John Lydon:
Muziekkrant OOR, Holland, January 30th, 1980

Transcribed (and additional info) by Karsten Roekens

© 1980 Muziekkrant OOR / Bert van de Kamp


By Bert van de Kamp. Photos by Anton Corbijn.

Muziekkrant OOR, Holland, January 30th, 1980Even if he no longer calls himself Johnny Rotten, he remains a persistent troublemaker. John Lydon (25) from Finsbury Park, North London, once the uncrowned king of the safety-pin brigade, remains an exceptionally gifted brawler. In contrast to his mate Sid Vicious he survived the Sex Pistols era and determinedly did it his way. With friends from the past (pre-Pistols times) he established PIL – Public Image Ltd. The band released a couple of really good singles and a remarkable debut LP and currently arouses great interest with 'Metal Box'. Three 45rpm records (in 12 inch format) in a sort of film can with an overall playing time of more than an hour.

The English music papers wouldn't consider the 'album' for the best record lists of the last year. In the New Musical Express it's at number 2. Johnny Lydon is still a man to be reckoned with. His music has changed strongly, but he is still oversensitive, violently opposed to injustice, corruption and displays of stupidity. He hates the record business and refuses to bow to his record company's wishes. Accordingly there are only concerts if it makes sense to the group. The same with interviews. So it happened to make sense to John Lydon on some day in December to give an interview to Muziekkrant OOR. The day after eleven rock fans were stomped to death at a Who concert in America, [1] we decamped merrily. 'Where does it go with our beloved rock 'n' roll?'

A house in dark Chelsea, the windows sealed up from the inside with tinted plastic foil. I ring the bell but nothing happens. Banging the door doesn't help either. I decide to wait in a nearby pub and to try it again sometime later. Once more ringing and banging. It remains dead silent. It becomes clear to me now that my first arrangement with Johnny Lydon has come to nothing. Repeated callings the whole of the evening and most part of the following day aren't successful at all. Virgin sends John a telegram. Within a few hours he reacts and lets the girl at Virgin's know that I can come the next day. No excuses. They are made the next day. [2]

"I didn't know about the arrangement. You'd think someone should have told me about it, wouldn't you?"

Let's just believe it. Johnny opened himself on the first ring and let me enter the pitch-black house. At the stairs I want to let him go first, but he stops dead behind me.
"Shall we stay here?" he asks sarcastically.

Tentatively I try to continue my way. Another door, then a large darkened room. Steaming reggae music drowns out the sound of the TV with a children's programme running. On the settee sits a young man who is politely introduced to me.

"Dave, another member of PIL. You do know that not all of us saw on guitars and twiddle knobs, do you?"

Public Image Ltd. in addition to John consists of the musicians Keith Levene (guitar), Jah Wobble (bass) and Martin Atkins (drums), plus the non-musicians Jeannette Lee and Dave Crowe. With regard to the last two, John wants to emphasize that they are not playing yet but that this could change in the future. During the five hours I'm staying several other people turn up in the dark living room, mostly to disappear again quickly. One of them is Jah Wobble, another is a young lady with a charming German accent.

"That's Nora," says John. "Nora, shall I give him your credentials, too?" To me: "Nora is the mother of Ariane from The Slits."

I was surprised about the still youthful appearance of the German. An amusing scene follows between Nora and John, who he sends away to get some videos.

"What sort of movies, John?"

"Horror. Everything in horror they have, everything on Vikings and everything on knights. Just look. Bugger off!"

But obviously this isn't satisfactory for her. She gives him the video rental catalogue, which he hands back immediately.

"I just told you! Horror, Vikings! Bugger off!"

"But John ..."

"Jesus Christ! Are you going or not?"

He pulls a wad of pound notes from his back pocket and thrusts it into her hand.

"Just look how much you can get with it. Off!"

The German disappears, but when the telephone rings half an hour later John looks at me with a desperate expression.

"There we go again. Woman!"

Next to the (rented) video machine there stands a real tombstone on the floor.

"My tombstone. I've just bought it. I can accustom myself a little to it already. I'll have to lie under it long enough actually!"

His big grin exposes his teeth which gave him a good nickname once.

"A lot of people get the creeps when they see the tombstone," he chuckles. "I find it quite nice. Nice stone."

