How did you develop your own vocal style? That began the first day I joined the Pistols. Up until that point I’d never sung ever. Because I was sent to Catholic school, and I was well aware that if I had a voice, I’d be put in the choir, and the priests would have access to me. And as young children, we were terrified of the priest; there was a great evil that, in many ways, crushed the idea of me being able to sing. But I found a way out of it, and that was the Sex Pistols. Isn’t that funny? So in many ways, I could say that the Devil made me do it!
From the Pistols to PiL, where have your songs come from? I am a problem solver; if I feel that there’s a situation that needs resolving, I will write about it, regardless of the consequences. I cannot help it if people are morally offended by what I do. They have every right not to listen. I will not take any man, woman, or institution or government judging me wrongly. And these are freedoms that I’ve hard fought for and intend to maintain. Alright? As a young man, my songs were discussed under the Traitors and Treasons Act in Britain, in Parliament, which carried a death penalty — and I’m still here. Alright? So I’m not your average crap punk band from New York! [Laughs.] I’m the real deal!
What are your thoughts on the recent Pussy Riot trial? I don’t know the situation, I’m not in Russia, but good luck to them. That said, they picked the wrong targets. Oddly enough, the Russian Orthodox church is a thing that went against the Communism that they’ve had to endure. It’s a force of unity in a country that’s dissipating. So it was naive, you have to know clearly what the correct targets are, or you’re gonna end up in a muddle like that. For me, every single word I use, I use clearly, so there would be none of that misinterpretation. Saying that, I’m still running a fine line!
How does it feel to be operating as a musician in this time of industry freefall? Well, I’ve never been nice about record labels, and I never expected decent behavior from them — so I’m glad to be free now. Because I’m not one of those people that hopes I die before I get old. I’m going to go on forever, and I really hope that annoys a hell of a lot of people! The longer I live the more there is to annoy, and I do it quite innocently, you know? God just made some of us a little bit different.
Your new album seems to have really moved away from the punk world that you are mostly known for. Oh, we’re far larger than that, but most music critics aren’t smart enough or wise enough to catch what’s going on in the world, and they limit us to their narrow scope, which is really unfair. But we’re just trying to get America to listen, you know? We need to start getting some bums on seats, because we’re probably the best live band you’ll ever see ever, in your entire life. And this goes beyond mere music, this is high drama. When we hit a stage, it becomes something else. You are completely immersed in it with us. We will free your soul, and there’s no two ways about it, that’s what PiL does.