Music icon Billy Idol recently gave an interview to The Big Issue where he discussed the early influence of punk and the shape of music today. In the interview—when asked about his commercial success and if he “betrayed” punk—Idol dismissed the punk movement’s political impact altogether. “Punk had done what it set out to do to a certain extent,” he said, “and it didn’t make a dent in the political system.” Read part of his interview below, and let us know your thoughts.
“Punk was not just about music though, was it also redefining politics and protest?
Punk rock opened the door to people like me – the marginalised. We got a chance to do something artistic with our lives. Everybody was exploring the artistic side partly because the Pistols said there is no future, there’s no future for you. That was a rallying call. That was the revolution.
The Pistols sang about there being no future, were they proved right?
I think they were to be honest. There was so much unrest. We believed in mixed communities and race mixing, not a country just for the white English. You got your head kicked in for it but that’s England sometimes! In some ways what’s going on now is reminiscent of those times.
So when you became famous and commercially successful, did you feel you had betrayed where you had come from?
Punk had done what it set out to do to a certain extent and it didn’t make a dent in the political system. Margaret Thatcher got in! That was scary. You went, “Fuck all that shouting, nothing happened!” It was demoralising. I didn’t see it as betraying anything at all. I saw it as moving on as an artist. I don’t think I did anything except follow my heart and that’s what punk was all about.”
Check the full interview.