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Johnny's Still Rotten

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo When you deal with bumholes like Marilyn Manson running around in Alice Cooper
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2007
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      "When you deal with bumholes like Marilyn Manson running around in Alice
      Cooper make-up claiming he’s like a true anti-Christ anarchist and he’s
      never heard of the Sex Pistols, yeah, I understand what you mean about
      watering down. But when the Sex Pistols did Anarchy, we f**king meant it."

      Johnny's still Rotten
      October 05, 2007

      AS I’m connected to John in his LA home, preparing nervously to say
      hello, that unmistakeable voice gets in first.

      First I hear a sweet lady followed by some classical music and then
      there’s The Sun. My god, it’s like teapots at dawn! Very funny.

      So why are you re-releasing the Never Mind The Bollocks LP and singles
      like God Save The Queen after 30 years?

      Well, I should do, shouldn’t I? It’s been a long-term record commitment.
      We discussed this and decided it would be excellent if they were on vinyl.

      I agree, they are rather lovely.

      You know, I’ve been a music fan all my life and nothing ever compares to
      vinyl. CDs have burnt us all out and MP3 is just unlistenable. You know
      tinbox radio. There is something good about owning a record.

      And there’s the great artwork.

      Yeah, it’s the whole package, so that’s how it was 30 years ago. We had
      huge society problems at the time. At least we got that bit right.

      Do you think God Save The Queen will make it to No 1?

      We’ve got NME championing it. Our cause, which is both hilarious and at
      the same time “thank you”. But we never made these records to be No1.
      Never. Never. You know the system was always rigged against us and it
      doesn’t really matter. I mean it’s No1 in the hearts and minds of those
      who count.

      It is 30 years since that song appeared and we’ve still got the same Queen.

      There’s nothing wrong with stability!

      What did you think of her then -- and now?

      It’s never personal. It’s about the institution and the way it’s
      separated itself from the rest of us and we/you the taxpayer are
      “obliged” to be loyal. I find that a bit repulsive because it is the
      same way we were “obliged” to be loyal to Tony Blair and he took us to war.

      I think each person should have the right to say how they feel about
      these things, and if that’s our monarchy, well, it will be my monarchy
      when I have a say about it.

      And there’s no youth rebellion now; there’s bugger all being done.

      And you’re not personally against The Queen?

      Not at all, she’s probably a lovely old dear. I’m not anti-monarchy at
      all. That’s always been misconceived. I used to really like the Queen
      Mum because there were lovely rumours of her being incapable (of what,
      you’ll just have to imagine). It used to create great visuals.

      So what was your issue?

      It’s the spoilt-brat side of it that I resented -- and the isolation
      that those people suffer. It’s made them a load of inbred daft tw**s.

      How do you think people look back on the Pistols?

      When we did that record, I just thought it was saucy fun but certain
      powers that be went really seriously mental on us. It was knives drawn.

      You were sacked by A&M and EMI.

      We lost record labels, we got attacked in the street. It was a pretty
      damn violent time. And so, 30 years later, you could say things are
      still the same but they’re not. We fought some serious wars. We earned
      our wings.

      Would a song like Anarchy In The UK get the same reaction in today’s
      watered-down music scene?

      When you deal with bumholes like Marilyn Manson running around in Alice
      Cooper make-up claiming he’s like a true anti-Christ anarchist and he’s
      never heard of the Sex Pistols, yeah, I understand what you mean about
      watering down. But when the Sex Pistols did Anarchy, we f**king meant it.

      Have the Pistols become part of the establishment? Some of your fans are
      men in suits now who go to work.

      I’m ‘men in suits’ when it suits me. It’s all a game. Clothes are a
      game. You know they’re just a presentation. It’s what goes on in the
      head that counts. All right, we’ve all got dark, devious thoughts going
      on up there.

      The whole punk thing turned the music scene on its head, didn’t it?

      Yeah, it did. We had an awful lot of resentment. It wasn’t just the
      record labels themselves. It was the bands that were signed at that time
      as well. You would get lots and lots and lots of pompous, famous
      rock’n’roll stars absolutely condemning us.

