John Lydon, an English singer and songwriter and current front man of PiL (Public Image Limited) chats with Kevin Cooper about how hurt he is over the Danny Boyle mini series about the Sex Pistols, his opinion of Malcolm McLaren, his guilt over Sid Vicious and PiL’s forthcoming 2022 tour of the UK.

John Lydon is an English singer and songwriter who was lead singer of the Sex Pistols and now fronts PiL (Public Image Limited).

In 1975 his outspoken personality and rebellious image brought him to the attention of Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols manager and he was asked to join the band that comprised Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook. Lydon became known as Johnny Rotten during this period because of the very poor state of his teeth.

From the outset the relationship with McLaren was very fractious and both Lydon and Matlock agreed that McLaren would play them against each other. The result was that Matlock left the band only to be replaced with Lydon’s school friend, Sid Vicious.

With the Sex Pistols he wrote several singles which included Anarchy In The UK, God Save The Queen, Pretty Vacant and Holidays In The Sun. In 1977 they released their only and highly influential studio album, Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.

In 1978, the Sex Pistols disbanded but because of their controversial lyrics and disrepute at the time, they were regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of music.

In 1978 Lydon founded his own band, PiL (Public Image Limited) with bassist Jah Wobble, and former Clash guitarist Keith Levene. PiL have released ten studio albums and several singles which include Public Image, Death Disco and Rise. By 1984 Wobble and Levene had left the band leaving Lydon as the sole member.

PiL reformed in 2009, with different band members; drummer Bruce Smith, guitarist Lu Edmonds, and bassist Scott Firth.

Lydon has also written three autobiographies; Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs in 1993, Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored in 2014 and in 2020 I Could Be Wrong: I Could Be Right. He has also produced some solo work such as Psycho’s Path in 1997.

In 2018 Lydon announced that his wife of 46 years, Nora Forster, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Whilst busy preparing and rehearsing for PiL’s forthcoming tour of the UK, Lydon took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Good morning, John.

Who is this?

It’s Kevin from the UK.

That’s really great, groovy news. Wow I really am so very excited (laughter).

I was going to say thanks for taking the time to speak to me, but I have absolutely no idea what I am going to be faced with in the next forty-five minutes (laughter).

Well, let me tell you, you are going to have a very pleasant experience; I think that is guaranteed. So, how can I be of use, prey tell (laughter). Hang on, you and I have spoken before, haven’t we?

Yes, that’s right, we have.

Weren’t you that fresh faced copper who followed me all around Nottingham with a copy of Never Mind The Bollocks under his arm during the trial?

That’s right; I am guilty as charged (laughter).

Well, what can I say; it’s a small world after all.

It is indeed. So, we had better move on and let me ask you, just how is life treating John Lydon at this moment in time?

It’s alright, its fine. We have our ups and downs but doesn’t everybody. I mustn’t complain and I mustn’t grumble because quite frankly, there are a lot of people out there suffering a lot worse than anything that I can ever come up against.

You and I last spoke prior to the last PiL tour here in the UK. Were you pleased with the fan’s reaction, especially to the newer material?

I have to say that Public Image live is always a pleasant experience, always. It’s great that all of the audiences understand that we are sharing real emotions with them, and that always makes for a human evening. The only person who really suffers from doing a live performance is me because of the nerves before I go on.

Are you telling me that after all of these years and numerous appearances live, that you still get nervous before a show?

Yes, it’s true, I get terrified. Stage fright is magnanimously mine (laughter).

I find that absolutely amazing because the persona that you portray when on stage certainly does not come across as someone who suffers from stage fright.

Well, after all of these years I started studying up on it and I found out that a lot of big-name actors suffer with it too. They mention it in their books whenever they write their memoirs or autobiographies. It seems to be an important part of the profession. If you didn’t care, you would just walk out onto the stage and be indifferent. However, because I do care, I put myself through fucking hell, but it’s worth it (laughter). As you know, I don’t know any other way except to tell it like it is.

I can remember reading some years ago that it was extreme stage freight that put paid to Donny Osmond’s career for a while.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear (laughter). I think that it is more likely that his voice broke (laughter).

We must mention your recent book tour, I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right, how did it go. Did you enjoy it?

