John Lydon: ‘Me? I’m the Duracell Bunny!’

John Lydon and Public Image Ltd are coming to Falkirk
John Lydon and Public Image Ltd are coming to Falkirk

Punk icon John Lydon finally has the musical stability to unleash some live chaos in Falkirk this summer.

The former Sex Pistol and current front man of Public Image Ltd will be clocking the Kelpies on his way to play The Warehouse on Friday, June 10, taking to the stage at the Burnbank Road venue safe in the knowledge that this line-up of PiL has been together for longer than any band he has been in before.

The Falkirk Herald got the lowdown on PiL’s new tour from a ready and raring to go John Lydon direct from his home in Malibu – it’s hard to picture the former Mr Rotten in that particular location, but, now officially a Yank, he’s called it home for almost half his 60 years on earth.

“I won’t be voting for Trump,” he laughs down the phoneline. “None of us trust politicians but you can’t replace them with businessmen either.”

When The Sex Pistols jacked it in, sneering Johnny Rotten gave way to rock, dance, folk and pop musician John Lydon who formed Public Image Ltd in 1978 and the band, despite a ton of personnel changes, went on to earn five UK Top 20 Singles and five UK Top 20 Albums.

John was the one constant from the late 70s to the early 90s and, after a 17-year break, which included “Johnny’s jaunt in the jungle”, he returned to PiL in 2009 with a new band, Lu Edmonds (guitar), Scott Firth (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums), to record This is PiL and the most recent LP What the World Needs Now.

Speaking from sunny, but supposedly cold, California, he said: “For the first time in my entire career I’ve recorded two albums with the same people in the band.

“That tells me what you can do when you get rid of the oppressive record labels and corporations.

“The last two albums we’ve recorded are the best things I’ve ever done. We’ve had a bit of a break for four months so it’s going to be great to get back out there.”

The singer will have none of this “too old to rock ‘n’ roll” patter, but he’ll have to be spry when he kicks of the 31-date PiL tour at the start of May with gigs at venues in Spain, Germany, Poland and the Ukraine as well as the length and breadth of the UK.

He said: “Turning 60 was a major achievement for me – I’m a long distance runner. I’m like that Duracell bunny, I never run out of energy. I don’t believe in ageism, it’s a terrible attitude. Mellowed? What’s that? I have a lot words from the dictionary wrapped around my brain, but mellow ain’t one of them.”

What would the young Johnny Rotten think of 60-year-old John Lydon going out on tour?

“He would probably say look at you – a teenager three times over and still going strong.”

John’s latest autobiography is entitled Anger is an Energy and he insists he still has a lot to be angry about in the world – and a lot of inspiration to write new songs.

“Everything that happens inspires me to write songs. When I see a body of people who become disenfranchised I will stand up and support them – that is automatic with me.

“I see it as one big world and we are all part of it. The only problem we have is the governments that mess things up and lead us into foolish wars that end up creating the problem of refugees.

“I’m not a humanist, but I am a humorist. I’ve found comedy gets me better answers. When I don’t take myself too seriously it leads to avenues of serious thought.

“With humour we can conquer the world.”

Certainly songs like Double Trouble from the new album have the potential to provoke more laughs than an entire Michael McIntyre box set.

John said: “I’m moving into new areas with songwriting. I’ve often used comedic structures when I’ve been involved in interviews, but it’s only very recently I’ve started using it in songs and I think I’ve found a goldmine.

“I’m not following any genre or trend. Many people have copied me, but I haven’t copied anyone else.”

Having a familiar band behind him has given John a real sense of excitement to play live again as lucky punters will be able to see for themselves at The Warehouse in June.

“We have guidelines for songs, but what we do with them on the night depends on the audience participation. Our crowds are a madcap bunch, but there’s no hate or contempt among them and no fashion that they follow.

“On stage it’s a completely different way of approaching songs – what are we going to do tonight?

“It’s great when you don’t have to deal with corporations and get on with what’s important – communicating with people through music.

“The only thing in my life I’ve ever found that I’m good at is communicating with people through music. The more I do it the more I love it. I’ve had 40 years in music and if I could have 60 more I would be happy.

“I love the eye contact with people in the nice little venues we play. That’s the reward – knowing that the songs mean something to other people. I’m very open hearted when I’m on stage.

“It’s like church but without the religion. I don’t follow any religion. I’m godless thank god.”

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