meta-scriptSystem Of A Down Plot 2020 European Tour |

Serj Tankian of System Of A Down

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images


System Of A Down Plot 2020 European Tour

On the heels of a few overseas festival appearance announcements, the GRAMMY-winning band has revealed plans to tour Europe next June and July

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2019 - 04:51 am

System Of A Down's gradual return continues, as the band has announced a string of 2020 European tour dates. The run will kickoff June 3 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and touch down in 12 countries in all, wrapping at VOA Heavy Rock Festival in Lisbon, Portugal one month later.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We’re happy to announce that headline dates have been added to our 2020 European Tour. General on-sale begins Fri., 4th October @ 10am local, which will include VIP ticket packages with proceeds going the non-profit charity, <a href="">@MyStepFund</a>. Visit <a href=""></a> for details <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; System Of A Down (@systemofadown) <a href="">September 30, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The new European trek comes just after the GRAMMY-winning band revealed they will make several major festival appearances overseas, including Download Festival in England and Nova Rock Festival in Austria.

In May of this year, the band reunited for Sonic Temple in Colombus, Ohio, and while it's been 14 years since their most recent album, the double-LP Mesmerize/Hypnotize, the band has reportedly been working on new music off and on since 2011.

SOAD earned their first GRAMMY nomination in 2001 for "Chop Suey!" for Best Metal Performance. Four years later, they took home their first GRAMMY win for "B.Y.O.B." from Mezmerize for Best Hard Rock Performance. Their most recent nomination came one year later for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Lonely Day" from Hypnotize.

Tickets for the newly announced shows go on-sale Friday, Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. local time. For more info visit the band's website.

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Serj Tankian of System of a Down performs in 2022
Serj Tankian of System of a Down performs in 2022

Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images


Serj Tankian Talks Marrying Art And Activism: "Just Being An Entertainer Is Not Good Enough"

Ahead of his new book, 'Down With The System: A Memoir (Of Sorts),' System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian discusses his musical odyssey — from reluctant rockstar to outspoken artist.

GRAMMYs/May 14, 2024 - 01:28 pm

GRAMMY winner Serj Tankian is an accidental rock star. 

When he was 7 years old, his Armenian family fled the Lebanese Civil War and relocated to L.A. to start life anew. He dealt with some childhood bullying, then because he had a better grasp of English, he became an unintended legal aide to his father when his former business partner sued him. The singer’s childhood was defined by adult matters, and he did not discover an interest in music until he acquired a Casio keyboard at age 19.

By the time he was 24, Tankian ran a successful software company, but then he met younger guitarist Daron Malakian, and their musical union birthed System Of A Down with bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan. The heavy metal band had an incredibly successful five-album run between 1998 and 2005, andbecame international superstars with their 2001 sophomore album, Toxicity. That album sold 5 million copies domestically and lead single "Chop Suey!" was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance; a year later "Aerials" was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance. In 2006, the group took home the golden gramophone for Best Hard Rock Performance for "B.Y.O.B."

System’s music has not been the only driving force in Tankian’s life. Throughout his career, he has merged activism with art, as explored in his 2020 documentary Truth To Power. He has been outspoken on many issues — particularly that of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, which to this day Turkey still has not done. He's proud of his heritage. He's proud of his music. And he has always lived life on his own terms.

"I was an activist before becoming an artist," Tankian tells "That and making a positive impact on the world was a part of what the band did."

Tankian originally intended his new book, Down With The System: A Memoir (Of Sorts), to be a philosophical tome about the intersection of justice and spirituality. And while he does hit those notes, the book could also be considered a life manual. Tankian shares his life story and musical odyssey, and we get the wisdom and insight of someone who never really planned for the life that he has had. The book arrived on May 14, and Tankian will do a short promotional book tour.

"Everything's written with complete brutal honesty, but love and compassion and understanding and self-responsibility throughout the situation," Tankian says.

Tankian applies that frankness to discussing his bandmates, with whom he hasn’t always seen eye to eye. System went on hiatus in 2006, returning intermittently to tour and play select festivals, including last month’s Sick New World Festival in Las Vegas. But they have released only two new songs in the last 18 years. 

Members of System have done other projects, including AcHoZeN, These Grey Men, and Daron Malakian and Scars On Broadway, who have released two albums. Meanwhile, Tankian has embarked on numerous solo endeavors. His projects include orchestral and acid jazz work, as well as a rock musical with Tony-winning playwright and lyricist Steven Sater called "Prometheus Bound." 

