Cornwell Slams Stranglers – And Gives Away New Album
Hugh Cornwell, a co-founder of The Stranglers, has launched an attack on the band that he left in 1990, claiming that the long-running group – still featuring bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel, keyboard player Dave Greenfield and drummer Jet Black, and fronted by guitarist Baz Warne, who joined a decade ago – have turned into a tribute act of themselves.Words: Dave Ling
During an interview to promote Cornwell’s upcoming eight-date UK tour, when he will play both The Stranglers’ 1977 debut, Rattus Norvegicus IV, as well as his current solo album, Hoover Dam, in their entirety, Classic Rock asked whether there is any realistic thought of Hugh returning to the Stranglers someday.
“I can’t see it myself,” Cornwell responded. “They’re doing a perfectly adequate job of becoming a Stranglers tribute band without me.”
On what grounds, we wondered?
“Well, they do more and more of the old catalogue songs that I was involved in,” replied. “My set is about 50-50 at the most. They do about 80-20. That’s great in a way because it turns people onto those older songs, and I get paid. It’s like a franchise. I want there to be lots of Stranglers bands out there playing the old catalogue. Like Bjorn Again. Why not? Let’s have ten of them.”
Back in August 2008, Stranglers bassist JJ Burnel told Classic Rock: “Hugh repudiates all my advances to work together again, and frankly I can’t be arsed anymore…”
Hugh interrupted our question with a bray of laughter: “He’s never actually asked me!”
Well, that’s why we sought clarification. Burnel’s full quote was: “When someone rejects you all the time, to save your sanity you move on”.
“For a while we were in contact by phone again, and things were going well,” clarified Cornwell. “But we didn’t speak about working together again. Then I picked up a newspaper, and there were snide comments about me in an interview. I think I said, ‘I can’t be bothered with this anymore’ just before he did. Good luck to The Stranglers, what else are they gonna do? Unlike me, they play those songs the way we did them (at the start). I don’t want to go out there and do that – I’d rather be driving a cab.”
As well as being available to buy as a traditional vinyl album, CD and DVD, Cornwell is allowing fans to download Hoover Dam from his website (which is now available in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Russian, Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin and Japanese) free of charge. Here’s the link: www.hooverdamdownload.com.
“I believe we’ve got a good product, so interest in Hoover Dam could swell interest in my other music,” he reasons. “I’ve already sold more than my last two albums put together.”
Doesn’t a part of him resent giving away his art?
“Not if it’s being done as a marketing tool. Another thing that appealed to me is that although Radiohead flirted with the idea – they allowed people to pay what they wanted for an album – mine is the first to be given away with no strings attached.”
See Cornwall and his band on tour:
May 7: Aberdeen Lemon Tree
May 8: Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
May 14: Gloucester Guildhall
May 15: Preston 53 Degrees
May 21: Nottingham Rescue Rooms
May 22: Brighton Komedia
May 28: Leeds Cockpit
May 29: Bilston Robin 2