Yes, I did, very much so. The book tour really was an overwhelming experience because you don’t expect to be able to fill small theatres and halls with people just to be able to talk about a book. And yet, that was the experience. Nearly every night felt completely different, all in a good and different way. It was very much like going to a social club where you know everybody; one of those marvellous celebratory parties, or a really good country pub with all of your friends. It really was excellent. The questions, the fun, the jokes, and we even managed to turn it into karaoke some evenings. I even had a bit of a sing song from time to time to some old Abba songs and that’s just how it should be (laughter).

All my stage performances are all really stand-up comedy at times if you get it right. And stand up is sadness too if you manage to get it even further right. There should be no self-pity just open honesty. And when you get the chance and the experience to do that, and feel that, well, there is my reward in life.

Just who would have thought back in 1975 that they would ever see John Lydon singing karaoke?

Me (laughter). I have always had a huge record collection and I tend to sing along with it, whenever I like the tunes and particularly if I like the words. That’s most probably how I learnt to un-sing. I am a human being after all, and we mustn’t forget this (laughter).

Are you still collecting vinyl records?

I try to, but as you know, there are less and less things out there to collect nowadays. There are so many collectors out there now, that they are kind of ruining it. So, I no longer collect as a collector, I simply buy what I like, and that doesn’t have to be well played, or well sung, just so long as it is honest about itself and I like it, then I am in the market (laughter).

PiL’s forthcoming UK tour has thirteen dates in June. Does touring still excite you?

It terrifies me. There is a lot of hard work that goes into it and that is all good enough. I have a dreaded fear of letting people down before I trot onto that dreaded stage. However, I suppose that it is an enlightening experience because it reminds you that you are in face fallible (laughter). And let me tell you, that’s a fucking hard one to come to grips with night after night (laughter).

Writing, recording, performing, which one do you prefer?

That’s easy, that would be the writing. In fact, I am writing all of the time, plus I read all the time and that’s why my eyes have gone. That’s all down to me burning the midnight oil, but before you ask, not in any celebratory way it’s just me writing out lyrics. It’s just the way that it is; I try to write down as many of the thoughts that I have had during the day. Of course, you never remember it exactly, just what that great idea was, so I find writing to be an uphill climb. It is the easiest of all the processes, but then translating it into music, ah now there’s a chore (laughter). You need some good bloody loyal fans in order to do it properly with, and luckily for me, that’s just what PiL is.

If there is a mood in a note and I think that I just might have something that goes with that, we all know and feel that same vibe. We will then try to torture the songs or tunes into these emotions. There are some songs that can be heart-breaking to perform live. To this day I still perform it and Death Disco is vitally important to me, there is life’s blood there. It deals with the sadness at the loss of my parents. I don’t think that I will ever get over that. I don’t understand death and I don’t want to in a Gothic sense either. It is a chore and three quarters because you are never satisfied with the way that you end up sounding when you hear it played back to you. All of my life I have fancied myself as a bit of a Roy Orbison; what a fucking let down (laughter).

PiL have now released ten albums, as well as the material that you made with the Sex Pistols, is it getting harder for you to put a set list together for the forthcoming tour?

Oh God, yes because the library just keeps on expanding. Having said that, that is not a problem, it’s more like ‘what a relief’ because I am overwhelmed for choice (laughter). Of course, there are certain songs which we could never do live because it simply would not be possible, they are just too fast, too up-tempo, and they will exhaust you for the rest of the set. You really do have to balance these things out; you can’t run at it at one hundred miles per hour from the off, because you will never finish the race.

Without giving too much of the game away, what can we expect on the forthcoming tour?

Oh, that’s easy, you can expect a wonderful world of dreariness, self-pity; the bar will of course be full, where we will all be drowning our sorrows (laughter). Honestly, and being serious for a while, it will be a rollercoaster of emotions. The most amazing thing for me is the eye contact with the audience, because believe it or not, I am a naturally shy person, but I get to lock eyes and you can tell that they really do appreciate just what it is that you I am doing. They rev you up into a harder and harder height to reach, and that is a truly amazing gift. People open heartedly sharing something with you and egging you on if that be the correct term, to do better and better.

There is the joy of it; that is the purpose of Public Image, it always has been, other than way back when with PiL in the very early days, there were some sad sacks up there (laughter). However, we had better not dwell on them because I honestly feel that this current incarnation of PiL is the best that has ever existed. First and foremost, we are friends, and then we create music together. For me, it is the friendship element which counts way above the musicianship; way above it. And good music to me comes from friendlier attitudes and it has taken me years to experience the difficulties of dealing with such animosity on a daily basis. That’s how it has been with some of the bands that I have been in.

