Former Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell still enjoys making music and performing

Hugh Cornwell has more than 50 years of music behind him

The former Stranglers frontman is still a creative force more than 50 years after picking up a bass guitar to play in a school band at William Ellis School in Highgate.

The 73-year-old is preparing to embark on a national and European tour for his new album Moments of Madness, a blistering effort full of sharp, pithy and witty observations that show Hugh hasn’t forgotten how to write a good tune.

Such tunes include Golden Brown, Strange Little Girl, Always The Sun, Peaches, No More Heroes and Nice & Sleazy, songs Hugh will perform as part of his tour, which includes a date at the O2 Institute2 in Birmingham on Friday 5 May.

The May 5 show will feature two parts, with the first part full of his solo work, including songs from Moments of Madness, while the second part features many of The Stranglers’ hits, something Hugh said was a way to change things up.

Birmingham will be one of the big legs of the Moments of Madness tour.

He said: “I’ve been messing around for a long time and thinking about what I can do to change things, so the obvious way for me was to split the songs up and it seems to have gone down well with people.

“It means people can come out at night, get full and then come in and hear the songs they want to hear, whether it’s my new stuff or just the old stuff, and I don’t mind as long as they’re coming at some point.

“By doing that, people on the first set don’t get distracted by the Stranglers stuff and can focus on my new work in an easier way and tell me that it really stands on its own, which creates interest and comments and it seems to you work.”

The difference between Stranglers songs and his solo work is one that Hugh wanted to make clear, saying that there would be no point in him retiring in 1990 if his music always sounded like The Stranglers.

The music Hugh writes, creates and performs carries his distinctive voice, and he said his aim with music is to make sure people can hear the words as well as the instruments, whether it’s live or in person.

He said: “Over the years you get to know what your strengths are and what people appreciate and my voice holds up really well, so that’s something I put on the back burner.

“I can’t understand those people who make records where you can’t hear what’s being sung and you have to read the lyrics to understand what’s going on, which I think is a waste of time.

“If the lyrics are good enough, you should be able to hear them when you listen to the music, and a lot of producers bury the vocals, treating them as just another instrument, whereas as a writer, I’d rather have people to be able to understand what I’m singing about, rather than just is just another sound effect.”

Hugh Cornwell said he hates being bored as it makes him depressed so he wants to keep doing what he’s doing to stay healthy and happy

Hugh said he’s tried to be more experimental with his songwriting style over the years, something evident on Moments of Madness, with a reggae-style track and, in addition, a change in song structure with fewer guitar solos .

He said his philosophy and inspiration have not changed over the years.

“The inspiration and the meaning of writing lyrics has remained the same and getting ideas to write a song still remains for me that it can be about anything and over time it seems to become easier for me, maybe because the music has become more just.

“It always feels very natural and I don’t have any difficulties writing or recording songs and, thank God, I don’t have any mental blocks either, so it’s more satisfying because I get closer to what I want faster than I did before, because it was just me and my studio engineer.

“I like the days when I go in with an initial idea, then work to finish something when the best moments happen, whereas going in with a collection of songs already written is like painting by numbers and that can be very boring. “

Although Hugh is very focused on his solo work and enjoys the process of what he creates, he said he still very much loves his time and what was produced with The Stranglers, seeing it as a moment in time. but also as a moment to enjoy remembering.

He said: “It’s been part of my career and now things are different and I’ve moved on but I have very fond memories and the songs are amazing and I think the way me and the current line-up manage to keep people coming to hear these songs is remarkable.

“It means the longevity of those songs and the work and they’re great and I don’t mind playing the ones I really like as they’re still great to play and listen to.

“There were so many different countries in The Stranglers’ catalog and it led me to discover a metal band in Germany, which at first didn’t make sense, but then I thought about the catalog and realized that I could create a heavy metal set by choosing the right songs, so everything works.”

Hugh was the frontman and main songwriter for The Stranglers for 16 years

For Hugh, coming to the West Midlands for a gig is special as his mum Winifred was born in Wolverhampton and said he was excited to play in Birmingham as he couldn’t remember a bad gig there.

He said he remembers touring up and down the country and being part of a scene that included The Clash, Dr Feelgood, Kilburn and the High Roads and XTC.

Speaking about touring and recording, Hugh said that the most important thing for him is to keep busy, as he gets bored easily and said that boredom has led him down a dark path.

“What motivates me these days to keep going is the fear of boredom as my boredom threshold is very low and I sometimes have trouble with my attention span and focusing on something for a long period of time.

“If I had nothing and stopped doing things I’d be bored and when I get bored I get depressed so I wouldn’t be a happy bunny so I’ll do everything in my power to make sure I’m enough healthy to do what I do, whether I’m playing or writing music or writing novels or talking about cinema.

“As long as I’m still here and can still form a sentence, I’ll do what I can and be happy to do it.”

Hugh Cornwell plays the O2 Institute2 Birmingham on Friday 5th May.

To learn more about Hugh, listen to Moments of Madness and buy tickets to the show, go to

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