Life's black and white for punk legends The Stranglers
It's fair to say punk icons The Stranglers have seen and done it all. Brawling with the Clash, jailed in France for inciting a riot and escorted out of Sweden twice, The Stranglers lived and breathed the punk ethos.
Ahead of their Black and White UK tour, which kicks off in Perth on March 3 heading to Inverness the following night and then Glasgow on March 5, Stranglers bassist and founder Jean-Jacques Burnel tells us why they’re still going strong after all these years.
The Stranglers are making more money now than in the late 70s and 80s, presumably because they’re no longer paying fines or posting bail.
The quartet – whose hits include Peaches, Golden Brown, Skin Deep and Always the Sun – head to Scotland, the rest of the UK and then Down Under. Non-stop.
“The gigs are more fun than they were in the 70s and 80s, because you don’t get attacked every night,” Burnel says.
“The aggro’s gone. People actually come to see us, rather than to test our mettle.
“We had to turn down an American tour because it’s just too much,” he adds. “I don’t want to kill myself doing this. We really enjoy doing this.”
That’s not to say that the Stranglers have mellowed. The cover of their most recent and 17th studio album, the mostly excellent 2012 effort ‘Giants’, featured the band hanging from nooses. The cover has been banned in some countries, with an alternate version with empty nooses.
“Everyone’s playing safe,” Burnel says of today’s rock ‘n’ roll scene.
“Everyone’s career orientated. When they’re controversial they make sure the paparazzi are around to witness the controversy. Everything’s stage managed.”
On this tour for the first time ever The Stranglers will play live, in its entirety, their ground-breaking album Black and White, almost 40 years after its 1978 release.
Black and White was, and continues to be, one of the most influential albums of the late 1970s, reaching number two in the UK album chart, marking the dawn of a new era and inspiring a whole new roster of post-punk bands. One of these bands, Hawkwind, included rock ‘n’ roll wild man Lemmy.
The recent death of his close friend, who went on to form Motorhead, did not come as too much of a shock to Burnel. Mates for 30 years, Lemmy and Burnel were last together in June when The Stranglers supported Motorhead at The Eden Project in Cornwall.
Brunel explains: “I saw him this summer. We were supporting him at a gig at the Eden Project.
“I thought then that he wasn’t long for this world. His look was distant, the life force was dimmed.
“After he came off stage, he was shaking. He was half the bloke I remembered physically.”
In addition to the complete live performance of Black and White, the Stranglers will play a further selection of favourites, old and new, from their extensive and memorable catalogue.
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting, credible and influential British bands, The Stranglers continue to enthral fans, old and new, with their record-breaking, sell-out shows and festival appearances throughout the UK and the rest of the world.