Part Time Punks?

Punk poet Attila the Stockbroker and Rat Scabies, drummer with The Damned,debate about John Lydon’s involvement on "I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here" and the nature of punk

We're so pretty...

Interviewed by John Humphries, Radio 4, Feb 2004


* So, what did you make of the romp in the jungle?
- (AS) I’m not impressed by all those mindless, boring, gunky gameshows of any description really; I’m sure Lydon would say it’s ‘Cash from Chaos" and a re-run of the Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle, but there’s an awful lot more interesting things he could have done. I’ve only seen about 5 minutes of it and it’s completely lobotomised as far as I’m concerned; it’s aimed at people with the intellectual capacity of a lobotomised flounder, but good luck to him if that’s what he wants to do, but I preferred what he did with The Sex Pistols!

Attila the Stockbroker

* Not much to do with punk, you think?
(AS) Punk to me, in any case, is a way of life and an attitude; punk to me is the thousands and millions of people, probably, all over the world who are organising their own gigs, running their own venues, doing their own thing. These days it’s about DIY, it’s about Do It Yourself, it’s an independent, underground culture. In one sense Lydon is only confirming what happened when it started; The Pistols were a fantastic catalyst but they were a construct, put together by Malcolm McClaren and on ‘The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle’, the film, they and McClaren quite cynically exposed the entire Rock’n’Roll myth for what it is. So Lydon would probably say that the Celebrity programme was the logical thing to do!

* Chris Miller, or should I call you Rat Scabies..?
- (RS) Call me whatever you’re most comfortable with!
* I think most probably Chris Miller in that case. Do you agree with all that?
- (RS) No, not all of it. First of all, I like our celebrities having to earn a living; these people are celebrities and I want to know ‘what for?’!
- (AS) Absolutely!
- (RS) So I think it’s a good thing that they’re working so we can see why they’re celebrities, or why they’re not, and I find that if you’ve got the cruel sense of humour that enjoys Mike Leigh plays, then you’d have found the first three days absolutely brilliant, watching these people sounding each other out and establishing a hierarchy and pecking order.
* But if Johnny Rotten stood for something, and he did, hasn’t he sold out? Isn’t this saying that the revolution’s over?

Rat Scabies

- (RS) What would he want to win for?
* No, I don’t mean sold out in the sense of walking out of the show, absolutely not, I mean for taking part in the first place?
- (RS) No, I don’t think so; I think the point is that he’s got a career on the go which needs publicity and exposure, and this is a great way to do it, you couldn’t buy the type of publicity he’s got from this. Why shouldn’t he do this, what else is he doing?
* Well perhaps he’s not anymore, but isn’t he supposed to be nihilistic, anarchistic and those kind of things?
- (AS) Well I guess he’d say that’s what he was being, but this celebrity concept is very, very odd – you don’t have to actually do anything or to have done anything to be a celebrity. One of the contestants was that Lord bloke who’s famous for getting nicked for fraud, and then there’s Jordan who’s famous for having big breasts; well if she’s a celebrity so’s my wife as she has lovely big breasts! It’s completely ridiculous!
* Has your wife got an agent?
- (AS) Just me!
* You’re not doing a bad job! So does this all mean the end of punk?
(AS) No, absolutely not! Punk is nothing to do with Johnny Rotten, old compilation albums or any of that sort of thing. Punk is about what’s happening throughout the world, for example I do 120 gigs a year, many of them in mainland Europe – in Germany for instance there’s a network of about 300 alternative centres run by independent groups, by left wing groups, by groups committed to political and cultural ideals, and that is what punk rock’s about! It’s about people producing independent records. People producing independent fanzines, running independent gigs; it’s not about a celebrity like Rotten or even any of the fantastic thing’s he’s been involved with in the past, it’s about what’s happening out there in the underground now!
- (RS) But it’s not those things
, is it? Well that’s what it’s turned into, that’s what people associate it with, but really it’s about getting away with whatever you can cos you’ve got nothing to lose. If you’ve got nothing, you can only gain in the world, that was our philosophy. We had very little and we had to do gigs, it wasn’t that we could go out and refuse to sign a contractor get put on by promoters, we didn’t have a choice...

* We'll have to end it there...