Live Dates

29 NovLe Phenix, ValenciennesTickets
30 NovLa Vapeur, DijonTickets
2 DecTransbordeur, LyonTickets
3 DecRockstore, MontpellierTickets
5 DecBikini, ToulouseTickets
6 DecKrakatoa, BordeauxTickets
7 DecLa Carriere, NantesTickets
25 JanEngine Shed, LincolnTickets
27 JanMusic Hall, AberdeenTickets
28 JanO2 Academy, GlasgowTickets
29 JanO2 Academy, GlasgowSOLD OUT!
31 JanVictoria Hall, StokeTickets
1 FebUEA Nick Rayns, NorwichTickets
3 FebG Live, GuildfordSOLD OUT!
4 FebO2 Academy, BrixtonTickets
5 FebO2 Academy, BrixtonSOLD OUT!
7 FebParr Hall, WarringtonTickets
8 FebRock City, NottinghamTickets
10 FebUni Great Hall, CardiffTickets
11 FebO2 Apollo, ManchesterTickets
12 FebO2 Academy, LeedsTickets
14 FebGuildhall, PortsmouthTickets
15 FebCliffs Pavilion, SouthendTickets
17 FebDome, BrightonTickets
18 FebO2 City Hall, NewcastleTickets
19 FebO2 Academy, BirminghamTickets
21 FebO2 Academy, BristolSOLD OUT!
22 FebHexagon, ReadingTickets
24 FebCity Hall, SheffieldTickets
25 FebDe Montfort Hall, LeicesterTickets
26 FebCorn Exchange, CambridgeSOLD OUT!
4-7 AugRebellion Festival, BlackpoolTickets
29 SepZoom, FrankfurtTickets
30 SepKantine, CologneTickets
2 Oct013, TilburgTickets
3 OctFabrik, HamburgTickets
4 OctAmager Bio, CopenhagenTickets
6 OctPlan B, MalmoTickets
7 OctTradgarn, GothenburgTickets
8 OctBerns, StockholmTickets
11 MarL’Olympia, ParisTickets


Baz Warne - The Interview

Baz recently completed his first decade as a member of the Stranglers – joining purely as a guitarist back in 2000, then stepping up to vocal duties almost four years ago. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d sneak a quick interview with him before the summer’s busy schedule kicks in. He took time out to answer a range of questions from his home in Sunderland, prior to travelling to the airport for this weekend’s Munster gig in Germany:

Baz WarneYou have now been a member of The Stranglers for 10 years. How did you feel when you took to the stage with them for the first time back in 2000?

Well I generally divide that question into two to be honest…my first actual gig was in Podujevo in Kosovo during the conflict there…a thrilling and petrifying experience. We went out to entertain the troops and it’s still one of the most unique and amazing trips I’ve ever taken…that was 10 days after my audition and I didn’t know the crew or the band…interesting…We drove tanks, flew in helicopters, fired live rounds from captured automatic weapons and played to at least 30 nationalities that I can think of in a large basketball arena in Pristina over 2 nights with dancers, fire eaters and comedians…totally bizarre but brilliant…

My first ‘public’ show was a festival in Belgium with such luminaries as Shane McGowan and the Popes and the Buzzcocks…there were at least 100 Brit fans standing on the side of the immense stage watching the band and scrutinising my every move…something I quickly became used to…On both these occasions I just remember feeling that familiar mix of trepidation, anticipation, and adrenaline…you’re nervous but ultimately you know that’ll pass and you’ll end up enjoying it and trying not to fuck up too badly…a maxim that I’ve adopted to this very day…never get nervous any more though…just always want to get on and do it…

Smalltown HeroesHow do you view the music you made prior to joining the Stranglers?

