John Lydon Calls Modern Punk Bands ‘Coat Hangers’
Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon said modern punk bands had turned the genre into a “caricature,” singling out Green Day and similar acts for being “coat hangers” for fashion trends from the ‘70s that became akin to uniforms.
In an interview with The New York Times, Lydon reflected on how fashion followed him when he left the Sex Pistols and formed PiL. “Row 1 to 30 would be Johnny Rotten imitators,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is going horribly wrong.’ I wasn’t doing this to create a new uniform that wasn’t any way near as good as what the Nazis had.” He quickly added, “‘John said with the utmost possible humor.’”
He noted that's "where punk and me separated. Punk wanted to maintain the cliche and the uniformity that it didn’t deserve. And I wanted to do new and different things, which is, to my mind, what punk is all about: Do it yourself, which means be true to yourself.”
Turning to the state of the genre four decades on, he said it's "embarrassing, really. How many bands are out there like Green Day now? I look at them, and I just have to laugh. They’re coat hangers, you know. A turgid version of something that doesn’t actually belong to them.”
He said punk had become a “caricature” and rap had become a “perfect backdrop to sell a pair of sneakers.”
Lydon went on to criticize the state of American politics in the era of Donald Trump’s presidency. “What America did was it voted in a businessman to replace politicians,” he said. “Is business the alternative? I’ve openly said I don’t think so. That’s the ultimate corruption, but that’s how desperate America has become.”
Asked about the possibility of becoming so accepted that he’d receive a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth, he said, “Do you think I’d ever let the Queen hold a sword over my head?”