Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jet's festive follow-up

Hi - Anderlar the Scripter

Firstly, many thanks for your kind contribution towards the topical discussion.

If I may submit my own surrejoinder, nowhere, have I ever - so far as I can recall - claimed any expertise for myself, in the craft of article construction, academic style or substance. So you could be right.

By my own asseveration, I left school illiterate. Comprehensively so, save for one discipline, namely, ‘banging things’. To-day, with the benefit of a little self help, I guess I can say I get by but thank you anyway, for bringing that to the fore, I probably ought to have recounted my inadequacies from the outset.

Moving on, the piece wasn’t really supposed to be about my beliefs, but my, "well known aversion for Christmas", so again, I guess I failed miserably here too if it all sounded like an essay on my beliefs, of which I hope I have none.

Then you get down to the real ‘nitty-gritty’. Science. Science, is not a "view". In fact the whole point of science, is that it is a systematically organised body of knowledge, not a view, or faith, or belief. Scientists will have a theory, or hunch about a subject and will then test it until proved, until then it remains just that, a theory. If proved, it then forms part of the body of knowledge.

The essential point of all this, is that you don’t need to put your "faith" in science, because tested theory, is fact. Or in other words, true.

On the other hand, you do need faith for religion, because it deals with a large amount of untested, or untestable theory. Or in other words, it’s unproven, some would say fiction.

Perhaps the most appalling aspect of recent revelations about priestly infractions of the church’s own moral code, not to mention civil and criminal law, is the newly exposed knowledge and acquiescence of it’s hierarchy at all levels. Systemic moral depravity and cover-up are now known to have been pandemic across decades and probably centuries.

In those circumstances, it is entirely appropriate to discuss these abuses notwithstanding similar malfeasance elsewhere, which is entirely beside the point. If it can be argued that it says nothing about philosophy or belief, it can’t be denied that it says a great deal about the people who would have you believe, or have faith, in their creed.

To reiterate an earlier point, you can’t contract out of a crime. So, whatever worldwide anti-poverty projects the church may have to it’s credit, and it undoubtedly has many, (but ironically also the reverse), that doesn’t abrogate the crimes of it’s priests, or bishops.

As for the implied inadequacies of the music industry, it very probably holds the world record for fundraising and charitable donation, but even if it doesn’t, it is unquestionably very near the top, for an industry. If you put your mind to it, you should have no trouble researching the point.

The sting in the tail of your seasonal thrust is redolent of an unseemly rancour for the industry in which my colleagues and I find ourselves.

My understanding is that music, as a pastime/entertainment, is officially rated as just about the best value for money available, but I wouldn’t want to be placed into the position of being held accountable for the entire industry.

We the band, are writers, recorders and performers of music. We are not a record company and do not sell recorded and published music, at least not on an industrial scale. That is the preserve of specialist record and publishing companies. Their commercial and trading policies are not and have never been subject to us in particular, and recording artists in general.

By way of my own footnote on the topic, many of the aforementioned companies - household names in most cases - who perhaps more appropriately might have been expected to defend themselves against the views you have expressed, are in fact, virtually, if not actually bankrupt at the present time.

This resulting, from the free and illegal distribution of their copyrighted investments in the music industry by way of modern electronic communications technology, the internet, both simultaneously, the marvel and scourge of the age.

All this without doubt, the causal basis for the demise of investment in new music talent which in turn forms the fundamental cause of much of to-day’s anodyne new music.

I wouldn’t wish to become spokesman for the trade and policy decisions of companies for which I have no authority to speak. On the other hand, I could hazard a guess as to the likely response from such companies, to your opinions about their commercial decisions. It would not make for very comfortable reading.

I’m glad to hear you had a good weekend and you’re looking after the kids. Yes, I was OK on the 25th but no coal though. We’re all electric here, boring, but there you go.

You are of course very welcome to any show, and keep them coming. We like to hear and share all opinions, that after all, is what these pages are for.


Jet Black/28th December 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jet's festive message

So it’s that time of the year again, and I’ve been asked to write about my well known aversion for Christmas. True enough, I don’t look forward to the season of good will, which isn’t to say I’m ill disposed to good will or seasonal merriment. My aversion is more for the notion, the presumption, the brouhaha of it all.

Whatever else it has become, Christmas is essentially a celebration of the birth of Christ and many of course, do just that, but clearly the majority don’t, and I’m one of them. Meanwhile the commercial world doesn’t give a corporate damn about Christmas. They can barely wait for one to end before they’re promoting the next, but they’re only interested in the profit, and why wouldn’t they be, that’s what companies are there for.

So on the one hand you have a comparative few, the faithful, celebrating the famous birth, and the rest of us, what are we celebrating? Well apparently, nothing!

Sometimes I wonder if we were able to take the ‘Christmas’ out of Christmas, then perhaps it would all become more bearable, but then business wouldn’t give up it’s ride on the gravy train. Instead of selling us ‘Christmas’ presents, they’d be selling us ‘nothing’ presents. Well at least, they would then be showing their true colours.

So what’s so wrong with making the distinction? If I wanted to throw a party, I wouldn’t call it an Easter party, or a Resurrection party. So why pretend I’m celebrating Christmas, when I’m not!

