This week, we caught up with guitarist and vocalist, Baz Warne, from The Stranglers who are headlining the Confetti Stage at Splendour Festival this year. We asked him about the industry, advice on booking more gigs, how to develop a fanbase and tips for starting a career. Read all about it below…
What was one thing that took you by surprise about the music industry?
Nothing really surprises me about this business anymore. I’ve been in it for over two-thirds of my life and it’s cut-throat, fickle and full of sharks. There are also a lot of genuine, honest and sincere people – the same as any other business. I suppose if I had to pick one thing, it’s that there are still too many people in this business who haven’t got the first idea what they’re talking about or listening to. In this media savvy world, that surprises me I guess.
We have a lot of students who are just starting to get gigs, what advice would you give to them to get more bookings?
Well, obviously getting gigs isn’t the same as it was back in the day. It seemed to be relatively easy to just pick up the phone and speak to someone. These days there are so many ways to try and get gigs. With the internet, it’s much easier to get your music heard instantly, but it’s also easier for people to avoid you – they don’t need to talk to you if they don’t want to. The personal touch has gone…do I sound like an old fart? That’s because I am!
I wouldn’t have the first idea how to get gigs these days – we have folks who do that for us. I’d just say, get in people’s faces because there’s no substitute for persistence.
What’s the best way for a band to develop a fan base?
Gigs…old-fashioned toil! If you’re a ‘real’ band, who actually play your instruments, you’re going to want to play as much as possible. Of course, you can just make a cheap video and post it online along with the other countless thousands which are very easy to do these days.
There are so many ways now, but back in the day – you played. It’s before my time in the band, but in 1976, The Stranglers played over 300 gigs – that’s 4 or 5 gigs every week for an entire year, and it’s hard to imagine anyone doing that today.
Should a new, unestablished band spend more time in the recording studio or playing live at gigs?
You need to get your stuff recorded obviously, but then you need to play it live too – both vital. There’s still the thrill of seeing a live band though and that never dies. If you’ve recorded something that’s good and you’re proud of, people want to know if you can cut it live…can you play it to a crowd? That’s the test.
What advice would you give budding musicians looking to start a career?
Just play. Don’t get bogged down when you get knocked back, and you have to be fully committed…all of the time.
Three albums everyone should own would be;
Ragged Glory – Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
Measure – Field Music
The Stranglers are closing the Confetti Stage from 8pm – find out who’s joining them. If you’d like to read more interviews with the bands performing on our stage, make sure you read the next edition of our student magazine WIRE when it’s released in August.