The stone is adorned by a large cross which hints to Lydon's Irish-Catholic background. In his upstairs bedroom, where OOR photographer Corbijn would take a few pictures that day, even more crucifixes, stoups and more of those niceties. Johnny doesn't deny his roots. Religion is just one of the topics we will speak about. I sit down on the settee next to him. Twelve cans of Red Stripe between us which have to be supplemented by the hour. The fridge in the kitchen is filled to the rafters with cans of this Jamaican beer. Has Johnny a deal with that brewery sometimes?

"No I don't, but you're giving me an idea!"

The list of questions I took along I cannot read in the dark. I decide just to start a conversation and see where it leads to. Stream of consciousness. Now and then interrupted by proceedings on the TV screen. Somebody's trying to cook there and everything goes wrong. Big laughter from John.

"Just look at that geezer's eyes! He's fucking stoned!"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "The 'Metal Box', why had it to be this way?"

JOHN LYDON: "Cos it was a brilliant idea. The perfect protection for the records."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "It's not just a gimmick?"

JOHN LYDON: "A gimmick? Come on! There's no fold-out full-colour posters in there or free pidgeons or any of that crap. Contrary to the rest of the business we don't force anybody to buy the record. You buy what you want to hear, simple as that. We had to pay ourselves for the can. Virgin found it too expensive. They had no confidence in us, thought the record wouldn't sell, so we did it ourselves."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You don't like the LP format?"

JOHN LYDON: "I hate it. You're stuck with one sequence, you always have to look with the fucking needle after the numbers you want to hear. You don't have to store the records in the can, you can put them into some old sleeve just like I did. The can you can use for all kind of purposes – as frying pan, ashtray, landmine, tea tray, the possibilities are endless. If you don't like one record, cast it away and put another record on that you fancy."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "How long did you work on the record?"

JOHN LYDON: "Around seven months. We had to pay for the studio ourselves, so it was some toing and froing – a few hours here, a few hours there. We worked from song to song and built it up that way. We always work like this. You must be a real halfwit to work on three songs at once, as you can see well with some bands."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "I've heard that you all work in a rather relaxed way in the studio. Much drinking and smoking and waiting for the right kind of atmosphere."

JOHN LYDON: "Aha! Now you're saying we're some kind of hippie outfit, eh? Let me put it this way – we don't work ourselves to death to get something done. We work in the tempo that suits us most. We enjoy what we do and that's good enough for us, and if it sells too, great, fantastic, whoopie! And if it doesn't sell? Too bad. But we don't ever compromise."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "I get the impression that you want to set an example for other bands with your approach, give an alternative."

JOHN LYDON: "An alternative approach, precisely, but this is dangerous territory – we don't want to preach. We're not saying this is the only way. Maybe it works for other bands too, but they have no imagination. You definitely don't need managers or producers or all this shit. What does a manager do? He picks a crazy outfit for you, revamping your image. Not for us, we're not going through that mill. I'm entirely capable to handle a phone, I don't need somebody else to do it for me. I can call who I want."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "How important is your career for you?"

JOHN LYDON: "It's my career, and I'm deadly serious about it."

Muziekkrant OOR, Holland, January 30th, 1980BERT VAN DE KAMP: "In the moment you're quite experimental with sounds ..."

JOHN LYDON: "Always in a danceable manner. If you can't dance to it it makes no sense. I've heard too much bullshit in my life, I'm fed up with it. All that miserable pompous hippie stuff. I hate it. Sitting cross-legged on the ground, the silly behaviour, it drives me mad. I love dance music. The attitude especially of rock audiences proves to me that they're not interested in dance music."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Does what you're doing still fall under the rock 'n' roll category?"

JOHN LYDON: "Surely not. I hate rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll is vile, pompous bullshit, and it's been going on for too long. How long? Twenty-five fucking years of horrible nonsense."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "When there's eleven dead at a Who concert ..." [1]

JOHN LYDON: "Spoilt middle-class kids, right? The drugs are to blame, right? It had nothing to do with drugs at all, it was just bad organisation, no good safety precautions."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "The band was late for the soundcheck."

JOHN LYDON: "All that rock 'n' roll nonsense."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "In America you have often scenes of real hysteria at these sort of big concerts. Rock 'n' roll seems to become a sort of surrogate religion."

JOHN LYDON: "Isn't it vile? It's dreadful. That's totally missing the point, that's quite out of order. It would be very wrong to occupy myself with that sort of regression. I want to move forward. I'm looking into the '80s, not back to 1964. When the Pistols were still going we were happy to have three or four hundred people in the hall. Now that we don't exist anymore everything with the name branded on it sells by the millions. I find this vile. You're buying a myth, a legend, an image. It's completely out of context."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "A Sex Pistols best-of album comes out very soon." [3]

JOHN LYDON: "It's just pathetic. One album! The band only did one album, and it was released in all colour of the rainbow, even as a multi-coloured picture disc and God knows what else. Idiocy. Even though they know it's a rip-off they will buy it anyway. Maybe it pleases them in some kind of masochistic, perverted way. I know better ways to spend my money, ha ha ha!"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "What about Johnny Rotten?"