I’m not piqued about New Year celebrations though, so I concur with Scottish traditions on that one. That really is an excuse for a party but it’s also just an unencumbered fact, all years come to an end. It doesn’t have the same clamour, though if there were no Christmas, it probably would.

I hate that one, when you’re out and about and you get asked, "have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?". Oh yuk!.......that is so irritating. Of course I also get viewed very much in that Dickensian ‘humbug’ sense which I really don’t mind at all, and it’s often assumed that I must therefore, be suffused with all the characteristics of Dickens’ miserly Yuletide character, because I have the nerve to manifest my dislike of all that is Christmas. It just isn’t so. Christmas has become vulgar and frenzied and I wish I could just switch it off, but I do approve of festivity.

Now, even to me, that sounds like a monumental contradiction, but somehow there is that social presumption of acquiescence in the notion of the frolicsome festivities that is so offensive. Why do we have to conform because everyone else does?

It seems to me that most of those who are into Christmas, aren’t really Christians anyway, but rather have been swept up in a lifelong tradition without ever stopping to think, why am I doing this? It’s like, London taxis still being required by law - so I’m told - to carry a bale of hay for the horse! Whether true or not, it makes the point nicely. There was a time when it seemed like a good idea, now, it’s pure nonsense.

The more I hear about Christmas and biblical stories in general - the actual rationale behind it - the more implausible it all becomes. Science for it’s part, is slowly, one by one, uncovering more tenable explanations for the pre-historical diegesis we were all brought up to believe. Not, as far as I know, that they are doing so in order to contradict established views, but that is it’s inevitable consequence. Unless of course you are a Christian and a believer, when you would of necessity, have to live in denial of the obvious. The fossil record doesn’t lie, but many people are still preaching the ‘young Earth’ theory as derived from scriptural sources.

Inevitably, that’s another source of vexation for me, belief. Why would anyone want to believe? We live in a world of inexactitude, and we can barely believe a word we hear or read. Our very security is dependant on truth, you can’t believe you’re secure, you need to know. Try and borrow some money - or lend it - without security....huh, it’s an omnipresent necessity. Oh, there’s plenty of truth out there, but it becomes true when it is shown, or known, to be so, and yet, in spite of all that,religion requires belief as a fundamental principle!

If I should ever find myself within the shadow of the Pearly Gates, and in need of an explanation for my life’s endeavours, the obvious question from me would have to be, ‘why on earth would you place people in a world where truth is one of the rarest of qualities, and then expect them to believe in an unbelievable doctrine?’

Of course we often use the word ‘believe’ more as a figure of speech rather than an actual expression of conviction. So it is primarily the religions which instil the efficacy of belief. And they need to, simply because most of their doctrine, is beyond belief.

As you view those TV debates on the great moral issues of the day, that are aired from time-to-time, you will notice that there’s always a church representative present to guide our thoughts, as if the Church of Rome - mired in scandal as it is - were somehow arbiters of moral rectitude.

The church has always had it’s own canon law to enforce it’s power over the people, ranging these days only - mercifully - from prayer to excommunication. At least for the laity that is, for the clergy on the other hand, there is a completely different rule book. The offending priest, or bishop can expect to be moved to a new and comfortable, if inconspicuous location and away from the embarrassing scrutiny of the secular world. Essentially free to continue with their grubby misdemeanour's lest they should ever be publicly exposed.

But it hasn’t always been that way. You only have to make a brief study of the history of the Church of Rome to see the full extent of that, of which it is capable. They have committed just about every crime in the book, although of course, legitimised by themselves. Today’s landslide of revelations about the buggery of the innocents, seems like a vicar’s tea party compared with the murder and torture of earlier times, not to delve too far into the infamy of the Inquisition.

Of course no-one makes too much of it these days, as though it had never happened, has everyone forgotten? Perhaps it was all so long ago for most people, but as the lawyers put it, you can’t contract out of a crime.

One of the early giants of mathematics and astronomy was Galileo Galilei, and one of the first to peer into the newly invented telescope. He discovered that the holy doctrine preached by the church was wrong. The Earth goes around the Sun, not the other way around.

For making his discovery public, he was arrested and tried for heresy, jailed, and forced to recant, but mercifully released in the end. His contemporary, Giordano Bruno, was not so lucky, they burned him alive at the stake for his views on the subject. If that leads to any kind of conclusion at all, it must surely be, that the church has a greater proclivity towards murder, than to the truth and these crimes are no less repugnant by way of their antiquity.

I think Galileo has to be one of my heroes. He is credited with some inspiring statements.

"The bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go"


"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

The man was imbued with a profound sense of wisdom and humanity, though it is said he was tactless to the point of jeopardy.

So where does all this fit into the Christmas landscape? Very much, for one thing. Without the church of Christ, it surely wouldn’t exist. So how can you discuss Christmas without reference to the church? Unfortunately, I can’t find much to endear me to the notion that the story of the nativity is likely to be true, and you can’t have a lot of faith in the people who want us to believe it. Three wise men, the virgin birth, the son of God, no room at the inn, the Emperor’s new clothes spring to mind here.

