Hugh Goes There

THE punk explosion of the mid-1970s swept up a whole generation of the angry and disillusioned.

Its message of change via anarchy appealed to the youth of the time.

While more than 35 years later the initial fire of the movement may be dampened, some of its founding fathers are still using the art of music to address the issues that we all face today.

Take one Hugh Alan Cornwell. As a founding member of the Stranglers, he and his fellow band members created a soundtrack for the ages.

Since leaving the band in the early 90s, Cornwell has forged himself a solo career, while losing none of his sharp observations on modern issues.

Currently on tour, Cornwell still pays respect to the music that started it all.

“Punk was a statement of intent and the philosophy of the time, albeit most people didn’t realise it. It was a bit of a cottage industry, making our own single and album covers, printing up our own flyers and arranging our own gigs.

“The funny thing is, I am still doing all of that. I am still on the edge of the music industry, which is where I am happy to be. I would much rather be in control of my career and output than be with some big label and be misrepresented.”

It’s this level of control, which has allowed the boy from Tufnell Park to release the type of songs he wants.

A quick glance through the song titles on his latest album Totem and Taboo are a reassurance that Cornwell has lost none of his fire.

With tracks such as I Want One of Those and Stuck in Daily Mail Land, it’s evident that the man who sang No Ex-Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell takes a trip down memory lane with RICHARD BENNETT ahead of his gig at The Brook, Southampton, tonight More Heroes can still deliver a stinging critique on modern society.

“Writing gives me the chance to get on my soap box, without ramming my ideas down people’s throats. When the words are set to a tune, it kind of makes them more pleasant to listen to and take in,” laughs Cornwell.

While the songs on the new album may lack some of the rawness of the punk sound, Cornwell has decided to acknowledge his punk roots and, more importantly, what the Stranglers achieved musically by splitting his set into two parts.

The first concentrates on his solo career, while the second part is a trip back in time with a full performance of the classic album No More Heroes.

“I feel No More Heroes doesn’t represent where I am today, but it is part of my history and I appreciate that people want to hear that.”

He approaches the songs now from a “different angle”.

“We will be playing it with keyboards and no bass player, a bit like a Doors type of thing, which keeps my interest alive in the old music.

“There has been word from the Stranglers camp that they can’t believe what I have done with some of the songs, so it’s great that I am shocking the Stranglers! What more could you ask for?”

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