The Clash weren’t Strummer’s I’m a Ah, thank you So, this is Well, it feels But it hasn’t Yeah, soundtracks, Have you just Yeah, just How do you Well, it’s You don’t Well, no, ’cause You could put [Laughs] This So you know We were out Do you think I don’t Why don’t I don’t [Laughs] Maybe Um, no, not What’s No. That’s Where do you In Somerset, I know. Imagine if Are you married I’ve been So are they I don’t The Clash changed I wish that Do you think Yeah, I think Back to the This is a strange How long did We were interrupted Do you have Oh, we went And who produced We did it in-house–we Do you work Yeah, but we Well, I don’t Yeah. In other words, No. That’s Ah, I don’t Well, you know, They want to Yeah. I know we can Yeah, I don’t Do you smoke Yeah, only Do you think Probably, but There’s I think it Do you own We have the But you still –from Are your parents No, no, they But they got Absolutely. Do you want No, to be honest, What do you I like to try I interview That’s What books I only like Have you gotten No, that’s He’s so Great. Imagine Joe Strummer
the Ramones or the Sex Pistols–they knew how to play their instruments,
and they wrote more sophisticated compositions. When you hear their music played
on the radio these days it’s hard to imagine that this was once considered
shocking or a new sound. And Joe Strummer hasn’t become the caricature
that John Lydon has, probably because Strummer always had that serious edge
to him–he’s the kind of guy you know can keep a secret. And it was
always about the music for him, too.
new album, Global A Go-Go (HellCat/Epitaph) will bring jovial tears to
your eyes when you hear his voice. It’s raw and resistant like a reluctant
horse that must be tugged into performance. Joe’s musical artistry and
lyrical sensibility are both very much intact, even brilliantly operational.
He’s one "elder rocker" that even John Strausbaugh has gotta
huge fan, I love your new record. I think it really kicks ass.
a stupid question, but how does it feel to have a new record out and to be doing
a tour and all that kind of stuff?
great and I gotta thank HellCat Records here, ’cause I think it would have
been difficult for me to come back from an 11-year layoff, and find a regular
straight record company. I think it would have been hard to find an interest,
so I feel really great to be back doing it.
really been 11 years. I mean, you’ve done other records.
but I count it as 11, because that was the gap between Earthquake Weather,
which was a solo album I did, and Rock Art [Epitaph]. Out of the rock
’n’ roll world, you could say.
started doing the whole big press thing?
deal with it?
really easy, because of the position that I’m in, coming back after a long
gap, I’ve only–I have to forget the radio, forget MTV and these things,
so when you think about it, we’ve only got two avenues and one of them
is playing gigs, which we’re gonna do in the autumn, and the other is to
talk to writers. That’s the only way we can get through.
think MTV will play you?
they’ve got their formats and stuff and you know, they might play you once
in the middle of the night. Once a year, you know, but…
on a wig and pretend you’re Britney Spears.
is the best idea I’ve heard all day, actually.
the whole Clash reunion thing? What did you think of the Sex Pistols reunion?
on tour or something, so I missed it, so I can only go by the reports. But I
was down with it because I feel they were the originators and the originators
never sell any records, you know. It’s the people that come in after them
that sell records, so I thought that they deserved getting something for what
they’d done. And that was the only way to do it.
the Clash will ever do that?
think so, but you never know.
you think so?
think so because everybody’s doing their separate things–Paul’s
a really serious, dedicated painter and Topper’s nursing himself back to
health, and Mick’s involved with a lot of video and projects like that
and nowadays, I’ve got a hot new bunch of players [laughs].
you can put them in dresses and pretend they’re the Clash. But, do you
wish it could be like an Etch A Sketch where you could kind of not have people
referencing all your old stuff…
really, ’cause you know, pride is the only thing that you can feel if you’ve
been in a really great rock group and a lot of people give you props for it.
So I’m always willing to go into it at great length. It’s something
I’m proud of rather than wanting to get away from really, because there’s
no getting away from it.
your life like in England, do people recognize you, like when you go out and
a good question, ’cause that really is something I think about a lot. I
live kind of in the middle of nowhere anyway, kind of way out.
which is about three hours by car west of London. No one recognizes me, but
I find that a great thing, ’cause you’ve got to be able to think properly.
every time you went out of the house loads of grandmas started screaming, you’d
soon become a fugitive or a hermit. You’ve got to be able to live in the
and do you have kids?
married twice and I got three kids, one’s a stepdaughter and they’re
17, 15 and 9.
like, "Yeah, my dad is Joe Strummer"?
know. In Britain people are really quite ruthless and we kind of get rid of
our heroes very quickly, so it’s more of a curiosity than a big deal for
music so completely. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of different ways that
you wish you had steered stuff or not steered stuff. If there was one thing
you wish you had changed, what would that be?
we’d had the intelligence to take a year off after we made an album called
Combat Rock. ’Cause we’d made 16 sides of long-playing
vinyl and then done hundreds of gigs, so I think we could have taken a year
off and recharged our batteries and maybe come back with another record. Instead,
we kind of broke it up and crash-landed.
you guys would have stayed together had you done that?
new record–what kind of music were you listening to when you were writing?
record because it started by accident. We had a Who tour booked in Britain,
three weeks backing up the Who, up and down Britain. And so I just booked five
days in a studio before that to see how it’d get on with making a new LP.