Hans Andersen in his ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, recorded one of the all-time great literary observations when he crafted his tale of the corrupt weavers and their ‘invisible’ clothes. It so aptly encapsulates the notion of belief in that which is imperceptible.

Religions, have the remarkable ability to devise words to rationalize their unbelievable doctrines. Galileo’s alleged crime was called heresy, a rubric ‘catch-all’ to enable the powerful to exact terrors worse than those of the accused. Widely used and abused to extirpate political enemies. Another gem, transubstantiation, the theological wonder word to explain the conversion of Eucharistic bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ during consecration and the central act of the Christmas Mass.

Since the modern imposition of drink/driving laws around the world, there have been a number of arrests of priests who were found to have exceeded alcohol limits through conducting a sequential series of Masses, thereby pushing their alcohol levels above legal limits.

But wasn’t that wine supposed to have been turned into blood? Oh dear, that rather let’s the cat out of the bag! Surely that reduces the sanctity of the sacramental wine to the realms of, ‘perks of the job’. But even if it were true, who in their right mind would want to consume the bodily remains of a 2,000 year old corpse?

"Oh, it’s for the kids", they’ll say when challenged about the efficacy of Christmas. Well it may be, but it doesn’t have to be wrapped-up in the nexus of Christmas lore. If you want to give the kids a good time, then give them a good time, you don’t need the allegory of the non-existent Santa. It’s completely untrue and most children are confused about it anyway. But more importantly, why would it be a good idea to begin a child’s young odyssey with a lie?

If only religion could find a way, through honesty and truth, instead of fairy tales and mendacious rhetoric, the world would doubtless be a better place. It’s well to remember that those pompous men of the cloth, in their ridiculous, if finely bespoken frocks and their opulent palaces of God are after all, only mere human beings, and we are all flawed.

For those of you who want to celebrate Christmas, I wish you a merry one. For the rest of us, tired of the antiquated and improbable tale of a mortal, if, supposedly, virginal birth, the purpose and logic of which defies reason, please allow us to eschew the seasonal conventions and forge ahead with our celebration of the other 364 days, for no reason at all.

© Jet Black/ December 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One year on...

Amazingly, it is now a whole year since we took over the running of the band’s site. Time has flown by, as there’s always been a lot to write about owing to the band’s hectic 2010.

The reason for this first non-band member ratter is two fold. Firstly, to thank all the people who helped us during the set up period and first year of the new site. Secondly, to ask you, the ‘consumers’ of the site, what you think of it so far…

Firstly then, we would like to thank a whole load of people who have generally aided and abetted since the changeover from Adrian Liggins’ Rat’s Lair last winter.

Unsurprisingly, the band members are top of the list. They have been wholeheartedly supportive, providing help, advice, knowledge and encouragement. In addition, they have all contributed greatly to both the site and the ratter blog.

Secondly, Sil Willcox and Al Hale, the band’s management for providing valuable and current information when time is of the essence. They have also gracefully tolerated numerous chasing phone calls and pestering emails.

Next is the band’s ever present and helpful tour manager Gary Knighton, who has given detailed information to fill in any gaps. Special mention should also go to roving reporter Ava who has provided some brilliant unseen photos, many from behind the scenes.

We’d also like to pass on our thanks to the many fans out there who have contributed to the site or given support and encouragement. Last, and by no means least, to our respective families who have put up with the additional workload in our already busy daily lives…

Thanks to all of you for making this first year so memorable.

Finally, we’re really interested to know what you, the readers, think of the site. Web stats give encouraging signs of rebirth for the site but it’s better to hear from real people. Constructive criticism, suggestions and general feedback are more than welcome. Please can you reply to this ratter, as you would to a band member’s one, or alternatively email direct to the site. Thanks.

Looking forward to 2011

Stranglers’ Official Site (S.O.S)
Formerly the Rat’s Lair

O&D/9th December 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dave's Onstage Equipment

Here's one for any keyboard buffs out there. Dave has kindly supplied us with full details of the keyboard setup he uses for gigs:

Here's a complete list of my current gear.

3 x Yamaha CS1X Controller synths (see pic on right)
1 x CME UF5 Controller keyboard (Yamaha don't do a CSX1 4 octave keyboard)
2 x Roland Phantom XR (one for backup)
2 x Novation A station Version 1 (one for backup)

Boss phaser pedal
Bespoke on/off midi pedal
Boss volume pedal
Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal (only used on Dag Dave)

1 x Midi solutions 4 way midi merger
1 x Yamaha O1v96 v2 Digital mixer
1 x Boss EQ Pedal (also used as gain booster)
2 x Passive rack of 4 DI
2 x Mackie SRM 450 Active Monitor Loudspeakers

Dave G/3rd October 2010

Triumph Live pic by Mark Hill
Dave's setup at Hammersmith 2010 pics by Dom P

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Once Upon A Time In The West Country...

I look out from my window at the rain,relentless and unforgiving. The very low clouds seem to have the magical property of shielding me from the sun which I know is out there because this summer of 2010 we have been blessed with it. I get a deep sense of autumnal melancholy. Was it only three weeks ago that we were bemoaning the fact that the grass was not the colour that it should be, A and E departments were complaining about the number of adults being admitted for barbecue and cooking oil burns to uncovered bodies and this was the year that Glastonbury came really good? It already seems a lifetime away. As I wish my memories of Wyefest were.

