John Lydon boosts his Public Image with new album

Fri May 25, 2012 6:00am EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As bad boy lead singer of the anarchic, trail-blazing and short-lived 1970s punk band the Sex Pistols, John Lydon (then Johnny Rotten) snarled and spat his way across a shocked society and music scene still pleasantly half-high from the mellow 1960s.

Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Lydon left the Pistols in 1978 to form the more experimental - if less commercially successful - Public Image Ltd., and for the next 15 years the band's shifting lineup released a dozen albums and toured the world.

PiL finally sputtered out in 1993, but now Lydon has revived the band, and he talked to Reuters about their new album, ‘This is PiL,' their tour and how butter changed his life.

Q: It's been 20 years since the last PiL album. Why did it take you so long?

A: "Not my choice. The record company and contract obligations kept me in a state of non-recoupment and I had to outwait them. It was a very difficult time for me, almost like a state of mental starvation. You're gagging at the bit to work, and music's my life. But I found that the law worked against me, all the corporations and accountants. So I had a very negative view of business-as-usual."

Q: So what changed?

A: "Three years ago a British butter company approached me with the wonderfully loony idea of me promoting butter (laughs). How brilliant, I thought! Insane, right? Not bonkers money, but it got me working again. And I found everyone involved to be so honorable and decent that I was thrilled. And with that money, I put the band back together."

Q: Were you a bit rusty, despite all the butter?   Continued...

John Lydon of Public Image Ltd. performs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California April 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni