John's Words on Music, America, and the
7.25.02 - from Warner Australasia
for the full interview, click here
SUN: Don't you have some more say in what happens with
your band? Say, if they wanted to send you to Bosnia, you
could say no?
JOHNNY: Actually, we did play in Bosnia.
We did USO shows. We also did the Concert for New York and
Tribute to Heroes and raised some dough on our own.
SUN: What was that like?
JOHNNY: I talked to a lot of people who
lost their husbands and wives on Sept. 11. I sat down with
three guys from the New York City Fire Department and emptied
a bottle of really good whisky with them and got into their
heads. Those guys, they're the best. The salt of the earth,
SUN: So you didn't write any songs about Sept. 11?
JOHNNY: No, but I gotta tell you, there
was a serious paradigm shift in my mind. I think we all started
questioning our own mortality and the fragility of being alive
in a complicated world.
SUN: Plus some of our more anti-American bands seem to
be rethinking their stance.
JOHNNY: Don't get me wrong. There's a lot
of problems with America and I can't stand (George) Bush.
We did not elect that guy. That's a fact. It's a dirty situation
and it's a covert coup d'etat that happened in our own country.
It's wrong. And the thing that worries me about it is that
we're given so many quick fixes and so many little pacifiers
- cheap Taco Bell, 500 TV channels. It's going to erode. It
keeps us distracted and divided. There's no more viable trade
unions in this country anymore, expect maybe the Teamsters,
but for the human beings that get up and live and work and
do what needs to be done, they are completely being forgotten
about. It's all about bottom-line globalization. They call
it the race to the bottom. It's disturbing, man. I don't think
people are very hopeful about what they're going to be able
to leave to their children.
SUN: So, as a successful rock musician, what can you
do about it?
JOHNNY: Open my big mouth. I'm trying to
connect with Michael Moore. I need his advice about what I
SUN: There are some who would sneer at the opinions of
a successful rock musician.
JOHNNY: I have my opinion about it because
I was there. I'm from Buffalo, New York. After they closed
Bethlehem Steel, the oil company and the car plant, 30,000
people were just thrown out of their jobs. I was there for
all the devastation that something like that caused - all
the alcoholism, all the domestic violence, all the suicides,
all the crime. It adds up to a huge human disaster. Buffalo
was a great, great city and now the population is shrinking
while the number of people living under the poverty level
SUN: It sounds like you're ready to put some of your
opinions into your music.
JOHNNY: I never wanted to be the spokesman
for a generation. I'm not qualified. But I have my opinions
about social issues. I don't know if I'm brave enough to get
on that subject in my music because I've always dealt more
with personal issues. I want to grow as a writer, but I don't
know if that's what I wanna do. I just don't want to talk
s---. In retrospect, you look at a band like Rage Against
the Machine and you go, 'You're full of s---!' You're raging
against what machine? You're on Sony!
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