The Stranglers Start Their Australian Tour Tonight
British iconic punk and new wave rockers, The Stranglers, start their Australian tour tonight in Adelaide at The Gov. First forming in 1974, the band’s no bullshit attitude saw the band blaze an experimental trail, from Art Rock to Goth to New Wave Pop, inspiring a wave of prog rock guitar players and confrontational vocalists to find their roots in The Stranglers’ unabashed confidence.
Promising a set that will be covering tracks from their extensive catalogue spanning over 45 years, fans can expect to hear timeless hits like Golden Brown, Always the Sun, No More Heroes, Strange Little Girl and Peaches. The Stranglers have scored 23 UK Top 40 singles and 19 UK Top 40 albums to date and recently released their eighteenth studio album, Dark Matters which debuted at No 4 in the UK Charts.
Don’t miss being swept up high on the wave of The Stranglers’ powerful sound, pounding rhythms, soaring melodies, quirky humour and thrillingly daring musicianship for an exhilarating live experience. Jean-Jacques Burnel talks to Hi Fi Way about the tour.
Playing at The Gov tonight, is it a nice challenge to have fitting an entire career in to a two hour show?
Yes, but fortunately, as we say in France ‘embarras du choix’, we have an embarrassment of choice or riches. We can chop and change almost every night. We’ve got enough material before we bore people to death. Within an hour and a half to two hour concert we can chop and change and change the dynamic if we want. The thing is, you really never want to just be going through the motions and an audience will work that out. I don’t want to be in a band that just becomes a cabaret band or karaoke, so we change the set a lot because we can, and then we’ve got the new material, we’ll play a bit of that, but people don’t come to see us play the new album. They come to see us because they’re familiar with our previous stuff. I think it would be very pretentious if you just said, no, I’m only playing the new material, my new album, I’m promoting my new album. That’s all I’m doing. I think people would feel short-changed there.
Did the Dark Matter album come about as a result of the pandemic years?
We had recorded most of it before the lockdown, but obviously Dave Greenfield passing away near the very beginning of the lockdown from Covid, it obviously inspired a lot of thought and self-analysis because when you’ve known and worked with someone as a colleague and as a friend, over forty five years, I think it lends itself to an awful lot of reminiscing and a lot of thinking about that person. I ended up writing songs about Dave. There are about three or four songs on the album, which are inspired by Dave, but specifically I think they probably touch an awful lot of other people, not just because they’re about Dave, but there’s sort of a universal truth when you lose someone, and all of us will lose people who are very dear to us in our lives.
Did you find that that whole process was just as much so therapeutic and helping you deal with what was a pretty tough situation as opposed to this writing an album any other time?
Of course, because it’s cathartic, isn’t it? I think when you write, you should write from the heart, write about your experiences and most people’s experiences are not unique to them, they are universal experiences. So, if you can express them in a way that other people will understand, I think that’s the art
It is an amazing album.
Thank you, it was our most successful one for thirty-four years. If we hadn’t released it the same week as Ed Sheeran, Adele and Drake we would’ve had a number one. It should of been our first number one.
Has the creative process continued or is it too early to contemplate what might be the next album?
We’ve got a bit of touring ahead, but you never know when the muse is going to come, when she’s going to go. That’s the thing. I mean, I unfortunately don’t have creative diarrhea. I can look at a blank piece of paper or an instrument and just not have a single bloody idea coming into my head, and then suddenly it can happen. I’m sure most people who write or compose in any creative field goes through the same thing. You can’t always be creative. Other things come into to your life, which dry up the creative juices and then they’re released. Take advantage of it when it comes and suddenly you get inspiration.
Is it still a buzz playing these songs that still mean so much to so many people?
Of course, that’s what you get off on. It’s a form of communion. A really good gig is a communion between band and an audience. It’s not like looking at a TV screen and the audience is just looking and not participating. There’s real feedback and I’d get off on that, and I think most artists would. Imagine we’d come to Adelaide and everyone’s just sat there not saying a thing, not doing a thing, and we’re just doing our stuff, we wouldn’t have the same level of participation and communion. You wouldn’t have that communion. For me a really good gig is a form communion.
When you look back over your illustrious career what moments stand out most for you?
Throughout our nearly fifty-year career? Wow! There’s were a few highlights. We had been turned down by twenty four record companies, then one record company decided to take a risk on us, and we outsold all the other bands who were getting much more higher profile than us such as Sex Pistols, The Clash and all these other bands of our period, our peer group. That was one. Another one was four or five years later, the record company dismissed our request to release a song. They said, no, they said you can’t dance to it, it’s not punky, it’s got a harpsichord on it. We had to force them to release Golden Brown. When that became a worldwide hit, it was a metaphorical finger up to the record company. Then they had the cheek to say, can we have the same thing again then? So we gave him a six minute song in French!
Another highlight was our first Australian tour. We landed in Australia and a reporter from the Mike Willese program was there to try and coax something out of us. During the live broadcast he said we are going to show you The Stranglers but they are awful. Then a guy called Molly Meldrum phoned him up live on TV and said, yeah, we were going to have them on our program Countdown but we’re not anymore because they’re horrible. So overnight our Australian tour sold out!
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch The Stranglers on the following dates, tickets through SBM Presents…