fans, so they want to hear what they know.

GS: That’s it, yeah. It’s a tough call, isn’t it?

BW: Yeah, it always has been. It’s a pleasurable one though , you know.

We call it the black jukebox because there’s so many songs to pick.

GS: My editor, who’s Gary Skentelbery at Warrington Worldwide Magazine saw you on the final UK tour at Warrington Parr Hall in 2022. Obviously, it’s not on your tour list this year but do you remember playing at Parr Hall?

BW: I do, and I’ll tell you why, because I’d been ill and we had to reschedule three shows, one of which was the Parr Hall. I knew how famous Warrington Parr Hall was, you hear about that. I’ve heard that all through my musical career, but I hadn’t actually played there.

I really loved how intimate it was. It’s not the biggest hall I’ve ever been to, but there was a lot of people. I mean, it was well sold out. I enjoyed it very much and it was a throwback to an old fashioned British music hall.

GS: That’s exactly what it is, Baz.  the sound’s not always that good, to be honest with you as it wasn’t designed for amplified music and it can be muddy in there but it’s an old fashioned music hall and that’s what makes it, isn’t it? You know, it’s better than these big arenas, I’m guessing.

BW: Without a doubt, without a doubt.

GS: I’ve been playing drums myself in bands since I was 13 and I’m 64 now, and obviously it’s getting hard work. I read in your interviews, that you’re going to keep going.

Have you got plans for retirement Baz?

BW: No, none whatsoever. I mean, on this coming tour, when we do Bristol on the 25th of March, I actually turn 60 that day,  that’s my 60th in Bristol!

JJ was 70 in Bristol a couple of years ago.  So, Bristol holds a bit of a thing for us.

Actually , I’ve just been across and had a sandwich with JJ on a lunch break before I came back to speak to you. And there’s no way we will pack it in, I mean, you walk in and we look at each other and we’re still 21 in our heads.

GS: Well, that’s it, isn’t it? You feel the aches and pains afterwards, especially when you come off stage, ( Laughs ) .

BW: (Laughs)  You deal with that later. I mean, I don’t know what it would be like playing drums at my age. So, fair play to you, that must be hard. But Jet was still playing with us when he was 72!

GS: I read that. That gives me a bit of inspiration Baz. So, how do you wind down after a gig then?

BW: To be honest with you, not like I used to. I mean, we would maybe get a towel down, throw some fresh clothes on, jump in a cab and go to a club somewhere. Now, we like to have a glass of something fizzy and bubbly afterwards. We’ve always done that.

Kick the sweaty Dr Martens off and maybe have something light to eat and just chill.

I mean, we’ve got to keep ourselves well. You can still go and have a proper drink and kick back. But in the middle of a tour at this time of our lives you’ve got to look after yourself. You have to keep going.

GS: That’s exactly right. Without a doubt.

Are you working on any new material at the moment Baz?

BW: Not in the recognised sense. There are always ideas. I mean, that’s one of the beauties of having these things we call mobile phones now, because back in the day when you had an idea, you had to quickly find a tape recorder, sing it before you forgot it, because you do forget!

As inspired as you think you might be with your new idea, if you don’t get it down quickly, invariably it never comes out the same second time around. Mobile phones are great for singing in. I’ve got hundreds of little snippets of me singing and playing guitar.

JJ has the same. I’ve got lots of bits of us sitting together with a glass of wine at 10 o’clock at night with a couple of acoustic guitars. I’ve got loads of things like that.

But this year is predominantly going to be a touring year. We already started talking about the possibility of another album. We steadfastly refuse to be on the nostalgia bandwagon. I mean , if you’re touring after 50 years, there’s an element of nostalgia attached to it. Of course there is, but it’s a rarity for us because in doing this tour we are actually looking back, which is not something we do too much. We generally look forward and go forward.

GS: So, new songs is the way to do that?

BW: Absolutely. JJ and I have got some tentative plans. If we do start to record, it won’t be till 2025 anyway.

GS: Oh, right. Got you, too much to do this year.

BW: Yeah. It’s amazing how you still have plans, you know, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Keeping yourself going and keeping it fresh.

GS: Yeah, course it is,  I’ve obviously looked at a number of interviews on YouTube with various agencies that you’ve done Baz and have read and heard quite a lot about your musical tastes. Sounds (like me) an eclectic mix of music.

Can you tell us which music had a big influence on your career when you first started?

BW: Anything really! I’ve copped a bit of stick for saying this in the past, but frankly I don’t care. I was a kid. I loved Status Quo.