It all started out so well. We would fly into Heathrow from Poland and then be flown by helicopter to somewhere near Hereford on the Welsh borders where we would play in a field on a scorching July evening. However, due to some skullduggery involving local farmers and town councils and licences being revoked, it was put off and rescheduled for late August.

As a band we hadn't played for a few weeks so we decided to rehearse in the west country on the day before we were due to play, a striking distance from the field in Herefordshire. It rained and it rained. And it rained some more. But ever the optimist I thought that tomorrow would be another day. It was. Another day of yet more rain. For a few hours, long enough for Dave, Baz and myself to walk around Hereford town centre on a Saturday afternoon playing "spot the SAS man" without getting wet, our hopes were raised sufficiently to believe that Mr Raincloud might hold off for a little while longer thereby confirming what many people already know that when the Stranglers are involved there are "powers" at work.

Apparently a limousine was going to take the band to the site. When it duly arrived we took one look at each other and insisted that Gary ,our tour manager, should take us himself in his motor. There are limousines and there are limousines. The Stranglers were not going on a hen night, nor were we attending our school "proms" as they are so-called these days. These vehicles are very silly. I thought they were silly in LA but around the English/Welsh countryside even sillier. This one was the longest I'd ever seen and even had the dot com address on the side.It was also white. There was lots of it.

Our crew had had to be towed by tractor earlier in the day when their truck got stuck in the mud. There was a lot of mud. Usually festivals have contingency plans for when there is rain 'cos in the UK it does occasionally rain in the summer. Metallic tracks help ease traffic over muddy fields where the majority of festivals seem to be held. Here there were none.

In fact there wasn't much of anything but there were a few very hardy people out in the field. I wouldn't say many but they were noisy. Normally the change over between bands takes about 30 minutes . Here due to the, erm, inexperienced local crew our Stranglers crew had to take command. We were due to go on at 10.30pm with a midnight curfew. We didn't get on till 10.55pm. Third number in Dave's Moog packed up. Since the show had been rescheduled our usual keyboards tech wasn't available and this sure was a baptism of fire for the new guy. Dave explained that we had to drop eight numbers. Well that wasn't going to be so much of a problem since time was running out anyway!

New keys tech somehow managed to supply Dave with a new keyboard after about five songs and just as we launched into "Grip" some guy jumped up over the barrier, slipped in the mud ,avoided the non-existent security and started jumping about on stage only to lose what appeared to be a front bridge containing a tooth or two, right beside me. Without breaking my rhythm I nudged the bridge with my DM towards the guy and saw him disappear off the side of the stage whilst inserting said apparatus back into his mouth.

I don't know why I found this funny but I did. Actually we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves because the whole thing was absurd. We also played well that night but not as long as we had hoped. I have never had so much mud on my clothes. Not even when I've mud wrestled with my clothes on. But that's another story.

To those who were there, and braved what were awful conditions and yet despite that knew how to have a good time, I salute you.

The Grip denture incident can be viewed here

JJB 26th August 2010

Pics by Ava Rave

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Glastonbury weekend

Well, what a varied weekend. We started on the Thursday at the Cheese & Grain in Somerset as a warm-up gig. It went well enough but we had a lot of problems with the sound on stage & (for us) it was hard going. After the show it was back to a local hotel to sleep.

The next day we started fairly early, dropped off most of the cars at the farm & travelled down to Glastonbury. What a massive site. It took a while to get our initial passes & get to the backstage area, then longer to get our dressing room passes & meal tickets, then it was the normal wait in sweltering conditions. At least (for once) it wasn’t chucking it down. On to the stage. At least it wasn’t as hot up there. It seemed to be full up & the audience appeared to enjoy the show as much as we did. I saw at least one raven flag in the audience. At last we’ve played Glastonbury & I hope we’ll do it again pretty soon. What a great time.

After we’d had some food & drink it was back to the farm to pick up the cars & then straight to Gatwick for a few drinks & a couple of hours kip.

The next morning I’m still trying to forget. We had to check in at about 4.00 am for our flight to Krakow, Poland. After the flight it was about 1½ hrs drive to Borek then some rest before a late show at the Easy Rider festival. We were on stage quite late & didn’t get back to the hotel ‘till the early hours on Sun.

Another early start in the morning to get back to Krakow then home. We got back at around 2.00pm & Baz & I drove up & played a charity gig in my village (both feeling pretty knackered).

As I said at the beginning, 4 totally different gigs, but what a weekend. I hope those of you who were at any of the shows enjoyed yourselves as much as we did.

Watch Peaches from Glastonbury here

Dave G/24th July 2010

Steadman gallery pics Ava Rave

Glasto crowd pic Sil W

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Busy Month: Festival Season

I’m just home and chilling now after a crazy few weeks in the black tourbus…
The whole thing started for me on June 21st when I did a radio interview for Glastonbury radio at 11am then drove the 325 miles to Somerset, arriving early evening. We rehearsed the sets for the up and coming gigs the next day and after the ubiquitous visit to Tuckers Grave I had an early night ready for a bit of messing about with a new effects board I have the next day.

