OM Only Music Issue No. 8 August 1987  (USA)

He has spent the past ten years being everything from a punk idol to a heroin junkie. But in 1987, Steve Jones has found what he's always been looking for - himself.
By Joanna Ramsey

Steve Jones 1987

The first thing one notices about Steve Jones these days is his look.. well, both looks. The first look is simply straight-up, California cool; ripped up jeans and t-shirts - light years away from the hard trash of safety pins, of studded leather and of the Sex Pistols. The other look is the one that he has in his eyes - calm, mature and very, very sober. Yes, this is quite a different Steve Jones from the version ten years ago that was into anarchy and heroin. But, as one soon finds out, this Steve Jones has a whole lot more to offer.

For one thing, today he knows what he's doing with the music he makes-his new album, Mercy, is ample proof of that. Now that's not to say what he did with writing and playing for the Sex Pistols wasn't important, but it really wasn't exactly music quite so much as it was attitude. "I was into what we were doing, but I didn't think it was punk... I just had a laugh." says Jones of the time. "I didn't wear all the safety pins and things. I was a troublemaker, but I didn't go in for all the things that the press said we did. It was just a rock band

- that's all it was to me. I suppose it was a bit different, but that's just because we couldn't play very well. We didn't deliberately go out to make a horrible noise. I'd only been playing for three months before I did my first gig, so obviously I wasn't going to be f**king amazing."

When he joined the Sex Pistols, Jones really didn't have a lot to lose. After being caught in some sort of criminal activity about 13 times, Jones spent a year in prison for stealing. He stole mostly from shops and at the time considered himself a bit of a hooligan. Needless to say he fit right in immediatly with Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious.

Regardless of whatever views he has of the Sex Pistols in retrospect, the band was extremely influential in forming many of the attitudes held today in modern music. And he does agree that what they did made an impact; he just doesn't take it all that seriously. "I don't regret anything, really," he explains. "It was a lot of fun. If you like it or not, you have to admit that it really changed music from the way it was at the time. Even your dad probably knows who the Sex Pistols were."

Granted, pretty much everyone, with the possible exception of any 'under-rock dwellers,' has heard of the Sex Pistols. But after their demise Jones fell into something of a bad way - something more destructive than he, at the time, could even fathom. "I was bored after all the excitement. I was always drunk in the band, and after we broke up a guy came around with some stuff, and I liked it. I don't know why I got into it. When you're a kid and people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, you don't say, 'a junkie.' I don't think it's something you want to be.'' Of course, addiction is never pleasant. "Everyone throws up the first time they do it,'' Jones says of his experiences, ''but either you like it or you don't. It all depends on what you're like or what your life is like. If you've got a hole in your life where you always feel lonely, it fills that hole."

Jones says he really doesn't know what caused his loneliness, but blames it not only on the sudden loss of the limelight, but his distant past as well. "I didn't have a really good upbringing with my parents. My stepdad used to hit me. Millions of people are lonely even though they have big houses and loads of friends. People with big houses and all that are probably more unhappy - they -think money will make them happy, but it doesn't.''

Regardless of whether or not the previous hole in his life was filled, Jones' addiction soon created another, with infinitely deeper proportions. ''I went to hundreds of those things (rehabilitation clinics) over the ten years that I was on, he says. "It's not that they didn't work, it's that I didn't want them to work. I didn't want to stop. If you really want to, you can stop." Fortunately for Jones, he woke up one day and decided that he finally did want to stop.

And, luckily, he hasn't really felt any serious side effects in the two years since he quit. "I'm fine,'' he says laughing. "I'm a healthy young stud again. I've been straight for two years and one month."

During those two years, Jones has had a great deal with which to keep his mind occupied. To begin with, he moved out of England to the fresher, sunnier climate of Los Angeles. Of London and the move, he explains, ''I don't like it there (in London). It's always gray and rainy and everyone else is miserable. And everyone is so negative there! If you do good, then they just put you down. I hated it I f**king hated it. If you do anything that is better than them, they resent you for it. Instead of saying, 'Good luck, that's great.' they f**king hate you. Obviously. Jones was determined to get away from England. And once he got to Los Angeles, he found that a number of people wanted to work with him.

The first was a collaboration with Duran Duranie turned metalhead, Andy Taylor. As he explains: "I met him from a good friend of mine, Michael Des Barres. When he was with the Power Station. they were in town for couple of weeks and Andy was hanging out with Michael. He was doing these songs for a lame movie called American Anthem. He was writing these songs and he needed some help so he called me up. One thing led to another and we wound up doing an album."

The album, Taylor's solo Thunder, has been a great commercial success, but since it's conception, the two have had a serious falling out. 'Andy Taylor just wanted to sound like the Sex Pistols," he says with disgust. "That's what he said, and I knew how to get that sound. Did you know I wrote nearly all those songs? I only got credit for about half of them. He's just a little crook."

It was only after this experience with Taylor that Jones decided to give it a go on his own. And he's done a hell of a job - Mercy is a serious musical achievement. He seems proud of it, as he should. He isn't concentrating on his musical background and he isn't concentrating on the last ten years: he's looking at nothing but the future. ''I don't care about the past any more," he say's firmly. "I just want to get on with what I'm doing."

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