Does rock and roll kill brain cells?! – Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols


In the book “Does Rock and Roll Kill Brain Cells?!” we ask artists about their own careers to find out how much they can remember, and find out if drinking, loud music and/or touring sweets have knocked them out of their knowledge. This Week: The Sex Pistols Drummer Passes a Serious Test.

1 Name the actor who plays you in the Sex Pistols 2022 TV biopic “Pistol.”
“I have this one—Jacob Slater. He has his own band, Wunderhorse, which I’ve seen.”


“During filming, I went to the set and played some songs with him to give him some advice. He did a pretty good job overall. I’ve just started watching the series normally now — I needed to give it time to soak in. After the trial [where Cook, along with former Sex Pistols co-star Steve Jones, sued John Lydon to allow the band’s music to be used in “Pistol,” it was all a bit raw and I couldn’t watch it, but finally, after watching a few episodes, director Danny Boyle did a great job a job. There’s a bit of artistic license going on—it’s a drama, not a documentary that a lot of people can’t understand.”

You helped Bananarama record their 1981 debut single “Aie a Mwana” and produced their 1983 first album “Deep Sea Skiving”. But what is the name of the song that Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren wanted them to record?
“Now we’re talking! Was it something sexy like “Don’t touch me down there, Daddy”?”

correct. No wonder they rejected his offer.

“As if they were going to do it! That’s Malcolm! I didn’t know he was going to try to contact them, but they rejected him right away. But they chose the right course, didn’t they? They recorded a cover of [Black Blood’s] song “Aie a Mwana”, which I helped produce, and got a recording contract, and now they are the record holders for the number of singles that hit the charts among female groups. We used to hang out in the same clubs and they had nowhere to live, so we invited them to move into the old Sex Pistols rehearsal room on Demark Street in London. When [Cook and Jones band after Sex Pistols] The Professionals were rehearsing downstairs, they came and performed backing vocals. Pretty wild times!”

What do the rest of the Sex Pistols members think about Bananarama’s cover of “No Feelings”?

“I don’t think they heard it. It was recorded for the soundtrack to the movie Party Party, and it was a bizarre, weird, crazy-sounding version.

Name any two aliases that the Sex Pistols used during their 1977 “The S.P.O.T.S.” tour.
“Now you’ve got me! I remember it was all advertised as “S.P.O.T.S”, which stood for “Sex Pistols are secretly touring”, but everyone knew who was playing, so it was just chaos! [Laughs].

wrong. Among your fake guises were “Tax Exiles”, “Special Guest”, “Acne Crowd”, “Hamsters” or “A Mysterious group with an international reputation”. It was when you were the most famous band in the UK and couldn’t tour under your own name because your concerts would be closed…

“In this maelstrom, it seemed strangely normal. During the “Anarchy…” tour [1976], we traveled around the city and prayed, returned to the cities and found that the concerts were canceled. We were chased everywhere by the press and the police. Looking back, it’s strange that we managed to survive all this. It was hard and dark during the last American tour, which took place in the southern states, playing cowboy towns, where the audience threw pig ears and rats at us along with the usual bottles and cans. Sid [Vicious, the late Pistols bassist] got out of control and the band was breaking up before our eyes. There were police at the edge of the stage with us, undercover police were chasing us everywhere, and the label hired two former Vietnam veterans as our security guards to keep an eye on us, and we were trying to get away from them. The culmination of all this was when Sid almost committed suicide in San Francisco [in 1978], and that’s when we broke up. We just thought: it can’t go on like this, everything gets out of control and someone will die. It was then that I personally felt that this was enough.”

The Sex Pistols’ 1980 pseudo-documentary The Great Rock and Roll Scam was shown right after the Salford frontman was born in Salford? (Hint: His band formed after attending the famous Sex Pistols concert at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976)
“It wasn’t Ian Curtis from Joy Division, was it?”

correct. What was it like to be in this movie?

“It wasn’t the best time for me. The Pistols broke up [in 1978] and Malcolm was trying to hold everything together and finish this movie that we started. John wasn’t interested in it at all, and in the end it turned into a hodgepodge of ideas put together. Towards the end, Malcolm had a fight with director Julien Temple and wiped his hands clean. It was a very messy end for the Sex Pistols and I just remember thinking: “It’s going in the wrong direction.” We kept him together to fulfill the contract. Despite everything, many people still like him.”

