6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today click here

Jean-Jacques Burnel on The Stranglers’ latest tour, the Guildford scene and his influences

PUBLISHED: 10:03 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:33 24 April 2018

The Stranglers live in 2016 - JJ Burnel is left of the picture (Photo by Warren Meadows)

The Stranglers live in 2016 - JJ Burnel is left of the picture (Photo by Warren Meadows)

Archant

Bassist and songwriter Jean-Jacques Burnel is a founder member of the band once known as The Guildford Stranglers. He speaks to Duncan Hall

Why is this called The Definitive Tour?

Everyone has been asking if this is the last Stranglers tour – over my dead body! It’s the tour which defines us, how we want to be defined.


Has it been tough to tour without Jet Black [The Stranglers’ original drummer] behind you?

Jet has been there since the beginning – but he always had health issues. Over the years it has got worse and worse – five or six years ago he had to be rushed to hospital before a soundcheck. He is a good deal older than the rest of us, and he’s been a very naughty rock and roll boy. We used to call him The Hoover…


Wasn’t Jet the person who brought the band together?

He did and he kept us together. He supported us until he was completely broke. We drank his off licence [The Jackpot in Guildford] dry and he had to move into a squat! We travelled around in his ice cream van for three or four years – he’s an integral part of our story and still is. The off licence was at the bottom of Farnham Road near the bus station. Now it’s just offices. Our first ever gig was at The Star at the bottom of High Street.


What was the Guildford scene like at that time?

For us the scene was dead. We were desperately trying to get support slots at the university but they weren’t open to us. The salesmen at the local music shop used to look down their noses at us and laugh at our dirty jeans and torn leather jackets. We didn’t have the credible equipment that semi-pros used to have – but we were on a mission. We were filmed at the University of Surrey for a TV series Rock Goes to College, but that was in 1978 when we were famous and successful. After two numbers we smashed our gear up [the band was protesting over their fans not being allocated tickets. The show became notorious and was never broadcast]. We had built up a lot of resentment towards various people around Guildford. I went to school in Guildford so had a huge attachment there – my parents had a restaurant in Godalming. 


Were there any musicians who influenced you at the time?

Godalming was where I had my rock education – there was a pub in the high street [The Angel], which should have a blue plaque on it. Bands like Free and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac played there regularly. They hosted the Gin Mill Blues Club. As a 15-year-old, I wasn’t really allowed in the pub, but they sneaked me in. I used to go there every Sunday seeing all these bands. 


What music do you listen to?

We are in the middle of recording and writing a new album so I’m listening to that more than anything else at the moment. When I get tired of listening to our new stuff, I play some Erik Satie or Astor Piazzolla, the inventor of the modern tango. On Giants [The Stranglers’ last album] we did a metal tango inspired by him.


What was the last film you saw?

I don’t go to cinemas at all any more because the last time I went I had a punch-up with people eating crisps. There was a whole family sat right behind me – I really wanted to listen to the movie and they were munching away.


What book are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished Conn Iggulden’s books about the War of the Roses – they are historical novels, and he’s really done his research. It’s been a real education. I love historical novels – you learn lots of things from being entertained. 


More…

What celebrities love about Surrey - Over the years, some of Surrey’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about our county to Surrey Life. Here, we compile their favourite restaurants, shops, views, places to visit

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 16:17

As the Runnymede Rivers Celebration got under way, Rebecca Younger visited a hotel right at the heart of the action

Read more
Yesterday, 11:38

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend: art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

We’ve teamed up with Naturalmat to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a duvet and pillow collection worth £225

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

Surrey is England’s most wooded county and the Surrey Hills boasts almost 40 per cent woodland cover. These woodlands hide a wealth of archaeological features. We pick some of the best woodland walks to explore

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Thursday, July 12, 2018

If your skin is loose, developing deep lines, sagging or creating the appearance of jowls you may be a good candidate for the Concept™ Facelift. This type of facelift surgery is unique as the procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, and is far less invasive than traditional methods, meaning the procedure requires minimal down time.

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Surrey villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think red-bricked cottages, cosy pubs, village greens and picture-worthy streets. We picked 14 of the prettiest Surrey villages to live.

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

President of the Reigate-based English Arts Chorale and former King’s Singer Brian Kay conducted Britten’s War Requiem at Winchester Cathedral

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

Enjoy a 4 mile (6.5km) walk around this little known area of Surrey

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

With beautiful countryside, stunning villages and plenty of bluebells during spring, Surrey is an amazing place for a stroll

Read more
Thursday, July 5, 2018

As the weather hots up give your look a modern boho twist

Read more
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

We take a look at some of the best places to visit in Chertsey

Read more
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Mike Read dabbled in estate agency before finding on-air fame. The former BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show presenter chats about how his call to the airwaves came at a Surrey cricket match and how he’s now commemorating Surrey greats with prestigious blue plaques

Read more
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

One of the biggest foodie events in the Surrey calendar is back for 2018! Voting is open and this year’s event will take place at G Live, Guildford on Thursday 13 September 2018

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Surrey's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search