JOHN LYDON: "I haven't seen him for a long time. That's over, I was fed up with it anyway, this character."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Neil Young still sings about him." [4]

JOHN LYDON: "I had to laugh about that. I hope he could buy himself a new pair of sandals from the royalties. It amuses me greatly to see how supposedly awesome songwriters can sing about these kind of things which they don't understand."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "What precisely went wrong with rock 'n' roll?"

JOHN LYDON: "The '60s bands, eh? The were all opposed to big money, right? It broke their backs. All this talk about chart positions, pathetic! Charts are nonsense. Bollocks! I don't believe they're accurate anyway. Just one in a hundred thousand is counted at all. That can't be accurate. Reggae sells hundreds of thousands, and Mantovani, you can't say he's not a bestseller! But you won't find them in the charts."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Yesterday's edition of 'Top Of The Pops' started with three cover versions of old hits." [5]

JOHN LYDON: "Yeah, I think it's ridiculous. It's well out of order. It's like that for six months already. It's all about the chart show. The whole idea of a chart show is wrong. It encourages competition, which isn't a bad idea, but there's more to it than that. It's a complete corruption of competition. Record companies pay their bets and lift their number ten positions higher. That's all wrong. It's funny how a record will sell much more when it keeps away from the so-called chart return business. And that's a fact."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "A band like PIL confuses many people. They don't know how to categorise the music."

JOHN LYDON: "The industry has some difficulties with us, because for a change we have a free hand in how to approach things. Finally just one band that does it totally different."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Some think PIL are taking the mick, that it's not serious."

JOHN LYDON: "They think it's a joke. Well, that's a moronic point of view. How dare they insinuate we are taking the mick when they have the top 40 right in front of their eyes! The Best of the Sex Pistols. That's no fraud? How dare they question what I'm doing! At least I don't manipulate anybody to buy my records. If you have no guts you leave your fingers off it. Simple as that."

(The phone rings. "Let it ring." The phone keeps ringing. "What a nuisance." I tell him to better answer the phone. "Hi, Chris. I'm fine, yes ...")

JOHN LYDON: "How about that? A record company approaching me. That's the way it should be, not the other way round. That was Chris Blackwell. [6] He wants me for some reggae movie he wants to shoot in Jamaica. Some kind of 'Saturday Night Fever' with me as John Travolta, you understand? I would never do it of course, but I'd like to see how far he would go."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "After the end of Pistols you were a hot property for these kind of people."

JOHN LYDON: "Yeah, but they all want to draw me back into this fucking Pistols business, and I just don't want to have anything to do with it anymore. I'm just totally fed up with it. Now they say Johnny Rotten isn't the same anymore. How funny. What are they thinking? It's bloody four, five years on! You're supposed to develop, to get better in what you're doing. If I'd still do the same thing as then I'd be some complete idiot, would I?"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You've escaped by going your own way into a completely different direction."

JOHN LYDON: "It's not a completely different direction, it's a natural continuation. I still have the same principles. I won't have it to be told what to do. I'd rather do no records at all then. Being third-rate businesspeople, they wait for me to come to them. But I won't approach them, that's for sure. Not interested in their shabby little games. A very healthy attitude. More bands should realise that. People in record companies are ignorant, they're extremely naive, they hardly do anything. Bands shouldn't be so scared of them. With us it's the opposite. They're scared of us!"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You have many alternative record companies who try to do things differently."

JOHN LYDON: "There's a lot happening, isn't it? But unlike a few years ago you won't read about it in the papers anymore. Take the 'NME', they're full of long-haired Americans again and Elvis Costello and that kind of crap."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Don't you exaggerate a bit? Most of the records Rough Trade put out are reviewed in the papers, and almost always favouritely too."

JOHN LYDON: "I'm not talking about a specific label. Rough Trade have their connections to Virgin, so they're not that independent. And what do you think about all those bootleggers? That's well out of order, isn't it? Funny how Richard Branson can be connected with the bootleg trade. Did you read about it lately? But it's true, and I think the public has a right to know about it. But it's all swept under the carpet. Secret. English papers need their advertisers. That's the business."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Of course they have to exist, those papers. They need the money."

