Regarded as one of the 'Four Kings' of the punk rock movement The Stranglers have continued to record and tour for over 35 years. Following a sell-out tour and appearance at Glastonbury in 2010, the band returns with the Black and Blue UK Tour this March. Rich Denton caught up with guitarist and lead vocalist Baz Warne...

Baz, you joined the band in 2000 after the departure of John Ellis, what was your reaction when they asked you to join?
Dare I say it, I was extremely confident. I was probably a bit arrogant in fact and that's what they liked about me. I was asked on the spot, learned the songs they asked me to learn. I decided in actual fact, for probably no more than a weekend that I wasn't going to do it. My wife didn't want me to be involved in going away because she had just got me back after eight years of being on the road with my old band. But, it was The Stranglers and I would have spent the rest of my life thinking what if? I borrowed £100 of a mate because I was on the dole at the time. Took my old guitar down to London on the train and got the gig on the spot. Ten days later I was in Kosovo in a whirlwind of war and playing with one of my all time favourite bands, it was fabulous. But at the same time I was arrogant enough to think I would get the job. I never doubted it so whether that’s arrogance or confidence I'm not sure I think there's only a fine line really

The Stranglers are regarded as one of the founder members of UK Punk. With the 35th anniversary of that scene approaching what effect do you think the Punk Movement has on music today?
I think people talk about punk in all kinds of ways these days don't they? You can be a punk painter or have a punk attitude, what the fuck’s that supposed to mean? It left its mark in that it proved that you don't have to be a genius or Steve Howe in order to play the guitar. The ripples have gone round the world, people still look at the Sex Pistols as a huge thing - they only released one album and that was over thirty years ago. The Clash were probably more influential but not one of my favourite groups. A lot of it was the timing and it goes around in circles, bands come back. Early nineties you've got the Manic Street Preachers who in the early days were just Clash rip offs down to the clothes they wore, the slogans they sprayed on their shirts and stuff. The original thing was born out of the pub scene and it changed the course of music forever in that it let people do what they wanted to do and it didn't have to be cool.In fact the more uncool it was the better.

You are about to go on a 17 date UK tour are you excited?
Yes and were coming to Liverpool again which is always a pleasure

Liverpool has such a strong musical heritage what’s it like playing here?
I not going to deny you that but a lot of the working class cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow they've long been strongholds for the band. The ethos of The Stranglers identifies very strongly with people from those kind of areas you work hard you, play hard. And Sunderland where I'm from is exactly the same

Wilko Johnson and his band are supporting you are you a fan of his music and that of Dr Feelgood?
I just can't wait he's one of my boyhood idols and one of the reasons I play a telecaster. JJ had a meeting with him last week have a look at the Rats Lair on the Stranglers website to see how that went. They are old pals and lived together in a flat in London in the 70s He's a character I'm really looking forward to meeting him.

The Stranglers have recorded 16 studio albums over 37 years, how do you put a setlist together that keeps everyone happy?
This tour is not promoting anything. It's not on the back of an album or a book it's just a tour. We wanna go out and play and people wanna see us. The audiences over the past few years have been consistently getting higher, now for example we are doing Hammersmith Apollo rather than the Shepherds Bush Empire. There are half a dozen songs that we could never get away with omitting. But, this time around with not having anything to promote we've thought bollocks and threw a couple of curveballs in the there. There will be some stuff that hasn't been played for many years and in a couple of cases things that have never been played live. Plus there are two or three brand new songs that we haven't even recorded yet and we are thinking of doing the old style thing of road testing them on tour. So expect the unexpected, it's going to be a real mixture.

What are your personal favourites to play live?
I've always had a soft spot for “Walk on By” because of the guitar and keyboard interplay in the middle which I really love. To be honest I love to do it all it's a privilege to be playing in a band like this. It's also a privilege to go out and play to people who shell out their hard earned and see the looks of glee on their faces as the four of us walk onto the stage. It's its own drug and something that will never go away. Somebody is gonna die from this band on stage and that's when it will stop

Last year you played a number of the big UK festivals including Glastonbury, what was that like?
We were Glastonbury virgins and we had heard the comments from Michael Eavis in the past like "over my dead body with The Stranglers play here" which stemmed back to an altercation in the 8os with Hugh Cornwell or JJ. Glastonbury was an incredible experience but the only down point to that was that we had to get on an early flight to Krakow in Poland the next day so we couldn't soak up the vibe. I wanted to hang about and have a couple of sherbets. It was a glorious day the weather was just unbelievable and we were very pleasantly surprised to find 80,000 people had turned out to watch us on the Other stage. We pulled the stops out and played very well, in fact that was a career high point for me. You don't often see JJ Burnell or Jet Black smiling on stage but there were lots of big toothy grins going round after that one. But then we had to bugger off to Gatwick for a 4am flight to Poland. We’ve also played T in the park, Isle of Wight, Hyde Park and V festivals in the past

Will you be playing any festivals this summer?
We've been offered a couple of things in the UK which we're looking at but it’s early days yet. We are going out to Greece, Spain and Israel and there’s one in Norway in April

After this tour what's next for the band? Are you going back to the studio?
That's exactly what we are doing. I've been down here in the West Country (where the band is based) since the 2nd of January. JJ and I are currently writing for the next record, rehearsing for the Black and Blue tour and after that we've got a week of acoustic shows in Holland and Belgium which is something we love to do. We augment the line up with a percussion player and Jet plays his jazz kit, Dave uses a piano and JJ and I use acoustics. When we come back we will continue writing until May when we will start recording the new album proper. Summer sees a lot of festivals then in November there's a Stranglers convention in London which is fabulous. It's something we haven't done for ten years. A great laugh and people get to meet us up close and personal. We do loads of weird things we played 5-a-side football at the last one and I think JJ is going to cook this year. Daft things like that. Hopefully the album will be out in the early part of next year and then a European tour so there is a definite game plan until the summer of next year.

The Stranglers start their Black & Blue UK tour in March

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