John Lydon says bright sunshine makes it impossible to be angry and tells how upcoming PiL music was inspired by plumbing
Sex Pistol John Lydon says the punk movement could never have come out of Los Angeles – because the weather is too good to get really angry.
And the former Johnny Rotten reveals that when he gets back to work on the new Public Image Limited album, the songs he records will have been inspired by plumbing.
Lydon, who’s been a resident of California for two decades, tells the LA Times: “When the sun comes out everybody’s happy, and that’s it. It’s pretty hard, when it’s 90 degrees at eight in the evening, to put on your rebellious punk rock gladrags and start demonstrating in your studded leather jacket. You’d die of heat exhaustion.”
The frontman reactivated PiL in 2009, but work on a new album was put on hold when his step-daughter Ari Up died of cancer in October. Lydon says his place is to support his grieving wife, and it would be “selfish” to disappear into the studio when he’s needed elsewhere.
But when work does recommence, he’ll be developing songs fashioned from noises generated during his home improvement tasks.
Lydon says: “Anything that creates sound is a good thing. Your house is full of that kind of stuff – particularly if you do your own plumbing. You’re not short for tunes. I’ve made sounds out of toilet bowls.
“One of my best plumbing activities was that I installed a toilet from start to finish on my own. But I tell you, no song came out of that – inspiration was lacking and practicality won the day.”
Over the years he feels he’s refined his approach to songwriting and he’s now very clear on what constitutes a PiL piece: “It has to be about something, a set of emotions first. The sounds have to accommodate the philosophy therein. For me, the word is more important than the tune.
“Sometimes I love to format and write a first chorus – you can say a lot in a good pop song. But I also love cacophony because sometimes there are emotions that trigger that kind of environment.
“There are many ways to write a song, but sitting down at a table and writing is not one of them.”