John Lydon interview

John Lydon gives his punk opinions on politics, music & society


John Lydon interview


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Barnaby Dracup interviews John Lydon for CALIBRE Magazine

Q: What do you believe is the most punk thing you’ve ever done?

A: “Fucking butter! Without a doubt!” Says Mr Lydon, leaning back with a laugh. “What an insane thing that was to ask us – I mean it was a puzzlement. What on earth were they thinking? I thought, ‘Well, this is a trick isn’t it? It’s a trap. It must be because it’s so obviously wrong’. But it worked!“They asked this particular individual to help save an industry really, and it worked, we made it work. 

“I wasn’t selling Tampaxes, although I’ve got some really manly purposes for them! They can solve all manner of issues on stage. But, they were great and said, ‘You can do what you want John, we trust you’. So, I never looked back and I was treated with great respect, far more than in any other industry I’ve worked in. The money wasn’t fabulous but it gave me a chance to get my band back together, which I had been striving for, for an awful long time – so thankyou British dairy industry!”

Q: You live in the States now, but do you ever vote when back in Britain, such as in the EU referendum?

A: “No, I couldn’t see a reason for it, it seemed like a trick – I mean what the fuck’s going to change here? Where’s the industry gone? Nobody wants to do anything here. We’ve just toured the UK and we’ve been through towns like Middlesborough and Sunderland and they’re destroyed – it’s like the North is being slowly eradicated. 

“People are very, very despondent. That’s not the energetic Britain I’m all about. But, who does it matter who you vote for anymore?”

Q: What do you think politics is about these days?

A: “I think it’s all about business investment. There’s a contrivance in it. Look at the referendum: ‘independence’. Britain’s always been independent. It’s never blended into Europe, not at all.”

Q: Who do you consider to be the worst government in your history?

A: “Anything Conservative – and of course that includes Tony Blair! He was never, ever Labour. Look at Boris – he needs a clown car! But they do this act on purpose, it’s simple and plain ‘confusionism’ to deflect you away from their real agenda.”

Q: What’s your opinion on the American style of politics and people such as Donald Trump?

A: “I think that money buys all and he’s bought his way into a nomination – but he’s slowly and surely destroying the Republican party. Which is a majorly good thing in my humble opinion!“Trump’s ego is what’s driving him, but he’ll find very quickly that it doesn’t matter who’s president in America, you’re not gonna change the ‘shitstem’.

“They don’t have a ‘real’ political system over there, it’s not equal and it’s not fair. There’s no real democracy.”

Q: Speaking of politics, do you think the younger generations are ‘dumbed down’ at all, today?

A: “They’ve done it to themselves, they really have. Just this gullibility to believe anything that’s handed down to them. I especially see it in the universities when we play there, just this willingness to accept anything from the Left as factual, and that seems just ridiculous to me because there’s so much foolishness that comes out of the Left, all this aspect of ‘moral ownership’.”

Q: Do you think this polarization of political discourse into Left and Right paradigms is a control mechanism?

A: “No, I would say it is a hate mechanism. It’s purposeful separation, and then a lack of obligation. This extreme non-activity by politicians, in engaging the public, is so that the public give-up trying.”

Q: There was an old rumour that you were up for an MBE. Would you accept one?

A: “No, I’m not in the market for one of them. I don’t like that accolade/award system – it separates you from other human beings. What does it do anyway? It gives Mr Geldof and Mr Farage the right to flounce up and down the River Thames spouting a load of nonsense at each other like they did. Trading insults like a couple of worn-out pirates!”

Q: One example of our farcical politics!

A: “It’s insane, it’s like a Carry-On movie, a fiasco. I think what it does is damage a perfectly decent chance to have a proper discussion on things. But, the clowns have gotten in and the lunatics are running the asylum. There’s not really a way of taking that back now – something major’s got to happen. 

“Something major will happen, something catastrophic, and it will force people to wake up to reality. It’s almost like walking into a coma, walking into England at the moment.”

Q: Do you envisage a 1984-type future?

A: “Yes! You think Orwell, don’t you? But that has some seriously grim scenarios attached to it. We haven’t got that grimness yet – but it’s coming.”

Q: Is foul language in the ear of the beholder?

A: “Some of the most foul language I’ve read doesn’t even include any naughty words – it’s usually in the Daily Mail, or the Daily Express. And we all know what The Sun got up to. Never forgiven ‘em for that football disaster – that was evil writing. 

“It was really, really evil and burying the police’s activity? Now that’s criminal. And here I am, a filthy, foul-mouthed punk – now you tell me who’s right or wrong?”