Public Image Limited
KROQ 106.7 FM - Burbank, CA.
July 3rd, 1986
Interviewed by 'Jed the Fish'
(JF: Jed the Fish - JL: John Lydon - BS: Bruce Smith)
JF: Could I ask you real quick about "anger is an energy"? Is that kind of a true statement or is that an observation?
JL: Well, of course it is! I deal in nothing but the truth.
JF: Because I never really thought of that before.
JL: Well, it sure beats apathy doesn't it? And that seems to be what this world suffers from in a great deal.
JF: Yes, that's right. In case you didn't know, we're talking to two members of PiL, Public Image Limited. Bruce Smith who plays drums, and John Lydon who plays...voice!
BS: Who howls affectionately!
JF: I was going to ask you about your voice. It's not exactly a typical vocalist-type voice is it?
JL: We don't make exactly typical songs, either.
JF: That's right. It sort of puts terror in my heart occasionally.
JL: Yes. Originality does create that in a lot of people.
JF: Well, not just originality. It's a very unique quality your voice has.
JL: Well, I could stay here all day and listen to this! Carry on!
JF: It sort of reaches inside a person's psyche and makes them worry about things they never thought of worrying about before.
JL: Good, then at least I'm achieving something.
JF: You certainly are. You're playing in front of probably upwards of 3,000 people at the Palladium this Saturday.
JL: Yeah. Quite easily.
JF: Have you played there before?
JL: Yes. It's not a bad venue. And the crowds in L.A. are perfect for the kind of din we kick up!
JF: This is a weekend that we celebrate traditionally. It's called July 4th.
BS: Yeah, we know all about it. We've been having the Statue of Liberty shoved in our faces everyday!
JF: Oh, gosh! That's enough to make me gag!
JL: Imagine how us poor tourists feel!
JF: Wait a minute. You're not a tourist are you?
JL: I am occasionally.
JF: Not here.
JL: Anywhere. I don't live anywhere in particular. Wherever I plunk my bottom for that couple of months, I call home.
JF: You did some bottom plunking here in Pasadena not too long ago, didn't you?
JL: That's right. And the office is right across the street from ya'.
JF: It still is?
JL: The office is, but we're not in it.
JF: Oh, I see. Are you going to do some fireworks of your own on Saturday?
JL: No. It's much easier to just sit there, get drunk and watch every other sod spend money on it! That's my idea of leisure!
JF: Do you have a new band this time around?
JL: No, this is a permanent band now.
JF: It is?
JF: I thought your were fond of firing people in your band.
JL: Only the rubbish. And there's none of that this time.
JF: Oh. That's good.
JL: Bye bye, rubbish! If you're out there listening!
JF: What's it like backstage at a PiL gig?
JL: Really miserable.
BS: Yeah. Very quiet. It's like a monastery. We're monks, one and all.
JF: No entourages?
BS: I've hoped not, no. As few people as possible.
JF: And how much material is just PiL material in the set? Excuse me songs...
JL: (sigh) Is this a sly way of saying do we do any Pistol numbers? We have been known to from time to time.
BS: Yeah. Drop a few in there. You know, a couple of bombs here and there.
JL: There's a few surprises in this set. It's very varied.
JF: Very varied?
JF: Did you have a time when you would not put Sex Pistol's songs in the set on purpose?
JL: Yes. We had a time zone when we would not do that.
JF: Speaking of 'time zone', that is one of the most popular dance records on the West Coast of all time. Are you aware of that?
JL: No, I'm not. Hardly surprising, though. Really, humbly speaking here!
JF: You can put that on and even people over 21 will dance.
JL: Well, now that DOES surprise me! See, there's more to life than the Grateful Dead, boys and girls!
JF: What was it like getting connected with Afrika Bambaataa? How did that happen?
JL: Afrika? He's all right. I mean, he wanted to it. He also did a record with James Brown which I remember him particularly telling me that I was the best fun he had ever been with in a studio.
JF: That was shortly before his collaboration with James Brown?
JF: Well, that's quite flattering!
JL: Yeah, he was probably lying but, you know, these things in ease!
JF: Well, you know what they do on dance singles? They put an "a cappella" track down. You know what that is? That's when they run the same track without the music. And there's a track with James Brown and Afrika Bambaataa this is absolutely hysterical! Everyone's gotta love it! "Hoo-lo! Get back!" Stuff like that.
JL: Do you take drugs? There's your question! Doesn't require an answer. No comment.
JF: Sure it does. No, I used to. And found that I wasn't getting too much done.
JL: What? Para-seasonal? Yeah, me too.
JL: Till they started tampering with it!
JF: I want to know what it was like when that song came together in the studio. Did you write it? Did you do a demo of it and then come in and do it?
JL: Well, we had a few lyrics. We went in, put a drum beat down on the machine and did the whole thing in about 4 1/2 hours. It was very, very quick.
BS: As the best records often are.
JL: They say you can't rush talent...but you can!
BS: You have to know what you're doing.
JF: Lots of times you have to have pressure as a creative stimulant.
JL: I would say it would be essential, yes. Otherwise you get fat and lazy about what you're doing and you lose yourself.
JF: Does PiL ever do that? Just go in and...
JL: Always, always, always. I don't ever mess about in the studio.
JF: Ok. Do you ever do demo tapes and then go in and record them?
JL: Yes. Yes.
JF: So you do your messing about before you get in the studio?
JL: You're damn right! The prices they charge these days, only a lunatic would do it any other way!
JF: We're talking to John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten and Bruce Smith...