The singer and composer sat down with to discuss the compelling life story he chronicles in Down With The System. Tankian’s latest solo song "A.F. Day" hits on May 17, and his new solo Foundations EP arrives later this year featuring mostly archival songs pulled from the vaults with a few tweaks made. 

This conversation has been edited for clarity.

You're almost contrarian in a lot of ways, and you've been successful because of it. You’ve even made decisions that many people would not have, prioritizing principles over money.

I think it's worked to my benefit at the chagrin of my band members, in some ways. I should say our benefit.

I never came from the "school of rock," if you will, in my teens. The bridge to music was a very long battle for me. Whereas for young people, their parents get them a drum and they start playing at seven or eight years old. They know that's what they want to do their whole life, they want to be on stage. I never even thought of [the] stage. Even when I played music, I never thought of performance. I never thought of doing press. I never thought of making videos. I never thought of writing publicity things, quotes or whatever. So for me, the whole industry became an interesting new industry, among many that I was into.

You had a very intense childhood. Do you think that the Dada-esque and Frank Zappa-ish humor that you've brought into a lot of music, especially System, is your way of tapping into and releasing things that didn’t come out in your childhood?

That's spot on. But it's also my dad; he's a very humorous guy, and he always cracks jokes and lightens the situation. His mom, my grandmother, was like that, too. They're just really light-hearted people. On my mom's side they're serious as hell, but in a good way — very strong gravitas, good morals, good intentions. 

Maybe there is an aspect of lost childhood lived with lightness of heart. You meet a comic or someone that impresses you with their lightness of being, and you realize that you're taking life too seriously. You bring that at the back of your head: I need to integrate this everyday. I need to crack more jokes. I need to say stupid s. Because if you take life seriously, you're doomed, right? We know that. It's not worth it.

You've had to be a politician most of your life — with your friends, with family, with the band, with your activism. And yet, there's a moment you describe in the book where you're sitting on a tour bus tripping on shrooms, and the world is just rolling by. At the same time that you're this leader, you're also a passenger. It seems like you've really had to play things on the fly.

I feel like these strange, contrarian things are always happening to me; like these strange tests where I have to make a moral decision, even when you're not expecting it. 

Years ago, I signed a band called Fair to Midland [to his Serjical Strike Records label], and I tell the story about Ahmet Ertegun who founded Atlantic Records. It put me in this really strange conundrum where I happen to meet Ahmet Ertegun, and I realized that this guy has helped funnel money into campaigns to deny the Armenian Genocide in the United States of America, like think tanks, and congressional committees. Now I have to face this and deal with it properly, and it's not really easy. Just when you're not expecting it, you're faced with these things, and that's why I wrote about them because it's those stories that really, really help shape [you].

It's very easy as an artist to keep a big audience, to not give a f—, and to cater to the many. It's very difficult to make rational, moral decisions based on what you truly believe, and possibly piss off half your base. I see many entertainers that are amazing musicians around me that will never speak truth to power or anything. They won't speak about any political issues, and that's fine. I think making music for the sake of music itself is also culturally relevant.

I was an activist before becoming an artist; I can't separate one from the other. The artists that I have treasured — including Frank Zappa, Bob Marley, John Lennon — are ones that were honest with themselves and the world around them. To them, that honesty and that truth was more important than someone liking them and their music.

Has your experience with transcendental meditation helped you compose more contemplative works, like your orchestral suites 'Orca' and 'Invocations?'

With Orca, I remember I was writing my second solo record at the time for Warner which came out as Imperfect Harmonies. I had a conversation earlier with my friend, David Farrier, who is a New Zealand journalist and filmmaker now. I said, "These other tracks I can't even sing on. They're long and orchestral." And he goes, "I think you're writing your first symphony." 

With Invocations, I was just writing, and I don't know how involved meditation would be involved in those moments, but the music is so moody with Invocations that there is that contemplative, ambient being. You're hearing long, drawn-out phrases. The inspiration behind Invocations was, How do I couple voices that never belonged with each other? How I do have a tenor, an alto, a world singer, and a death metal singer? It's like putting in white noise with a beautiful violin playing. So that idea made me write Invocations and put the whole project together.

