CLASH frontman Joe Strummer is releasing an album of new material and plans to debut the songs live in June.
He’s recording the album, ‘The X-Ray Style’, with his band, The Mescaleros, in a west London studio and has co-written songs with Anthony Genn, who has worked with Pulp and Elastica.
The album will also contain songs that he composed with The Grid‘s Richard Norris.
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros are expected to play a few warm-up dates in June, before appearing at Glastonbury and T In The Park.
As well as previewing new songs such as ‘The Road To Rock And Roll’ (a song Strummer originally wrote for Johnny Cash), the band will be playing some old Clash songs.
“This is my Bee Gees series,” Strummer told NME. “If you go to see the Bee Gees play, you wanna hear them play ‘Massachusetts’ or ‘Stayin’ Alive’. So we’ll be playing some cool Clash hits like ‘London Calling’.
“I want to put on a representation of my work to date and also drop in some of the new bombs.” Strummer has signed a one-off American deal with the Epitaph/Hellcat label, and is currently looking for a deal in Europe as well as planning a project with Belfast DJ David Holmes.
One of the reasons that Strummer has been absent for so long (apart from his appearances with Black Grape and Fat Les) is because he has been in dispute with his former label, Sony.
“I had the same contract as George Michael, but I didn’t have the money to take them on. So I bored them out. It took years. And even when they agreed to let me go, it took another three years to actually get the paperwork out. It’s incredible. Your life’s dribbling away.”
Strummer says that an upcoming album documenting The Clash‘s live performances – dating from 1976-82 – is chiefly the work of his former colleagues, Mick Jones and Paul Simenon.
“Because I’m full-on excited about The Mescaleros project, I stepped back and let Mick and Paul run the thing. We were all up there together and I respect them. We meet all the time. There’s a great version of ‘Capital Radio’ from Lewisham Town Hall. When I heard it, I thought, ‘This sounds like I remember – mayhem, feedback and people shouting and breaking chairs.’ That really had the vibe.”
While he doesn’t rule out the possibility of a Clash reunion, Strummer reckons that it will be saved for a special occasion. “The true and proper thing to do is to play together when you’re inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. My worry about reforming is that it doesn’t have any creative use.
“It’s a great day in the park, or whatever. But the world needs good stuff to come out. We’re up to our necks in dross and we need good records, films and books.
“I’ve kept my powder dry. I’m back in the swim at the same level as everyone else – creatively and musically.”
Local shop hasn’t got NME? Click here to subscribe.