Thursday, April 06, 2006

April 4, 2006 A bit with Stewart Copeland - and Steve's Luxurious Hair!

Tina here. I transcribed a slice of this interaction and can't help but insert a bit of a kvetch!

It was difficult to for me to listen to Mr. Copeland when it came to his impressions about The Pistols. He asked Steve whose idea it was to adopt the angry stance, the look, etc. These kinds of questions you'd expect from someone who is removed from the scene, like Paul Anka maybe, but not from someone like Stewart Copeland, who was "there" at the time. He was still apparently under the impression that The Pistols were engineered like The Monkees or something. For example, Steve had to tell him that John was already ‘like that’, with the hair and safety pins, etc., and this was a surprise to Copeland! It was all organic, Stew. What was this guy doing back then and since, that these basic facts about the group and how it began have eluded him?
Okay, climbing down from the crate now...

Hey, I just heard a radio commercial for Virgin Atlantic featuring Mr. Jones. It wasn't on a rock station or even a music station at all - it was conservative talk radio! I was confused by this momentarily, lost my bearings. What? Where am I? Oh yes, it was good, by the way.

We pick up the interview as Stewart is summing up the punk scene as he saw it….

Stewart: …it was still the same E, A and D chords but the hairdo was different and the attitude was different. And these youngsters kind of kicked down the door of the music industry which was locked at the time. Even for old wavers like myself. It was locked. Uh, until the rules all changed and a new scene rose up where bands could work for themselves and for thirty quid actually take home…fifty, instead of the record company getting it. So, with that start, of course in England, we were slagged off immediately, we were spotted as carpetbaggers and interlopers um, flying under a flag of convenience. But, in America, they didn’t care about all that.

Steve: Right.

Stewart: We just took it, club by club, city by city.

Steve: Did you, did you feel like that, that you were getting on some bandwagon?

Stewart: Oh, yeah. It was completely Machiavellian at first. (Steve laughs) I mean, it was a good band, I mean, I was twenty-two and everyone else in the punk scene was seventeen. How old are you guys? How old were the Sex Pistols in 1976?

Steve: I’m fifty now.

Stewart: Fifty now. I’m four years older than you and so you must have been eighteen.

Steve: Eighteen, nineteen, yeah.

Stewart: Let me ask you. Did you ever have long hair?

Steve: Uh, not…

Stewart: Ever? You do now…

Steve: Uh, yeah, later. No, later I did, in the Eighties I had really long hair.

Stewart: No, but before the Pistols, did you have…were you ever like, you know, into uh…

Steve: I actually had a period when I was about fifteen, sixteen where I did everything. I was a skinhead, mod, grease, I did it all.

Stewart: Yeah. So at some point, the barnet came off.

Steve: Oh, yeah.

Stewart: And was that like, an image decision or, “that’ll be, hey, guys – cool idea. Let’s look different from the hippies and cut our hair off.” Was that like a decision, or it just happened one day.

Steve: No, no, no. Yeah, I don’t, see, I don’t have a punk hairdo. I don’t have punk hair. I had the thickest hair. I looked like, my hair’s like John Travolta.

Stewart: Yeah.

Steve: It’s all poncified.

Stewart: Well, you looked kind of…yeah, you’ve got that same kind of slick kind of deal going now. You’ve grown into it.

Steve: (laughs) No, it’s…it’s thinned out now. It’s thinned out but it used to be really thick. If you look at any early Pistol pictures, I look like a hairdresser.

Stewart: What, you’d need like a haircut every three days to keep you punk.

Steve: I wish I’d have had the product that they have, back then. Now, back then.

Stewart: What was that?

Steve: Well, they got all this new gear. You can straighten it , you can do anything. Back then, you just you know, either you had thin hair and it looked good when you cut it short and spiky, or you was unsuccessful like me, who just had this thick barnet.

Stewart: Yeah, yeah, but you were a Pistol, so you’re all right.

Steve: I’ve still got it, that’s all I care about. Them ones who put Brylcreem in their hair, they’re bald now.

Stewart: Well, after you guys opened the door, actually blew it away, the first ones through it were bands like The Police.

Steve: Right.

Stewart: Because we actually had the tunes and we could actually play. (Steve laughs) But you and Paul, actually were pretty serious players. You had kind of a joke bass player, he was kind of a image and stuff, and Johnny…well, he was Johnny. He definitely reinvented how you sing a song.

Steve: Well actually Glen Matlock, the bass player, before…

Stewart: He was actually a real musician.

Steve: He could play, yeah.

Stewart: Yeah.

Steve: I’d only been playing three months before we did our first gig…

Stewart: Well, like a lot of the bands, like the Clash guys. I remember Paul Simonon was of your roadies, I think and thought to himself, looking at you up there, that “That looks easy”. It’s him and Strummer and the rest of them, they were all kind of like, new at it.

Steve: Strummer had been playing. He had, he had a R&B kind of rockabilly band, called, uh…

Mr. Shovel: (in background) The 101ers.

Steve: The 101ers and they had a song called, “Keys To Your Heart” and we opened for them at The Nashville. The next time I see him, he’s singing…

Stewart: You opened for The Clash? Oh, the 101ers.

Steve: The 101ers. This was when the pub thing was going on.

Stewart: Well, you guys hardly played any shows…

Steve: No.

Stewart: I mean, you didn’t have to.

Steve: Well, at first, we did a few.

Stewart: There was all the buzz about you know, “Have you seen The Sex Pistols”? “Well, no, actually…”

Steve: It was after, it was after…

Stewart: The ten people who had, which multiplies by like a hundred who claim they had.

Steve: It was after the Grundy thing is when we didn’t didn’t play. But we did, we did quite…about fifty shows before that.

Stewart: Really? That’s much more than I thought.

Steve: Yeah. (burp).

Stewart: The band that nobody actually…cos all the people who jumped in never actually saw The Pistols. We saw The Clash, we saw The Damned and The Stranglers and all the others. But The Pistols remained legendary.

Steve: Yes.


Anonymous said...

stewart copeland came across as a tool... he was a complete idiot and he did nothing for his cause of being thought of as an integral part of the "punk" movement...which BTW - directs this to stewart - comsists of more than Hair Dye and Anger.
His comment about having the songs to back it up put me off him forever. Jones defended Sid and was a gentleman... Copeland is a punter. in the words of Rotter
cheers everyone!!!

Chris was Anon said...

Cheers Jilly nice to see you on the blog!


Oh and Tina you surely must have something else to add cos your "kvetch" has hit the spot and this post was yours alone!


floratina said...

I thought the same thing, Jilly. I am glad to see you felt the same. Notice that Steve skipped this interview as a candidate for the "best of", for the week and instead gave the nod to Andrew WK and Van Hunt.

Chris was Anon said...

After Grundy the Pistols did a few more shows - ok Anarchy in the UK tour was pretty much shredded but then there was the SPOTS (Sex Pistols on tour secretly) tour and the Never Mind the Bans tour and of course the Scandinavian gigs too - so there were quite a few gigs in all and various others too I suspect like Notre Dame etc none of which I can remember the places of now. Huddersfield fireman's strike before the US. 78 tour washe last UK. date.

Ok what did Copeland say about
"Sidney," Floratina? Fair play to Steve for defending poor old Sid - cos Sid certainly can't anymore, can he?