      You first walked into Malcolm McLaren’s Sex boutique wearing a T-shirt
      which said ‘I hate Pink Floyd’. Did you detest them?

      No, no absolutely not. I mean I know whatshisname (David Gilmour) the
      guitarist really quite well. He’s a great bloke. It’s not about them,
      it’s about the institution they became. Oddly enough, they’re one of the
      few bands who never resented us. They have humour. They had to work with
      Syd Barrett.

      What about the Press?

      I never thought what they were writing was bad. I thought it was hilarious.

      How do you recall the notorious TV show with Bill Grundy and all the

      Queen had cancelled an interview there at the last minute, so there was
      absolutely no planning in it.

      Grundy got the sack. Did you feel sorry for him afterwards?

      No, he was very, very nasty. Yeah, a dirty drunk really.

      He chatted up your groupie Siouxie Sioux.

      Well, that’s what dirty old men do, but it was the drunken attitude and
      the looking down his nose. When I smell that behaviour I go for the jugular.

      What about your manager Malcolm McLaren?

      He was all for the Rock’n’Roll Swindle as an idea and I certainly
      thought that it was absolutely ludicrous. Why make a thing look like a
      swindle when it isn’t? It was typical Malcolm. He’s so arty that he
      misses what a thing actually is. This is why he’s never enjoyed his life.

      Do you regret that you didn’t make any more Pistols albums in the studio
      after Never Mind The Bollocks?

      We couldn’t have. The whole thing just imploded on itself and it took us
      years to work out why.

      Was it to do with Sid Vicious’s death?

      No, it was to do with very many different things but, basically, we were
      extremely young and thrown in at the deep end with no management at all.

      Malcolm was claiming credit for what the newspapers were making up. He
      wasn’t actually doing anything. He certainly wasn’t protecting or
      helping us out because we all had nowhere to live, no money and yet were
      on the front of the newspapers.

      It was a bleeding odd thing to be trying to break in to a squat for
      somewhere to stay when you’re on the front page of the papers.

      Did you ever make any money?

      Eventually, bit by bit I mean, but we’re still really recovering from
      enormous debt. It all got so mismanaged and turned into a he said/she
      said free-for-all. To this day, we still take jibes at one another but
      we like each other a lot.

      Do you see much of other Pistols Glen Matlock, Paul Cook and Steve Jones?

      Well, I’ve seen Steve and Paul recently because we just did a remake of
      Pretty Vacant and God Save The Queen for a video game called Guitar
      Hero. It was amazing fun. We just banged it out.

      What do the remakes sound like?

      Different to the original but not too different. It’s because I’ve got a
      big tooth missing in the front of my head. There’s a slight
      pronunciation difference!

      Would you make any new stuff?

      Maybe — but only if the vibe was right. I’m never going to force myself
      back into that because there’s many aspects to the Pistols I love and
      adore but there’s a lot I don’t. And I’ve got my solo stuff. I’ve got
      Public Image. I’m doing an awful lot of TV work which I love.

      And tell me about the upcoming Pistols gigs in Britain?

      Well, it’s now six. It was only going to be one but it sold out in ten
      minutes. I didn’t know that there would be that kind of attention. We
      just wanted to go to London and play to our crowd.

      You recently hit 50 but you can’t take the punk out of you.

      Well, you can’t take the council flat out of me. Besides, Melody Maker
      coined the word punk. I have never really liked to be categorised.

      The music I make is doesn’t fit categories and I don’t think the Sex
      Pistols ever really fitted a category either. It was to break away from
      the manufacturing of Top 30 records but, unfortunately, the Britney
      Spears elements of this world are bringing that trash back in.

      Are you are sick of certain reunions?

      Don’t ever view what we do as a reunion. We are just doing some gigs --
      that’s it. Why do you need to put up any title above and beyond that? I
      am sorry but it’s the Sex Pistols live all right (burp) and we certainly
      don’t need no packaging for that.

      You had to deal with Sid -- but what do you think of today’s wayward
      characters like Pete Doherty?

      I wish they paid deeper attention. People keep asking me about Pete and
      it’s unfortunate. Pete’s got to realise that Sid was a tragedy and
      that’s not an image to be wanting. You can get trapped in the drugs
      thing. They are only something you should use for entertainment and

      But not a way of life?

