Hugh Cornwell was a bit older than most of his punk rock peers when he first launched his UK combo The Stranglers in 1977 with the trailblazing “Rattus Norvegicus.”
By 1990 he had left the band, and although he tracked six solo albums, starred in several BBC TV shows and even penned two tell-all autobiographies — “Inside Information” and “A Multitude of Sins” — he hadn’t become the household name his impressive résumé warranted.
But that could soon change. Because now, at 61, the man is entering a renaissance period, his busiest yet.
“I’m actually healthier now than I’ve ever been,” says the singer-guitarist, who plays San Francisco on Saturday, touting two new albums — the recent Liam Watson-produced comeback “Hooverdam” and the two-disc “New Songs for King Kong,” featuring live renditions of “Hooverdam” plus the retro-hip crowd pleaser “Rattus.”
“I do smoke occasionally, but I eat healthy, and I try to look after myself, which a lot of people don’t do these days. And luckily, my disposition is such that I’m ... antsy. Is that the right word in America? I get bored very easily, and I can’t stand not being active and just hearing that clock tick,” he says.
“Antsy” should cover it. Every six months, Cornwell has been returning to the U.S. for extensive tours. Working with youthful executives at his new label, Invisible Hands Music, he not only opted to release “Hooverdam” for free on the Internet, he edited and directed an exclusive DVD called “Blueprint” for the album’s physical edition.
He was so pleased with his mini-movie that he showed it in select British theaters and attended every screening for Q&A sessions with the audience.
“As far as awareness of me as an artist goes, I think it’s worked,” says Cornwell, who initially was leery of gratis downloads. “I’m actually growing an audience in America, and the audience that comes isn’t just all the old Stranglers fans — there’s a whole new young crowd coming as well, and I’m getting invited to go to territories that I’ve never been to before.”
The cricket enthusiast used to play semipro on his summers off. No longer. He’s spent the past five years penning his first novel, the soon-to-be-published “Window on the World,” which he describes as a “love story/psychological thriller about a young Australian portrait painter who comes to London.”
Cornwell has also just finished recording the demos for his next outing, “Totem & Taboo.”
“But it won’t be any free giveaway,” he says. “I can’t afford to do that twice — I’ve got too many bills to pay!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Saturday