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Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017
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Former Pistol keeps it raw, real and risky

Provocative humorists are in short supply in pop music. Vocalist-songwriter John Lydon has always been one of the best at stirring the pot in an amusing manner, whether he fronted the seminal Sex Pistols or the irreverent Public Image Ltd, which reunited after a 17-year hiatus in 2009. PIL will perform Saturday at the Cuban Club. The charismatic Lydon phoned from London to talk about the waning art of live performance in rock, why PIL released "This Is PiL," the band's first album in 20 years, and whether there really is no future for you. Q: Why bother to put out an album 20 years after your last one? A: These new songs come from the heart. I was touring for two years and enjoyed it so much that I was moved to write new songs. It wasn't easy raising the money since we're independent, but we're in a good place since we're finally free of some contractual entanglements.
Q: The new material is raw and in some cases is reminiscent of the first two PIL albums. A: That's the way to go for me. I can't stand Auto-Tune. That's for robots marching to a syncopated beat. Q: There is such a dearth of recording artists who connect with the audience these days. Have you noticed? A: I know exactly what you're saying, and I couldn't agree more. I feel young because of these 'performers,' if you want to call them that, who are killing live music. Q: A generation ago there were a number of bands that would exude a palpable sense of danger and unpredictability. When you go to a show you can't help but ask yourself, 'Did you ever get the feeling that you've been cheated?' A: (Laughs). Those good old days when the fan would take a risk and see a band, which could be good or bad. I miss those days. Today there is no risk. It's all predictable. Can we blame it all on eight years of George W. Bush? I don't think so. I think it's the modern world. Nobody expects anything from anybody in this age. Q: Does your old Sex Pistols refrain 'there's no future' apply to pop music? A: What was implied was that if you don't take of your own future, you might not have a future. That's what is happening. People are just sitting back, and they don't realize if they don't contribute they get nothing in return. Fame seems to be the only driving force for everyone today in this so-called revolution. What makes me laugh is that this is the safest form of revolution. I like the idea of Rage Against the Machine, but it seems as if they have strategies. Q: Didn't the Sex Pistols have strategies? A: The Sex Pistols were organized chaos. The difference between me and all of these bands is that I'm for real. You can't manufacture what I'm about. Sooner or later all of these revolutionary acts following the Black Flag manifesto will accept their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Nobody is going to induct me into anything. … I don't want to go into the industry's mausoleum. Q: You're an unlikely success story since you weren't looking to be a singer. Opportunity knocked and you seized it with the Pistols. A: It's true. I jumped at the opportunity to sing even though I didn't consider the prospect an hour before the offer was made. I knew I was fully loaded because I'm a thinker. I knew I could do it. I had a contempt for all things political. All that I had was within me. It's instinctive. You can't teach smarts. Q: Could you accomplish what you did a generation ago today? A: I see no difficulties with that. I think it's easier than ever to be a free-thinker. I could do it all over again. I could show people that you don't have to be on 'American Idol' to be a star.


When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cuban Club, 2010 Republica

de Cuba, Tampa

Tickets: $22.50 in advance,

$25 day of show; (813) 247-3901

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