Well if anybody’s heard Smalltown Heroes they’ll know that I like loud guitars and melody, harmonies and power…at least I did in those days and we tried to make every song memorable in some way…in the two guitar, bass and drums format…I still listen to some of that old Heroes stuff from time to time and there’s a certain naïve quality to it now that I’m not keen on…but the playing and singing is great…

Toy Dolls, baz airborne!Way back when I was in the Toy Dolls I was a punk, albeit a punk who liked rock music too…never limited myself to what I liked, just limited myself to admitting what I liked..heheh…19 years old and just happy to be alive and enjoying touring and everything that goes with that…the music was punky, but complex in a 3 piece guitar, bass and drums way and as I was a guitar player playing bass it was easy to play the fast runs to go with the guitar and keep tight with the drummer…I loved it and it gave me the desire and drive to ultimately decide that this was what I wanted to do with my life if I could…once I’d got that mindset that was it…and I’m still like that today…

Baz Warne and Paul RobertsHow did the band dynamic alter after Paul Roberts’ departure in 2006?

It just got leaner and tighter and better visually I think…and much easier to maintain on the road too. Paul was great and was a really good friend to me during my early years in the band, but as I think most people know he was a very emotional and open bloke, and ultimately let certain things get to him that he couldn’t or wouldn’t reconcile himself with…It was a sad day when he left but not too surprising either if that makes any sense…he left us two thirds of the way through making Suite 16 and we had to pull it together and it brought the 4 of us even closer together than we were before…I still miss him though, but he’s never spoken to me since the day he went…
I heard he’s in the U.S. doing a big band thing and I know that was something he always wanted to do…so good luck to him…he’s a good bloke is Paul…

How has the audience reaction to you changed since you became co-front man with JJ?

Nothing but positive and supportive…We’ve done a lot of shows as a 4 piece again in the last 4 years and it feels like it’s always been that way to me know…I couldn’t see it any other way now to be honest…It was great back when I joined and we were a 5 piece and I was just playing guitar too though…I made a lot of friends early on and enjoyed just standing there playing, but since we became 4 again it just feels right…and I think the audiences feel that too you know?

Baz WarneHow did you feel before, during and after that first gig as a four piece at Weston Super Mare back in 2006?

Confident but apprehensive too…it was a big step to just do it like that and not tell anyone, but this bands’ never towed the line really have they? Ha! We’d been rehearsing solidly for it since Paul quit and the mood was good…we knew we could pull it off but didn’t want to get too blase’ about it either…that’s the kiss of death…I think we started off with The Raven if memory serves, which JJ would always sing anyway…audiences were used to seeing us start with that sometimes and then have Paul join us from the 2nd number onwards so I don’t really think the penny dropped until we got 2 or 3 numbers in and people realised he wasn’t coming on at all…It was quite funny to see recognition dawn on the front few rows…but I think the word had leaked a few days before and people had heard but wouldn’t believe it until they saw it themselves anyway…and as the show went on and we started to get more relaxed and into it we really hit our stride and the whole thing went up a gear…the crowd sensed it, got even more behind us, and that really spurred us on…It was a great gig and afterwards we cracked open the bubbly and got as close to a group hug as this band ever could…we felt we’d earned it…heheh…

You gig very regularly with the Stranglers, with JJ, solo and with other projects as well. Why do you get such a buzz from live performance?

Why? Because I wanted to do it my whole life…I can honestly say that from the age of 8 watching bands on Top of the Pops in the early 70’s it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do…and to have a lifelong wish and then to have it come true after so many years of hard graft is extremely satisfying and doesn’t happen to too many people…I know how lucky I am to have this life…I also know I have the talent to back it up and never take any of it for granted…I still love it as much as I ever did…and I know the band do too…

You have developed a really close bond with JJ in particular, which has both energised the band and raised the standard of song writing. How does this close relationship help when writing new material for the band?