Wednesday out of the way we then headed in to Frome for a soundcheck at the Cheese and Grain on Thursday afternoon, and to lend our support to a project involving legendary English satirical cartoonist Ralph Steadman. The idea behind it all is that he produces a piece of art and then selected people who see it compose a musical framework for it according to how it makes them feel…and we’re among the judges. He also ‘defaced’ a photo of us in his own inimitable style which was interesting, and after a bottle of the local cider we headed across to the venue which was literally next door.

It’s always bittersweet for me personally going back to Frome as I lived there for 4 years and have many memories of the place. As we approached the gig there were a few flying around my brain but they were soon wiped away as we started to soundcheck and get the feel of the place…The stage was rickety, the P.A.was too small and everything was so loud it was hard to distinguish practically anything. Generally when the crowd gets in the sound smoothes out with the effect of all the bodies in there, but this gig (sold out for months)proved to be very hard work and none of us were pleased with it to say the least…personally it’s probably the roughest show I’ve done since becoming a 4 piece again in 2006,but all the travelling fans were once again in great form and as always gave us great heart...and I guess it served it’s purpose in ironing out then wrinkles for what was to come…

The next day was one of those days that you don’t want to end. As we approached the site at Glastonbury I was told it would be some spectacle and I wasn’t disappointed. As a ‘Glasters virgin’ it was something to behold, resembling a medium sized town with the biggest fence you’ve ever seen around it…and with flags flying, masts and thousands of tents it could have been a medieval siege. After the rigmarole of checking in (which involves a girl personally reaching into the car and placing a wristband on everybody present)and being directed to the correct area, we settled down to wait, literally not knowing what to expect. The weather was a perfect English summers day and we were told there were a few folk out front who’d turned out to see us…we weren’t expecting the roar of the 70,000 who were waiting when we walked out to the Waltz. After that everything was just a blur and before we knew it, our hour was up and we were leaving the stage, sweaty and very happy…I can’t recall too much about it apart from the fact that we all played really well, Jet particularly being on great form and seemingly the whole field joining in on the chorus of Always the Sun. We’d have loved to have hung around to soak up some of the post gig shenanigans and catch up with a couple of other bands but alas we had to leave to drive to Gatwick for a 6 o’clock flight the next morning to a gig in Krakow, Poland…up at 3.30…oh man that was a leveller.

Back from an ok show in Poland I have 1 day at home to get ready for the next jaunt.

This journey starts for me on Tuesday the 6th July as I fly down to Stansted in the evening for a Wednesday afternoon flight to Bratislava in Slovakia for a festival date on Thurs the 8th.

The Pohoda Festival is a relatively new gig and is attracting a lot of interest and bands year by year as it grows. The promoter for this gig has re-arranged everything a day early especially for us to play…he’s a big fan…
It’s in a beautiful part of Europe roughly an hour from Vienna and is an area I’m not familiar with, never having been here before. Around 6 o’clock JJ and myself go out for a stroll and find ourselves on top of a hill in a bar overlooking the town of Trencin, which is about 100km from Bratislava itself…and what a beautiful place it is…a huge castle surrounded by rolling hills and small mountains with steep cobbled streets .We have a light ale and take in the vista…beautiful.

We arrive at the gig around 10.30 being the headliners on this particular day, and are pleasantly surprised to find 10,000 kids in a field going absolutely nuts for a band many of them won’t have heard of, but they treat us very well and a great time is had by all…The stage is lovely and the sound and lighting systems are great…We hear that western music and many other cultural movements have only been allowed to this part of the old Czechoslovak Republic in the relatively recent past…around 10/15 years ago…no the wonder everyone’s enjoying themselves…

A funny aside to all this occurs when the band who are on before us, a local band who themselves have been around for 30 years, decide to play ‘Hanging Around’ in their set which features one Dave Greenfield on keyboards…Dave had gone down to the gig ahead of the rest of us and had been asked onstage to play…apparently the crew heard the song, recognised the keys, went down to the stage and there Dave was with a brandy and a shit eating grin…and they said it was weird to see him onstage with another band…I’ll bet it was…(You can watch the video here )

We get back to the hotel and retire early ready for the flight to Dublin the next morning which, of course, is an early flight…I’m amazed to see the amount of people who want to fly to Dublin from Bratislava at 9 o’clock on a Friday morning…the plane is packed but it’s a relatively short flight and we’re in the sanctuary of our hotel by noon UK time…After a siesta we have a few beers in the bar with the crew in the evening and head to bed.
The next day we’re opening proceedings on the main stage at Oxegen which is held at Punchestown Racecourse, about 45 mins drive from the city. The weather is not playing the game today and it’s pissing down as we arrive onsite. We played here 2 years ago and I start to remember the layout as we approach the dressing room/catering/artist area which is in the main grandstand building.