Your new song "A.F. Day" is much more aggressive and punk rock. System has a punkish mentality in some songs.

It does. That song would have actually been great with System and was written very early on, I don't even know when. I'm actually wondering why that was never even a System song. Just raw, punk rock, balls to the walls, and my voice in it is so old. I kept my original demo voice because my voice has changed over 25 [or] 30 years. I can't sing like that, so I kept it. 

The book allowed me a record retrospective look at my life, including my musical life. And in a way the Foundations EP mirrors that with certain songs from 25 years ago, a song from 15 years ago, that kind of a thing that I put together in this small EP collection.

September 2001 and a few months after that had a very big impact on you. A week prior to 9/11, there was the unintended riot due to the police shutting down an unexpectedly overcrowded, free outdoor show in Hollywood. There were also people misunderstanding the meaning of "Chop Suey!", and then Howard Stern grilled you about your political views and questioned your love for America after you wrote the essay "Understanding Oil." It seems like that was when you realized you didn't want to play the game that others want you to. 

I don't recommend it for everyone. If you're trying to make music, saying things that will piss off millions of people will probably not work well for your career. But it somehow worked for me. 

I was more interested in the truth, ultimately, than my own career or our music. The guys would always be like,"You're putting everything above the band, and the band should be more important." I would always deny it, because obviously I love my band. It's a part of who I am, and I write some of those songs. But in a way, I did because I was an activist before becoming an artist. That and making a positive impact on the world was a part of what the band did. If I couldn't do it in a strong way with my words, whether it's "Understanding Oil," the essay I wrote on Sept. 12, or our music for that matter or our lyrics, then what's the f—ing point?

[After] releasing Toxicity, those couple of years were probably the most stressful times in my life. And it's not because of stardom, or people loving the band, or what people go through or the changes that happened with the band. F— all that. I was f—ing scared. 

There was a lot of s— going on, from the riots when we had that free show, to 9/11 and the band's music being basically banned by Clear Channel along with a lot of music. Then from there on other threads, a few years later having to do with Turkish intelligence [shadowing Serj], and many other things having to do with congressional people like Dennis Hastert [who killed off a proposed resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide]. My career has been this junction of music, politics, all sorts of crazy s—. It's just mayhem in some ways… and I become a recluse. And I say, Why can't I just play music?

One of the reasons I love [film] scoring is because I'm shutting the f— up and singing, literally. I sit down with the director, I sit down with the producer, we figure out the tone of a film or a TV series. And I work on it mostly by myself, and back and forth, and we finish this thing. You're in the background. I f—ing love it. Because when I'm in the foreground, I'm a disrupter, whether I like it or not.

Have you met fans from over the years even more recently that were inspired by your art and your activism? Have you found people that have been motivated to exploring their own causes?

We get a lot of System people coming up and saying that "I didn't know about the Armenian genocide. Because of you, we learned a lot more." 

But there's also that element of becoming an activist and creating a spark for someone to fight their own injustice. I think that is huge. I think that's one of the most important function of the arts — just being an entertainer is not good enough.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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billy idol living legend
Billy Idol

Photo: Steven Sebring


Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage

"One foot in the past and one foot into the future," Billy Idol says, describing his decade-spanning career in rock. "We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol."

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:19 pm

Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, spoke with Billy Idol about his latest EP,  Cage, and continuing to rock through decades of changing tastes.

Billy Idol is a true rock 'n' roll survivor who has persevered through cultural shifts and personal struggles. While some may think of Idol solely for "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding," the singer's musical influences span genres and many of his tunes are less turbo-charged than his '80s hits would belie.  

Idol first made a splash in the latter half of the '70s with the British punk band Generation X. In the '80s, he went on to a solo career combining rock, pop, and punk into a distinct sound that transformed him and his musical partner, guitarist Steve Stevens, into icons. They have racked up multiple GRAMMY nominations, in addition to one gold, one double platinum, and four platinum albums thanks to hits like "Cradle Of Love," "Flesh For Fantasy," and "Eyes Without A Face." 

But, unlike many legacy artists, Idol is anything but a relic. Billy continues to produce vital Idol music by collaborating with producers and songwriters — including Miley Cyrus — who share his forward-thinking vision. He will play a five-show Vegas residency in November, and filmmaker Jonas Akerlund is working on a documentary about Idol’s life. 

