Hot Press meets John Lydon

As PiL prepare to play Body & Soul, John Lydon advises Stuart Clark on how to deal with right-wing loonies, derides Björk for her ‘Free Tibet’ stance, denies being a sexist pig, and generally gives exceedingly good quote...

“It’s about 85 degrees here and when I’m finished with you I’m going for a swim on a luxurious beach.”

“John, you’re a cunt!”

“I know, but a rich one. Make sure you put that in your article!”

There are many things you can accuse John Lydon of being, but a dull conversationalist isn’t one of them. Today finds the ex-Pistol sunning himself at the Los Angeles home he shares with his wife Nora while yours truly is freezing his nadgers off in a Dublin so dark I’m expecting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to come riding by any moment now.

“Where did it all go wrong?” Lydon cackles down the trans-Atlantic blower. “Question; what’s Hot Press doing about these right-wing fundamentalist fools who are trying to ensure that Ireland remains in the Dark Ages?”

I think he means Youth Defence, the Iona Institute, Family & Life, Human Life and all our other self-appointed moral guardians. The answer being: “Challenging the hypocrisy and/ or downright dishonesty of their arguments, and laughing like drains whenever one them makes a complete knob/twat of themselves on Vincent Browne.”

“Excellent!” he roars. “Engage these people in open debate and it soon becomes apparent that their arguments are so full of holes they might as well be made of Swiss cheese. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny or research. Give them the rope and they will hang themselves. Don’t show no respect for the foolishness of others. Religion’s a personal choice, but once you start dictating your personal choice to others you have to be stopped. I was raised a Catholic, right, but here

I am preaching to fundamentalists. I understand the absurdity of my religion, now it’s their turn!”

Is John aware of Cardinal Brady’s pledge to excommunicate anyone who supports the new abortion legislation here?

“That’s a privilege and an honour to be worn like a badge! You can’t just ask for excommunication, you have to earn it. The dirty bastards molest young children and then have the cheek to lecture us on morality. I’ve no time for them. It’s like that poor Indian girl in Galway – the church’s belief system counts for more than someone else’s reality. In a logical world that would never be able to take place.”

Of course, Ireland isn’t the only country with right-wing crosses to bear at the moment.

What does Mr. L make of that nice Nigel Farage and UKIP?

“‘A new way of doing politics’ my arse!” he snorts derisively. “It’s just fascism in disguise. Any group that preaches separatism and division is unacceptable in the modern world. Race, creed, colour, belief… anything you care to bring into it, we are all equal. It’s not ‘Us Vs. Them’ or ‘Them Vs. Us’, just ‘Us’. Whether it’s the National Front, the British Movement or the English Defence League, they’re preaching to the lowest common denominator and will eventually choke on their own bigotry.”

Sticking with matters religious – well, sort of – has John seen the Amish Sex Pistols and Bill Grundy sketch that former Hot Press-er and Father Ted creator Arthur Mathews came up

with recently?

“I love Father Ted; their portrayal of the Catholic Church was superb. ‘The Amish Sex Pistols’ though, no. How does one find it?”

By going on YouTube.

“Right, I’ll do that before me swim. As long as they don’t kill the original message of that. Parody can be a watering down and supportive of the shit-stem but we shall see…”

In another possible killing of the original message, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently running a Punk: Chaos To

Couture exhibition.

“I wrote something for that – I wanted them to understand where the clothing came from and the original ideas behind it – but an invitation for the ‘gala opening night’ was not forthcoming. There were no punks; just the same bunch of actresses in their frocks and blokes with dickie-bows and penguin suits who turn up to everything. Oh, and Madonna who once denied knowing who the Sex Pistols were, even though she had a bootleg Sex Pistols belt on at the time! They sold out to the rich brigade, which is a shame because the story deserves to be told properly.”

Far from slowing down in his old age – “Cheeky bugger, I’m still in me prime!” – John has never been busier with PiL’s June 23 visit to Body & Soul the continuation of a year-long tour, which has included the band’s maiden voyage to China.

“Which was a complete eye-opener for me,” he enthuses. “When the offer came in, I thought, ‘We’ll never get visas for that’ because so many bands have been turned down on account of their political stance. Actually, they were turned down because they have no political stance at all and were co-opted into this student union ‘Free Tibet’ nonsense. I spoke to a lot of people who are trying to develop a music industry in China and their pet hate is Björk because when she stood on that stage and shouted ‘Free Tibet!’ she made the government go, ‘Right, no more rock ‘n’ roll.’ The shutters came down and a lot of those involved in music were jailed. You don’t victimise the very people who might actually understand your message. I will never, ever agree with the Chinese government

but then again I don’t agree with any government anywhere.”

Okay, that’s the contents of the Hot Press Letters pages taken care of for the next month. What were the crowds like?

“20% expats and the rest very curious Chinese kids who’ve just latched on to Never Mind The Bollocks. They’re like English kids were in ’76 – desperately looking for something they can call their own and so enthusiastic. There’s a lot of illegal bootlegging going on there, which normally I wouldn’t condone but, my God, those poor kids need it. We never saw any government officials or military presence. The only time I ran into the police was at 3am when I fell out of a nightclub and they didn’t arrest me like they did in Dublin!”

Ah yes, the infamous 1980 altercation with the Gardaí, which resulted in Johnny swapping his 5-star hotel for B&B in Mountjoy.


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