ONE of the indelible stamps of The Stranglers brooding sound was Jean-Jacques Burnel’s growling bass lines.

And from the start the men in black were laden with a brooding menace, sometimes exploding into violence.

The bad boys of punk walked on the wild side as did their raw-edged singles: No More Heroes, Hanging Around, 5 Minutes, Peaches, Nice n’ Sleazy and Golden Brown.

It was a call to insurrection and packed like a stick of dynamite marked danger, they have stood the test of time forty years after they were first penned.

“Punk, the 1970s was a feral period, and I regret to say a lot of the stuff at our shows was kicked off by us. But those days are long gone thankfully,” said Burnel.

“It wasn’t intentional to be violent, it just used to happen quite a lot.

“Okay, we’ve done naughty things, but they’re now seen as a badge of honour.

“It’s a love-in now though, and that’s far better isn’t?

“Music is still hugely important to young people, but a lot of what I hear is sterile, it doesn’t talk or protest about anything.

“I don’t think you could ever say that about The Stranglers. The Stranglers have always had an edge to them and that enforced the band’s ghetto mentality.

“We had the Sex Pistols and The Clash coming to see us because they knew our music was different.

“We were the storm troopers on punk’s front line, when the rest were posing back in London.”

Now living in the south of France, Burnel’s life on the French Riviera is still dominated by music, motorbikes and karate.

A seventh dan in Shidokan Karate, he teaches at a martial arts school.

“Sometimes I zoom about on my bike for a few days with a sleeping bag and get lost in the countryside which really helps the creative process.

“There’s plenty to write about isn’t there?

“The world is in such a state of flux and we continue to interpret it as we see it, as we’ve always done.”

Burnel is engaging and courteous, but suddenly his mood darkens, admitting he is completely bewildered by the chaos of Brexit.

“All my family are from Normandy and my father came to London to work when I was a child, so I’ve always taken the best aspects from France and Britain and rejected the rest.

“I had the best of both worlds but this (Brexit) is ignorant, especially when one of the phrases you keep hearing is, ‘We want to take back control’ – people never have control.

“You’re not in control, you never were, never will be.”

“Most French people are bemused by what is going on in Britain.

“They agree that Brussels needs to change, but they wanted the Brits to help change it and now they’re going, an ally has been lost.

“There are lots of Brits in France and they really contribute to local communities.

“They can’t understand why we would want to be a little island in a world full of predators.”

The Stranglers were an unlikely combination of personalities.

Of the original line-up, only JJ and Dave Greenfield remain.

Hugh Cornwell quit the band in 1990 and drummer Jet Black, now 80, has retired.

Burnel says he hasn’t seen Cornwell since their final show together at Alexandra Palace.

“It took me a long time to get over the fact that Hugh wasn’t around anymore, as a mate as much as anything,” he recalled.

“We were bitter and angry and felt betrayed.”

Cornwell’s replacement was singer Baz Warne from the Toy Dolls and JJ adds: “It was the shot in the arm we needed.

“I almost quit in those dark days after Hugh left. I lost my mojo, but Baz resurrected my interest.”

Burnel says The Stranglers are looking forward to playing Blackpool’s Rebellion Festival next month.

“We’ve never played Rebellion and they say it is the best punk festival in the world.

“Playing live makes me feel alive and with the success of the last three albums it has seen a huge renaissance for The Stranglers.

“Sometimes, I look back at what we’ve done, and I’m overwhelmed.”

The Stranglers play Rebellion Festival on Friday, August 2. The festival runs at Blackpool Winter Gardens from August 1 to 4. Details from 01981 250812 or