L ove him or hate him, John Joseph Lydon is a genuine music icon. At the age of 19 he became Johnny Rotten, iconoclastic frontman for the Pistols. Since 1978 he’s been leading his post-punk band Public Image Limited (PiL). Ahead of the release of their tenth album, What the World Needs Now, we call Lydon at home in LA for a chat. Here’s what we learn…
1. He’s not keen on official histories of punk…
“It’s simple: if they haven’t spoken to me, then you know it’s a lie. The few I have spoken to have been rather poisonous too.”
2. But he will recommend one book.
“I like [Slits guitarist Viv] Albertine’s book [Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys] – that’s good fun. How calculating she comes over. Fascinating.”
3. He’s spent literally thousands of dirhams on iPad apps.
“My band recommended an iPad to me. I got well fascinated with the games: the car racing games, the battleship games. I love ’em. I suppose you could call it somewhat addictive. And then when the bill comes in… haha! Reality bites.”
4. He’s now an optimistic American…
“I became an American because of Obamacare. I can’t become a part of a country that doesn’t want to take care of its sick. I jumped straight in because I’d seen that America was at last turning away from being a greedy bunch of gangsters into a nation of people capable of understanding each other.”
5. But he’s not so keen on Donald Trump.
“It’s that endless silly mistake: because they run businesses they must be good at running a country. America is now looking at the prospect of a real estate agent running the world. It’s absurd!”
6. He’s found peace in PiL.
“I love being in PiL more than anything. It’s where I found myself. Inside my soul is my mum and dad going, ‘Well done, John. Tell it like it is.’”
What the World Needs Now is available at itunes.apple.com.