His latest release is Cage, the second in a trilogy of annual four-song EPs. The title track is a classic Billy Idol banger expressing the desire to free himself from personal constraints and live a better life. Other tracks on Cage incorporate metallic riffing and funky R&B grooves. 

Idol continues to reckon with his demons — they both grappled with addiction during the '80s — and the singer is open about those struggles on the record and the page. (Idol's 2014 memoir Dancing With Myself, details a 1990 motorcycle accident that nearly claimed a leg, and how becoming a father steered him to reject hard drugs. "Bitter Taste," from his last EP, The Roadside, reflects on surviving the accident.)

Although Idol and Stevens split in the late '80s — the skilled guitarist fronted Steve Stevens & The Atomic Playboys, and collaborated with Michael Jackson, Rick Ocasek, Vince Neil, and Harold Faltermeyer (on the GRAMMY-winning "Top Gun Anthem") —  their common history and shared musical bond has been undeniable. The duo reunited in 2001 for an episode of "VH1 Storytellers" and have been back in the saddle for two decades. Their union remains one of the strongest collaborations in rock 'n roll history.

While there is recognizable personnel and a distinguishable sound throughout a lot of his work, Billy Idol has always pushed himself to try different things. Idol discusses his musical journey, his desire to constantly move forward, and the strong connection that he shares with Stevens. 

Steve has said that you like to mix up a variety of styles, yet everyone assumes you're the "Rebel Yell"/"White Wedding" guy. But if they really listen to your catalog, it's vastly different.

Yeah, that's right. With someone like Steve Stevens, and then back in the day Keith Forsey producing... [Before that] Generation X actually did move around inside punk rock. We didn't stay doing just the Ramones two-minute music. We actually did a seven-minute song. [Laughs]. We did always mix things up. 

Then when I got into my solo career, that was the fun of it. With someone like Steve, I knew what he could do. I could see whatever we needed to do, we could nail it. The world was my oyster musically. 

"Cage" is a classic-sounding Billy Idol rocker, then "Running From The Ghost" is almost metal, like what the Devil's Playground album was like back in the mid-2000s. "Miss Nobody" comes out of nowhere with this pop/R&B flavor. What inspired that?

We really hadn't done anything like that since something like "Flesh For Fantasy" [which] had a bit of an R&B thing about it. Back in the early days of Billy Idol, "Hot In The City" and "Mony Mony" had girls [singing] on the backgrounds. 

We always had a bit of R&B really, so it was actually fun to revisit that. We just hadn't done anything really quite like that for a long time. That was one of the reasons to work with someone like Sam Hollander [for the song "Rita Hayworth"] on The Roadside. We knew we could go [with him] into an R&B world, and he's a great songwriter and producer. That's the fun of music really, trying out these things and seeing if you can make them stick. 

I listen to new music by veteran artists and debate that with some people. I'm sure you have those fans that want their nostalgia, and then there are some people who will embrace the newer stuff. Do you find it’s a challenge to reach people with new songs?

Obviously, what we're looking for is, how do we somehow have one foot in the past and one foot into the future? We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol. 

You want to do things that are true to you, and you don't just want to try and do things that you're seeing there in the charts today. I think that we're achieving it with things like "Running From The Ghost" and "Cage" on this new EP. I think we’re managing to do both in a way. 

**Obviously, "Running From The Ghost" is about addiction, all the stuff that you went through, and in "Cage" you’re talking about  freeing yourself from a lot of personal shackles. Was there any one moment in your life that made you really thought I have to not let this weigh me down anymore?**

I mean, things like the motorcycle accident I had, that was a bit of a wake up call way back. It was 32 years ago. But there were things like that, years ago, that gradually made me think about what I was doing with my life. I didn't want to ruin it, really. I didn't want to throw it away, and it made [me] be less cavalier. 

I had to say to myself, about the drugs and stuff, that I've been there and I've done it. There’s no point in carrying on doing it. You couldn't get any higher. You didn't want to throw your life away casually, and I was close to doing that. It took me a bit of time, but then gradually I was able to get control of myself to a certain extent [with] drugs and everything. And I think Steve's done the same thing. We're on a similar path really, which has been great because we're in the same boat in terms of lyrics and stuff. 