JL: Who you can meet in person, shortly, if you come to Long Beach at Zed Records.
JF: Oh, Zed! You're down at Zed?!
JL: Yes. This afternoon.
JF: Michael at Zed Records is just a great person. That's where I used to get all my stuff. All right, you're going to be there at what time?
BS: Six o'clock I believe.
BS: Five. Ok, five. Zed Records in Long Beach.
JF: And we'll get an address on that. We're talking to PiL. We'll be right back.
JF: We're back with PiL, Public Image Limited and Johnny Rotten. Still go by Johnny Rotten don't you?
JL: Yeah, I do. On autographs. It's only checks I sign Lydon. And I'll be signing plenty of them at Zed Records this afternoon!
JF: It's on Lakewood Blvd. And we haven't figured out the address, but it's...oh yeah. It's 1910.
JF: 1910 Lakewood Blvd.
JL: Y'all come down there!
JF: We also want to mention that you're going to be at the Pacific Amphitheater on July 7th, Monday, July 7th. And, of course, this Saturday at the Palladium. Where did the name 'Johnny Rotten' come from?
JL: Cause I've got vile teeth!
JF: Let me see.
BS: And that's the truth!
JF: That's not so vile.
JL: Oh, this is after the dentist has been at them. You should've seen them before. They were green!
JF: Well, here. Have some water. If they're that vile, they'll wash right down your throat! Did you name yourself Johnny Rotten?
JL: No, I didn't. Steve Jones did.
JF: Oh, really?
JL: I know. Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?!
JF: Are you in contact with him?
JL: Yeah. We're still mates. He lives out here apparently.
JF: He lives here?
JL: Yeah. In L.A.
JF: Well, you don't say where you live. Why should we say where he lives?
JL: I live all over.
JF: I saw him on stage with Charlie Sexton. I gotta say, he did one of the most boring lead solos I've ever seen in my life!
JL: With one of the most boring people! Charlie Sexton! Didn't he win some hairdo on MTV competition?
JF: I think it's a helmet that he wears.
JL: Weirdest hairdo of the year award?! I should've won that! I'll tell you, people have got no sense!
BS: And very little taste.
JF: How do you get your hair to that. It sort of looks like it's twisted in little tuffs and painted bright orange.
JL: It's molded lumps, painted with emulsion.
JF: Let's see what else we've got here...
JL: And you can all see it, if you come to Zed Records!
BS: But we're not encouraging that you should do something.
JF: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! What are you going overboard plugging Zed Records for? You don't even make any money there.
JL: Because I don't care about the money side of it. I just want to meet some people.
BS: Yeah. We want a lot of people to come so that we can have a fun time.
JL: These are good things to do because you get to meet people "one to one".
JF: That's right. You can't do that, you can't exactly...
JL: Can't do that over the radio!
JF: And everyone can't get backstage at a PiL show, now can they?
JL: Even though they try! It can be quite chaotic.
JF: Ok, all right. So you haven't kept in touch with Steve Jones?
JL: Every now and again. I don't give a damn what he does musically.
JF: When did you know you could sing? When did you discover you had a singing voice?
JL: When I was in the school choir. When they told me to shut up and get out. That's when I knew I was destined for better things!
JF: Are you serious?!
JL: Yes, I am!
JF: There was a song called FFF that I wanted to play. What does FFF stand for?
JL: Farewell Fair-weather Friends.
JF: Is that about anyone in particular? A fair-weather friend in particular?
JL: It could be. It could be applied to quite a few people.
BS: Exactly. Draw your own conclusions, you know.
JF: Ok. Well, we don't know you're private life as much as you do, so we wouldn't know if it was about someone...
JL: And I intend to keep it that way.
JF: Well...it isn't about any "one" person in particular then?
JL: There's a few. There's a whole host of them. They know who they are. You can use it in your life too. Cause I'm sure you know many liggers.
JL: Useless hangers-on that just want to borrow some glory.
BS: People who just want to take something from you.
BS: You know, bloodsuckers.
JL: Liggers, huh? All right, FFF on KROQ f.m. Here's PiL.
JF: And he wants to keep it a secret, John Lydon does, as to which friends they are. He says they know who they are.
JF: What happened with Elektra Records?
JL: Um, they've decided that we're not correct for them. So, they booted us off the label! So, we are looking for a NEW record company. And I'm sure there'll be plenty of offers. Cause we're rather excellent.
JF: And getting better, I might add. All right, Zed Records today.
JL: Yes. That's where we'll be if you want to say 'hello' to us.
JF: You know what? I'm gonna give 'em a big plug. But next time I'm down there, Michael Zampelli better give me a bunch of free records and compact discs!
JL: Well, we're hoping for a bunch of free beers!
JF: Ok, well I'm sure he'll take care of it. He's a good guy. 1910 Lakewood Blvd. That's where they are this afternoon - PiL. And at the Palladium, July 5th and also at the Pacific Amphitheater on July 7th on Monday. Did you know that...
JL: (makes Flipper noise)
JF: What was that for?
JL: Well, it was Flipper the Dolphin...again!
JF: Did you know that Dusty is coming back to KROQ?
JL: Uh, yeah.
JF: Didn't you used to be buddies with her?
JL: Yeah. Very much so.
JF: Well, she'll be here in just a few minutes.
JL: I know. I'm waiting. Then the chaos will begin!
JF: Yes. This is the Rock of the 80's, KROQ f.m. Thank you very much for stopping by!
JL: All right. Peace and love, Sunshine!
JF: Nice haircut.
JL: I know. You can have one too! I've got a can of emulsion out back!