John Lydon on politics, passports, poo… and Public Image Ltd’s new album

Four decades after he joined the Sex Pistols and became Johnny Rotten, John Lydon still has a unique ability to lower the tone. “Sorry I was a bit late, I was just having a Farage,” he says, by way of greeting, as he arrives to speak to NME. “That’s when it’s all a bit dribbly.”

Lydon is here to introduce Public Image Ltd’s 10th album, due out on September 4. Preceded by the single ‘Double Trouble’, it’s called ‘What The World Needs Now…’ “There’s a dot dot dot at the end, because I am asking the question,” explains Lydon. “You fill in the blank. It’s a question, not an exclamation, which is so typical of me.”

Lydon says the “pop-based” album is “a lurch in a different direction” from 2012’s vibrant comeback, ‘This Is PiL’, their first studio album in 20 years. “I loved that last album, but this is the next level. It’s timeless. I don’t do that fashion-of-the-moment thing. I am ahead of the pack, I never fall behind. And I don’t want to sound like anybody else. That’s the key to my success.”

Song titles include ‘C’est La Vie’, ‘I’m Not Satisfied’, ‘Corporate’ and ‘Shoom’, which Lydon promises takes “absolutely no prisoners, and is about the most direct you can be as a human being”. There’s also a B-side to contend with on ‘Double Trouble’, a savage, off-the-cuff rant about fashion designer Vivienne Westwood called ‘Turkey Tits’.

“I don’t mean to be outspoken,” he claims unconvincingly. “I just feel the need to comment when I see something that’s wrong. Or even when it’s right.”

Naturally, the Los Angeles-based Lydon can’t resist casting his scorn on current parlous state of the United Kingdom. “I read something hysterical this morning about the north of England declaring independence and joining Scotland,” he cackles. “It’s a joke, but it’s a good joke.” So is he in favour of Scottish independence? Apparently not. “When I hear of Scotland going independent I think it’s going back to a 15th century village ideology, feudalism. I don’t want to see countries exist, I just want one nation called the world.”

Suffice to say the recent general election didn’t capture Lydon’s imagination. “I tried to stay up [to watch the result] but it was boring. I’d much rather watch a real soap opera than that rubbish.”

Did this one-time anarchist even vote? “Oh yes, I voted. You have to. Although I’m getting a US passport, so next time I vote it’ll be over here, where it really matters.”

Don’t worry though – this noxious national treasure isn’t giving up his British passport just yet. “Oh no, matey, I am not giving anything up. It’ll just go with my stack of others, so I can use whichever passport is least likely get me prodded at the airport. There’s always someone wanting to have a look up your crackhole. Well, good luck to them at my age, I say. There’s many a rancid old-man fart waiting for them.”