In the immediate wake of the Sex Pistols' dramatic 1978 breakup, John Lydon shed his "Rotten" persona and emerged with Public Image Ltd, a new outfit whose dark, strange sound defined the new direction the UK music scene would soon pursue. Post-punk — less a genre than a loose and electic coalition of aesthetic impulses at once arty, angry and cerebral — viewed the scorched-earth sonic violence of the 1977 punk rock explosion not as the last gasp of rock'n'roll but as a fertile breeding ground for new sounds (a direct inversion of the Pistols' "no future" ethos).
On early albums like First Issue and Metal Box, PiL crafted a singular stlye of droning, avant-garde guitar rock, heavily informed by the atmospheric production of Jamaican dub reggae, the repetitive rhythmic plateau of disco and the studio experimentation of '70s krautrock. Lydon's jagged ranting and wailing provided the music's emotional and intellectual core. It's a sound that proved massively influential on their contemporaries and remains potent to this day. The band continued recording into the early '90s, undergoing countless personnel shifts with Lydon remaining as the band's sole constant member.
After a 17-year hiatus, Lydon reformed PiL for a brief live stint in 2009. The new line-up, featuring both late-80s PiL vets and new members, proved a success, and in the last few years Lydon and company have toured extensively — and even returned to the recording studio. Earlier this spring, the band released their first new full-length in nearly two decades, This is PiL, on their own label PiL Official.
In town for a show at Mill City Nights, the band stopped by The Current studio to chat with Mary Lucia and play a few songs.
Songs played: "Reggie Song, "Warrior" and "Out of the Woods."
- Public Image Ltd.