The obvious answer to that is that you don’t have any inhibitions or reservations about telling each other what you really think…It’s much like any other partnership in any other walk of life…if you know and trust the person well enough it makes for a much more natural and easy going time…We practically live together on the road and have lived together for months when we were writing the Norfolk and Suite albums…we do spend a lot of time together it would be fair to say, and when were not together we talk most days…there’s always something to say…In the early days of me joining we had a few sessions where I went down to his house in Cambridgeshire where he was at the time to see if we could write together and forge a partnership and it became apparent early on that we could…I had a lot of respect for what he’d done in the past of course and during those early times he sensed I was being a bit too reserved in my opinions of what he was playing me, given who he is etc and told me not to be so shy towards giving him my thoughts…put me at ease you know? Once he’d done that we never really looked back and now we say whatever’s on our minds…good or bad…and we’ve had a few memorable spats…but it’s worked really well I think and we’re close…

Baz WarneWhich of your songs are you most proud of?

I’m pretty proud of them all I have to say…I really like the structure of Long Black Veil which is more complex than it sounds…I like Spectre of Love too probably because it’s quite personal to me in that I wrote it for my daughter…but the one I’m probably most proud of is Relentless if I’m honest…It was the last song to be written for the album and I had most of it down but really wanted to nail the verses better…I worked on that for quite a while before I played it to the band and all of them to a man loved it…Dave still says it’s one of his all time favourite Stranglers songs and I still listen to it from time to time…Dutch Moon  was the first  song I wrote for the band so that’ll always be up there too…

Can you give us any news of the eagerly anticipated follow up to Suite XVI?

JJ and I lived together in Bath for 3 months last year writing and just identifying stuff that we might use…there’s always loads of songs and bits of songs around and they need to be properly deconstructed and sorted before we start any creative work on them…that’s where Retro Rockets and I Don’t See the World Like You Do came from…but we have no time constraints or obligations to record and so we’ll decide when the time is right…any more than that I can’t say…other than we have some gems waiting to be mined…

In recent years, live sets have predominantly featured the band’s hits. Are there any songs you’d prefer to see dropped from the set?

I enjoy every song at every gig for different reasons…there are often ones that you get tired of playing or listening to but they’re more than often the songs that people want to hear the most. I think that there are a lot of old fans who would love us to play more obscure stuff and there’s sometimes a case for that…we’d love to too sometimes but when you’re playing to a festival crowd you have to do what they, to a point, expect…you have to make that impression and play the songs that the lions share of an audience have come to hear…there’s only a small percentage of real diehards who come to see us and are heartily sick of Golden Brown but 80% of the crowd want that song and some people come only to hear it…Having said that we have to keep ourselves interested too and play some more challenging material…it’s a hard balance to strike when you have so much good stuff…the Black Jukebox we call it…ha…

Are there any other songs you’d particularly like the band to play live?

Love to try Baroque Bordello, Hey! Rise of the Robots, A Soldiers Diary, Barbara Shangri-la, Sweden…come to think of it, the list is pretty long…

At the Newcastle gig on the last tour, you dedicated No More Heroes to your parents who were present at the gig and were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. How did it feel to share such a special moment with a large audience?

I’d thought about it and mentioned to the band if maybe I should do it…they all said it was a great idea but I was a bit reticent about making it too sentimental which would have been easy to do…they are my mam and dad after all but this aint fucking cabaret you know? But then they booked a cruise and weren’t going to be at the gig anyway…so I forgot about doing it…then it all changed again at the last minute which was good because I didn’t have the time to dwell on it and so it just came from the heart…they were sat in the front row of the balcony with my son and we’d put spotlights on their seats so we could light them up when the time came…and it worked a treat…they didn’t have a clue and my abiding memory of it is my dad waving like Prince Philip, my mother looking a bit flustered and my son with a shit eating grin a mile wide…and when I asked the crowd to applaud them the noise was deafening…all two and a half thousand of them clapping cheering and waving at my folks…gladdened the heart I can tell you…then we all went off to the hotel and got truly polluted…JJ flattering my mum and my dad and Dave putting the world to rights…great evening

Baz WarneThe Spring UK tour this year was the longest since you became a Strangler. Why do you think the band is still successful after so many years?