I loved the old Quo, and that’s predominantly why I started playing a Fender Telecaster.

GS: Right, you mean the very early stuff, like ‘Down the Dust Pipe’?

BW: Yeah, into the early 70s and then to ‘Down-Down’ which I still think , when it comes on the radio, is there a better intro to a song than that?

Because I’d like to hear it if there is. I mean, it stops me in my tracks even after all these years.

I was more of a rocker than a punk. When punk came along, I was still only 12 or 13.

So, I knew that some of it was good, but I knew that some of it was crap. I knew that some of them could play, and I knew that a lot of them couldn’t!

So, during those formative years between 13 to 18, the first five, those are the years that kind of determine who you’re going to be pretty much , and so I listened to, frankly Glen, anything that had a guitar in it, you know, anything that had a good guitar in it. So now I listen to the radio – Johnny Cash or something like that.

GS: Yeah, you take something from everything, Baz, don’t you?

BW: Absolutely, a little bit from everything. I mean the Stranglers were, to my mind, vastly superior over them all for many reasons, most of which I think (probably) were the songs. The songs are just, for the likes of you and me who are pretty close to each other in age, ingrained into you, as the part of your life, part of your upbringing.

GS: Very evocative music Baz

BW: Absolutely, yeah. Of course, when you’re starting a band the one thing above all else that you want to do is to have your own sound and identity so that when it comes on the radio, people instantly know who it is. The Stranglers for example, there’s no one like that. I mean, Stranglers come on the radio, you know who it is. And that’s, the enduring nature of the songs.

No mistake whatsoever and completely original and unique.

GS: I agree. Very conscious of your time Baz but I saw something interesting the other day, in Louder Than War magazine . It said and I quote here, ‘You’ve been celebrated in the book The Art of Darkness, A History of Goth by John Robb’. I thought to myself, would Baz class himself as goth, I wonder?

BW: ( Laughs ) Not even when I had hair and a waistline would I have classed myself as a goth Glen!  I was amazed by that if I’m honest. Well, I have to say thank you for drawing my attention to it, because I’ve never heard of that before.

 Yeah,  A History of Goth by John Robb? , and is it The Stranglers or is it me personally he’s talking about?

GS: It just refers to the Stranglers .

BW: Yeah. Well, I suppose I suppose there’s something gothic overtly, but not goth in the sense that we know, with the black hair and the miserable faces and, you know, the big, silly boots. But I suppose there’s some gothic leanings in some of the music, certainly as far as Dave was concerned, you know, with the style that Dave played. That baroque and a little bit gothic style.

GS: Somebody sent me a question here. This is from a lady called Alexis Gamble in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland.

She’s saying, “a few of us are going to see them in Belfast and at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool, can we expect any guests on your shows?”

BW: What is she thinking? Is she thinking that we’re going to get some of the ex- members or something to come on?

GS:  It’s a good question . I’m just wondering, is she referring to your support act or is she referring to people who might join you on your actual sets? I’m not sure.

BW: No, it’s just going to be the four of us for the entire evening. There isn’t going to be a support act because we’re going to do two sets. We’re going to play for well over two and a half hours.

The first set is going to be some more of the complicated time signature, strange, weird, and wonderful, obscure, Strangler stuff that no one hears. The second half will be more of what the general public would like to hear with some other stuff thrown in. So, it’s an eclectic mix.

It took us quite a while to settle on what we were going to play and as we’ve always done in tours past, the set never stays the same.  I mean, generally we’re aiming for the first two or three shows and then somebody will say, do you think that works? Or I don’t think that’s working there as it slows the set down too much. I’ve seen people looking at their watches. I saw a woman yawning!

If ever I see anybody yawning in the front row, I have them, it’s brilliant , I say  “I’m sorry, are we boring you? “ (Laughs)  

GS: It’s no wonder you started rehearsing in October though when you think about it, two and a half hours!  That’s a big set.

BW: Well, we’ve got to get the songs straight. You have to inhabit these tunes so that it looks like second nature. Because there’s some very complex stuff going on and it has to be right, you know?

GS: Yeah, quite right.  Well, I’m just looking at the time – 2.20pm . I think we’re bang on time and that’ll please Warren ( Chuff Media ).  Baz, thanks very much again for joining me. It’s really good of you.

Good luck with the tour. –  Not that you’ll need it, of course, and from everyone at Warrington Worldwide can we thank you for everything you do in music and we look forward to seeing you at the Apollo in Manchester.

BW: That’s very sweet. The pleasure was all mine. Take care of yourself, Glen.

GS: Thank you, Baz. Bye now.