And it started to go really well and so I just booked more time, and then as
soon as we got off the Who tour, we went straight back in and we built the whole
record out of nothing, on the spot, because there was a whole new dynamic in
the band. One guy had left and another guy had come in, and things were really
different and people began to contribute more, we began working together like
a team, cowriting and co-everything, so the situation really made itself.
it take to record all these songs?
by the Who tour and we were interrupted by the Christmas break, so I’d
say over about a couple of months at least.
a home studio or did you go into the studio?
into a studio in London, in northwest London, and the rate there is a little
cheaper than if you go in the center of town. So that helped us relax a bit
it, or did you guys produce it?
just figured, you know, we’re all grown men, we know the music better than
with Pro Tools or anything like that?
play live into them–see this is a big, big important point about Pro Tools.
Obviously, there is a polarization about it, like people are saying that it
is ruining music…
think so. My boyfriend is a Pro Tools producer… So, are you married right
you’re not going to be doing the groupie stuff?
for the young men, no?
know about that. But how do you deal with it when you get the groupies?
we don’t. It’s been too long, really, I mean we get more like guys
who are interested in the music. Who want to rap. You know, that’s all.
talk about recording techniques and stuff like that, right?
get almost as excited about that stuff as any babe groupie. Do you get yourself
in shape before performances?
cigarette smoking has affected your voice?
I’ve never had that much of a voice to begin with.
a lot of people who would disagree with you.
affects your range. I don’t chainsmoke all day.
most of the rights for the Clash’s music?
right to say what it’s used for. Such as an advert or on a compilation,
but I don’t think we actually own our own works ’cause we signed the
wrong contract. The original recordings belong to Columbia or Sony or whoever
make money from–
the Clash back catalog? Yeah. It comes in dribs and drabs, you never know. It
doesn’t seem to have any pattern to it.
died in ’83.
to see your success and everything?
And it was good for me because I was in kind of a war with my father most of
my life, so it was nice when he saw that I wasn’t a complete waster.
to do more movie acting and that kind of stuff?
I felt that–I was looking at these actors when I was doing it with Jim
Jarmusch, and I was thinking, these guys have been thinking about acting their
whole life. And you can’t catch up with that, you know, you have to respect
that these guys really know what they’re doing. And I watched them closely
and they had skills that I think it’d take years to really develop. I think
you can come on and goof off in a little cameo role now and then, but for myself
I definitely want to leave the acting to the actors.
do with your spare time, so to speak?
and read books.
a lot of musicians and I’m amazed how dumb so many of them are. And how
many of them don’t read at all. I mean, they’re kind of like idiot
savants–just because you’re a really good musician doesn’t mean
you’re smart about anything else, you know?
very true. I bear that in mind a lot, so I try and read books and not watch
the television. Unless there’s, perhaps, an important soccer match, that’s
kind of enjoyable, but I like to try and read a book.
have you been liking lately?
to read about things that actually happen. I mean, I must get on to novels and
stuff, but I like to read biographies. I like to read someone’s life and
how they coped with things they had to struggle with.
next on my list.
fucking wild. He’s a genius. He invented public relations.
that, inventing p.r.
and the Mescaleros play Tues., Oct. 9, at Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Pl. (betw.
15th & 16th Sts.), 777-6800.
The Clash weren’t
Ah, thank you
So, this is
Well, it feels
But it hasn’t
Have you just
How do you
Well, no, ’cause
You could put
So you know
We were out
Do you think
Um, no, not
Where do you
Are you married
So are they
The Clash changed
I wish that
Do you think
Yeah, I think
Back to the
This is a strange
How long did
We were interrupted
Do you have
Oh, we went
And who produced
We did it in-house–we
Do you work
Yeah, but we
Well, I don’t
In other words,
Ah, I don’t
Well, you know,
They want to
I know we can
Yeah, I don’t
Do you smoke
Do you think
I think it
Do you own
We have the
But you still
Are your parents
No, no, they
But they got
Do you want
No, to be honest,
What do you
I like to try
I only like
Have you gotten