There are so many answers to that…I think first and foremost is has to be the enduring quality of the music. There just aren’t bands around like this one around any more…old fashioned bands that have a totally original sound and craft their songs accordingly…

Whenever you heard the Stranglers on the radio back in the day, when me and my mates were young, you knew it was them…all the elements from the keyboards to the bass to Hugh Cornwell’s iconic voice…you knew who it was…you listened and soaked it up and it stayed with you…hard to describe that to anyone who’s under 25 you know? Unless, as now is happening, their parents were fans and have introduced their kids to the band…and before you know it, a whole new generation is listening to us and realising just how many songs they know and how fucking good they are…and of course instant access to practically anything you want to hear, buy or steal is on the internet and in everyone’s home…kids don’t have to queue up at their local record shop on the day of release to get a copy of whatever like we had to do…I miss that too…coming home on the bus clutching your record and barely being able to control yourself until you’d heard it on your mum’s Dansette…happy days…

Plus I don’t think being a bit naughty from time to time hurts either does it? People like bad lads…especially bad lads who can play

How are you feeling about the big festivals this summer?

Big festivals are great…it’s a chance to play to a huge audience in one fell swoop…an audience that probably wouldn’t normally come within a mile of us…and it’s great to see the recognition on their faces when they realise who you are and what songs they know…we look on it as a mission…your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to convert as many people as possible in the course of the summer…see some other bands you’ve heard about and maybe some you haven’t seen for a while, both on and off stage…see what the sun brings out to play and enjoy yourself…simple…

RoundhouseDo you prefer to play large venues or small more intimate ones?

Both I guess…as I said about festivals and arenas you play to a lot of people at once and take that for what it is…the small intimate gigs are great for the connection to the crowd and being able to get cosy in your surroundings…you bounce off both crowds in different ways…just two sides of the same coin really…I suppose if you put a gun to my head I’d come down on the side of the smaller gigs…I love the patter with people who’re right in front of your face and sweating buckets in a close noisy atmosphere…

Who are your main musical influences?

Oh man…where do I start? I’m a musician…so I like music! It would take longer than I’ve got here to list you who’s been responsible for getting me to where I am…I’m in a band with 3 of them for a start…There’s so much amazing music around of all genres…as a kid it was anything that rocked, was loud and had guitars in it…From AC/DC to Chet Atkins…Neil Young to The Pretenders…the list is endless…sorry if that sounds like a cop out answer but seriously, I’d be here a long time…

What is currently on your iPod?

Everything from Dusty Springfield to Urge Overkill…been listening to old Talk Talk a lot recently, and my mate Shaggy has got me into Electric Six…went to see them in Bristol recently and they were great…Mozart and The 13th Floor Elevators…Buffalo Springfield, Thomas Dolby and the Slits…Tomita, Joe Jackson and Diana Ross…see what I mean? And Yarnee (Ian Barnard, Jets tech who plays with us a lot…as I’m sure most people will know) keeps me well informed of  what’s about…he knows my tastes, is pretty discerning and lets me know what he thinks I’ll like…Actually on the last European tour we lived on the bus for 5 weeks and most nights after all was done and we were relaxing on the way to the next gig we had ipod ‘wars’…the boys rigged up a cable into the bus’ sound system and we took turns to play everyone a track from our own ipod…maybe 8 of us sitting in a circle with a few stimulants and sharing our music with our mates…really cool and a great way to hear other stuff and to let people hear what shaped you too you know? Had some mighty laughs doing that…and probably doubled my ipod collection…it’s almost full now actually…

As a Sunderland fan, can you describe your feelings when you heard that Newcastle have been promoted to the Premiership?

Always bittersweet that one…we love to see them go down as much as they love to see us fail, but the season isn’t half as much fun as when we know the two derbies are coming up…it’s the two fixtures you always look for first…and if any proper Mackem    tells you that they’d gladly suffer the humiliation of relegation as long as they took 6 points from the mags, you know it’s true…every time…and they feel the same way about us…I’ve got loads of Geordie mates though, and good lads they are every one…but where your team’s concerned there’s no love lost…that’s just the way it was, is, and shall always be…

Thanks to Baz for his time and effort, and especially for such detailed and insightful answers…

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