“Frustration is one of the great things in art; satisfaction is nothing.”
– Malcolm McClaren
In March, Joe Corré, the son of Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood, and founder of luxury lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, hit the headlines for revealing he plans to burn £5 million worth of punk memorabilia as a protest against the participation of the Lord Mayor’s office, the National Lottery and Buckingham Palace in the City of London’s official plans to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the birth of punk.
Given the eye-watering asking price for your average Agent Provocateur bra, plus the company’s massive global reach, Corré can probably afford to take a match to the family heirlooms.
In a spiky statement, Corré said: “The Queen giving 2016, the year of punk, her official blessing is the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard. Talk about alternative and punk culture being appropriated by the mainstream. Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a fucking museum piece or a tribute act.”
Bobby Gillespie, singer with Primal Scream and former drummer of the Jesus and Mary Chain and ex-roadie with Altered Images, also has mixed feeling about punk’s landmark anniversary.
“I know Joe, and although I haven’t spoken to him about it or seen him in a few months, I’m sure he is sincere about it and takes the whole legacy of his Dad and the Pistols very seriously,” Gillespie says. “I understand why he is planning a grand gesture against the commodification of punk and the way it has become respectable.
“Somebody told me it was forty years since punk around the start of this year, but the whole point about punk was to be forward looking. I was lucky enough to be a teenager when it happened and I was deeply effected by it. I still am and I carry it with me today, but you shouldn’t live in the past.
“Punk wasn’t meant to last. It was an explosion of energy that was inspirational and exhilarating. I took a lot from it and I think I’ve used it in my life. It gave me strength and purpose and something to draw upon in terms of inspiration and attitude. It put me on the path to be a creative person. Without punk, it never would’ve happened, and I wouldn’t be speaking to you right now. That’s why I love the Pistols and Malcolm McClaren. They said anyone could do this. All you need to something to say.
“It was about self-expression and making things up yourself. That’s what I take from punk: questioning authority but also questioning yourself. Are you going to sit here and be bored, or are you going to do something about it? Are you going to create something beautiful out of all the ugliness and the environment of your life, or are you sit here and wallow in shit and misery and be defeated? I chose the former rather than the latter.
“British punk was the Sex Pistols and it was working class. In many ways, everyone was collectively much better off in 1977 as your average family would be now. Workers were protected and wages were pretty good. We lived in social democracy then, but now we live in an era of capitalism now. People are on zero hour contracts with no job security. It is back to the 30s.
“You don’t want be walking around with a mohican right now. Punk was always about anti-nostalgia and a truthful representation of reality. I could never relate to shit like the Eagles or Genesis, but I could really relate to Johnny Rotten, simply because he was a kid from a council estate who was into football, rock n’ roll and poetry. He articulated all that so well. I didn’t know how to articulate to my rage or displacement at that age. I was just trying to get through day to day existence. I didn’t know who I was at 15, but the Pistols came into my life at just the right time. It wouldn’t have been as powerful had I been 18 or 19. It showed me the path, and I love them to this day. I really fucking love them…”
Swench.net thanks Bobby for his time and wishes him a speedy recovery following a stage accident in Switzerland.