Will there be any new material on the set list?

No, simply because that would open us up to a breach of our copyright, and we would never ever do that. We did that once many years ago now, and it ended up being sold on bootlegs and that was unfortunate because it was a total waste of a song. Until songs are properly recorded and published, there is no chance of me ever being that stupid ever again. Even though our audiences are always nice and pleasant to us, it has been noted that they do like to record the gigs on their cell phones (laughter). The naughty buggers (laughter).

You mention the audience recording the songs at PiL gigs on their cell phones, just how does that make you feel?

Being totally honest with you, that really does piss me off. I have to tell you that there is nothing more irritating than somebody trying to stick a phone in your face, while you are trying to deal with serious subjects on stage and trying to concentrate and do the very best that you can for everybody in the hall. Its distracting and its idiotic, because while you are centred on your little gadget, you are missing the reality of real life right there in front of you, and I can’t imagine a more stupid thing to do; “look, here’s the concert that I recorded, I missed it myself, but I’ve got it here on my phone” (laughter). You dumb fuck (laughter).

And let’s face it; the quality is not that good anyway.

(Laughter) I know but they seem to be more distracted, the technology has turned them into robotic idiotics. That sounds like a good title for a song (laughter).

Has it not been done before by Kraftwerk?

We are the Robots De De De De De (laughter). Perhaps you are right on that. I know those fellas, and little did they know what they were doing and just what it would turn into. They are not like that Kraftwerk image at all, they really are blokes who like to go around in Hawaiian shirts and they are all secretly long-haired (laughter). Originally, they were quite innovative, but now, it really is quite boring.

I know what you mean, I saw them live just prior to lockdown, and I have to ask just who wants forty odd minutes of Trans Europe Express? (laughter).

Well, I’m with you on that one; I really do draw the line at that. I would much rather take the real train journey (laughter). There would be something for me to look out of the window at, wouldn’t there (laughter). I’m just that kind of a sensible fella.

You have been in the music business for almost fifty years now. Have you enjoyed it so far?

No (laughter). It seems to me that I have never had a childhood and I simply went straight into the wonderful world of music, as he laughingly coins a well-known phrase (laughter). Looking back, it has been difficult, it has been a struggle, it has been harsh at times, and I have met a lot of very vindictive and spiteful bitter jealous and twisted people, so I would not say that it has been a pleasure at all. The only real joy that I get is when I met a handful of celebrities who have turned out to be decent after all, which was a major surprise. And, of course, the audiences themselves, which are always like a good slice of humanity, playing on the fair side. That’s the reward of it but boy, the indulgencies that you have to tolerate from the elite, shall we call them that.

The superstars who want to turn up at your gigs and who demand a backstage area for themselves. I simply reply, “fuck off, we don’t want you here” (laughter). It can become very ugly because, as you know, we like playing festivals as well as the intimacy of small halls, but the majority of the bands that we have met at festivals all seem to be so stuck up and snobby. It outrages me the amount of hatred that they generate not only towards themselves, but to everyone else. It really is pretty damn disappointing. There are very few people from bands that I can honestly hold my hands up and say, “there a good ‘un”, the good ‘uns know who they are because I have told them. The bad ones, they know who they are too as I have told them as well (laughter).

We all know that hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back would you have done things differently?

Well, what can I say, if you have got eyeballs on your arse then that’s a great thing (laughter). I don’t look back and say, “oh, if only” but what I tend to do is go, “oh shit” and learn from my mistakes. If I have misunderstood something, I can actually change my perception. I am always open to listening, and hearing what other people have to say. If they are right then I will quite happily accept that. You have got to be able to behave like that in order to survive as a human being. You can’t go around being woke your whole life otherwise you will never wake up if that’s your case.

PiL Official Limited, does that work better for you than it would if you were signed to a major label?

Oh absolutely. The rules and regulations and the sheer entrapment of somebody else holding onto the purse strings, and that somebody else being a corporation, that is a pretty fucking hard line for you to have to endure. They are constantly on your back trying to alter your perceptions, saying “well you know I’m sure that this is a novelty of an original that will improve the whole world Johnny, but could you just write a pop song” (laughter). That really is the sort of scenario that you are faced with every day when you are dealing with a large label. The obvious answer is, “I have written many of them. Haven’t you been noticing that’s why I’m on your label” (laughter).

