John Lydon: ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ is an underrated record

Sex Pistols singer recalls being discussed in Parliament under the Treason Act

John Lydon has said the Sex Pistols’ seminal album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ is underrated and that he’s always felt misunderstood as an artist.

In the new issue of NME, which is on newsstands now and available digitally, Lydon said the music press have failed to recognise just how subversive the Pistols were in their prime.

“It amazes me when I see these all-time top albums lists, and ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ is hovering around Number 10, 15 or even 20,” he said. “This is a band that pushed it so far we were discussed in Parliament under the Treason Act, you know?”

Lydon also detailed the “pure hell” of finding his voice fronting the Sex Pistols and the self-consciousness that has remained with him to this day. “Self-doubt to the max. I can’t eat before gigs,” he said, before adding: “But once I go on, and get that first line in, there it is. I may not be the most technically gifted singer, but I know what I feel and how to express it.”

The PiL frontman explained how his alias Johnny Rotten was a self-defence mechanism as a result of feeling vulnerable: “I can’t help it – I’m in the public eye. I’ve built up a very good defence in Johnny Rotten over the years, but unfortunately that’s been interpreted as arrogance, which of course it’s not. It’s a self-defence mechanism which I had to adopt because of those early years.”

Lydon also revealed that he’s got more than 2,000 pages of notes for the new PiL album, though any solid themes are yet to emerge. “I know once I get in there with the lads it’ll all go out the window. It’ll be the thrill of seeing each other again. They’re the best people I’ve ever worked with,” he said.

Lydon’s third autobiographical book, Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, is out now. Earlier this month, the punk icon was called “a bumhole” by Russell Brand after he criticised the comedian’s political ideals and described him as “arsehole number one”.