JOHN LYDON: "My God! I didn't have any money when I started. When PIL started I was completely and totally bankrupt. We came through it by sheer will power. Believe in what you do and you will succeed."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "What happened with the Pistols' money?"

JOHN LYDON: "I've never seen a penny of it. But the tax demands, which have been sent to me by Malcolm very thoughtfully. That's what the legal battle is all about. I seem to have tax debts of around £58,000, which is ridiculous. I'm certainly entitled to three times as much. I wait and see, but I doubt if will ever see a penny of it. At least I can still make some noise."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Aren't the royalties shared by the four band members?"

JOHN LYDON: "None of this money has ever reached the band. Malcolm neither, cos he wasn't that good as a businessman. But he played the role very good, I have to admit."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You mean the role of a bourgeois anarchist?"

JOHN LYDON: "Precisely. It was a joke. I've always said it: anarchy is mind games for the middle-class. With these kind of slogans you'll never get anywhere. You still can laugh about it, though."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "What's your stance on politics? You have a dislike of capitalism ..."

JOHN LYDON: "You bet, yeah."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "... but of communism too."

JOHN LYDON: "Exactly. Self-determination! Independence! Seems like a shambles to me how they're sitting in parliament. It doesn't matter. They're all the same. Only the names and faces are different. They talking the same sort of shit. I don't mind making a lot of money. I don't see anything wrong with that, but I'm doing it only on my conditions. I don't produce rubbish. I don't follow somebody else's rules. I do what I want. Yes, I'm strongly against communism. I don't want to have it. Hassling people like in Russia is very, very wrong."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Do you feel akin to the idealism of a band like The Pop Group?"
JOHN LYDON: "These are young people who come from wealthy families from the outskirt of Bristol, well-known antique dealers. They can talk, they're not taking any risks."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "They make anything but clean, commercial music. You won't hear The Pop Group on the radio so soon."

JOHN LYDON: "Anyway. I agree with you that all kinds of music should be played freely on the radio. The radio stations should play especially much, much more new music. They're only playing the top 40, the top-selling records. I don't get it. If you already bought the record, why would you want to hear it on the radio too? If you want to hear new music you have to go to special stores to listen. Most people are too lazy for that. They want to have it all delivered to their doormats. Mail order. Terrible."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "The reviews on 'Metal Box' were unanimously positive. Was it a surprise for you?"

JOHN LYDON: "Positive but inaccurate. All that intellectual posturing, 'this album has obvious religious overtones', bla bla. Bollocks! Religion? That was the previous album. A song from the previous album, to be precise. Every song on this record is clearly about something. It's all very obvious. Really funny they don't get it. I love all things obvious, I think it's just glorious. Pure common sense. The Bob Dylan song, 'The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind', it beats me what gave them the idea that it's about the A-bomb. To me it sounds like a load of bullshit. The danger of being misinterpreted! For some people it seems to be the only way to enjoy it."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "All those German bands that are mentioned in the reviews, Can, Neu! ... I thought is Johnny secretly a fan of the German underground?"

JOHN LYDON: "Oh God, that's just desperate, isn't it? They don't know with what to compare it, and that can't be. It has to be compared with something. There's no secret about what I'm listening to. I like to listen to Can, just as I like to listen to Bach and to jazz, even to calypso now and then! Reggae, disco, pop ..."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "What do you find attractive about disco?"

JOHN LYDON: "You can dance to it. Disco is being slagged off by most, which is wrong. What you hear on the radio is the worst. There's some fucking good stuff inbetween all that disco. I'm mad about the typical drum sound, it's your heartbeat, your bloody body structure! You really have to constrain yourself not to like it!"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Some think it's inhuman music, robot music."

JOHN LYDON: "What a joke, isn't it? When the real enemy stands right in front of them, they don't recognise it. All those Mod revival bands, that's two steps back at least, isn't it?"


JOHN LYDON: "If it's all about fads then I'm in the wrong business."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You don't play live too often. Don't you like to play gigs?"

JOHN LYDON: "I don't like long tours. Terrible! For more than a month, evening after evening, you just can't maintain an ideal performance. All your contacts are getting out of sight. These kind of tours are all about money. Promoting the product. It's insulting. We do gigs whenever we're in the mood for it, and that suits us best."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "The only time I saw you live, you were standing with the back to the audience half of the time."