That is the kind of conversation that we no longer have to have anymore. We are our own bosses and God; we like it that way. Don’t get me wrong, whenever we are in the studio and something doesn’t feel right, then we will verbally tear into each other. Have no doubt about that. We have had many of those, get the hairs on your back bristling events (laughter) but God, they have been so overwhelmingly positive, the results of those confrontations. I feel that they are really necessary. It really is a difficult thing to create. It makes you hypersensitive, and so the slightest thing can set you off, dare I say someone not putting the toilet seat down or up, depending upon your motivations (laughter).

It is well known that you are a lover of all things Reggae, so I have to ask you, what did you think to a certain John Joseph Wardle’s (Jah Wobble) interpretation of PiL’s Metal Box which he released as Metal Box – Rebuilt In Dub?

(Hysterical laughter) why did he need to do that? That is my plain and simple question to John. It’s like, ‘haven’t you got anything of your own’ (laughter). John is my mate and I love him and all of that but, why would you want to imitate yourself?

I have to be totally honest with you and say that I personally think that it’s awful.

Don’t get me started as I’m most definitely not going there (laughter).

I can’t talk to you without mentioning the Sex Pistols and in particular the Danny Boyle Mini-series.

Okay, let’s try to put the elephant in the room to bed once and for all.

The Disney Corporation, Universal Music, Danny Boyle, and the other three remaining members of the Sex Pistols, they all knew about the mini-series. Why do you think that you were intentionally kept out of the loop and why they all conspired to keep you in the dark?

Honestly, I have absolutely no idea, but they all spent an awful lot of money to ensure that I would be kept out of this which resulted in a ridiculous court case, which I personally wasn’t seeking. The first time that I heard anything about the project was in January, and five days later it was being advertised all over the internet. They are all telling me that it is not about the Pistols, it is supposedly about Steve Jones, and yet in the publicity hype they are using a picture of me and Nora. They have continued to use my photos and my character in order to sell this piece of crap. But, during all of this, no one has made any kind of effort whatsoever, and up until this point I have not seen a script. I have not spoken to any of them, nothing has been shown to me, and nothing has been offered to be shown to me.

That kind of hatred and fear and a need for secrecy, really underpins the fact that this is a bad event all round. If you are going to ostracise from your lovely project the main man who wrote all of those songs for you, and then celebrate your big bad selves, then I think that you should be remembering the four years that you knew one another before you met me, when you did fuck all, and you have all done fuck all ever since (laughter). I am most shocked and disappointed with Danny Boyle, jumping on board, going along with that, keeping everything away from me nonsense. It appears that he was recruiting actors, writing scripts, planning the whole thing, all done without one word to me. And the fact that they could do that using the record company and Disney Corporations money, the whole operation was just a conniving contrivance.

It has been widely publicised that you lost the court case. Just what does that mean to you? How has in affected you?

Well, the end result of me losing the court case to The Disney Corporation is that the Sex Pistols have now turned into a Mickey Mouse Production. They all block vote me on everything, so quality, truth, details, facts, and respect for the audience; that has all gone out of the window. They are now on a mad dash campaign to sell everything, in whatever way that they can without any regard to quality or control. It is pretty damn reckless; it is very much like a runaway truck, and it is awful. Some of the products that they are connecting up with in the name of the Pistols, really are hideous. I would like yourself and everyone out there to know that I am no longer a part of this fiasco.

What was once great and good about the Sex Pistols, these fucking oafs have taken away. So, there is a deadline; when the hammer was dropped against me in court, from that day on, it ceased to be the Sex Pistols.

It is clear for everyone to see that you are angry, but when we think of John Lydon we automatically think of someone who is robust and who doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks. Has all of this hurt you?

Oh yes, very much, very much indeed particularly Mr Cook. He knew damn well just how ill my wife was and he has the nerve to come to PiL gigs. He could have told me about this at any point, and we could have sat down and had an open discussion. But instead of that they took the point of view of negativity against me because they all thought that anything that I might have to say would be judged as being destructive to the plan in hand. Well, if that is the case, and everything that I have ever done is destructive what the fuck are you dancing in it for then?

I interviewed Paul (Cook) on Tuesday 12th March 2020 and he stated categorically that he would never be involved with anything Pistol’s from that day forward and, as you know, I record all of my interviews.

