By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
That I’m some kind of political thinker. I definitely am not. I think about politics all the time, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know what’s going on in the world.
I grew up hearing my parents going on about World War II, which seemed very clear: Hitler = bad, everyone else = good. We’re basically lazy — we want to see a good guy and a bad guy, and we yearn for that beautiful clarity, but the world we live in no longer lends itself to those kinds of conclusions.
Are money and power invariably corrupting?
Definitely — the Clash never had to struggle with those things, though, because we never got any money. The music business is a bad racket, and the people on the first crest of a wave never get paid. I don’t like to moan on about money, but you have to realize that although you might’ve heard of the Clash, we didn’t sell any records. Nobody sends me five pounds every time somebody’s heard of the group. We never had any real power, either, other than in an abstract, poetic way. What I wrote on a piece of paper might influence someone somewhere down the line, and that’s something I still take great care with. Not writing things that are stupid or easily misconstrued is something I keep onboard at all times. But it would’ve been nice to have the power to say, “Fifty thousand people down to the Houses of Parliament now!” We might’ve been able to get 1,500 people at the height of our power, but ultimately it’s the big money men who have the power.
What do you miss about being in the Clash?
That was so long ago that it’s all faded, and I’m never on the nostalgia tit, but we did have a very good camaraderie and an extremely acute sense of humor. It was fun being in the Clash.
Your new album is dedicated to Joey Ramone. What was the nature of his genius?
A sharp intelligence. People think of spirit when they think of the Ramones, but the more I listen to those records the more I’m struck by how smart they are.
Where do you think Joey is now?
He’s in heaven.
Do you believe in heaven?
Maybe not for me, but certainly for Joey Ramone.
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros perform at the Troubadour, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, October 22, 23, 25 and 26.