John Lydon Unveils ‘Antireligious’ Art for New Public Image Ltd. Album
“I don’t think what the world needs will be Donald Trump,” Public Image Ltd. frontman John Lydon says with a laugh when asked about the title of the group’s upcoming record, What the World Needs Now…. “Wow, what a wack.”
The former Sex Pistol’s long-running post-punk group is set to release its 10th studio album on September 4th, and today, Lydon is revealing the cover art, which he drew himself. The album cover sports his interpretation of a different kind of “wack”: a Hopi Kachina clown doll. The singer has long been fascinated by Native American art and cites the “joker or the fool or the idiot,” depicted in his painting, as his favorite.
“He brings fun and he’s always used in a corn festival,” Lydon says. “Not to say the album is corny.” He laughs. “I thought as a purveyor of good tidings, he would be very apt for this cover. And the title, What the World Needs Now…, is exactly that kind of approach. In lieu of how everybody’s ever so eager to departmentalize themselves and kill each other because of their differences, how I see the world is vastly different. Our differences are what make us so complete, not the other way around. So it’s an antireligious statement, really, of sorts.
“Muslim, Christian, any of them, they’re problem givers not solvers,” he explains. “They all end up crusading in their mentality and are all about eliminating opposition really. Nothing that ISIS or what this lot are up to at the moment is any different from what the Crusades were, bearing in mind the 10-century gap.”
The vocalist does praise the Hopi religion — while also calling the culture passive — because it was “not quite as fairy dust as ours.” “Theirs seems to be about something better and deeper in solving a problem, rather than creating a new one, which I’m afraid all of the current religions are definitely up to.” He’s also quick to go on a tangent to assert that he does not collect Hopi figurines, despite his admiration of how they depict the tribe’s culture. “In an odd way, I have something similar myself, representing our alleged culture: I’ve got a set of Spice Girl dolls,” Lydon says with a laugh. “I paid for them, too and I’m very glad I have them.” Why? “They’re hilarious, and just so worth looking at every now and again.”
The album itself is a similarly manic affair, finding Lydon fashioning scabrous screeds and heartfelt toasts over his bandmates’ dubby, jagged post-punk tableaus. But the first single – “Double Trouble,” set for release in August – is one of Lydon’s more humorous rants in recent years. “It’s about an argument that my wife and me had over a broken toilet,” Lydon says.
“The toilet’s fucking broken again?” he says over an upbeat rhythm, before an elastic riff kicks in at the song’s start. “I repaired that. I told you, ‘Get the plumber in again and again and again and again and again.'”
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