      It’s certainly not a way of life and it is certainly not going to help
      him have any kind of future. He knows but he’s trapped in this publicity
      hype that he can’t break out of.

      Were Sid and Nancy doing the same front-page game?

      Well Sidney thought he was playing it but he ended up getting played --
      this is the danger. You’ve got to be above all those things. Those are
      just silly booby traps and, in a way, they cover up inadequacies and
      fears and phobias in yourself. Low self-esteem leads to a drug addict.

      Were the Pistols confident rock stars or really insecure?

      Insecure? I was practically in fear the whole time. It was non-stop
      violence against us. We would be termed the aggressors but everywhere
      you went, you knew you were facing a hiding or an arrest -- or both. No
      other band went through that.

      What was the lowest point?

      Probably around the very last San Francisco gig when I said “Ever get
      the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Well, I meant it -- for the band, for
      all of us -- because it had just become a fiasco at that point.

      None of us understood what we were doing this for any more. No one was
      communicating. We were all staying at different hotels. It was a
      tragedy. We’ve corrected that since but a lot of hurtful things were
      said about one another.

      Did you have a big mate in the band?

      No -- tried that. In many ways, I have worried that by bringing Sid into
      the band, I probably sealed his destruction. We’d been together for
      nearly a year at that point and didn’t realise that Sid was new to this
      and that the experience was overwhelming. It really was.

      It must have been terrible seeing him implode.

      Yeah -- and you can’t stop it. Everything you do to try to help doesn’t
      work because you had a management there completely contradicting reality.

      At every single stage of the game Malcolm never, ever, not once got the
      point of what was really going on with anything. And although that was
      great fun initially, it went sour.

      I do believe that a lot of the problems in the Sex Pistols were caused
      by Malcolm’s jealousy. He didn’t have the talent to do what any single
      one of us could do -- and it’s not like we trained or rehearsed or
      studied for these roles. We came fully loaded from birth.

      What would it have been like if the Pistols hadn’t existed?

      Nobody else stood up to the plate like we did. I mean, we were discussed
      under the Treason Act, which carried the death penalty at the time. That
      was like, “My God, have I gone too far? Right, let’s go a bit further.”
      It was serious.

      Despite everything you went through with the band, you’re loyal to them.

      I’m loyal to them for ever and they know it. I don’t care. I’ll take a
      bullet for them, anything -- that’s how it is.

      While you four are alive, the Sex Pistols are alive?

      Yes, you cannot museum us. You would be missing the point. This isn’t
      about, “Oh God, I’m 50 now” or “Oh, the lumbago.” It’s: “Get on with it,
      stop f***ing moaning.” All that old age thing is a contrivance. Don’t
      let the bastards get you down.

      The album itself is going to come out on vinyl as well, isn’t it?

      It’s what I’ve screamed about for 30 years cos I’ve worn out my original.

      It’s one of the most recognisable album covers of all time.

      Yeah, it was like a blackmail letter. Please buy records or else we’ll
      be on TV every night unless you buy it.

      People used to put a piece of tape over the word ‘bollocks’, didn’t they?

      I had to go to court and argue it was a very good Anglo-Saxon word and
      we had every right to use it. It was in the dictionary. Isn’t it absurd
      that language could be stolen from you? Language is one of our most
      wonderful achievements as a species.

      Thanks for talking to me John.

      Yes, I’m Johnny Rotten, I’m 50 and I don’t look like a prune.

      I’m not going to stitch you up.

      Well, it wouldn’t be the first time -- and, frankly, who gives a f***.
      Life’s too short to worry about nonsenses! I know the work counts and I
      know we had the talent to win through any battle. Hello, the Sex Pistols
      are coming to town. Bring out your dead!

      And everyone, young or old, has heard of you.

      Legend, icon. Look, I’m a living human being for God’s sake. Please give
      me credit for that.

      I certainly will.

      All right, sir! May the road rise and your enemies always be behind you.

      Dan Clore

      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      "Don't just question authority,
      Don't forget to question me."
      -- Jello Biafra
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