Where are you from?
Describe your style in 3 words
Integrity, empathy, love.
How important is identity? Finding a voice in life?
It's very important, but what does identity mean? A lot of kids don't seem to go through anything that opens their eyes to the bigger potentials that the world offers. They tend to get absorbed in a fashion movement, and just stick with what everybody else is wearing. Dictated to by their fellow peers. That's incredibly unhealthy to me.
The other way, of course, is just be an oddball for the sake of it. That's equally awful, and pretentious. There's something in between those two extremes, where you just do what you think is right, and you wear what you like. You find yourself in that.
Sometimes our differences are what makes us. That's what brings us together, our differences.
Can music change things?
I would hope so. It's certainly helping me change for the better. As the years go by I find I'm slowly becoming the person that I want to be. I become more and more open, and realise just how many closed doors I had in my mind, even to myself.
That's what music does. It gives me that area of exploration where I can punish myself with songs, and find instant relief in that. Also, I can punish others I think are way wrong too.
What inspires your lyrics?
It's to tell it as honestly as I can. These are my life experiences, my songs. Sometimes a subject matter is involving other people, but I'm really seeing it with a sense of empathy through my own eyes. I'm trying to be an open book. There it goes. That's what I love about literature, the open-mindedness of very good writers.
Do you set out to be rebellious?
I'm an accidental rebel. I just see things should be cleared up, and spoken honestly and openly. That's really not very fashionable. I understand, but it's my way. That's the only way it's ever going to be with me. Is to tell it as it is.
Are intensity and a gang mentality crucial to any really good band?
Yeah, Viking raiding party with better hair-dos.
For me, with the last two PiL albums, I've finally come into my ‘Rosebud' period, really f***ing most excellently. I love the way we view each other. Know each other so intensely, and show so much respect for each other to the point where we're constantly teasing, and edging, and pushing each other into new and more interesting directions. It's amazing the whole ability. They forced me into it really, just by their sheer activity, musically. I'm finding notes, and singing, in ways I never thought possible before.
Anything you miss about Britain?
No, because it still exists inside me. No matter where I am geographically, that's it. That's my mindset.
I think in a British way, analytical. I want the facts, please. I don't follow no one blindly.
Read the full unabridged interview in the Further Reading section below.
John Lydon is perhaps best known as the lead singer of the iconic and disruptive punk band, The Sex Pistols. Performing under the name Johnny Rotten he influenced a generation of British youth - with his brutally honest and incisive commentary on 1970s Britain. His personal style, wit and persona have continued to influence generations of British musicians to this day.
With PiL (Public Image Ltd) - John eschewed both the traditional music industry fascination with media fame and record company obsession with 'the format,' to create his unique vision of what a band could be.
Not content with revolutionising British music once, PiL’s 1979 album ‘Metal Box’ is credited with creating another seismic shift in music. A piece of work that many artists are still trying to catch up with almost four decades later.
Famously outspoken and honest, John Lydon has collated 40 years worth of songwriting and artwork into a new limited edition book titled 'Mr Rotten's Songbook'. Limited to only 1000 copies and available to pre-order.