You played on Johnny Thunders’ 1978 debut solo album “So Alone”. What is the name of the Sex Pistols diss track on this album?
“London Boys”.

correct. This is a replica of the track “New York” from “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”, which attacked the Thunders. and the New York Dolls.

“Yes, he was furious about New York, where John [Lydon] criticized the New York Dolls for some reason. Steve and I really liked the Dolls, and I think John’s hatred was due to the fact that Malcolm led the Dolls a little. It was pretty funny to play on Johnny’s reaction to that. While we were playing, he tried to pounce on us, stopped singing to shout at us while we were saying, “Okay, Johnny, get that away from your partner!” [Laughs]. It was a great experience. He had so many guests – us, Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy, Peter Perrett from The Only Ones and Chrissie Hynde – then he ironically called the album “So Alone”!”

According to Steve Jones’ autobiography, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, which pop star’s grave did he allegedly urinate on during a tour with The Professionals?
“This is the king of rock and roll himself- Elvis.”


“He doesn’t remember whether he did it or not, and I didn’t go to Graceland with him that day, so I can’t check it! [Laughs] Imagine if he’d been caught doing that downstairs!”

How do The Professionals differ from the Sex Pistols?

“Initially with The Professionals we were looking for a singer, but it didn’t happen — it was difficult to find a singer who would follow in the footsteps of the legendary John [Lydon]. So Steve switched to guitar/vocals, which he didn’t like, but it worked, and we put together our first line-up. It was a lot calmer: all the craziness was gone from The Pistols, and we did a good job with The Professionals, until everything collapsed [in 1982] after one album and a tour of America — again! – Steve’s gone crazy. I thought, “Here we go again! The story of my life!” and they parted. Steve stayed in the States after the second tour there. That was the end of The Professionals until I revamped the band a few years ago. Last year we recorded the album “SNAFU”, recorded in quarantine, and it’s amazing for me, because I’ve always been in bands that broke up after the release of one album!”

What is the name of the fictional band you play in the 1982 film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains?
“Oh, I have one! Looters.”


“It was a strange experience. They wanted me, Steve and Paul Simonon from The Clash to star in this movie as The Looters, with Ray Winston as the singer, who ran into the girl group The Stains, which were partially based on The Slits. We thought: “Let’s try it,” but we thought it would be a bit silly when we started filming. Now he has a cult following among people who think it’s kitsch and funny.”

When Goldie opened for the Sex Pistols at Brixton Academy in 2008, how much money did he raise with coins that angry fans threw on stage?
“[Laughs] He?! He was a completely unsuitable warm—up band for us – he played loud, deafening drum and bass. Let me find his number! Would it be cheating if I called him to ask? Let me guess — 50 pounds?

wrong. He claims to have earned 97.38 pounds.

“Well, he did everything right! It was probably more than we were paid for the concert! [Laughs] I do not know why the fans feel it necessary to do this. This is the legacy of punk, when everyone thought they should spit on everyone, throw bottles of urine or vomit everywhere. We have never done such things, but the press perpetuated this myth, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

You played drums in Edwin Collins’ song “A Girl Like You”. What position in the chart did he take?
— Was it number 2?

wrong. Number 4.

“I was on tour, playing with Edwin when he was released, and every week we saw him climb the charts. It’s a great single that put Edwin back on the map, which he totally deserved.”

Who once paid between 6,000 and 12,000 pounds (according to various sources) for a review of the Sex Pistols reunion in 1996 for NME?
“Is that Alan McGee?”

correct. After the editors of NME refused the main publication of Creation Records a review of the Sex Pistols performance in 1996 as part of the Shepherd Bush Empire band, he bought a full-page advertisement in the magazine to print it. In his enthusiastic song, McGee is encouraged to support Noel Gallagher, who told him that the Sex Pistols are “better than us,” and concluded by saying, “Britpop? More like a Shitpop. Welcome to your mediocrity. The band is our alternative royal family.”

“Well, that’s very generous of him! This is a brilliant review!”

What do you remember about that 1996 reunion?



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