Interview Outtakes: Hugh Cornwell of the Stranglers Pens His Debut Novel, Makes a DVD, Gives Away His Music for Free

Categories: Story Outtakes


In this week's paper, Jason Toon chatted with Hugh Cornwell of U.K. pub-punk legends the Stranglers. Cornwell is playing tonight at Off Broadway, with local openers Lida Una, in support of his new solo album, Hooverdam. (STL native KRISTEENYOUNG was originally listed as the opener, but is no longer on the bill.) What should we expect tonight? As Cornwell told Toon, "We're playing Stranglers hits mixed up with the Hooverdam tracks. So we'll do, like, "Get A Grip (On Yourself)," then a new one like "Going to the City," then "No More Heroes," then another new one. Backwards and forwards, right? You'll hear the latest stuff sitting side-by-side with old Stranglers classics." Read the rest of that interview here -- and check out some outtakes below.

Jason Toon: You also made a DVD documentary about the album. How did that come about?
Hugh Cornwell: Well, the album is a completely free download at hooverdamdownload.com. No strings, no registration, it's completely anonymous and takes two or three minutes. The film grew out of the question, "How can we make our money back?" We turned down the idea of having the camera over our shoulders while making it, but at the end, we brought in six cameras and filmed us playing the album straight through. No overdubs, mixed live by Liam Watson, a good, honest recording. So the idea is, if you buy the physical album, you also get this movie I've edited.

So that was your first film, and you've also just finished your first novel.
You've got to keep trying new things, haven't you? The novel is called Window on the World. I'm making some editorial changes now, and it'll be announced at the London Book Fair. My literary agents are placing it with a publishers. People seemed to like my memoir (A Multitude of Sins), said it was a good read, and I had an idea for a novel, so I just went and wrote it. I've got great hopes, but hopes are just there to be bashed on the rocks of reality.

It's not about a guy in a band, is it?
No, it's set in the London art world. The main character is a bloke with some very sad psychological problems. He's a Ripley-type character, but more complex.

Looking back 30 years later, how do you feel about some of the Stranglers' more antagonistic, controversial lyrics?
I could've thought back and said "Oh, that was juvenile and silly," but it highlighted something that's still around. Political correctness stifles debate. A lot of comedians even today can't go on the BBC because certain topics aren't up for discussion. My next album is going to be called Totem & Taboo.


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