PiL: (Lydon / Levene / Wobble / Dudanski)
Tyne Tees TV, Check it Out, July 2nd, 1979
Fodderstompf: In mid 1979 PiL were invited to appear on a new "youth" TV show in the North East of England called 'Check it Out'. Unbeknown to them the 30 minute show was actually a special tracing the development of youth culture over the previous 25 years, "from Teds to Punks". Part 1 of the show featured a review of the gang film 'The Warriors' and an interview with Sting of The Police; speaking about music and youth movements. PiL feature in part 2…
For more in-depth information on this infamous TV appearance – and to put the following interview into full context – see our accompanying article: "Why don't you try asking an intelligent question?"
Additional notes are in […] We have done our best to transcribe the interview in full, however, certain parts of the used audio recording are almost inaudible. Also, often several people are talking at the same time…
[Presenter #1] Chris Cowey: In Part 2 we'll be featuring Johnny Rotten's new group Public Image Limited and talking to them in the studio…
[PiL begin to play 'Chant']
[Wobble swings his arms in time with Dudanski's drum intro, John announces "We're back for the nice people…"]
[Incidentally, the first few lines
of 'Chant' are actually quite prophetic…
Voice moaning in a speaker
Never really get too close
Only a gimmick pointed fingers
Never more serious sight
Wouldn't waste the effort on entertainment…]
['Chant' finishes and John quips, "And we get paid for this!"]
[cuts to studio interview with PiL] [There are only two seats. Wobble and Lydon on either side; Keith perched in the middle on adjoining arms; Richard Dudanski is left to crouch behind them.]
[Presenter #2] Lyn
Spencer: Public Image Limited, very warm welcome to Check it Out.
Where did you get the name Public Image Limited from?
Wobble: [puts on accent] Well, I guess it was just the name of a tune and seemed to really suit the band. Its got a lot of oblique meanings in it… whatever, you know, it's very ironic in many ways… [inaudible]
Lyn Spencer: [tries to speak over Wobble] That's rubbish, I don't believe that. Johnny have you got any other ideas…
[Wobble keeps speaking…] That's not rubbish baby, you can't say that.
John: Oh shut up.
Chris Cowey: Public Image came up quite a while ago and I think you've changed quite a bit since then. What direction do you see the band going in now?
Wobble: To the pub afterwards [piss-take laugh]
Chris Cowey: Musical direction.
Wobble: We are going to learn to play I guess.
John: [deadpan] Oh, throw Dan MacArthur
[Dan MacArthur was one of Wobble's alias' at the time]
Chris Cowey: You mean you don't think you can play?
John: Public Image. We do not like cheap publicity, pseudo gimmicks, condescension, and crawling. And that's what was expected from us tonight. Was it not? After all, you would only interview me and Wobble at first until we refused point blank.
Lyn Spencer: Yes. But that was for technical reasons. That was just for technical reasons Johnny.
Keith: [faintly] Well, you still can't hear us can you?
Chris Cowey: But by going through all this isn't that just a cheap gimmick and publicity stunt?
Lyn Spencer: And aren't you just being really awkward here this evening, and we're being as pleasant as we could be to you.
I tell you what, just for a second, I've got a quote here from you when you were with the Sex Pistols Johnny.
John: Hold on, hold on a minute…
Lyn Spencer: You are reported to have said, "We're the only honest band to hit this planet in about 2000 million years". [cheekily to John] You just hold on for a second, because in a moment I'd like to ask you how honest you think you've been to all the fans who've supported you from the start. Because we went out the other day and talked to some people who are still very much into punk, and what it's all about. Just have a look at this…
[overhear Lydon protesting]
[cuts to a pre-recorded video clip of presenter Chris Cowey interviewing Mond Cowie from the Angelic Upstarts as they walk round the streets of Newcastle. Note: It's worth emphasising that it is guitarist Mond and not singer Mensi as is often reported]
[meanwhile a sneaky split-screen shows John Lydon in the studio]
Chris Cowey: How did you lot all get started up in punk music then?
Mond: Can I say, it had nothing to do with Johnny Rotten, right? Seeing as Johnny is on this programme, right? Can I just say first of all, I'm much better looking than Johnny Rotten, and I think he's a terrible singer, and I'm glad that Jimmy Pursey has got his job in the Sex Pistols. Okay? I think the best thing the Pistols ever done is sacking Johnny Rotten.
Chris Cowey: What is your personal view on
the music itself?
Mond: What? The Pistols music?
Chris Cowey: No, anything.
Mond: Anything will be 100% better without Johnny Rotten, I'll tell you that.