(Hysterical laughter) well what can I say to that; hello (laughter). It’s very funny that considering that his name was on the court papers. He is most definitely one of the people who sued me. I think that declares rather wonderfully that is a good example of his true nature. It’s a horrible thing but these people can lie to your face, and they have absolutely no qualms about it.

Had you been approached in a correct and proper manner, and had been given more time to digest everything, would your response have been any different?

Well, who knows, it might have been a great project. At least it would have been truthful; I can guarantee you that if I had been a part of it. In fact, it might have been very, very, very excellent indeed. But they chose this avenue of subterfuge, and I can never forgive them for that. I will never forget it, because what they are currently playing for an audience is simply plain wrong. I can’t see it as anything less than a work of evil and Danny Boyle should know far better than that. It really does look badly on him, I think. I think that this project has put a really bad smear on him. If he wants to get into character development, and he is avoiding the main character then he is a fucking charlatan.

You have been quoted as saying that “the other members of the Sex Pistols are nothing more than deadwood.” Is that how you feel?

No as actually I have got a much better phrase for them, I now refer to them as, “rats sinking their own ship” as I feel that suits them far better don’t you (laughter).

You have mentioned that Glen (Matlock) did not sign the court papers. Can we read anything into that?

Yes, you can, that is Glen being as non-committal as ever. Glen is in it for the money and that’s all there is to it (laughter). For all of his socialism Glen is a very greedy boy. I don’t like to do character assassinations, but Glen never got over the fact that I said, “if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck” (laughter). Unfortunately, Glen took that personally.

Can you ever see a point in the future when you could reconcile the current situation?

The easy answer to that is no. The honest truth behind that answer is that I do not want to. They have now all gone from me and my life. They have ceased to exist by their own suicide. Don’t get me wrong, I truly wish that wasn’t the case, but it is, and that is never going to go away. They have done things that not only hurt me, but they have hurt my wife too.

Looking back, did you ever think that people would still be talking about the Sex Pistols; still buying the album some forty-five years later?

No, but I am so glad that they do (laughter). I don’t think that the bad attitude of these three should not really affect the pure honesty and content of that record. I really did put my heart and soul into it; in fact it was my mind and body actually. That album contains work that I am immensely proud of. I wrote those songs, and that is my imagery that is being used and I still have pure enjoyment in that. It is this modern re-writing of history is where it is going wrong. That does not take away from the true history no matter what their mockumentary purports; it will not be true, and I think that a lot of people will know that.

Can I honestly ask you a question, of course you’ve got great enjoyment out of the album, I do too, even now, but I honestly cannot say that I am listening to it because of the genius of Steve Jones, Paul Cook or Glen Matlock. And I say that in all honesty. Is that just a Johnny thing (laughter).

What I was going to say is that it still makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and I am sure that people in another forty-five years will still be listening to it.

Yes, they will because it is straight, bang, clear, dead ahead. It is good old-fashioned rock and roll exactly as it should be.

Putting you on the spot, when you joined the Sex Pistols, did you and Malcolm (McLaren) have the same agenda?

No, I had no clue as to what Malcolm’s agendas were and to be totally honest with you, I could not care less. I just thought that he was this freaky, undercurrents of gay suspect about him bloke, who wore fishnet tights over his leather pants (laughter). Malcolm really was a rather confused fella. Basically, he was, in all honesty, a bit of a coward who loved the celebration of chaos, just so long as he wasn’t going to be arrested for it. That is not me putting him down at all, that is fair play, and he would always run away from issues. That was the way that his nature was. I just think of him as being the bloke who borrowed us twenty-five quid so that we could go and play somewhere. That was the cost to hire a van and for us to drive up north (laughter).

I recently interviewed Midge Ure and he was telling me how Malcolm once tried to talk him into becoming the singer with the Sex Pistols whilst sitting in the back seat of a limousine that was being driven around Glasgow. Were you aware of that?

He most probably did (laughter). Firstly, Malcolm tried to replace me with himself; he even took singing lessons, which I found out about in a scurrilously sort way, through gossip and innuendos in his office. The staff in his office could not wait to tell me. That did not work out too well because he simply couldn’t commit to it. So yes, of course they were approaching other people; they really were furious at me (laughter). If you go back to the interviews at that time, all of them have adopted the attitude that I ruined the band. They would have been a really big supergroup but for me.

What were your aims and ambitions with the band?

