While John Lydon's several Sex Pistols reunions over the past two decades have drawn decidedly mixed reactions from fans and critics, there was almost universal praise when he decided to get his other band, Public Image Ltd., back on the road in late 2009. The move came as a bit of a surprise until it was revealed that Lydon's intention for the tour was to fund a new PiL album without any record company support. That album, This Is PiL, marks the group's first studio effort since 1992, and drops Tuesday (May 29) via the group's own PiL Official label (distributed in Canada through F.A.B.).
Lydon recently gushed to Exclaim! about how thrilled he is to be free of dealing with major labels, as well as the chemistry within this incarnation of PiL. The current lineup includes long-serving guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith, along with newcomer bassist Scott Firth.
"We practically threw ourselves right from the road into recording mode, so you can imagine the first day we're all staring at each other in fear," Lydon says. "It was, 'Oh no, who's gonna start this?' But things just naturally evolved. We practically just let the tape run, and would periodically stop and say, 'That was a good bit two hours back.' We had to remind ourselves of what we were truly enjoying before we massacred it. It was a matter of coming at it again properly, and after all that work, I recorded most of my vocals in one take."
Lydon adds, "I was also learning how to record through an iPad, and had a lot of fun with that, mostly wandering around the fields chasing after sheep. But some of that worked really well. There's no reason to be fearful of technology, just so long as it comes across as these are human beings at work, and not a bunch of overpaid producers trying to hide the fact that you're talentless clowns. And we're not."
Plans are in place for a North American tour in the fall, although no dates have yet been announced. It will coincide with the final weeks of the U.S. presidential campaign, something Lydon, who has resided in California for much of the past 30 years, will be paying close attention to.
"The only politician who has left any impression on my mind is Obama," Lydon says. "He talks from the heart and I understand him completely. There's one major problem in the Republican argument, and it's that they will not mind their own business. It used to be the party that preached freedom and lack of government interference, and now they have become the very beast they have always resented. And they're doing it with guns."
For now, you can check out the recently premiered video for the This Is PiL cut "One Drop" below.