Never shy about his legacy, John Lydon is well aware of his place in music history. “I’m part of two major music tour de forces, the [Sex] Pistols and Public Image Ltd. at the same time and sometimes you feel this is the right way at that particular moment,” he tells Spinner.
Since PiL went on hiatus in 1993, the Pistols have been the right thing for most of the last 17 years, reuniting famously in 1996, again in 2002 and continuing to play as a band on-and-off until 2008. But Lydon’s heart is clearly with PiL now. In fact, he has a message for PiL fans. “I apologize to PiL fans that I’ve been distracted by other things, but it’s back now to its full potential,” he says of the reunited band, currently on tour in the States after a triumphant Coachella performance.
And Lydon has another bold statement to make. “This is the best band I’ve ever had,” he says. “And I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to pick from some 40 PiL members and so who but me would really know best in that respect?” Even with all those musicians, it’s still saying something given the Pistols are considered among the most influential bands of all time. So what makes this lineup of PiL so special?
“For me, personalities count and if you have anyone who’s slightly animosity-prone or a moaner, you know it can upset our whole crew, everything. There’s nobody like that in this current lineup,” Lydon says. “I love our music and I love it completely and utterly and totally. Hopefully anyone who pays attention to us goes home with a proper education. We’re maximum, maximum entertainment.”
The band’s set at Coachella backed his claim, earning very strong reviews as they went on at the same time as Jay-Z, who made national headlines by bringing out Beyonce. Now, Lydon has a message for those that missed PiL at the festival. “Anyone that was wasting their time at any other part of the field was definitely not doing themselves a favor,” he says. “Come see us, everybody. Young, old, all ages — we cater for everything and everyone. You can only learn from PiL. It can do you no harm and it will definitely improve your life.”