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John Lydon Huddersfield Examiner exclusive: ‘Every day I’m alive is a reward’

Love him, loathe him, you certainly can’t ignore him – John Lydon speaks EXCLUSIVELY to the Examiner

Public Image Ltd. From left : Bruce Smith, Scott Firth, John Lydon and Lu Edmonds

He caused anarchy in the UK.

And the fire is still in no danger of dying down in the belly of Public Image Ltd (PiL) and ex-Sex Pistols front man John Lydon, who is burning with the same raw political passion 41 years on since he burst onto the music scene.

But he says it is love not hatred that has propelled his work, which had a massive influence on both the punk and post-punk scenes, and brought him and the rest of the Sex Pistols to Huddersfield to play their last ever original UK gig in Huddersfield for striking firefighters.

“It’s going left,” said John, deadpan, speaking from his Los Angeles home.

Now 60, he is getting ready to embark on a European tour with PiL, which will sweep into Holmfirth Picturedrome on June 8 to showcase the band’s latest album, 2015’s What The World Needs Now.

“It’s a stunning piece of music,” he said, candidly.

“It’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time because I’ve been able to keep this band line up together (John, Lu Edmonds, Scott Firth and Bruce Smith) for two albums now.

“It’s because we formed our own label, PiL Official Ltd.

“It’s done wonders for our creativity that the corporations didn’t.

“The problem for bands these days is what I called the s**tstem, which refers to when record labels start demanding things from you that are not in your heart and soul.

“I can see how people fall into that but I’ve steered clear of that.

“Managers said that I’m difficult to get on with.

Public Image Ltd. From left : Bruce Smith, John Lydon, Scott Firth and Lu Edmonds

“But it’s because there’s no obvious to expect from me, so they got disappointed when they didn’t get it. I’ve stuck to my guns, I know what I do is right and healthy, there’s no contempt or hatred, there’s nothing but love in what I do.”

Broken toilet arguments, Donald Trump and admiration for women are all given the Lydon treatment.

“What the world needs is the album,” said John.

“When I wrote Corporate I had Donald Trump in mind.

“I think politicians are being found out but business men are not the answer. It’s just replacing one bad with another.

“But every song I write has many messages.

“I just speak from personal experiences.

“Betty Paige is about my admiration of all females.

“She managed to fight her way through with great dignity and she was just someone who stands up equal.

“Double Trouble is based on a real argument Nora (John’s wife) and I had over a bust toilet.

“We just argue full on about things because it stops things from getting more serious.

“We reached a happy conclusion and the song really makes us laugh because it shows how silly we can be as people and confirms what is really important in life.”

He talked about the upcoming tour.

“We completely rely on live performance.

“I don’t view playing in England as coming back. I travel relentlessly and view the world as one nation.

“People are people and language barriers are quickly overcome. Having nations just leads to war.”

Talking about Holmfirth, he said: “I’m always excited to play in completely different environments with a completely different approach.”

The Sex Pistols’ last UK gigs before they split (one to children and an evening adults set) were played in Huddersfield on Christmas Day at Ivanhoe’s on Manchester Road, surely one of the most momentous music events ever held in the town.

“I remember much of it very well.

“We just did our bit to help people in the way that we could.

“It was good that the last one (gig) because we were playing to the children.

“That was superb because at a time when the parents of Blighty were condemning me as foul-mouthed, the kids connected with me.

I do think I’d have made the best King Herod there ever was

“Now I’m finding the older lot are beginning to pay attention to me too.”

One of John’s most maverick recent projects outside of PiL was his planned role in an outlandish stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar 2014, which was cancelled a week before it opened when financial backers dropped out.

“What a nightmare failure they became. It doesn’t make any sense why they did it.

“It was a great production and I found it amazing having to learn how to dance and follow instructions.

“I do think I’d have made the best King Herod there ever was.”

Last year John published his autobiography, Anger is an Energy.

In it, he laid bare details about contracting meningitis at seven which kept him in a coma for a year.

“I think it’s important that a part of my life I’d not talked about before is discussed so people realised what really matters to me,” John said.

“It took me four years to find myself again but it wasn’t a bad thing because it gave me strength in character.

“Surviving something like that has made me proud of myself because it showed that I’m stronger than I think.

“It leaves serious physical problems but my mentality feels razor sharp.

John Lydon performing with Public Image Ltd (PIL) on the third night of their seven date reunion tour at the O2 Academy, Glasgow, 18th December 2009

“My words could cut beards.”

John expects a documentary about the last five years of PiL to come out later this year.

“It’s being made by a close friend of ours who has followed us.

“It’s been very hard for him to condense everything but if he doesn’t manage to do it this year though he’ll only have another year of footage to squeeze in.”

He has also got plans to get more PiL records released.

“It’s early days yet but we’ll look at recording a new album.

“I’m never going to run out of ideas as long as humans are around.

“If I can make music for another 60 years that would be a good achievement.

“But every day I’m alive is a reward.”

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