- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2003

Never say never again. . They’re words Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten (aka Johnny Lydon) should live by, but doesn’t. After the irascible singer swore off a Sex Pistols reunion — ever — the punk pioneers regrouped in 1996 for the Filthy Lucre Tour. Now at age 47, Rotten — who also spent 15 years in the post-punk quintet Public Image Ltd. (P.I.L.) — is back on the road with the Pistols for a 13-date U.S. tour, which kicked off Wednesday in Boston and arrives at the 9:30 Club tomorrow night.

This time, Rotten hasn’t ruled out another tour somewhere — possibly another seven years — down the road. When reminded that he’d be nearly old enough for early retirement in 2010, he responds with a hearty laugh: “Still younger than the Rolling Stones.”

Q: What’s going on with P.I.L.?

A: What’s that horrible word? In hiatus. It’s a thing that constantly changed its members over the years. People are now asking me if I’ll re-form it. I don’t see how. It’s too large a time scale and too varied in its works, but I’m at the moment in the middle of recording a solo record.

Q: Do you have a record label for it?

A: No. I don’t think I’m gonna use a label at all. … Record companies have never done me any favors — they never will.

Q: How would you distribute it?

A: Internet. All the saucy moves that the labels are against.

Q: Is it a good feeling knowing you’re not on a record label anymore?

A: Yes, it is. It’s freer. You don’t have that bind and that financial obligation. Everyone loves that first big advance, but then when you bother to find out that it’s all recoupable and you have to pay through the nose for every bit of promotion and you don’t have any choice in how they do that, what’s the point?

Q: How often do you speak with the other members of the Sex Pistols when you’re not touring?

A: Very rarely, ‘cause they travel around so much. Steve [Jones] when he’s in L.A. They’re all just as busy as me with their other projects. It’s like that.

Q: Are you on speaking terms?

A: Yeah, always will be. We row and argue all the time, but that’s not in a destructive way. That’s problem-solving. That’s something I think America should understand. That’s how English people are.

Q: How often do you practice?

A: Well, as soon as they get here.

Q: Are you excited for the tour?

A: Well, it’s been bloody hard work putting it together — raising the money for it. Yeah, I’ll say.

Q: Harder than putting together the Filthy Lucre tour?

A: It’s harder to raise than say a Public Image tour, because there’s a complete lack of sponsorship. None at all. No label, so it’s all digging into our own pockets. But it’s always been like that with the Pistols.

Q: What can we expect to see on this tour that we didn’t on the ‘96 tour?

A: Different clothes? I don’t know. It depends what you’re looking at. Who knows. If you recognize just one song from the way we play, good.

Q: Can I ask your opinion on some current punk bands?

A: Nah, why bother?

Q: Are there any bands out there you’re enjoying now?

A: Probably. (Pause) I’m in the middle of recording and getting ready for this tour. When I’m doing that, I don’t listen to anyone. I don’t listen to any music at all, because I don’t want it to get into what I’m thinking. When I write, it’s about how I feel, and that has to stay honest. Either way, the more I deprive myself of influence, the more honest it is and the harder I strive.

Q: Is there anyone working on this record we’d know?

A: There will be. A guy called Nick Launay, he’s a producer. Well, he’s a great friend of mine, and we worked together years ago on [P.I.L.s 1981] “Flowers of Romance” album and, well, we just get on [well]. He understands things exactly the same as I do. Musicianship is a waste of time. Absolutely. If you haven’t got the drama or the dynamics and the content, don’t bother. Just don’t bother.

Q: When do you expect the solo record to come out?

A: After this tour. And I will take that out loud but in a completely different way. It isn’t like a rock band thing. It’ll be more like deejay-oriented, I suppose, for want of a better term.

Q: Why didn’t the Sex Pistols ever record another record?

A: No need. [Weve been] too long apart to try to pick up some of those pieces, and the big feel with all of us is we’d end up imitating ourselves. If we did anything, it would have to be completely on the money as of right now. Audiences either like you or hate you, but the biggest problem is they’d compare it immediately to the first album [“Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols”]. Why bother with it?

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