Cor, at last (laughter). I had never thought of being in a band, ever, but I really did like writing and reading, and so by joining the Sex Pistols I got an outlet for my writing immediately. A button triggered in my head favourably like, ‘now you can write to this’ and let me tell you, that was much more fun. It made much more sense to me; my words were now blending with tones and sounds. That, to me, was thrilling in the extreme, that’s how I could write, and so that’s what I did. So, from that day on, I have expanded my knowledge in all directions.

I know that deep down you are a very private and personal person, but I have to ask you, are you still a rebel?

(Hysterical laughter) let me take a minute to remember that famous Marlon Brando line, ‘what have you got, well we can’t rebel against that then’ (laughter). Then you have the other kind, a rebel without a clue (laughter). Either of those two activities appeals to me. What I tend to do nowadays is to stand up for the people who are being treated unfairly, the disenfranchised. What makes me really angry is, whenever I see people being stolen from, or being treated wrongly or even being murdered, all of these things. As for, ‘oh look there is a demonstration on Saturday, let’s go and rebel’ then the answer is no (laughter).

I am like you; I try to help and assist those people who don’t have a voice.

There you go, bloody hell, if there is a God then he gave me the voice to do exactly that. I have always been a bit of a helper anyway, since I was well young, with my mum being ill all of the time. It was left to me to raise my brothers and get them off to school. I was doing that from five years old onwards. That is my natural way. I found that out incredibly early in my life, my role is one of a bit of a care giver. That is how I write, and that is why those lyrics are the way that they are. I don’t do it for rewards or gifts, or acknowledgement even; I don’t need these things, I simply get the personal enjoyment of knowing that I have managed to help someone who needs help and I think that comes over in all of my songs.

You have been quoted as saying that you feel guilty at bringing Sid (Vicious) into the Sex Pistols. Is that still the case and is there anything else which you regret?

No, there really is not anything else that I regret. I stressed the emphasis on Sid simply because I was asked at the time, and it ended up in a documentary. I didn’t quite understand that throwing Sid in at the deep end, the Sex Pistols were already an ongoing force at that time, just how hard on him that would be. The lad had a Cantiga album so I assumed that he could play (laughter). I should have found out differently before I bought him in the group. I really should have taken into account the pressure that he was under back then. I should also have taken into consideration that his mother was a registered heroin addict. I simply was not connecting the dots.

So yes, I do feel guilty about that, and I think that I was being selfish too. Looking back, I think that all that Sid was looking for was a friend in the band, and that was a situation which we didn’t have. Right from the start they were always, the lot of them, they were always against me. And that goes back before anything. I was always seen as this annoyance that Malcolm bought along. But, as I said earlier, they were going nowhere, and they have gone nowhere since. They don’t seem to understand that and that is a real shame

Do you ever regret not recording more material with the Sex Pistols?

I should have taken soft hammers with me into rehearsals (laughter). I honestly feel that would be the only way for me to get some common sense into them. It’s a joke but at the same time it is really sad. It’s like, ‘hang on, this bloke is actually doing something that is really good for you so get on with him’ (laughter). But not these oafs, they went off in the opposite direction, and that deep rooted and suspect jealousy really, is the bottom word on it, is so very hard to understand for me. I simply cannot comprehend people being so evil, but the sad truth of it is they are.

You say that you are writing every day. Is that where you find your enjoyment and satisfaction?

Yes, I do. Having said that, it is painfully fucking harsh on me sometimes, but you really have to get into the deep, dark, deep inside things that are really upsetting you. A lot of it is just all fluff, so you have to weed out the good from the bad. There are very few people that I have worked with, up until this current PiL line-up, who actually understood that. They are all like that with their own little areas too; I have converted them all into deep thinkers, and it just works better.

Is there another book inside you waiting to see the light of day?

Well, as long as I live, I will fucking carry on writing (laughter). And it is usually good enough to talk about (laughter). I can’t help that, my live is a natural fiasco really; it is full of difficulties, trials and tribulations. It is a bit of an endurance course really, again I use the term God, for want of a better term, the energy force. It’s like I’m being tested, just as I get myself comfortable and I am enjoying doing this, I think that I will sit outside on the lawn and write a song (laughter). That’s the day that a bomb will drop on the fucking house (laughter). There is something at the back of my mind that says, “don’t get out of your pram Mr Rotten” and I feel that has always been there (laughter).

