It’s not usually you end up at a launch get together for a brand new line of finely engineered watches and search for from the trays of canapés to see none apart from Paul Simonon, the legendary bass participant of the Conflict, manning the turntables. However that’s precisely what occurred final night time because the eminently British watchmaker Bremont took over the gorgeous World of McIntosh Townhouse on Lafayette Avenue (it’s the place Beyoncé shot the video for “Halo”), set Tom Parker Bowles (the meals author and son of the Duchess of Cornwall) to offering the comestibles, and stuffed the place with everybody from punk couturier Jimmy Webb to Sienna Miller. We grabbed Simonon earlier than he took over the illuminated McIntosh MT5 (dubbed “the turntable of the gods,” which appeared apt) and pulled him right into a spare library for a couple of questions.
I’m dying to know the way Paul Simonon finally ends up deejaying a watch get together in downtown Manhattan.
Effectively, a pal of mine helped arrange the occasions in London and right here, they usually needed someone to play some tunes, and so he urged me. He thought it could be attention-grabbing as a result of, in a method, the watches are fairly conventional, and I suppose what I play is type of conventional—I solely play vinyl relatively than use [inaudible].
Wait—did you simply say beat sticks?
No, USB sticks. Ah—beat sticks! [Laughs.] You’ve simply invented one thing, child! There you go—now we simply have to start out it. Beat sticks—what, you haven’t received one?
Do you will have considered one of Bremont’s watches?
I’ve received one now. It’s humorous—about two weeks in the past, the watch I did have stopped working. After which abruptly my pal requested if I’d like to do that DJ factor for Bremont, and I stated, “Yeah, sure, tell me more.” And he stated, “Well, they’ll give you a watch.” And I stated, “Well, that’s really handy, because I need a watch.” Strictly on sensible phrases, it’s labored out fairly properly to this point.
Do you deejay usually?
I stay in London, and there’s a spot I deejay as soon as a month. It’s like a social membership, like I assume once you’re a child you’d go to a pub or someplace. It’s referred to as the Home of St. Barnabas—and really, Dickens used to sit down within the backyard. Apparently he wrote a part of A Story of Two Cities there. So it’s received a little bit of historical past. And it’s a homeless charity factor—lots of people who work there haven’t actually been schooled within the etiquette of serving individuals, so they could be a bit tough and prepared. They’ve mainly simply come off the road and are being launched again into society. We’re the job, so to talk.
What in regards to the rumors I preserve listening to about The Good, the Dangerous & the Queen [the part-time band Simonon has with Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz), Simon Tong (of the Verve and Gorillaz), and Tony Allen (Fela Kuti’s drummer, the person Brian Eno referred to as “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived”) recorded one unimaginable document in 2007] recording one other album?
Sure—we’re going within the studio to complete one thing we began final yr. And this time we’ve received [David Bowie’s legendary producer] Tony Visconti on board, and we’ve received the month of Might booked out completely. Damon simply stated to me final yr, “Look—if we don’t get a producer, we’re going to end up with another 10 years with, like, another 50 songs.” So we’re simply going to complete the document and hopefully it’ll be out spherical about September or October.
Did you see the V&A’s large David Bowie exhibition (which is now on the Brooklyn Museum)?
I’ve seen it, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I assumed it was superb.
Yeah. The one factor I assumed was attention-grabbing is that he did a double album for the Deram label—it had tunes like “The London Boys” and “The Maid of Bond Street”—and this era was type of omitted from the present.
That’s true . . .
Yeah, it appeared a bit odd.
Wait—I noticed at the least one artifact regarding “The Laughing Gnome.”
However that’s not a lot—and there’s various attention-grabbing issues that he did in that interval and earlier than then. He was in a band referred to as the Konrads, and one other band referred to as the Manish Boys, and I don’t recall that talked about. Nevertheless it’s a terrific present.
Only one Conflict query: With a drummer as superb as Topper Headon—the person who (Give ’Em Sufficient Rope producer) Sandy Pearlman referred to as “the human drum machine”—what was it like out of your perspective to spherical out that rhythm part?
It made my job simple. I may even cease enjoying if I’d needed and the drums would simply cowl all the things. On the finish of the day—and it’s an excellent level that [Joe] Strummer all the time made—a band is barely nearly as good as its drummer. Topper was the glue, actually.
However you two are proper there within the again line doing—
Effectively, I didn’t actually need that job—to be the bass participant. My information of bass gamers was that they all the time stood within the background they usually didn’t transfer round—I’m pondering of Invoice Wyman (of the Rolling Stones) or John Entwistle (of the Who), individuals like that. I didn’t need that job—I needed Pete Townshend’s job! I needed to be the one up entrance who jumps up and down and throws his arms round. However someone as soon as stated that once they noticed the Conflict play, it was like watching three Eddie Cochrans onstage—in order that’s all the time fairly a pleasant factor to listen to.
Let’s discuss jail. A couple of years in the past you had been doing a little work—undercover, as I perceive it—with Greenpeace and located your self within the clink, sure?
Yeah, I did, yeah.
Effectively, the factor is, it was fairly attention-grabbing, as a result of I’d simply completed a Gorillaz tour with Damon, and that’s once we all had a nautical look—Damon and Jamie (Hewlett, the artist and cofounder of Gorillaz) requested me to give you an idea for what we put on onstage, so I stated, nicely, we’re going to be U-boat commanders. After which after that completed, I met with this pal who runs actions for Greenpeace, and I’d been pestering him for years about getting concerned, and he stated, “Effectively, there’s this factor developing—we’re going up into the Atlantic to attempt to observe down this oil rig referred to as the Leiv Eriksson, and once we discover it, we’re going to storm it and ask them the place their paperwork is [detailing how] they’re going to take care of an oil leak—as a result of this paperwork wasn’t filed of their primary workplace.” And because it turned out, I had the stuff from the Gorillaz tour with the striped tops, so it appeared fairly apt on the boat. [Laughs.] After which as soon as we did storm the rig and ask for the response plan, they stated, “Well, if you don’t get off, we’re going to tell the police and they’ll come and arrest you for piracy.” Anyway, they got here, and we received arrested, and we received put in jail—and it’s humorous as a result of I nonetheless had the striped tops, they usually labored fairly nicely in jail, too, in a style sense. Fascinating continuity there.
You’ve all the time had this uncanny sense of favor. The place did that come from?
I feel that has quite a bit to do with my background, as a result of the place I grew up there was fairly a powerful West Indian neighborhood. It’s all the time been essential for me, as a result of in Nice Britain at that interval rising up, what you wore—that’s what your colours had been or what tribe you belonged to. And that might trigger fractious conditions for those who ran right into a group of folks that had several types of garments. Additionally, I assume I’ve all the time thought that for those who, say, received hit by a bus, it’s fairly essential that you just’re dressed nicely—and that you just’ve received clear underpants on.