John Lydon:
SPEX Magazine, July, 1986 (Germany)

Transcribed by Karsten Roekens

© 1986 Spex / Dirk Scheuring


Interview by Dirk Scheuring, pictures by Mechthild Holter

SPEX Magazine, July, 1986Initially everybody wants to be last. Every decent artist strives for the creation of the definite humanly possible work of art that makes all other works of art redundant, and by doing this eliminates the idea of being an artist. In conclusion lies immortality. The avantgarde struggles thinking there is only one front line, against of all the others.

But this is not correct, you have to fight on many different and ever changing front lines,
you have to establish and dissolve new alliances, you have to consider, accept and reject
options and offers, you have to make yourself understood and fight those who are
acquiescent. In other words you become an acknowledged part of the official cultural scene.
As soon as an iconoclast realizes what those mean who call him an iconoclast, he must cease to be one.

Now it turns out whether the artist is really any good, now that he can't strive for conclusion anymore but only for continuation. To be called a genius, to be called a failure, to fight the just fight, for truth, forever. That's hard.

John Lydon, mither. A legend which wants to shed itself and thus confirms it over and
over again. A vegetarian with hectic red blotches in his face. Relentlessly, with every word, every gesture, every utterance he states ''I won't get involved in anything here'', he states
''You have no right to expect anything from me.'' Which everybody expected.

Scheuring: ''Are you a happy man?''

Lydon: ''Yes.''

Scheuring: ''Why?''

Lydon: ''Because I can do what I want.''

Scheuring: ''What is it that you want to do?''

Lydon: ''What I'm doing. Next question.''

Scheuring: ''It's still a ritual for a part of the audience to spit at you as soon as you get on stage. You get angry and set the bouncers on the spitters, but they carry on regardless because they think it's the adequate way to respond to you and your music. How does it come to this misunderstanding?''

Lydon: ''How should I know? It's always just a few people, real cunts. I hate them. It only happens in Germany. It's always the Germans. Germans and Americans. I hate them.''

Scheuring: ''If it's not you who gives them the reason, who is it then?''

Lydon: ''You – you from the press. Because you carry on tinkering with it, because you
carry on writing there's spitting at my gigs. I hate your lies.''

Scheuring: ''If you hate the Americans – why do you live in America then?''

Lydon: ''Because I love capitalism. And it's nowhere as capitalistic as in America. I love free enterprise.''

Scheuring: ''Do you play gigs because of money?''

Lydon: ''No. I have enough money now.''

Scheuring: ''How much did you get out of the lawsuit that you won against Malcolm McLaren over the Sex Pistols funds?''

Lydon: ''Enough. Enough for a living.''

Scheuring: ''Many people expect you to match an image that you proposedly had ten years ago. Don't you think you encourage such expectations by still playing old Sex Pistols numbers?''

Lydon: ''Nobody has the right to expect something from me, neither those who expect me to play old Sex Pistols numbers, nor those who expect me to play not old Sex Pistols numbers.''

Scheuring: ''But at least everybody expects you to say that nobody has the right to expect anything from you – an expectation which you answer regularly. Even your record company expects it. Don't you make it easy for them to work with you?''

Lydon: ''Easy? You must be kidding! Go and ask them how easy it is! All the record companies I worked with over the last ten years – I hated every one of them. And I always said it, and I always did what I wanted. Always! None of them could cope with it, nobody from this business. They always hated me. And I always got away with everything I wanted to do.''

Scheuring: ''What about responsibility?''

Lydon: ''I'm only responsible to myself. That's the only message I ever had: be only responsible to yourself. Total individuality. All people must turn into complete individualists quickly, because if they carry on following a few senile lunatics like sheep, these lunatics will soon – very soon! – destroy the earth with their nuclear weapons.''

Scheuring: ''That's just second-rate Max Stirner. That's completely untenable.''

Lydon: ''It's the only tenable.''

Scheuring: ''All right then – let's assume all people turned into complete individualists. Nobody would be interested in you anymore then. Nobody would come to your concerts for instance.''

Lydon: ''Wrong – they would all come to my concerts, because they would realize that
I'm God. Ooh... hehehe... I can feel my ego growing, but I'm bored now... let's stop.''

Scheuring: ''Just a moment – a final question: did you see 'Sid and Nancy' yet, the film about the Sex Pistols and the relationship between Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen?''

Lydon: ''No – I didn't and I don't intend to. It's a complete joke, a shameless lie beyond belief! A disgusting lie in the face of history. This director, Alex Cox, he knows full well that everything he told was a complete lie. It has nothing to do with historical correctness or truth, and still he tries to sell it to people. When he prepared the movie we had a meeting and he introduced me to some bloke and told me 'This is Johnny Rotten.' I just had to laugh! It's unbelievable! My lawyers are checking whether there is a possibility to sue.

Nobody should get away with such historical lies! Okay, let's stop – it's enough now!''

SPEX Magazine, July, 1986


Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
© Mechthild Holter
Archives | Fodderstompf