Nearly 40 years after the Sex Pistols’ first began transforming music forever, Johnny Rotten is still not ready to calm down: There's the release of his memoir Anger is an Energy, the upcoming recording of a new album with PIL and a concert at London’s O2 arena in December.
In between two book signings across the UK, the 58-year-old punk, who's given name is John Lydon, agreed to answer questions by The Guardian’s readers in a webchat today. Not surprisingly, it was not boring — if not always linear — covering everything from British politics, rival bands and bacon sandwiches, here are Rotten's best responses.
1. “Keith Larkworthy”: Hello John. Ever thought of getting into politics and shaking up Westminster?
Johnny Rotten: This is constantly suggested to me. I suggest everybody votes, everybody should try to make the best of a bad situation, and for me, I despise the entire shitstem because it is corrupt, but that corruption has only come about because of the indolence of us as a population. I'd get into Westminster if I need a new apartment.
2. “HerbGuardian”: What’s your opinion of UKIP (Britain's far-right party)?
A black hole for the ignorant to fall into. That's it. Farage? I wonder what the roots of that name are. I think he's faragical.
3. “whiteyed”: Pistols or the Clash. Whose legacy has the greater cultural value?
Nobody gives a toss about The Clash. In the beginning, there was the Sex Pistols. Then there's PIL. The Public Image Limited.
4. “WakeUpArgh”: Why do you think there’s no voice of rebellion in music anymore?
Since the demise of record stores and corner shops, the social aspect of music and in particular live venues being reduced in numbers — clubs vanishing — communication has been reduced to the all glorious failure of the international highway of truth we now know as the Internet. Impersonal. Does not solve the problems that are so deeply personal. Hello human beings.
5. “Golub2”: Youth today? Are they as clever, as angry and as talented as youth of the 70s? Your sweeping generalizations are sought and respected. Thanks.
The youth of today have every possibility as being as smart or a stupid as the youth of past. So long as you remove Russell Brand from the agenda. I think he's absolutely clarified himself as arsehole number one. It's not funny to talk nonsense. I think his words are the words of somebody else. Misconstrued.
6. “bootlegtape”: Vinyl, CDs or downloads, which do you prefer?
Vinyl firstly, CDs secondly, downloads are utterly hopeless. You are not getting the correct signal. You're not getting the full sound. It's like comparing a Polaroid to High Definition films.
7. “wed1964”: What are you spiritual beliefs? You seem to be a very devoted and loyal individual especially regarding marriage, family, and friends.
I like lime-flavored yogurt. The end. There is no religion. It's a manmade fabrication. Once you understand that, you'll be a happier individual. Atheism is as pointless as Satanism.
8. “Uncannyvalley”: Are you afraid of death?
Yes. Looking forward to it also. It's every person's ultimate condition. So I'm in no rush!!! I have no proof of the afterlife. And therefore wait and see. I had one near death experience in my life — I was in a coma for four months. I'm in no rush to repeat it. There were no “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, there was no tunnel with the light at the end of it. There were no happy faces floating on clouds. But there was me in agony, which, in the long run, is currently preferable.
Public Image Limited in March 2013 — Photo: Sunshine/Xinhua/ZUMA
9. “Jai R. Emmett”: Are there any plans to release rare live or studio stuff in the future, especially from the “Metal box” era??
In two weeks’ time, I return to that bastion of conservative thinking called The Cotswolds to bring out a new album with PIL. It will be fun to share a field with freezing cold sheep. I will also in the very near future (Dec. 13) be performing live at the Indigo O2 London. Your question to me sounds like you are less interested in genuine music rather than from a collectors perspective, which I always find dubious. If you just seek rare, you're probably providing Ebola eventually. We hope. Not. But. Then. Again....
10. “Jay Love”: Bacon butty — tomato ketchup or brown sauce? Bread or toast?
All of the above. And a cup of tea. Brewed so thick you could trot a horse over it. No sugar, skimmed milk.
Here's the full Guardian chat.
And if that's not enough, here is an interview Rotten gave in 1978 to the British journalist Janet Street-Porter, in which he is surprisingly amiable — maybe it was the proper top hat.