Does living in Los Angeles suit you?

Yes, because all of those illness’ that I am very prone to, together with respiratory disease of any kind. It shocks me to tell you the truth that I didn’t contract Covid-19, I’m floored by that because the book tour alone, the amount of meet and greets and people running up and kissing me, sitting on my knee like Father Christmas, and I never caught anything. Well I am the most prone person that I know; I have had pneumonia, really serious attacks of bronchitis, and I will always get all of these things whilst I am in England, but I simply do not get them over here in LA LA land (laughter). I manage to maintain a good, natural, healthy life over here; I’m not suffering from mould in a basement (laughter).

Would you ever consider coming back to live in the UK?

Of course, but only when I tour (laughter). I would never come back to the UK to live, it’s changed, I think, for the worse. I simply do not recognise the inner-city anymore, I really don’t. I’m firmly with John Cleese on that, in that London doesn’t feel like London anymore. I don’t know what it feels like but it’s not working. It has become a very unpleasant knife fighting area filled with ludicrous drugs that do not work (laughter).

How would you like to be remembered?

I assume that you mean on my tomb stone, well that would have to be ‘not here’ (laughter) or better still ‘this space for rent’ (laughter).

I love the Spike Milligan one, ‘I told you I was ill’ (Laughter).

(Laughter) I like that but there is a W. C. Fields one which I absolutely love, it’s, ‘Thank God it’s not Philadelphia’ (laugher). That’s where he was from.

Now do forgive me, but I am going to quote your lyrics to you.

That is okay, go for it.

In Public Image you actually sing “I will not be treated as property.” However, in view of recent events do you still think that is the case?

Well, what can I say, that is the attempt. I am taking every possible opportunity to stop that, loud and clear. And thank God by talking to people like you I am being given that opportunity because quite frankly, I am up against several corporations that were all out to character assassinate me, in order to achieve their greedy ambitions and that is a difficult position to be in. I have to fight for myself here because things are already being twisted. I can see it happening already out there, by the corporate media. They are already spinning it into me being a self-pitying or whatever angle they want to use against actual reality.

And I have to be honest with you and say, “that is fucking hard to cope with” it really is. On top of being a full time carer for my wife, I have to struggle to keep the band going, I have to find new opportunities out there in order to do other things as well to maintain the lifestyle that Nora needs. Care giving is damn expensive and there isn’t any National Health out here. I get no help at all, so I have got to be able to help myself. The putdowns are already coming, and that is unfortunate. I think that the only way that they can promote this pseudo-documentary, mockumentary, whatever you want to call it, is to tell lies about me.

Are you watching it?

Yes, I am, I am watching it whilst going through it with a fine-tooth comb. It can’t be based on the truth simply because they have deliberately ignored me, as has been planned from day one of the project.

I personally do not know anyone who could take on The Disney Corporation and win.

You can’t, you really can’t. They have got several actions ongoing over here in America, in fact they have actions here in America all of the time actually.

The last time that I was over there in Florida, all of the staff were on strike because The Disney Corporation were refusing to hire gay people.

Well, that’s interesting because now they have gone the other way; they have gone completely woke, and they now want fifty percent of their cartoons to feature gay people specifically (laughter). When you start thinking about these swings of opinion, you have just ruined what life is all about. Diversity does not need orchestration from any corporation, diversity occurs naturally. I don’t want to see people employed in the future working with these kinds of statistics. One percent psychopaths, you have got to have them, handbag snatchers, there are plenty of them so what shall we say, twenty percent. We will have some of them in there on the board. And on and on and on you go.

It rapidly gets far too ridiculous, if you are qualified then that is all that should be needed. I have got to say that all of the voices that pushed for this are all now coming out of those universities, the ideology of a higher education and further education, has been swept aside, for some kind of Marxist, political manipulation. It is really all about destroying common sense and wrecking society. You know that I hate the system, but I want to repair it, fix it, make it better; I do not just want to outright destroy it. If you destroy it then you will end up as you do with all of these kinds of philosophies, with a guy like Putin in charge. And they are marching so readily, like lemmings to the cliff.

On that note John, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it been absolutely great, as usual. You stay safe and I will see you here in Nottingham.

That was, as usual, a really good chat Kevin, thanks for that. I really did enjoy it as you always manage to make me laugh. Make sure that you come and say hello when we get to Nottingham. Bye for now.