So a lot of things like that were wake up calls. Even having grandchildren and just watching my daughter enlarging her family and everything; it just makes you really positive about things and want to show a positive side to how you're feeling, about where you're going. We've lived with the demons so long, we've found a way to live with them. We found a way to be at peace with our demons, in a way. Maybe not completely, but certainly to where we’re enjoying what we do and excited about it.

[When writing] "Running From The Ghost" it was easy to go, what was the ghost for us? At one point, we were very drug addicted in the '80s. And Steve in particular is super sober [now]. I mean, I still vape pot and stuff. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but it’s incredible. All I want to be able to do is have a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant or something. I can do that now.

I think working with people that are super talented, you just feel confident. That is a big reason why you open up and express yourself more because you feel comfortable with what's around you.

Did you watch Danny Boyle's recent Sex Pistols mini-series?

I did, yes.

You had a couple of cameos; well, an actor who portrayed you did. How did you react to it? How accurate do you think it was in portraying that particular time period?

I love Jonesy’s book, I thought his book was incredible. It's probably one of the best bio books really. It was incredible and so open. I was looking forward to that a lot.

It was as if [the show] kind of stayed with Steve [Jones’ memoir] about halfway through, and then departed from it. [John] Lydon, for instance, was never someone I ever saw acting out; he's more like that today. I never saw him do something like jump up in the room and run around going crazy. The only time I saw him ever do that was when they signed the recording deal with Virgin in front of Buckingham Palace. Whereas Sid Vicious was always acting out; he was always doing something in a horrible way or shouting at someone. I don't remember John being like that. I remember him being much more introverted.

But then I watched interviews with some of the actors about coming to grips with the parts they were playing. And they were saying, we knew punk rock happened but just didn't know any of the details. So I thought well, there you go. If ["Pistol" is]  informing a lot of people who wouldn't know anything about punk rock, maybe that's what's good about it.

Maybe down the road John Lydon will get the chance to do John's version of the Pistols story. Maybe someone will go a lot deeper into it and it won't be so surface. But maybe you needed this just to get people back in the flow.

We had punk and metal over here in the States, but it feels like England it was legitimately more dangerous. British society was much more rigid.

It never went [as] mega in America. It went big in England. It exploded when the Pistols did that interview with [TV host Bill] Grundy, that lorry truck driver put his boot through his own TV, and all the national papers had "the filth and the fury" [headlines].

We went from being unknown to being known overnight. We waited a year, Generation X. We even told them [record labels] no for nine months to a year. Every record company wanted their own punk rock group. So it went really mega in England, and it affected the whole country – the style, the fashions, everything. I mean, the Ramones were massive in England. Devo had a No. 1 song [in England] with "Satisfaction" in '77. Actually, Devo was as big as or bigger than the Pistols.

You were ahead of the pop-punk thing that happened in the late '90s, and a lot of it became tongue-in-cheek by then. It didn't have the same sense of rebelliousness as the original movement. It was more pop.

It had become a style. There was a famous book in England called Revolt Into Style — and that's what had happened, a revolt that turned into style which then they were able to duplicate in their own way. Even recently, Billie Joe [Armstrong] did his own version of "Gimme Some Truth," the Lennon song we covered way back in 1977.

When we initially were making [punk] music, it hadn't become accepted yet. It was still dangerous and turned into a style that people were used to. We were still breaking barriers.

You have a band called Generation Sex with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. I assume you all have an easier time playing Pistols and Gen X songs together now and not worrying about getting spit on like back in the '70s?

Yeah, definitely. When I got to America I told the group I was putting it together, "No one spits at the audience."

We had five years of being spat on [in the UK], and it was revolting. And they spat at you if they liked you. If they didn't like it they smashed your gear up. One night, I remember I saw blood on my T-shirt, and I think Joe Strummer got meningitis when spit went in his mouth.

You had to go through a lot to become successful, it wasn't like you just kind of got up there and did a couple of gigs. I don't think some young rock bands really get that today.

With punk going so mega in England, we definitely got a leg up. We still had a lot of work to get where we got to, and rightly so because you find out that you need to do that. A lot of groups in the old days would be together three to five years before they ever made a record, and that time is really important. In a way, what was great about punk rock for me was it was very much a learning period. I really learned a lot [about] recording music and being in a group and even writing songs.

Then when I came to America, it was a flow, really. I also really started to know what I wanted Billy Idol to be. It took me a little bit, but I kind of knew what I wanted Billy Idol to be. And even that took a while to let it marinate.

