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Johnny Rotten Contemplates New Sex Pistols, PiL Albums

'If The Sex Pistols want me to go on tour with them I'm happy to oblige,' Lydon says. 'Until three weeks later when I'm not"

January 6, 2011 10:35 AM ET
Johnny Rotten Contemplates New Sex Pistols, PiL Albums
Ross Gilmore/Redferns

One year after reuniting with his post-punk band Public Image Ltd. for a triumphant reunion tour, John Lydon is ready to begin cutting the group's first album in nearly two decades. Work on the LP would have started sooner, but the recent death of Lydon's stepdaughter and Slits lead singer Ari Up put his plans on hold.

"It hurt us greatly," Lydon told Stereogum. "I don't like to go on about death, but it's been a very difficult time. I would have been recording with PiL, but after that happened...there's just no way I could have gone into a recording studio."

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Lydon says he'd also be willing to consider cutting new material with The Sex Pistols, even though he's scoffed at such a suggestion ever since the group broke up in 1978. "Because I've been able to get PiL back together — and because I've been in a songwriting mode — I can now look back on the the Pistols and imagine writing with them too."

The group last toured in 2008, but Lydon says he'd be down for more shows. "If they want me to go out on tour with them I'm happy to oblige," he says. "Until three weeks later when I'm not. That's how it is. You forget the personal wars and the personal hates over time, until something happens like a tour and you remember all over again."

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The notoriously prickly Lydon is chatting with the press to promote his new book Mr. Rotten's Scrapbook, a photo history of his entire career. "Originally we were just going to make a scrapbook of images from the PiL reunion tour," Lydon says. "But that seemed a little too shoddy, so we thought we'd give it a bigger story. Since there would be no Public Image Ltd. without the Sex Pistols and there'd be no Pistols without my earlier life, it ended up becoming my life story in a nicely pleasant, accurate and personal way."

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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