JOHN LYDON: "Was that the Rainbow? God! We took all the seats out of the hall so that you could dance. We made sure the bar remained open which is quite an achievement in this little village of ours. And what did you hear? Moaning! 'We couldn't see you!' Jesus! I'm not a puppet or some postcard. I can't stand it. It's embarrassing to face people who shout at you: 'Oh, doesn't he look nice? Where did he buy that suit? Look at that hairdo, how nice!' That's fucking insulting! That's treating you like a turd. It's taking away any chance of an own personality. I'm not some Selfridges clothes hanger. I'm doing it to have fun. Some people can't simply enjoy it. They always have to search for something behind it. Most time they get it wrong."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "When you're young you want to add something to your personality. You think it's insufficient."

JOHN LYDON: "That applies to very young kids, right? But I'm dealing with people who are 23, 24 and 25 years old, and then it's just wrong. If they still don't have personalities of their own, God! The very young kids won't see the band, with all the admission regulations in this country."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Did you have any heroes when you were young?"

JOHN LYDON: "I suppose so, but I don't remember who. It never wasn't that important to me. I was totally prepared to accept myself the way I am. That was good enough for me. I didn't ever imitate or follow somebody else. I'm always content being myself, I don't need to be somebody else."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You're against religion, particularly the Christian religion."

JOHN LYDON: "No, I'm not against religion, I'm against the religious establishment. I'm against dictating points of view. I don't like what church stands for. The Vatican with all its treasures which it doesn't do anything with. It's senile. It's just like the Pharaohs who entombed themselves with all their treasures and gold. There's been done more evil in the name of religion than in the name of anyother cause. 'Follow us or we will finish you off by the thousands!' Just look at this Ayatollah cunt! Look what he's doing! It's well out of order, that cunt. [7] But they're all the same."

Muziekkrant OOR, Holland, January 30th, 1980BERT VAN DE KAMP: "But don't you adopt a rather moralising pose here? It seems to me a remnant of your catholic upbringing."

JOHN LYDON: "Moralising?"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "Your principles, your ideals. You're seperating everything into good or bad."

JOHN LYDON: "I call it common sense. But I wouldn't deny that my upbringing has something to do with it. I'd be quite a prick and a liar if I'd deny it. I don't believe in any institutionalised school of thought. Everybody on his own, I always say. I don't dictate to anybody. There are people who are quite happy being irreligious, fair enough. I don't think so. I have my own points of view. I won't tell you, cos it could affect other people and that's wrong. No, that's completely personal."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "To many fans it still is quite important what you have to say."

JOHN LYDON: "Yeah. I don't like it. I'm very cautious with it. I don't want to get it out of hand, that would be absolutely out of order. Let everybody think for his own fucking self, and everything will turn out best. God, sometimes I can be a bigger arsehole than anybody else. I openly admit this. I have my flaws and shortcomings, and they're not just a few, believe you me!"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You like your privacy, don't you?"

JOHN LYDON: "You bet."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You stick to your family and your old friends."

JOHN LYDON: "That's essential. That's where you come from, don't you? Running away from it means running away from yourself. It brings you back down to earth whenever you're becoming too much of an egomaniac."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "I heard you're younger brother Jimmy is trying to establish himself in the rock business too?"

JOHN LYDON: "No, he's just trying to make some money to be able to marry. Good luck to him. The record is terrible." [8]

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "So speaks the producer himself."

JOHN LYDON: "I didn't produce the record at all, that's a complete joke! I was asleep. I bought a big bottle of champagne for the occasion and emptied it all on my own. When I woke up the record was finished."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "So you see how overvalued producers are."

JOHN LYDON: "You don't need them at all. Fucking hell. If they just record everything properly then it's good enough. Then you got it right. Producers are no dictators. 'Oh, the piano sounds rather flat, could you do it again?" Bollocks! I do all my vocals in one take, and that's it. If there are mistakes in it, well that's too bad, cos I won't do it again."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You surely don't care about VU meters, don't you?"

JOHN LYDON: "Bollocks to 'em! Mixing boards are all set up to a middle-of-the-road volume. We don't care if the needles are deep in the red. If we get it pressed on the record without distortion it's well-proven that VU meters don't count. Away with it! Crap!"

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "There's lots of bass and highs on your records and practically no middle-range."

JOHN LYDON: "That's precisely how it's meant to be. We just had to make sure it doesn't sound too mad. But I'm not into all that technical bullshit. Keith is. Keith is crazy about machines, he hates the human race, you must know."

BERT VAN DE KAMP: "You don't?"