It truly is an awful day and as we wait behind the stage at 2 o’clock to start we literally do wonder if anyone will be there. We’re pleasantly surprised to find a good few hundred wet punters on the barrier, and as we start we can see hundreds more streaming across the fields like little columns of ants to see us…We end a pretty good set 45 minutes later in front of around 10,000 which makes us happy, and after a bite in the catering area (the food here is fantastic…it was the last time too) JJ and I do a radio interview with a guy who’s patiently waited for us to finish eating, and it turns out to be one of the highlights of the day…the guy is seriously funny and asks intelligent, humorous questions with little regard for radio etiquette, effing and blinding all over the place and taking the piss out of the powers that be who are all milling around watching and listening…he begs us to try to get back and play Ireland more often and we say we’ll try…top man…Then we drive to Dublin airport and get an early evening flight to Edinburgh ready for tomorrows’ appearance at T in the Park.

Jet’s joining us for this one, not having made the trips to Slovakia and Dublin, and he’s the first person I see as I step out the hotel in Edinburgh on Sunday morning…he’s looking fresh and well up for it and we head off to the site, which again is about 45 mins drive, in a convoy. Again the weather is dreadful and as we sit in our cabin we can hear the rain bouncing off the roof…here we go again.

In the next cabin are Skunk Anasie, and Mark the drummer is an old mate of mine from the days when he was with rock band Little Angels and I was still with Smalltown Heroes…I haven’t seen him for about 15 years so we shoot the breeze for a while and then it’s time to play…This time the crowd is much bigger from the off and we play to around 20,000 which, for a Sunday morning in the pissing rain, is quite an achievement…and the most surreal moment I can remember for as long time happens when we play Always the Sun…as if on cue, right at the 1st chorus, like someone switching a light on, with 20,000 punters singing with us…the clouds parted and the sun came out…and the roar from the crowd made all 4 of us grin like Cheshire cats…truly bizarre but amazing.
I thought about that a lot on my way home on the train back to Newcastle the next day…a fitting end to a couple of weeks of madness…as always thanks must go to our intrepid crew who made the impossible possible and Gary our TM who kept us all sane…thanks boys…see you all soon.

BAZ / 21st July 2010
All pics Ava Rave

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Triumphs that pass in the night

I was on the Triumph Scrambler, on my way to see my son Jeremy's band for the first time. He's the drummer and the band are called Console Wars. I turn left off Marylebone road up towards Swiss Cottage. Just as I turn another Triumph, this time a black Bonneville, turns also and we both stop at the next set of traffic lights. We both look at each others' bikes and the rider of the Bonnie who is not wearing a full face helmet, unlike myself, says "Nice bike mate". I reply something like "Yours too mate".

The lights change and we move on. I think I know that face and by the next set of traffic lights think I know who it is. We stop and I turn to him and say "Is your name Paul?"

He says "Yes?" a bit enquiringly.

"Paul Simonon?"


"Jean-jacques Burnel"

" I know you!"

"Yes indeed. I'm glad to see you are riding a Triumph" I say.

He says "Yeah but I preferred it when they had kickstarts"

I say "Yes, but they are more reliable now".

We shake hands and then the traffic lights change and we're off, he toward Primrose Hill and me towards Finsbury park.

It's taken us 34 years to shake hands.

JJB 12th June 2010

Bottom photo Dom P

MOJO Awards 2010

I met Julien Temple last night at the Mojo Awards. I was asked to present him and Wilko Johnson with an award for "Oil City Confidential", a documentary that he made on Dr Feelgood. I have to say I had the the chance to see this film a few weeks ago on BBC4 and I found it amazing. It was equally amazing to meet up with Wilko after so many years.

I shared a flat with him in 1977 and had an amazing time but our stay there ended when a girl who also rented a room there got raped by five men. We suddenly felt it was inappropriate to stay any longer and the place was then taken up by Billy Idol and Steve Strange and then Motorhead. This was the basis for the song 5 minutes. For a few seconds Wilko and I were completely oblivious to the large crowd whilst we hugged like the long lost friends we were. I thought it rather appropriate that Wilko was there on that day, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Howlin Wolf. When the Feelgoods were in their prime we called their music RnB. Rhythm and blues. Nothing like what they are calling by the same name now.

On the same table as me was Peter Hamill who was at the Rainbow gigs in Hugh's absence. Also Jean-Michel Jarre who was very courteous and complimentary about the Stranglers. Although he was also complimentary about my French, I was woefully aware that I have an English accent when I speak it! Opposite me on the table was a geezer called Jarvis Cocker who blanked me for the whole dinner and to my right a bloke from the US, Anthony Hegarty who is a singer in a band called Anthony and the Johnsons and who introduced me to his friend, Mervyn. He seemed to attract people such as Rufus Wainwright and Marc Almond who is a guy who once moved hotels when he learned we were staying in the same hotel because we were scary!

Funnily enough when I was backstage being photographed with Mr Temple he informed me that he had been at the same school as Hugh Cornwell, and they used to squirt ink at him because he was a prefect and, apparently, a real c**t. I said nothing........

JJB 11th June 2010

Photos of JJ on the night can be found here
Some more have also been posted here

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Daphne Du Maurier Festival of Arts & Literature

To continue with my nautical theme, if ever so slightly, a word about the Fowey outing, (the locals call it "Foy"). Although it is no more then a stone’s throw or two from the sea on one side, it is more famously perched on the banks of the river Fowey, as it begins meandering from what is actually the English Channel; but for a few score miles to the west where it becomes the full blown Atlantic; and then on northwards towards Bodmin Moor, petering out at the foot of Brown Willy, the famously desolate peak which itself forms one of the most prominent features of that mystical plateau. Almost exactly due east from it’s summit, you can see ‘Jamaica Inn’, of book and movie fame, on a clear day.

