Legendary punk rockers up for big gig in Mackay

The Stranglers will be in Mackay on December 11 with Blondie and The Saints at the MECC.
The Stranglers will be in Mackay on December 11 with Blondie and The Saints at the MECC. Steve Teak

OTHER than having condoms with him punk rocker Jean Jacques Burnel needs his wits about him when on tour.

His cheeky response to what he takes on tour would make even you the reader blush.

But what do you expect from 70s British punk band The Stranglers, who like any punk band like to shock the boundaries of conformity.

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The Stranglers will be one of Blondie's special guests, along with The Saints, when they perform at the MECC on December 11.

The Stranglers scored 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums over a career spanning five decades.

They are the longest-surviving and most continuously successful band to come out of the '70s UK punk scene.

Top hits include Golden Brown, Always the Sun and Skin Deep.

"Debbie and I have been in the same room many times.

"We go back to 1977, backstage at a Rolling Stones and The Who concert in London."

Speaking from London last week Burnel was getting over a cold, but was excited to head back to Australia and in particular little old Mackay.

"I've have looked up Mackay, it is north of Brisbane.

"I am very excited I am a Mackay virgin, looking forward, it will be a real novelty for me."

Before he played bass guitar with The Stranglers, he was trained in classical guitar. Along with this there was hearsay that he also played with orchestras.

"This is a case of Chinese whispers in Australia, I never played classical guitar in an orchestra that would be quite a leap.

"It would be great to have that on the CV," he said.

Growing up with rock n roll, Burnel said it becomes a second skin for young Brits.

"Everyone was in a band whether you could play or not.

"We had the ambition to play at the local pub and once we fulfilled that we kept moving (forward)."

He said up until his mother passed away last year, she kept asking Burnel if he had a proper job yet.

For most music fans, the chance to perform for a living is the ultimate dream. Burnel said in the early days of The Stranglers career it was "insane chaos".

"Very earlier on we played with a variety of musicians including Patti Smith and The Ramones.

"We were the first band to have a number of high profile punch ups but our contemporaries the Sex Pistols and The Clash had more photos and headlines - but it is about the music."

Burnel remembered when The Stranglers were in Queensland when Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was premier and their gigs were broken up.

"Mr Bjelke-Petersen took a dislike to us and sent in storm troopers to bust up our gigs, that kind of thing ostracised us and it was there we made a contemporary, experiment record," he said.

He said the record made them get on with making music and not to worry about being confined to the punk stereotype.

"We used synthesizers, which was seen as sacrilegious," he said.

One of The Stranglers most famous song is Golden Brown, which has conjured up the images of the use of opium from their fans.

But for Burnel he admits he has never been asked if the song was about opium.

"It is about human failing, it is those times where you burn your toast," he said.

Burnel agrees with his fans that The Stranglers never received the recognition they deserved when it came to their music.

"We out-sold the Sex Pistols, but didn't get the front covers, but we are still here - I guess he who laughs last."

Mr Bjelke-Petersen took a dislike to us and sent in storm troopers.