THE OLD adage states ‘Honesty is the best policy’.

If you ever thought about telling a lie as you believed it would be easier than telling the truth in front of one iconic pop star you would be in trouble- big trouble.

The person in question is John Lydon, lead singer of PiL, as he believes honest is not ONLY the best policy but the one you should buy into.

As an individual, he demands honesty from everyone he meets as he himself is an honest man.

I can write ‘John Lydon is an honest man’ as I asked him what he thought about this statement and why it was true.

His replied: “Ha, ha, first question of the day and you start with that.

"I think it should be he tries to be an honest man, as I am not perfect. This all comes directly from my childhood illness when I had meningitis.

I was in hospital for a year and even went into a coma.

"When I lost my memory I had to learn to read and write again.

"I used to look at the words and was fascinated by their shapes and the structure.

"Then I saw newspapers and they had words and pictures and it all fitted together.

"So when I was 8-12 years old I would spend all my time in the library and this helped me no end.

“Libraries are for everyone from every walk of life.

"They might seem cold places but they are full of warmth and are social centres. I would read everything like Charles Dickens.

"I cannot rely on the Internet. If I see an interview and there is a misquote then I can go to my books (he has a large library collection of books) and check it up and know I was right.

“When I came out of hospital, I had lost my memory for the past four years so I had to trust what people were telling me.

“I now demand that trust and honesty and some people see it as being unrealistic.

“But I have to have that security.”

Yeovil Express:

Many will know John Lydon as Johnny Rotten, the lead singer of the foremost British punk band The Sex Pistols.

As far as John is concerned there is no difference between the two-they are one, they are the same.

As John said: “They are the same person. I have to tell it on my own terms.

“If I was not doing this I would be doing something else like being a politician.”

Thankfully for all music lovers, John did not become a political figure but concentrated on music.

The music he has been involved with has been part of the musical maze and soundtrack to many generations lives.

Be it with The Sex Pistols and songs such as Anarchy in the UK, God Save the Queen or Holiday in the Sun to Public Image Limited (PiL) and Rise, This is not a love song, Public Image, Poptones and Low Life to name but a few.

Where as the Sex Pistols were only a group for three years 1975-1978, PiL in its various incarnations have been a musical force for 40 years.

The one constant factor in the history of PiL has been its lead singer and tour de force, John Lydon.

For many people he represents trouble, he is an anarchist, he talks too much and has views which they do not agree with, but as you have read he is honest and true.

He ‘tells it as it is’, ‘calls it as he sees it’, and is ‘a musical icon’.

Few can lay claim to being an icon, but John Lydon or Johnny Rotten, which ever name you use, is an icon who stands tall and proud no matter what.

Yeovil Express:

Asked how much he thought Pil had achieved, John said: “Nowhere near enough, has it only been 40 years?

“I would need another 40 years.

I don’t feel I am slowing down, I am learning more and more, it is all the more intriguing.

"I do not think if we have done that (reached their peak) we are always looking forward to do something greater.

"We need a driving force to get us to that place, the Garden of Eden and kill that snake and claim back what is ours.

"The creative process for me is always a buzzing rush.

"I am out of control, I can’t control the energy it is like Robin Williams gone mad. It is frightening and I have got no reign when it happens.

"I have to write and it all comes out and I write it down and it is called a song.

"Combining words and music is somewhere close to the truth and then if you include art on top of this then it is a three prong attack. What you want is an honesty-a truth deluge.

"I am not perfect but I am an honest human being and it is very demanding on me as I am on others.

“But this is the only way I know and I do not live life in a comfort zone or at ease.

I am uncomfortable being comfortable. I am the kind of bloke who doesn’t like depression.

"There are moments of sadness in our lives but that is our bodies way of telling us we need to re-charge and our bodies are linked to our thought process.

"I am physically lazy which goes back to my illness as if I do too much exercise I pass out.

"If you stand still for any length of time then people come up and start copying you and I tend to want to influence.

"I am influenced by my daily life, by action, and the reaction of my fellow human beings.

“There are films and the art of creating is not a reinterpretation. Any work I have to sort out and do I do it myself.

"I do not do anything the easy way and as a result I don’t wake up with a headache.”

One of the things which gave him a headache but one he did not mind was his record collection.

It is vast and wide and he has been collecting vinyl LP’s together with CD’s for decades.

Talking about his record collection he said: “I collect records from around the world and I have been told the amount I have is the same weight as an elephant.

“It (record collection) has even damaged the structure of my house as it is so big.

"But I love the opportunity to pick things out to re-listen and indulge the memory bank.

“It gives you a head of ideas.

I started collecting records at a very young age.

"Both my mum and dad had a great record collection and when they had parties I was allowed to control the Dansette Record Player.

Stacking the records and not allowing any one to leave fingerprints on them. For me it has to be CD’s or vinyl.

"Anything on the radio these days is like listening to a wind up radio.

What you hear it on vinyl or CD is better.”

John does feel with PiL he has created a body of work which he is very proud of, it is substantial and it has stood the test of time.

Yeovil Express:

Asked what PiL has given him on a personal basis which would include musically, he said: “Oh the freedom to have an open ended argument and to create great songs.

"There wasn’t much else going on at the time.

"What being ahead of your time means is being ahead of the imitators and laggers-let them see my dust!

“I enjoy exploring cliches and have written whole songs full of cliches with phrases like three sheets to the wind. 40 years it is quiet an achievement.

"Last year was the 40 years of the Sex Pistols and I though oh no not another Royal Jubilee.

“But with Pil I have a body of work which I am chuffed about.

We are releasing a box set of over six hours of work plus footage attached to be and so it has to be substantial. It is not over priced it just about breaks even. It is always about quality first with me not quantity.

“With a record company they tend to lower the standard and do not put in as much of an effort into it.

"It is my way of creating Utopia. It is like Sir Thomas More’s but not with the religion.

I am not so easily led by religion.

"Sometimes I look at it (career) and I think how brave I was to have done these things and could I do it today and the answer is YES.

"Perception is all in the mind and in my mind I sleep on a bed of nails and I love it.”

Anger is an Energy is one of the lyrics in PiL’s song Rise it is also the title of Lydon’s second autobiography which to give its full title is Anger is an EnergyMy Life Uncensored.

I asked him if he thought anger is engaging people with politics today?

He said: “I wish it would as anger is the search for the truth. Anger can be a way of controlling our emotions. This is OUR world it is for ALL of us and sharing does not kill.”

Catch PiL in Somerset at The Cheese & Grain, Frome on Wednesday, June 27.

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