Interview with Joe Strummer/Paul Simonon

December 26, 2015

Interview with The Clash, Maple Leaf Gardens, Mon Apr 30, 1984.  I finally found my old notes.  I wanted to run this in my college newspaper, but only got a cover photo.  Nobody cared at the time, these guys weren't the legends they are today. And I was very surprised, they were genteel and sipped tea with their pinkies extended backstage.  Not even a beer in sight.  Somwhere I have a picture of Joe Strummer playing a video game backstage.

 

Hi guys, how are you doing tonight?
 

JS:Yeah, fine.  You?
 

Great.  Awesome show.  The backstage area seems a bit sparse.
 

JS:Yeah, well, they expect us to act crazy and tear things up you know?
 

Yeah, I kind of thought you would too.  I guess that’s just the image that punk has given itself.
 

JS:It’s unfortunate, yes.
 

I must say though, I think your band kind of defies the label of being punk.  You actually defy description.  You have a bit of everything in your music.
 

JS:Thanks for noticing, yes.  We have many influences and it’s reflected in our music.
 

Would you care to tell me about them?
 

JS:Well, Paul over there might have something to tell you.  I need a cup of tea.
 

Alright then, I’ll talk to him.  We’re both bass players so maybe he can give me some tips.
 

PS:Yeah, brilliant.

 

Hello Paul, great show tonight.  I must tell you, I came to this show really to photograph it but I think I’ll leave a fan.
 

PS:Well, we always love to hear that.  I think you really have to come to the shows to appreciate the band.
 

How so?  
 

PS:It’s just a completely different ambience, you know?  We feed off the reaction we get from the audience, then we send it right back out, and the whole thing just spirals out of control in a good way.
 

The tour is called “out of control”.
 

PS:That’s kind of why.  It’s really a bit of a wind up of the press.  We’re portrayed as this band that goes about smashing shit up, and for us it’s just about the music.  The music is the only thing that’s out of control.  We like it to be.  What good would it be if we just stood there like dead men on stage?
 

That’s for sure.  I don’t think I’ve seen so much energy at a concert.  Joe’s banging on the stage with hammers, you’re jumping all over.  
 

PS:Exactly, yes.
 

Actually, I expected this concert to be some sort of punk riot but it was nothing like that.  
PS:That's an image.  I don’t know if we’ll ever escape that.
 

We’re both bass players, can you give me any tips?
 

PS:Keep playing.  As much as you can (tosses me a pick).
 

Thanks Paul.  Take care.

 

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