Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Stranglers - a band with a stranglehold on Bath

The great survivors...The Stranglers (left to right Dave Greenfield, Jet Black, Baz Warne and JJ Burnel) 

The news we revealed last week that Bath is to stage a three-day punk festival (see post below this one)  as an alternative to the Jubilee celebrations in June, means the city is getting ever more associated with that particular nice ‘n sleazy musical genre which swept through the nation in the late 1970s.

For, just a couple of miles away from where the festival will be based at the Bath Racecourse, is a house which has become the semi-permanent home for one of punk’s great survivors – The Stranglers.

The band have rented a house in the Lansdown area for the best part of three years and it is there that they have written the material that makes up their critically-acclaimed new studio album Giants which was released on Monday.

And, as further proof of the unlikely connection between the city and the band that brought the nation such memorable moments as No More Heroes, Peaches and Golden Brown, the closing track on the new  album is about the city of Bath – and more particularly the rented house that the Stranglers often call home.

“Yes, the song 15 Steps is about the house I’m actually sat in right now,” said singer/guitarist Baz Warne.

Honorary Bathonian Baz Warne

“We’ve had three years of fun here in Bath getting this album together and we’ve had some proper rock and roll, tear-the-wall down parties here as well as some really heavy sessions of song writing. After such epic nights I used to go upstairs and count the steps to the salvation of my bedroom – it was 15 steps in all so I wrote a song about it”.

Despite originally being from Sunderland, Baz has really found an affinity with Bath and the south-west in general. After joining the band in 2000 – alongside three of its four founder members, Jet Black, Dave Greenfield and Jean Jacques Burnel – Baz found that the band spent a great deal of time in the south west as their management and rehearsal studios were based in Norton St Philip.

He spent some years living in Frome before making the move to Bath where he shares a house with the other three Stranglers when they get together. And he can’t get enough of the place.

“I do love Bath,” he mused. “I absolutely love it.

“I feel I’m going to end up here in my old age as I really have an affinity with the place. It’s big enough to be a city but not too big that it’s an urban sprawl.

“There’s just a nice vibe to it – it makes me smile and I love the west country way.”

As well as enjoying many places to eat and drink in Bath (15 Steps refers to how close the town is for a “spot of libation”) the city has given the band a place to think and write and given them the inspiration behind their new 10-track album which has already earned rave reviews.

The Stranglers fans are famous for their loyalty. This is  a group pictured at one of their tours last year.  
A number of the very varied tracks that make up this powerhouse of an album are set to be showcased alongside an equally eclectic mixture of ‘golden oldies’ on their current lengthy tour which includes a trip to the Bristol O2 Academy on Saturday, March 17.

The album has been a long time coming – it is the band’s first for five years – but Baz believes it is well worth the wait.

“The interest in Giants has just been unbelievable. I honestly do believe that it’s because we’ve made a very good record. When you are so involved in an album at some stage you have to sit back and listen to it objectively and I’ve reached the stage now where I can listen to the album in its entirety and just appreciate it. It takes a while to do that – but I’m there now.”

Although this is the band’s first release since the excellent Suite 16 in 2006, they have certainly not been idle and despite a collective age of over 240 years, the quartet have toured consistently in the interim period playing regualr tours and becoming firm festival favourites. And now they are in the midst of one of their biggest British and European tours for many years. Not bad for a band whose oldest member was elligible for a bus pass eight years ago....  

“You can’t beat live music and there’s been a real upswing in the gigging scene again,” enthused the ‘baby’ of the band Baz ( a mere 47).

Me and The Stranglers. I am the one in the suit!

"There’s no better way of informing people about your music than by just going out there. We like to just chuck our stuff in the back of the van and reconnect with people. For a band like us, especially the three old lads, it’s all in your psyche – the record is out so you go on tour because that’s what we’ve always done.  And the reaction is always great.”

As a band that has continued to defy their critics and are still together 38 years after first registering their name, The Stranglers see no reason why they should ever consider hanging up their famous bass lines and keyboard solos so we can expect to see them strutting their stuff through Bath for many a year to come....

“The Stranglers have survived because they never split up and they now have legendary status. Even the diehards that I’ve seen at 50 gigs down at the front, they’re standing around with their mouths open that they’re still seeing the Stranglers. And that’s brilliant,” said Baz.

Giants is available now and for details of the bands trip to the Bristol Academy – and the rest of the dates on their extensive British tour – see

No comments: