in conversation with Phil Singleton
25th May 2005
Paul: Get on the air for Kick Down The Doors!
Phil: I thought I'd start by asking, with the passing of Dave Goodman, whether you had an overriding memory of him?
Not really to tell you the truth, because I haven't really been in contact with him since way back when, when we (Pistols) split up. Just now and again. He was a nice guy, but no one could get much sense out of him towards the end. He went very weird. I don't know if you spoke to him or anything?
He sent me some e-mails...
Yeah, he had a bit of a bugbear with the Pistols over the years, thinking we owed him tons of money and stuff, y'know? It was a bit tense. We tried to sort it out with him, because he'd released a lot of bootlegs over the years, as you probably know.
I mean he was a nice guy, he was nice enough, and it was fun in those early days with him when he was doing the sound and stuff. He'd tried to do the Anarchy single to start off with, which didn't work out.
Do you think he was important in terms of the evolution of the band's sound? Did he have any input into that?
No, not really. He was important in the early days doing our sound at all those early gigs, he was our sound guy. But it didn't work out when we tried to record Anarchy with him, as you know. We ended up down with Chris Thomas and that was the last we really heard of him. Dave did all our early demos and the Spunk album, he was part of the team early on, but I must say I wasn't very close to him over the years. We did fall out a bit about all the bootlegging. He thought he was owed money so he would release another album to make money etc.
He doctored some of the tracks, and played around with mixes..
Yeah, exactly. He pissed around with everything, and so pissed the band off a bit.
He was involved with the Swindle soundtrack, wasn't he?
Yeah, he did do that. He is credited for it as well. All the out-takes that we used, we tarted them up for use in the film. That was the last work we'd done with him actually, going through all the old tapes and getting some songs for the Swindle. But like I say, we did kind of fall out with him and I never really saw him since. What did he die of in the end?
A heart attack, I believe. He lived over in Malta.
He did go off on this hippy, sort of eco-warrior kind of thing. We tried to sit down with him and his lawyers over the years to try and sort out all the stuff business wise, but it never worked out with one thing and another. It is sad that he's died though, obviously, but I wouldn't say he was vitally important to the evolution of the Pistols.
I wouldn't have thought so either really, because your sound was better when you had Chris Thomas producing, wasn't it?
Exactly, yeah. It didn't work out at all. When we originally tried to record Anarchy In The UK with Dave, we must have done it a hundred times! We kept going through it, and it just wasn't working. Then we done it with Chris Thomas, and we'd done it in about two takes I think!
Do you think he's always overstated his importance?
Oh definitely. I think he did think he was a bit more important to the Pistols than he actually was.
We've just mentioned the Swindle, of course it's coming out on DVD. I know it was an odd period, but do you have any fond memories of the Swindle?
It was a bit of a mish-mash towards the end, trying to get the film together, and paste it all together with all the bits and pieces. I think Julien (Temple) did a great job in the end with what was available. It was the last throw, as it were, with the Pistols. We'd all split up by then obviously. But it's a great film really, for the time. And it's very funny as well.
That's what I liked about it, everyone used to come out of the cinema having a really good laugh, even people that weren't Pistols fans.
Yeah, it was funny...and some people actually did believe...I mean Malcolm enjoyed all the myth-making, the story of swindling your way to the top, which wasn't really the case.
I think there were only a few people who believed the story.
Malcolm actually was probably one of the few people who believed it! The story of the Swindle is born out of real life, nothing was contrived about us, the way it happened was broadly the story, the way it worked out, and Malcolm slotted it all together to fit his own ends.
Did you ever think during that time, that you would continue as a band? There was the bit with Ed Tudor-Pole for example. Was there ever a serious attempt to keep the band going?
No. No, I don't think so. Not at all really. Me and Steve well and truly knew that was it really. The only thing that could have happened is that we were thinking of getting Sid to sing. We were going to do an album with Sid. Just before he died. Me and Steve were going to fly over to New York and make an album with him. Whether we would have used the name Sex Pistols or not, I don't know. That was the plan. Who knows what would have happened?
What sort of material would you have covered?
We were going to do an album of cover versions of his favourite songs, to try and cover his court costs. But he died the day before we were due to fly out. That was a shame, but who knows, it might have worked out with Sid as our singer. Who knows?
That's it, there's no way of knowing now.
How serious did it get with Jimmy Pursey becoming your singer? It seemed serious at the time.
Well, we were looking for singers at the time, me and Steve as a band, but not as the Sex Pistols. I think it was all in Pursey's imagination, thinking he was going to be the next singer of the Pistols. There's no way we would have carried on using the Pistols name, which is why I think that all folded soon enough. That didn't work out at all, it wasn't going to work.
Bringing things right up to date, you've been working with Phil Collen from Def Leppard, in the group Man-Raze.
Yeah, we've just got a couple of tracks ready to go as we are speaking. We're going to get them mastered and get them out. We're doing it all off our own backs at the moment, financing everything ourselves. We have recorded nearly an album's worth of songs and are releasing an E P. to start with, and then we'll carry on from there. It's a bit difficult at the moment, because Phil is touring with Def Leppard.
Have you known Phil for a while? Is he an old mate?
We bumped into each other over the years, funnily enough. Our paths crossed. Steve (Jones) knew him from L A, and Def Leppard were always massive Pistols fans. And John (Lydon) knew Joe Elliott a bit over the years. It's funny how our paths seemed to cross. I'd bump into him in LA, and then the Pistols would be touring and bump into Def Leppard a couple of times, when we were doing the world tour. I didn't know him really well but we'd hung out a little bit.
Then I saw him more recently when he came to London again, and he was getting together his side project with songs he was doing outside of Def Leppard, and he just rang me up, about a year ago. I had a listen to the stuff, and said, "yeah I'll do it." It was very much on a part-time basis, and it kind of is at the moment, until we get everyone together at the same time. It's working quite well though. We've done all this stuff with Simon Laffy, an old friend of Phil's, and he's been doing a lot of work at home in his studio. Then we've been going down to the big studios when we can, to put on the live drums. It's very much a case of, see how it goes. When we can do it, we're doing it.
How would you describe the sound?
Quite eclectic really. It's got a lot of influences, it's what you'd expect: guitar rocky. It's quite poppy as well, with a little bit of a ska, reggae-ish kind of thing in there. Yeah, it's eclectic really I suppose.
(Pictured: Man-Raze - Phil, Paul & Simon)
Steve played a track a few months back on Jonesy's Jukebox, when Phil was a guest on his show. He played one of the demos.
Yeah, Skin Crawl. That's more of a grungy type.
It did have a kind of grungy rocky sound to it.
Yeah, that's the heaviest track really, the other stuff is more poppy, catchier.
What's going to be the lead track on your EP, has that been decided yet?
It's going to be that, Skin Crawl. And there is another track called You're So Wrong, a kind of up-tempo, more Pistolly sounding song.
It sounds quite exciting stuff.
It's going well. I'll see how it goes, but Phil Collen is writing some good stuff.
Do you think you will be playing live at any point?
Yeah, we hope to. We definitely hope to. It's a matter of getting our foot in the door at the moment, getting the stuff out and taking it from there really and trying to get some interest from someone because we obviously can't do it all by ourselves, the distribution and everything. We've done it just about as much as we can at the moment. I guess we're going to need a little bit of help from somewhere.
A little bit of backing just to give it a push.
Exactly, yeah. It's sounding quite good, I'm quite excited about it.
It will be nice as well for you to be part of another group. Haven't you also been helping out with the new Slits album?
Yes, I've done a little bit on that
a couple of tracks I've played on, with a friend of mine, Sam, who's managing her. He got in touch with Ari Up. I think they are going to release something soon as well, an EP to start with. I played on a couple of tracks on that. That's sounding good as well.
You wouldn't fancy playing live with the Slits at all?
No, I don't think so. That was more a session thing. Ari's kind of all over the place as usual, y'know! She's in good form though, and was sounding good. She's got all sorts of different influences.
Speaking of session work, you co-produced the Le Scenes with Ray McVeigh.
That's right, I did. They are an Irish band, who I like actually, and they are getting a bit of interest as well with their demos. I've helped them out, done a couple of tracks in the studio. Did you hear one of those?
I did, because Ian Stewart (Musicbest Records) got in touch and he sent me a CD of the demos that you've done.
They're good, aren't they?
They are good.
Yeah, I think they are a good band, I might get involved further along the line.
It would be good if you did, because for demos they sound pretty much like the finished product.
Yeah, they might use them in the end, we'll see how it works out. I'll probably get involved with them...we'll see, it's kind of early stages at the moment. It's a matter of seeing what turns up.
Ian was saying he's been a friend of yours for a long, long time.
Yeah I've known him for ages, from years ago.
He said you were football fans, and he has a soft spot for Man City which I was quite pleased about!
Everyone does, don't they? Feel sorry for them!
Would you like to do any more producing?
I don't mind producing. Although computer production does bore me a bit. It's a different discipline sitting in the studio all day listening to the same fucking track over and over.
Well, you may become a famous dad with Hollie now recording songs. How do you feel about that?
Yeah! She's doing all right as well! She's done this track which is on an album in Japan that's done really well.
She'd been working with Glen Matlock a bit, he's been doing the production.
Oh yes, he's been doing the lot. He's written the songs, he's done the production. It's tied in with this cartoon which is on the telly every week in Japan, about a rock band. There's an album to tie in with the cartoon, and it went to number one in Japan! Hollie's got a track on that. They're writing some more songs, they've got four or five songs finished, and they are sounding good. Glen's trying to work on that a bit to see what happens.
(Pictured: Hollie and Paul, October 2001)
Does that make you feel quite proud?
Yes, kind of. I know how tough it is. I'm being a real dad, "Don't forget you've got to get a proper job, get something behind you!" Typical things my dad used to say to me!
Get a qualification.
Do you fancy going out and drumming for Holly in the future?
Oh God! (laughing) I dunno!
How about that, father and daughter!?
We'll see! I don't know. You never know, mate. I'd help her out, of course, we'll see what happens, but it seems to be all go at the moment.
You've been out and about a bit; you were at a Green Day gig not so long ago.
I haven't been out loads to see bands, to tell you the truth. I went to see Green Day, I think that was the last thing I went to.
How do you feel about groups like that? Do you think they have anything in common with the Pistols and what you were doing?
They were obviously influenced by the whole punk thing, Green Day. They're not bad. They're not my favourite band.
Are there any particular favourites...
Nah, I'm quite bored with the whole music scene to tell you the truth. I don't think there is anything great that stands out there. The new bands, they all sound a bit the same-ish. I guess it's hard to be original, nobody seems to be sticking their head out really, taking chances. I guess it's a different ball game now.
What do you think about Jonesy's Jukebox?!
Blimey, I dunno! How weird is that?!
Steve's become a bit of a celebrity, hasn't he?
Yeah, he's got kind of a real cult following in LA. I don't think they've ever heard anything like it before. It's great, he plays his own stuff totally; he'll play Pearl Jam followed by a Benny Hill record, or Charlie Drake, it's very funny. He gets on there who he likes, he has all sorts of different people on there playing their favourite records, his mates from LA, movie stars, rock stars, whoever's around. It's good, it's funny. It's a proper job, I think it's the first proper job he's ever had!
He said that to me a few months ago, that he actually enjoyed having a proper job, going in every day to do something.
Yes exactly, that's good. He seems happy, I'm pleased for him.
I think maybe one day you should have the Cook and Jones show.
Oh yeah, like Smashy and Nicey!
More like Morecambe and Wise, I was thinking!
Yeah, yeah! (laughing). Yes, we could get some banter going there.
Do you want Liverpool to win tonight? (European Champions League Final)
I do actually, yes. At first, after Liverpool knocked Chelsea out, I thought they can get stuffed! But I should support them I guess.
I was hoping that if Liverpool win tonight, there would be an extra Uefa Cup place which Man City would get, but I don't think this is going to happen now.
It's not going to happen mate. There's talk of Liverpool not qualifying even if they win tonight. Uefa are desperately hoping that AC Milan win it. But I've got a funny feeling that Liverpool might do it.
They've a chance, they're more hungry for it.
(Note: Liverpool won!)
I have to ask the question about the Pistols playing again. I guess it's never say never?
I can't see it happening again though, to tell you the truth. Maybe a few one-offs or a big festival, but I don't know if it's a good thing to do any more really. There's never been any new material or anything.
Would you be bored playing the same set?
We don't play it every year. It's been a while between shows. It's great, I love getting back together and playing the songs, it's great. But I can't see us touring again, to tell you the truth Phil.
I do get asked quite often about the Professionals. Would you ever get back together, the four of you? Logistically it's quite difficult because you're spread around the globe.
Steve's in LA. But yeah, we were toying with it a while ago, but now Steve's got this job, it's even harder. He's not going to be able to get loads of time off to do touring and stuff, so I guess not at the moment, but that's always a possibility. But now we've all got our own things going
Ray (McVeigh) is looking after his kids full time. I don't know how he even gets the time to do the stuff with Glen really (The Philistines). But you never know mate, if things come up, if the price is right, as they say!
Finally, how is Edwin Collins doing?
Well, he's progressing slowly, but it's going to be a long old struggle. I wish him all the fucking luck in the world. It's not great to see him like that. The doctors didn't give him much hope at all. When he first had the haemorrhage he had an emergency operation. But from when I first saw him until now, his progress has been great. He's stringing more words together, he's getting slight movements back here and there, he can understand everything you say, and he hasn't lost his sense of humour. But it's bloody awful to see him like that, I must admit.
He was very unlucky.
Yeah, he's such a great bloke, Edwin. It's awful. But he's going into rehabilitation this week so they will be working full-time on his recovery.
We wish him all the best.
Yeah, people can recover from that. But it does take a long time, I just hope he gets a good quality of life back. He's a great bloke who I really like, we used to have good fun.
West Heath Yard (written by Edwin & featuring Paul) was a fantastic series...
That's him all over. We used to have good fun when we used to play together, touring.
Are there any projects that I've not mentioned that are coming up?
No, that's about it really.
Thanks for answering those questions Paul.
That's alright mate, anything else you can think of, just let me know.
Photographs taken by Phil Singleton
©Phil Singleton / www.sex-pistols.net / www.cookandjones.co.uk
Man-Raze photograph provided by Simon Laffy/Man-Raze and reproduced with permission.
All material ©Phil Singleton 2005 / www.sex-pistols.net / www.cookandjones.co.uk
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.