10 Quick Questions With Hugh Cornwell, formerly of The Stranglers

by Dakin Hardwick on March 15, 2010

The Stranglers were one of the most influential punk bands from the UK, and although they never had the crossover success that peers like The Clash and The Sex Pistols had, they remain one of the most important acts in the history of rock n roll. While while a version of the band is playing Glastonbury this year, they didn’t invite original vocalist Hugh Cornwell along with them. Instead, he opted to record an excellent new solo album that you can download for free from his site, where you can also purchase the record on one of three different packages, a la NIN’s The Slip. He is also playing a Yele Haiti benefit at The Red Devil Lounge on March 31st, part of a three week North American tour.

Spinning Platters had an opportunity to e-mail Mr Cornwell a few questions concerning his legacy, his thoughts on the current version of The Stranglers, and here’s what he had to say:

When you started the Stranglers, you were a university student. Was that unusual for punks in 1976-1977?

I was a university graduate. I had given up a postgraduate course in biochemistry in Sweden to play music. The band I had there was called Johnny Sox and we moved to the UK in 1973. We played short songs in a rockabilly style. I have no idea if there were other punk musicians with a similar background.

Were you treated any differently by them then?

When the Stranglers started there was a thriving pub rock circuit full of very competent musos. By comparison we were incompetent. When the punk movement started we were seen suddenly as competent!

Did that change later, say among the punks in the 1980s?

By the 1980s most punk bands had split up. No, the Stranglers were always seen as mavericks.

Did you like any American groups during the 1980s?

Sure, I liked Blondie because they had such good songs.

What about American punks bands in the 1970s. Did you like any that were not from New York?

I’m not sure if there were any from anywhere else apart from the Stooges.

How do you feel about the version of the Stranglers that is currently touring Europe?

As the majority of their repertoire is songs from my period in the band I see them as a sort of tribute band.

Your training is in classical & folk music. What prompted you to find punk rock?

I didn’t find punk rock, I think it stumbled over me.

How do you feel the experiment with giving away a digital version of your most recent record online is going?

I really think it’s too early to say.

What are you listening to that people should also be listening to?

I listen mostly to bebop jazz.

As a published author & a successful musician, what’s left for you to accomplish?

How much time do you have?


Special Thanks To Hugh Krogh-Freeman for his assistance with this interview.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony March 15, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Hugh was on the Songbook songwriter show from the UK last year, it was interesting but sad for me, as a huge Stranglers fan from the early days to see him grown old in both look and outlook. He inspired a line from a song of my own (him and Brett Anderson).

“Used to be a lover, and a fighter”
“Now play guitar, singer/songwriter”


Rob March 16, 2010 at 5:52 am

Erm, Hugh left The Stranglers in 1990. The band kept going. They haven’t “reformed”, because they never went away!

Facts are quite useful sometimes……………..


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