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- Posted on Sep 18th 2009 1:45PM by Steve McLean
Cornwell doesn't celebrate birthdays, so maybe that's what gives him the vitality of someone half his age. The Stranglers founder laid down his most recent album 'Hooverdam' at London, England's Toe Rag Studios (where owner/engineer Liam Watson also recorded the White Stripes' 'Elephant') and it is quite a departure from his previous LP 'Beyond Elysian Fields.' Cornwell's loud electric guitar is front and centre throughout the record, including on highlights 'Please Don't Put Me on a Slow Boat to Trowbridge,' 'Going to the City' and the menacing 'Delightful Nightmare.'
"'Beyond Elysian Fields' was based around the acoustic guitar, and I wanted to get away from that to make sure that people didn't think that I was softening up and going folky," Cornwell tells Spinner. "I didn't want to keep that impression going."
'Hooverdam' was made available as a free download on Cornwell's website and others and it's a gamble he believes has paid off. "It's available through about a half-a-dozen outlets, only one of which we can monitor numbers-wise," he says. "That outlet is already in excess of 50,000 downloads, and then you multiply that by a few times because hopefully people who like it will give it to their friends. And I'm getting a lot more visits to my website from places I've never even heard from before."
It's been attracting enthusiastic fans to shows on Cornwell's current North American tour, where people can buy a vinyl version of 'Hooverdam' or a CD/DVD that also includes a 17-minute film called 'Blueprint.'
"We had three days in the studio at the end of the album's recording sessions and brought a film crew in that filmed us playing through the whole album live," Cornwell says of the mini-doc. "They're different recordings from the album versions. I spent six weeks editing that in an editing suite, and we put in an interview of me talking about the album."
Cornwell's UK tour in November will feature him playing both 'Hooverdam' and the Stranglers' pioneering 1977 art-punk debut, 'Rattus Norvegicus,' in their entirety. The North American shows offer more of a cross-section of his solo material and songs from the Stranglers, which he left after 1990's '10.' Cornwell hasn't kept in touch with his ex-bandmates since then, but he reunited with former school chum Richard Thompson last year when they met by chance at a music festival in Spain.
Cornwell and Thompson had an R&B band called Emile and the Detectives before Thompson joined folk-rock group Fairport Convention and went on to become one of the most respected songwriters and guitarists of the past 40 years. Cornwell is an avid cricketer and reports Thompson recently broke his finger playing the game.
"He was my best mate in school and we've picked up where we left off even though I hadn't seen him for 30 years. I had the opportunity to thank him because he taught me to play bass in a band that we had at school. Without that, I wouldn't be where I am now."