JOHN LYDON: "I don't. Well, not always."

I stop my questioning because I've been desperate for a piss for a considerable time now, but the bathroom is always occupied.

"There's a bottle," laughs John, but then personally goes banging on the door to clear the bathroom for me. After that he switches the light on.

"I'm fed up with sitting in the dark."

But the question-and-answering doesn't get off the ground again anymore. John puts the 'Metal Box' on, not all of it. Then reggae. Whenever I ask what it is he says:

"Doesn't matter. I use to go reggae shops and listen what they're putting on for about an hour. If I hear something that I like I buy it. I'm not an expert, I just know what I like."

Which mostly seems to Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, Pablo Gad and Pablo Moses. He thinks most of the reggae that released especially by Island and Virgin is "watered down, not the real thing." He thinks Bob Marley is a "silly idiot", contrary to what was written in a recent 'Melody Maker' article. "He's bonkers in his head, he's never done anything reasonable."

He thinks just as little of the Rastafari movement.

"The most treacherous and egotistical religion in the world! So self-righteous that it's making me sick! In my opinion it's just an excuse to get stoned."

Then it's suddenly back to the past. The punk movement.

"It was a catalyst. It was never meant to stay that way for ever and ever. It was just phase one. PIL is phase two."

The Pistols.

"That band was meant to put a full stop behind that sort of rock 'n' roll. Let's do it again, but this time for good. It finished off rock 'n' roll, that's not understood. Even the band members didn't understand. Look at Steve and Paul, who still do Chuck Berry numbers. These idiots can't help it. [9] Just look at poor Sidney. He went to believe other people's fantasies about him, a victim of his own myth. Couldn't get his head around it. Letting himself being taken over by the wrong people, the fool. I know who the culprits are, but I'm so wise to keep it for myself."


"Pure escapism. You can have fun with it, just as with alcohol, cigarettes, tea, TV, but it won't help you to improve. It's damn difficult to work when you're stoned out of your head. In fact you cannot work at all."


"Cold, damp and miserable. Doesn't make any sense. At least as far as I have seen, but touring isn't the best way to get to know a country. [10] Besides, Belgium I found even worse. What a godforsaken shitty land that is! Not in a million years I will go there again!" [11]


"A great invention. I can't resist it. It's because of my eyes. They're always adjusting to movements. I can't work my way through the 'Daily Mirror', that beats everything. Or the 'New Of The World'! That's some paper! One song on every page. A dirty vicar fortnightly. That paper offered me £10,000 for my version of the Sex Pistols split. I asked for 20. When they offered 20, I asked for 30. Then I didn't hear from them anymore. They just wanted a sensationalist story, dirty perversities. The real story was of no interest to them. The true story of the Sex Pistols would make you wet your pants out of sheer boredom."


"There's two forms of happiness in this world: to know nothing or to know everything. The problem is, everybody is positioned inbetween so everybody's miserable. If you can get just half of the story, it fucks you up, doesn't it? I try to make the most of my possibilities. Fuck the probabilities. I'm fully determined to lead my life as happily as it's humanly possible."


"I'll stay true to them, but be careful! It sounds hippieish, and I have nothing to do with that. How do they always say: 'There'll always be leaders and followers.' That's the biggest load of shit I've ever heard. That's exactly what they want to get you to believe with their education system. How wrong! That's exactly what you constantly must fight against."


[1] Eleven Who fans were crushed to death while trying to enter Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati (Monday, 3 December 1979).
[2] The interview happened on Friday, 7 December 1979.
[3] 'Flogging A Dead Horse' (released 8 February 1980)
[4] "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse (from the album "Rust Never Sleeps", released on 22 June 1979).
[5] 'Top Of The Pops' episode aired on Thursday, 6 December 1979.
[6] Chris Blackwell's Island Records licensed the vinyl US rights to 'Metal Box' from Warner Brothers and released it as 'Second Edition' (22 February 1980). Warners still put out the US cassette version themselves.
[7] On 3 December 1979 the new Iranian constitution subordinated all institutions of the state to the Islamic clergy.
[8] 'One Of The Lads' by 4" Be 2" (released on Island Records 16 November 1979).
[9] On 13 October 1979 the NME had reported that Jones and Cook were working on a new album. Richard Branson personally asked John Lydon to join The Professionals (as they called themselves) as a singer, Lydon refused.
[10] The Sex Pistols played Holland in January and December 1977.
[11] PIL played Belgium in 1983, 1986 and 2010-11.


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© Anton Corbijn
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