THE VIBRATORS’ KNOX ON SEX PISTOLS & JOHN LYDON
The Vibrators were there from the start. So we asked '77 punk veteran and Vibrators frontman Knox to share his memories of John Lydon (Sex Pistols, PIL), our cover star for the latest issue of Vive Le Rock (issue 6).
First off, did you know John Lydon and were you aware of the Pistols?
“We were aware of the Pistols prior to playing with them, in fact Eddie, our drummer, had driven Bazooka Joe to play in St Martin's Arts School the previous October, or some time before Christmas, so it would have been 1975 and the Pistols that was their very first gig, supporting Bazooka Joe. I don’t think they were that good, they were jamming or something, and had to go and get amps. The best thing would be to talk to Eddie, but he is away on tour. I was sort of aware of them, and that they had a very good sort of image and were in the press, so they were on the radar. We turned up to play. and they were reasonably friendly. I think they had people there trying to interview them, so they were probably busy with that. They were probably a bit nervous of you, as you might be of them, but when they played they were brilliant. Johnny Rotten’s fantastic. The only thing I thought they fell down on slightly was Steve Jones' guitar sound. On the records I think it’s layered up with like six guitars or whatever, but when he was playing live you just had a twin reverb. I think it was on a chair or something. It was loud but it wasn’t that much of a fat sound, that was the only thing, but they played brilliant. They came with this fantastic visual package and Johnny Rotten was really doing his sneering stage thing. What I found really weird was about a year or so ago, I'm not sure if it was with the Vibrators, but we were back in the 100 Club and there was The Sex Pistols Experience playing. And the singer they had was so like Johnny Rotten it was like time hadn’t passed, taking us back there. It was a very peculiar kind of experience. That time I felt like was back at that same gig.”
Was there competition at that point between bands like The Vibrators and the Pistols? Were you aware of that?
“Not really. Possibly slightly. There weren’t so many bands out there. They’d already got all the attention. I think we were very pleased to be supporting them and we were sort of new. They had all that kind of management, they had their attitude thing and everything in place. I think later on, for every gig that they were doing, we were doing about a dozen gigs. We were out in the suburbs, it’s quite nasty out there. You’re the first band in town. A bit later on, after that nasty 100 Club thing with the Damned, punk became synonymous with violence, so you are on the front line as it were. I mean, nothing ever really happened, but being in these places - it’s aggressive, a really scary atmosphere. It’s like being in a kind of war zone. I mean, maybe bands have again created that today. I don’t know really.”
Did you see the Pistols when they came back?
“No I didn’t. I listened to them, I think live on the radio. I haven’t seen them, apart from that time we played with them and when we played with them with the Heartbreakers over in Amsterdam, in the Paradiso. We did two nights there with them.”
How was it playing in somewhere like Amsterdam, when punk was all new and the Pistols had just gone there?
“Well, very exciting. I think we were out there possibly on a tour before - or that might have been part of the tour - and then we did the two nights with them. And you’re the first people, it’s very busy with people wanting to interview you, very newsworthy. It’s extremely kind of exciting and probably at the same time, kind of tiring, doing all those interviews before you’re playing. It’s that kind of adrenaline.”
Did the shows go well down in Holland?
“They went down pretty well. I think on one night they went off stage, I think they had some stuff thrown at them. Johnny Rotten just stayed on the stage doing his nasty staring like, 'let’s not be naughty boys and girls'. I think the people throwing the stuff, I don’t think it was dangerous. I think it was celebratory throwing if there is such a thing.”
What do you think of John Lydon’s work with Public Image?
“I’m not that familiar with it, but I know people that see it and think it’s fantastic. The other day someone said they’d seen Public Image one time a few years - maybe quite a few years ago - and that they were terrible. But on that last tour, which I would’ve liked to have seen, I heard that they were really, really brilliant, so I dunno. Also I like some of the songs stuff like ‘Rise’ and all that stuff. I haven’t heard Johnny Rotten’s other stuff. Hasn't he got a thing called Psycho’s Path?”
KNOX IS RECORDING WITH THE VIBRATORS - Knox is currently in the studio (5-15 March 2012) recording with The Vibrators. Mainly his songs, and they're hoping to get lots of guest singers on this album
KNOX RECORDING WITH THE KNOXVILLE BOYS - Knox recorded with the Knoxville Boys (a cut down line up of theTrailer Trash Orchestra), Fri. 9th March to make an EP to sell on the upcoming German Tour (see dates below).
19-27 May - GERMAN TOUR - The Knoxville Boys