Chris Cowey: Well alright. They haven't got Johnny Rotten now. So what about the music itself? What particularly gets you into it; nothing to do with the Pistols or Johnny Rotten or anything.
Mond: It's real down to earth music. And I'm a really down to earth person. Me and the lads are from around Newcastle area, I mean we're down to earth people. We don't want to end up like Genesis or anything like that, you know? Playing music we cannae handle.
Chris Cowey: But what about all the fashion and everything that spins off the music?
Mond: It was good when it first came out. Punk-rock became a fashion because of people like Malcolm McLaren, know what I mean? People like that are nothing to do with us. Anything new becomes a fashion. I think Pursey is the only one who stood [inaudible], and brought it back down to earth. Rock music was going that far, like I said Genesis again, and rubbish bands like that you know? It was getting to the stage where it couldn't get any further. You were having like 20 synthesisers in a band, and all sorts of rubbish like this. You couldn't see it live. It just couldn't go any further, it had to go back to the start again; and that's what punk-rock has done.
Chris Cowey: What do you think of the sort of thing Johnny Rotten is into now?
Mond: Public Image? I'd like to swear but I can't. I think Public Image are the worst band that have ever came about.
Chris Cowey: So you think he's sort of sold-out a bit?
Mond: I think Johnny Rotten is finished, there you are. He's an old man. He's finished. He thinks he's still really well liked, but he's done.
Chris Cowey: So what do you think the new direction is going to be now? Do you think there is gonna be anything new coming up or is it gonna carry on the way it is?
Mond: Bands come up all the time. Bands like The Upstarts, and bands like Stiff Little Fingers, who are the best band I've heard for the last 2 years. Stiff Little Fingers are a punk band from Belfast [Fodderstompf Note: Who used to be a heavy metal covers band, and had a journalist help write their lyrics], and are really good. With bands like that up and coming all the time punk-rock is never gonna die. Punk is not the way you dress or the way you look. Punk-rock is the way you think.
[Cuts back to studio]
[Lydon is underwhelmed. Keith who looks to have departed now returns to the set]
Chris Cowey: That guy – who you reckon was primed – is actually a member of a band called The Angelic Upstarts. Now, they're a band that started off very similar to yourself and the Sex Pistols…
John: [talking same time as the presenter] Look, hold on. Can you stop. Can you stop. I don't give two [bleep] what they're called. It's simple. Don't tell me I've sold-out, pal. I walked out.
Male Presenter: I didn't tell you.
John: That band [Pistols] was the only honest band in 2000 million years. I could not help the management being corrupt. I don't want to talk about the past. I wanna go on.
Chris Cowey: Okay, he also talked about what you're doing now, and he reckons you've sold-out.
Keith: Listen, I know what we're doing now. He doesn't seem to know anything.
John: Has he ever seen us? Live?
Chris Cowey: I dunno, I didn't ask him that. Could you let us know what you're doing now, what you're into now? What your link is with the street?
John: Look, I don't have to explain myself to anybody, and I ain't gonna really bother. Now, I was asked here right, to interview with the band here – PiL – [points to band] but now like, we're facing a cheapskate comedy interrogation act and it just ain't on pal. It's a joke. It's a farce.
Chris Cowey: So you mean you don't want to give any messages…
John: I don't need to explain myself. Sooner or later somebody will open their [bleep] eyes. [deadpan] Oh, sorry, rude word. [rolls eyes]
Chris Cowey: Well, it sounds like we've heard this story before.
John: Really? Would you like to tell
me where? Goodnight.
[stands up, takes off mic, and slowly walks off]
Chris Cowey: Goodnight.
Keith: Do you want to continue?
Chris Cowey: Well, that's up to you entirely. Do you want to follow the leader?
Wobble: There ain't no leader. I thought that was the point of having four people? You asked just me and him, didn't you, to do the interview?
Chris Cowey: Alright, c'mon rest of the band…
Wobble: Why don't you try asking an intelligent question? Try and think of one. If you've ever asked one in your life.
Lyn Spencer: Tell you what, lets forget about it all.
Chris Cowey: Right.
Wobble: Yeah, I think you should.
Keith: No, no, no, that's a total cop-out.
Wobble: Cop-out! [bleep]
[stands up, takes off mic and walks off]
[bleep] [bleep] [bleep!]
[cuts back to different presenter in the studio] Well, I'm glad I didn't draw the short straw for that interview...
For more information on this infamous TV appearance – and to put the interview into full context – see our accompanying article: "Why don't you try asking an intelligent question?"
With thanks to James T MacGregor & Mark Woodley
Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
Check it Out, July 2nd, 1979 © courtesy Tyne Tees