About thirty miles west of Fowey, on the Helford river, is Frenchman’s Creek, the location and title of another novel and movie.

Some three miles west of Fowey lies ‘Menabilly’, re-created in her novel ‘Rebecca’, as ‘Manderley’, (surely, far more romantic) this fine and ancient house was once the home of Daphne Du Maurier. In 1969, she moved a mile or so into another house named ‘Kilmarth’ where she spent the rest of her life and which characteristically she went on to immortalize in another novel, ‘The House on the Strand’.
This then, with all of it’s geographical detail, is clearly DDM territory. Drawing on early inspiration, DDM went on to create a host of characters and placed them in and around the surrounding countryside -she knew and loved - as she famously penned her way into international literary stardom.

No small wonder then, that this highly regarded festival of art and literature is so named. Mis-described by some, as both "highbrow" and "stuffy", it has surely now been wrested from it’s sometime reputation by the appearance of my colleagues and I. Not that this appearance should have been anything other than enlightening to a DDM Fest audience, but anyone reading this is probably only too well aware of our own vicissitudes.

This was the one, NOT, to be missed. Not only the preserve of British art and culture at some of it’s very best, but at it’s location on that particular day, Friday 21st May 2010, it was at it’s Mediterranean-like finest. With an unusually warm if not, scorching hot day, the charm of one of England’s most delightful regions - at any time of the year - and the sub-tropical fauna which is able to survive in the area due to it’s un-British-like weather, it was for us, more akin to leisure than work.

Probably not the place however, for those who prefer the dark sudor of the pub or night club, or the more typical and often bland and even vulgar at times, British seaside resort. This was a well organized, attended, and interesting festival, distinguished from most by it’s uniqueness. The gig itself was as kick-ass as any you might expect from your MIB and it had the added feature of excellent acoustics within the "tent" erected for the occasion. Situated atop the western side of the Fowey gorge, views from the venue, with it’s vistas of the town, are truly awesome as are those - from a suitable vantage point - of the nearby ports of Polperro and Mevagissey to the near east and west, all steeped in the culture of the rich Cornish fishing tradition.

Yes, this was a great day out, the best in the west since the demise of the Cornish Colosseum, and a rare opportunity for the locals to get some Strangling in, but at least they can sleep at night secure in the knowledge that if they haven’t got us or you, most of the time, they do at least have Cornwall, or as Baz put it, Paradise!

Jet Black - May 2010

All photos copyright Ava Rave 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book talk

Hi Mark - you are right that an update for the book is perhaps overdue. Dr D B has certainly been considering this for some time now and my understanding, is that he needs to decide what exactly he wants to write, and then do a deal with a publisher etc., etc. More than that, I can’t reliably say. Like all these things, I won’t have any real news, until I have some real news! Which brings me to some further ‘book’ news. There are a number of book projects in the pipeline at present, but like the one you are writing about, I won’t have any real news, until I have some real news! So, what more can I say but watch these pages where you will find the real story, as soon as it becomes available. I hope this will tide your interest over until that moment. Cheers - jb

Paris and Leuven

Hi folks...
just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the fun that was had in Paris and Leuven...the Wonky bus never fails eh? I was very surprised to have almost the entire audience at the Bataclan sing happy birthday to me (at the instigation of the Brits of course), and at the reception you all gave me when i came out later for the pics...never been hoisted on the shoulders of a crowd before...felt like Bobby Moore! Thanks to you all for making it a laugh and there's nowhere else i'd have rather been for my birthday but for an absent friend or two it was perfect...
The next day in Leuven was probably most memorable for the stage invasion at the end of the gig...some people never grow up...and more power to 'em...We've almost always turned a blind eye to the antics of the possessed, but when it interferes with what we do directly that's a different matter and the whole thing was marred, for me anyway, by the guy that grabbed my mikestand and smacked me in the teeth...i think the you tube footage shows it clearly, and he got a couple of good kicks for his trouble which i regret, but get too close and that's what you know who you are, and i do apologise, but believe me i'd do it again in a heartbeat...these teeth weren't cheap...Hope to see you all in Cornwall...keep smiling...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hi DT and anyone else interested in the subject. No, I personally haven't been able to find myself in the vid. I think it might be difficult even with a lot more footage 'cos there were so many on the beach that day, but, a free choc ice to anyone who spots me!! cheers - jb
Hi Mark

Yes he is indeed a doctor. Not the medical kind, I believe I'm right in saying that he was the first, or certainly one of the first, people in the UK to get a degree in Pop Music! cheers - jb
Hi Rich - Sorry this took so long, been a bit busy! That does make sense about the ravens, I can't think of a better solution. - cheers jb

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baz's technical info

Baz recently gave us technical details of what set-up he uses on stage and we thought it may be of interest to any guitarists out there. Here's what he said:

I use 2 Marshall half stacks...a JCM 800 which i run clean(ish) and a JCM 900 which i run dirty...the settings change from time to time but the only constant is plenty of bottom end and not too much top on each amp...playing a Fender Telecaster you don't want it to sound too thin. The pedals i use are all Boss,with the exception of the overdrive which is a custom made thing that a guy up in the north east makes for me...the Boss pedals are; reverb/delay/tremolo/chorus/phaser and are all powered by a Boss Tu2 tuner which mutes the signal so you can tune in silence.And that's it magic tricks or gizmos just a couple of amps,a bunch of old pedals and a couple of Telecasters(a '76 and a '77)...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jet Black's Raven Recollections

I have an idea that this might just prove to be the oldest Ratter of them all. To date for sure, but possibly the future too.

