Q: I always saw the Pistols as part of a satirical tradition that extends all the way to Stephen Colbert.
A: I love Colbert! His presentation of an extreme right-winger is deeply funny. You learn so much from that absurd point of view.
Q: But some of your songslike “Belsen Was a Gas”were outlandishly offensive. Do you ever look back and say, “Jeez, maybe I went a bit too far?”
A: No! No! Had to be done! Everything! You must assault all mannerisms, all assumptions, all the things that cause us problems and cause us grief. The unspeakable should not be unspeakable. When you bring these things out into the open, you can tear them apart. It’s no good pretending Nazis don’t exist. They bloody well do, and they must be stopped. And the only way of stopping them, really, is utter, complete humiliation.
Q:How do you keep your vocal cords in shape?
A: I smoke an awful lot of cigarettes and I drink like a fish. And I gargle brandy onstage. I find that those three things help.
Q: Why do reunion concerts cause people so much consternation?
A: I think that word reunionit just implies, Oh, they’re back for the money. Yeah, well, hello! Of course we’re back for the money! And what is the shame in that? When did America suddenly become Communist? We weren’t paid the first time out. We intend to be this time.
Q: I read your autobiography and I remember that scene at the very last Pistols concert in San Francisco where you’re stranded and utterly broke.
A: Yeah. Broke. The only money I had was what was thrown onstage.
Q: “Never trust a hippie” may be the greatest line of the punk movement. What does it mean?
A: Don’t trust ’em because all this “peace and love” and “free love”that was really just to turn women into whores. “Oh, you’re not free ’cause you won’t let me shag ya.” Ha ha! That’s clever, that is. And as soon as they came out of the sixties they were all running corporations, and suddenly, you know, the long-hair trip became lining their own coffers. They could be very, very greedy people, the hippies. I come from piss-poor, working-class, lowest-that-you-can-get, total no-hope, no-futureand none of them damn hippies came round our way being generous. The council flats were not places where you would hand out flowers.
Q: In spite of the name of the band, I don’t associate the Sex Pistols with sex.
A: No. Or guns.
Q: So did the Sex Pistols have groupies?
A: There would be freak horror shows that would turn up, yeah.
Q: But was it a big part of your backstage experience?
A: Oh, I would tell the dirty women of the night, “Hands off! I have morals!”...I won’t conform to what I think is a dodgy precedent in the first place. Just ’cause you’re on TV don’t mean “Bend over, missus.”