Mick Jones: The _Heeb_ interview

By Jay Diamond

"He is in rare form and has had a couple of beers," said the manager of Mick Jones, former guitarist and co-songwriter of the legendary punk band, The Clash. Jones, is currently on tour with his latest project, Carbon/Silcon, a group he formed in the early part of the decade with former Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik member, Tony James. When Jones entered the hotel room on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he was in quite high spirits. Over the course of the afternoon, he offered me legal advice and his opinions on everything from the American Rust Belt to the wrestler Big Show. Here are some of the highlights:

You seem to really be enjoying yourself these days?

I love everything. I love America.

So that means you aren’t bored with the U.S.A. anymore?

Oh, ["I’m So Bored With the U.S.A."] that was really a song about the Americanization of England at the time, but we really did open our first American show with that song.

In the past, you always incorporated influences from sources like hip hop and reggae. Carbon/Silcon seems like your most straight-forward rock n’ roll record since the first Clash album.

When we were growing up, there were these blues clubs at our school. We would all huddle around a record player and listen to stuff like Blind WIllie McTell. Mostly it was white kids, and it was sort of a strange thing to be listening to blues music and trying to relate to it. That was during the blues boom, and we learned a lot–how those artists reached inside themselves and sang what was true. I guess it is interesting how we have come back to that.

You have been pretty prolific in terms of recording and generous in terms of giving away your music since around 2002. That was around the same time Joe Strummer passed away. I’m wondering, was the record a response to his death?

That was part of it. Also, I had just finished recording the first Libertines album, and seeing them have so much fun was another big part of it. With Joe dying, that really made me want to start working on lyrics because I used to rely on him, and now I didn’t anymore….But I think he was helping me.

Joe was helping you?

Yeah, always.

This is the second band you and Tony James have been in together. The first was London S.S.

We thought it was like London Social Security. We really wanted to be shocking like the New York Dolls. We were young and stupid. It’s funny now, Tony and meare working together, and everyday we have to deal with that. It’s our punishment for being so stupid. It makes us both cringe.

You were living with your Jewish grandmother at the time of London S.S. Did she or your mother know about the band?

They never knew about it, we were ashamed of it.

So when you were living with your grandma, did she cook for you? Totally. She cooked Jewish food.

Do you still have a taste for Jewish food?

I do, but I don’t eat meat anymore.

What do you think?

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8 Responses

  1. iconic

    had heard that there had been conflict , between Jones and Strummer , about whether Clash music should be more message or pop .
    Good interview. Nice to read about Joe “helping” with Mick’s music –
    ” Yeah, always.”

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Do you know who was more on the side of pop and more on the side of message?

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    That would be my guess as well. I actually mentioned something to Mick about a lot of the songs he sang for The Clash seemed to carry a more subtle political message, opposed to Strummers approach which seemed more like sloganeering.
    Some of the Carbon/S

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    “It’s what you make of it”. I liked that answer, and wanted him to continue. Then he started to talk about downhill skiing, and that lasted the next 5 minutes. It actually was one of the funnier parts of the entire conversation.

    Reply