Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lost Welsh Sex Pistols Interview

The Welsh music magazine graveyard is densely populated. One of my favourite extinct mags is Buzz (1977). Published in Penarth, it specialised in rock music - the hairy variety. It cost 10p. During its brief life the Sex Pistols turned up to play in Caerphilly. Buzz grudgingly covered the punk gig - though you get the feeling they would rather have been at a Sensational Alex Harvey Band concert instead. But credit where it's due, they managed to speak to John Lydon and Paul Cook. So here it is - the lost Welsh Sex Pistols interview:


One cold Tuesday evening last December, the Anarchy in the UK tour consisting of the Sex Pistols, the Clash and Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers came to the Castle Cinema, Caerphilly. Inside the cinema were several TV crews and dozens of newspaper reporters, outside were over 300 people singing carols in protest at the concert, large numbers of police and almost 100 kids who had come to look at the whole spectacle. During the six hours we were at the Castle we recorded over an hour's worth of conversation with various parties; for our part we're not going to pass an opinion on the concert except to say that we didn't enjoy the music - the rest is up to you.

Scene: Johnny Rotten, Sex Pistols' vocalist, and Paul Cook, drummer, before the start of the concert.

BUZZ: How do you feel about all this? (pointing towards carol singers).
JR: Well I'm just surprised that so many grown-up adults can behave so ludicrously childish. Don't they know their papers tell lies, I don't think they do - they live in a twilight zone. That's alright, they can be happy in their own way, but I don't think they've got the right to interrupt my way; each to his own, God loves all kinds.
BUZZ: That's the only reason that these council officials want to stop this? I mean, they just don't know.
JR: No, it's probably because they don't offer the young generation of Caerphilly anything. They offer them nothing and along comes an alternative and it makes them look foolish. While they've been in office they've done sweet FA for anybody except themselves. There are people getting blown up and they have the nerve to come and complain about this - ridiculous.
BUZZ: How do you feel about the reaction you've had from the national and musical press?
JR: I don't really care what they get up to. I mean, I've known for years that the national press is squalid and that any cheap rumour - they just love it. Yes, and the music press is even worse. Hypocrisy? They live for it. Well good luck to them, that's fine, they can play their games all day and night. It's when people start taking notice of them it becomes offensive.
BUZZ: How about the Bill Grundy affair?
PC: We just done it on the spur of the moment, it wasn't premeditated or anything it just happened, you know? We forgot about it the next day, but I couldn't believe it when I woke up.
BUZZ: Does the fact that a lot of universities, who are supposedly open-minded people, pulled out of dates surprise you?
JR: Oh no, universities have proved to be the worst. They went on about us being fascist and rubbish like that. Students have proved that they're not open-minded, they've got closed minds; they're a closed shop.
BUZZ: Do you think of yourselves as part of a passing phase?
PC: People can say that - we're not worried, we're not in it to make thousands of pounds, we're just in it 'cos we wanna do it and we're doin' what we wanna do.
BUZZ: Where do you get your roots from as a rock band?
JR: Just basic honesty. There's been no honest bands for years, it's all big moguls and twenty thousand tons of equipment.
BUZZ: What do you think of Clapton and Townshend?
PC: They're finished.
BUZZ: Some bands are doing things by Townshend, things like Substitute for instance.
PC: Yeah, it was alright then.
BUZZ: You think they should have packed it in then?
JR: No, they could have have carried on but they just covered it up in bullshit and hype. They became out of touch, and you can't like go up to Pete Townshend and say "Hello Pete", he's become distant, he's not even a human being anymore. I doubt if it's him on stage, he's like a puppet in the distance.
BUZZ: Do you think there's a lot of snobbery in rock music?
JR: Yeah, there has been for centuries. Some of the biggest snobs are rock musicians.
BUZZ: Is it all that important that you can play really good music?
JR: No, I don't think it's essential, it's your attitude that counts. If you can express something to someone, that's it, you've got it.

BUZZ: How do you feel about the concert?
AW: It's proved the Council and the people wrong. I don't know what they were expecting, I mean, I've seen the band before, I know they're just a rock band. I think Caerphilly will be exactly the same tomorrow morning; nobody will be fallen dead in the street, the town won't be running amok with lewdity and things.

BUZZ: What made you come to see the band? Have you seen them before?
Fan: No, I read about them in Melody Maker and all that. I thought they were right in what they say in that Zeppelin, the Stones and all that have come to be gods. They come here for two tours, they have all their money and big mansions, they're out of touch with the basics, and that's what this group's all about.

Only 60 people attended the concert and the police who were out in force had more trouble with onlookers than the real fans. The following day all the local papers and television reports declared that the evening had been a success for the carol singers. I'm more inclined to leave the last word with Johnny Rotten: "Ignorance is the greatest enemy."

Note: All conversations printed word for word. There has been no censorship whatsoever.

*The above interview by Bob Priddle is taken from Buzz (Issue 2) February 1977. The magazine was co-edited by Bob Priddle and Steve Rees. Thanks to Bob for the additional information.