You and Miley Cyrus have developed a good working relationship in the last several years. How do you think her fans have responded to you, and your fans have responded to her?

I think they're into it. It's more the record company that she had didn't really get "Night Crawling"— it was one of the best songs on Plastic Hearts, and I don't think they understood that. They wanted to go with Dua Lipa, they wanted to go with the modern, young acts, and I don't think they realized that that song was resonating with her fans. Which is a shame really because, with Andrew Watt producing, it's a hit song.

But at the same time, I enjoyed doing it. It came out really good and it's very Billy Idol. In fact, I think it’s more Billy Idol than Miley Cyrus. I think it shows you where Andrew Watt was. He was excited about doing a Billy Idol track. She's fun to work with. She’s a really great person and she works at her singing — I watched her rehearsing for the Super Bowl performance she gave. She rehearsed all Saturday morning, all Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning and it was that afternoon. I have to admire her fortitude. She really cares.

I remember when you went on "Viva La Bamback in 2005 and decided to give Bam Margera’s Lamborghini a new sunroof by taking a power saw to it. Did he own that car? Was that a rental?

I think it was his car.

Did he get over it later on?

He loved it. [Laughs] He’s got a wacky sense of humor. He’s fantastic, actually. I’m really sorry to see what he's been going through just lately. He's going through a lot, and I wish him the best. He's a fantastic person, and it's a shame that he's struggling so much with his addictions. I know what it's like. It's not easy.

Musically, what is the synergy like with you guys during the past 10 years, doing Kings and Queens of the Underground and this new stuff? What is your working relationship like now in this more sober, older, mature version of you two as opposed to what it was like back in the '80s?

In lots of ways it’s not so different because we always wrote the songs together, we always talked about what we're going to do together. It was just that we were getting high at the same time.We're just not getting [that way now] but we're doing all the same things.

We're still talking about things, still [planning] things:What are we going to do next? How are we going to find new people to work with? We want to find new producers. Let's be a little bit more timely about putting stuff out.That part of our relationship is the same, you know what I mean? That never got affected. We just happened to be overloading in the '80s.

The relationship’s… matured and it's carrying on being fruitful, and I think that's pretty amazing. Really, most people don't get to this place. Usually, they hate each other by now. [Laughs] We also give each other space. We're not stopping each other doing things outside of what we’re working on together. All of that enables us to carry on working together. I love and admire him. I respect him. He's been fantastic. I mean, just standing there on stage with him is always a treat. And he’s got an immensely great sense of humor. I think that's another reason why we can hang together after all this time because we've got the sense of humor to enable us to go forward.

There's a lot of fan reaction videos online, and I noticed a lot of younger women like "Rebel Yell" because, unlike a lot of other '80s alpha male rock tunes, you're talking about satisfying your lover.

It was about my girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister. It was about how great I thought she was, how much I was in love with her, and how great women are, how powerful they are.

It was a bit of a feminist anthem in a weird way. It was all about how relationships can free you and add a lot to your life. It was a cry of love, nothing to do with the Civil War or anything like that. Perri was a big part of my life, a big part of being Billy Idol. I wanted to write about it. I'm glad that's the effect.

Is there something you hope people get out of the songs you've been doing over the last 10 years? Do you find yourself putting out a message that keeps repeating?

Well, I suppose, if anything, is that you can come to terms with your life, you can keep a hold of it. You can work your dreams into reality in a way and, look, a million years later, still be enjoying it.

The only reason I'm singing about getting out of the cage is because I kicked out of the cage years ago. I joined Generation X when I said to my parents, "I'm leaving university, and I'm joining a punk rock group." And they didn't even know what a punk rock group was. Years ago, I’d write things for myself that put me on this path, so that maybe in 2022 I could sing something like "Cage" and be owning this territory and really having a good time. This is the life I wanted.

The original UK punk movement challenged societal norms. Despite all the craziness going on throughout the world, it seems like a lot of modern rock bands are afraid to do what you guys were doing. Do you think we'll see a shift in that?

Yeah.  Art usually reacts to things, so I would think eventually there will be a massive reaction to the pop music that’s taken over — the middle of the road music, and then this kind of right wing politics. There will be a massive reaction if there's not already one. I don’t know where it will come from exactly. You never know who's gonna do [it].

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