What I love about In Sixty is that it offers me the opportunity to really explore the history of an artist…with the artist. I’m not bound to just talk about whatever they are currently promoting, which is rare, and the hope is to try and understand who the guest really is, by exploring where they have been. For this chat with John Lydon, AKA Johnny Rotten, obviously part of his story I wanted to explore was The Sex Pistols. I mean how could I not discuss the Sex Pistols with Johnny Rotten right? Well, literally 2 minutes before the interview starts John is on the patio having a smoke and a Corona with his manager Rambo (a little more 60’s London mobster than 80’s US action hero) and I pop out to introduce myself. Within seconds I’m informed (in a charming/brooding British accent) that there will be no Sex Pistols talk. WHAT!? My mind is racing and all I can think to respond with is “really!?” They reiterate that Pistols is the past, PiL (Public Image Ltd) is the now and the future. You have to understand how much this is fucking with my head in the moment. I’ve memorized almost an hour worth of questions and topics that I have spent 3 straight days preparing; one topic naturally flows into the next, I can’t get to PiL without starting with the Pistols, and now standing there staring at these 2 guys I realize that all of that is going out the window. I look at John, defeated, and say “If that’s what you want man” to which he replies (say this with your meanest British snarl) “That’s what I want”. With that he marches in to start the interview, I stand there trying to come up with a plan b in my head and figure out how I’m going to help tell the story of John Lydon without mentioning Johnny Rotten, when a little cockney angel whispers in my ear “look mate, if he naturally goes into it…go with it”. Rambo knew what he was talking about and when John naturally went into The Sex Pistols I pounced, but I will say that this was the most challenging interview of my life because John isn’t the type of person to wait for my questions to give an answer. He jumped form topic to topic and from year to year, and it was my job to just try and keep up.
John Lydon has a reputation for being difficult, confrontational, and bitter, and he may very well be all of those things from time to time but I think more than that he is honest, and might be one of the only artists in music who really has it figured out. He hasn’t lost himself to drugs, alcohol, and the pursuit of fame or any of the trappings that litters the biography pages of every rock star you know. Above and beyond everything else he’s happy with life, with the decisions he has made, and who he is. He’s a grandfather, a husband, an artist, and one of the last ounces of true integrity in music in my opinion. Everything you have come to believe about punk or the silly notion of selling out is not the punk that John Lydon helped create, it’s just a newer version that Lydon doesn’t connect with (don’t even get him started on Green Day). That moment in music is long gone for Lydon, but that moment has played a major role in the music we listen to today but more importantly in his life. Without the Sex Pistols there would be no PiL and without PiL John Lydon would be a very different John. How could we not talk about The Sex Pistols?! Thank God/Rambo he decided to naturally go into it because I was going to ask anyway and my guess is this would have been a very different interview.
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