It's not just the senescence of the author - which is sadly beyond doubt - that forms the qualifying factor here, but the subject matter, which can be traced back to an incident in 449 AD.

In June of that year, Hengist and his brother Hersa with fellow mercenaries, departed from Jutland and crossed the North Sea in their longships to set foot on the shores of Kent at Ebbsfleet (near Ramsgate) and established the first Anglo-Saxon kingdom and what most historians consider the beginning of English history.

So what, I hear you say, has all this got to do with The Stranglers?

Many of you will already know part of this tale because it was touched upon within the pages of Dr David Buckley's book 'No Mercy'. I am of course referring to the Viking ship 'Hugin' which appears on the cover/sleeve of the 'Raven' album.

In 1949, a re-staging of the 'invasion', with a newly constructed exact replica of Hengist's ship, was organised to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of that historic landing.

The occasion was considered by the authorities at the time, to be of sufficient educational and historical importance to warrant the mass attendance of every school within a certain distance of the site chosen for the re-enactment, Broadstairs, in Kent.

Now, it so happens that some 18 months of my formative years were spent at a school in Broadstairs. I had been sent there for health reasons. At the time, I was a chronic Asthmatic, and medical opinion in the 40's held that a 'fresh air' environment was the most suitable locale for children with the condition, and so I was sent to the Holy Cross school which stood on top of the cliffs overlooking Broadstairs, and within view of the French coast on a clear day.

This also meant that on the allotted day, I was bussed into the town and onto the beach along with thousands of other school kids. I was within a few feet of the 'Hugin' as it swept onto the shore line and the fearsome looking (at the time) Vikings came ashore.

Of course, this may be of little interest to some of you, maybe none to others, but what makes it slightly more interesting nonetheless, is news - discovered by our percussionist pal, Neil Sparkes (a near resident) - that someone has found the actual footage of the event and posted it on You Tube!

There are two links here. One takes you to footage of the arrival on shore of the 'Hugin' on 29th June 1949, and the other covers the dedication ceremony, attended by HH Prince Georg of Denmark, at a later date (at which I was not present) when the great ship was erected on concrete pillars at Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate, where it still stands today. It can be viewed free of charge at the roadside off Pegwell Bay.

Readers following this story, who may have wondered how the 'Hugin' came to be on the 'Raven' album, will now know. As for why, that relates to the original concept behind the album and the title track. Inspired by the Norse sagas, 'The Raven' recounts the Viking quest with their inseparable longships. They are said to have taken ravens on board their longships to go ahead and seek out land. Quite how they might have conveyed that information to their masters, I can't imagine.

As I said in my interview with Dr David Buckley, I had no idea in June 1949, that one day I would stand inside this ship and that it would feature on the cover of a Rock 'n' Roll album.

How could I, Rock 'n' Roll hadn't been invented!

Jet Black

The videos:
Arrival on shore of the 'Hugin' on 29th June 1949

The dedication ceremony, attended by HH Prince Georg of Denmark

Friday, February 5, 2010

Baz Warne blogs for Blighty!

Hello people…and welcome to 2010!

These blogs will be a regular feature of the new look site and I’ve been asked by the team to write the 1st one…an honour indeed!

So first off a big thanks to Owen and the squad for their efforts in making the site so pleasing on the eye and brain…cheers…and also thanks to Ade and Christina Liggins for all their efforts and friendship over the years…good luck guys…

Well, here we are again at the start of what hopefully will be another good year for us all…the March tour is shaping up nicely and we’re looking forward to getting out and seeing you lot again, my favourite part of the machine…

Thanks for all your feedback on the new song Retro Rockets too…written during a 2 month stint in Bath and 1 of about 8 songs written during that time…hopefully we can get some more out in the not too distant future to titillate you all with…

The Greek dates were great and it was nice to see some Brits taking the trouble to travel…always amazes me to see the effort put in to see us abroad and it’s always appreciated…there was an earthquake while we were there too…5.2 on the Richter…enough to make the earth move…would like to say we caused it but apparently the plates moved somewhere out under the Aegean Sea…

I was in a basement bar and didn’t feel it but the crew tell me it was pretty impressive…maybe next time…

We’re in rehearsals for the tour at the moment too, so as always expect the unexpected…the black jukebox is being dusted down as we speak…

I’m off to see my beloved Sunderland play tonight so I thought I’d write this today before I get too suicidal to do it in the week…!

Look forward to seeing you all soon…keep smiling if you can…

Baz / 1st Feb 2010