Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Sep 6th 2007 5:00PM by Steve Baltin
How does being a judge for the Bodog Battle of the Bands live series with all those young artists inspire you?
Oh, I find it thrilling. It's enjoyable in the extreme. Some of them are not great. Others are really quite startling, but not every time. But it's live music and it's their own songs, wonderful: These are two things that the music business is ignoring and actually trying to stop. I don't see any record companies really out there supporting live music or songwriting at all. In fact, they're all out to chisel us out of our copyrights one way or the other.
Talking about music and songwriting, are there any pop songs or songwriters you really admire?
No. It's all been trivialized in a Britney Spears-y kind of way, hasn't it? They've taken it and killed off the energy and co-opted us into this commercialism that's really, really dull. Britney is Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart's all right for T-shirts and socks, that's about what she is. The industry for a long time now, going back for 20 years solidly, has not backed songwriting from the youth point of view. It's actually killed youth culture and rebellion and repackaged and remodeled it into very, very dreary things. There's powerful stuff in rap music, but honestly, 98 percent of it is mindless and repetitive and tedious. Now, I worked with Afrika Bambaataa some 20-plus years ago, and what's changed since then? What's as good as 'The Message'? Nothing comes to mind. Most of it is utterly selfish and it's all about acquiring goods and bragging about how much jewelry you can wear at once. If that's what the white man has taught the black man, that selfishness is the root to all success, they're wrong.
Your opinion of British politics is literally on the record, but what's your take on the current American political scene?
Well, you're very aware that no matter what the entire country says, [George Bush is] the president and he will carry on business as usual, and nothing and no one can stop him. Are you not worried that this is setting a clear-cut example for the next f---er to get in to be 10 times worse than this? What is wrong with this system? I live here. I view myself as an American and it worries the f--- out of me. You're welcoming dictatorship with this ongoing process -- hello, there's the monarchy. We're right back to "no future."
I guess I was holding out hope ...
... that Hillary's going to save the day? No. There's a woman with a vendetta. She's got to get one back on manhood. Be very, very aware: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Obama's dense as a doorbell, not much going on up there, it's a wooden top. You need someone really, really on the money.
Who would that person be?
Unfortunately, the woman scorned [laughs]. These are tough choices, but it can't be a Republican. They destroyed any values that party ever had, and my way of looking at politics is this: Left, right, I want the best of all of it. And no one's going to affiliate me completely to one way or the other. I want what works.
I've always been a Democrat.
I was brought up and raised in Britain as a Labour man, and that quickly changed. And I find there are more working-class people in the Conservative Party than the Labour party [in the U.K]. Very, very curious state of affairs, but this is how goalposts shift. Can we trust any of them ultimately? No, we cannot. Should we have some control over them? Yes, we should. They have no right to run away with our lives, none. We put them there to hold a job responsibly and look after us. They're not doing that. They're sending all us off to foolish wars we can neither explain, understand or comprehend. And we do not know who's ultimately profiting from those ventures. It certainly isn't America, is it?
Whoever comes next can't be worse than Bush.
You want to bet? World War I Germany thought that and it ended up in World War II with Hitler.
For me that points to Rudy Giuliani -- I'm not a fan of his at all.
No, that's a very bad piece of work. Very dangerous. Scary to high hell. You've got to stop them. You've got to. You look at Mitt Romney and you know that's corrupt from head to toe, that is everything wrong in a man, the vanity onwards. Who do I like? Who's the crazy one [laughs]? There are a couple of Democrats there that just speak it. [Dennis Kucinich] is hilarious, but he ain't no sex god. It's packaging, but I want to hear values, I want to hear true principles and I don't want to hear nonsense like, "When I get in, we'll be pulling out [of Iraq] straightaway." That's guaranteeing a bullet in the back of the head real quick. Don't do that. Sort it out or admit that was a failure, but don't ignore it, 'cause we've all got to carry on living in this world and this problem is only going to escalate. I want answers now. I want some serious thought in it.
Stepping away from politics, has working with the Bodog bands inspired you musically?
It hasn't. How would it? I've been at this for a long, long time. I know how to do that. I can't be re-taught that. I've already done it. I'm glad to see them, other people, doing it. I'm not happy if I detect anything at all in any band I thought was trying to patronize me to get a favorable vote. They would be instantaneously my worst enemy right there because they would be trying to entice me into the art of compromise, which I do not believe in.
What do you think of Amy Winehouse?
It's all just a little set up for me. It doesn't come any other way than formulated. "The new queen of soul" -- What? Who's the last one, and who's to say? Who needs a genre and a category like that?
The media, that's who.
Well, who's force-feeding the media? The record companies, of course, because this is what they want to sell. And a music magazine needs advertisers. There's blackmail going on, and Amy Winehouse is not a black male.
So, honestly, can a band like the Sex Pistols exist today?
Why not? There's nothing stopping honest people from creating honesty, nothing at all. It's really, is there anybody out there to do it and do you really need to someone to do it for you? Why aren't you f---ing doing it for yourself? I am. I'm still here. They haven't got rid of me and that ain't gonna happen anytime soon. And I'm clearly in opposition to the powers that be and the structures they're in and all of that.
What was the first record you remember making a big impact on you?
The best I ever heard was 'Virginia Plain,' by Roxy Music. I thought that was unlike anything I'd heard on radio ever. Whoosh, tore my head off. I was working on a building site at the time because I needed the money to continue my education -- education to me is vital. And that did wonders; it really, really thrilled me, that record. I was 15 and it gave me encouragement. It was just so damn original. It was in your face and it was over-the-top grandiose. It was a mad amalgamation of things and it's image was many, many images. But it allowed you to use your mind inside the song and work it out to be whatever you wanted. That was fantastic. I'd just been thrown out of school for being a problem child; for example, I asked questions past exams, therefore I had to be gotten rid of. Then I had to save the money up because there was no such thing as a grant for my kind of working-class kid to go back to college and finish my exams, which I did.
Do you ever go back and listen to your work?
Occasionally we get together and perform live. We've never broken up and we don't use the word "reunion," 'cause it's not applicable. I'm very, very proud of what I've done, I am. I'm really pleased that I managed to somehow get it right. I can't see anything that I did then wrong because I cared at the time as much as I do now. And I know the energy was well spent, even though at the time it seemed like we were never going to go anywhere. It was just an uphill climb. And there was no question of us being successful in any way. So with all that ambition and I want to be famous thrown aside, we somehow ended up with all of those things. They came to us naturally. So if I've got any lesson to anyone in life is don't seek these vacuous things, they're pointless. The joy of life is in the work. That's the achievement that you've got it right. And getting it right is the hardest thing in life, but it's the most rewarding.
The reason I ask about re-listening to stuff is for some artists it's hard because they are constantly thinking of changes they can make.
Oh, I know. No revisionist in me. No, I'll never go back and rework a song. That's it. It was done then and I'm happy with that.
Are there songs that when you go back and revisit surprise you?
I'm usually quite surprised when I do that. It's bang on the money. I got it right. I'm quite happy about that. Not smug, but I'm continuously writing or creating in many ways or formats. I don't think up to date I've done a bad piece of work, not in any genre.
When will we hear new music from you?
I've got a couple of more TV projects lined up, which are very different from this, completely. This was just an amusement of sorts, I suppose, that turned into a great thing. After that I've got an album almost completed. I don't have a record label, I don't think I want one. We shall see. It's nothing grandiose or pompous coming from me, never will be. It will be there and if you want it, you can have it and if you don't, you don't have to -- the end.
That should get me thrown out of the country, all that politics [laughs].