Why are you acting against Punk and its position in our social heritage?
Joe: Another aspect that I strongly object to is these bastions of the establishment, institutions like the British Fashion Council, the Museum of London, Boris Fucking Johnson, The British Library and the rest of their filthy ilk, and this whole contrived “Punk London” piss festival is nothing more than a fraud. The objective is to hoodwink the generation of today into believing Punk is going to provide a viable alternative, a solution, an alternative way of living and operating under a different set of rules and moral choices. You can’t learn how to be a punk in a Museum of London workshop. I just think it is wrong to lie to young people in this way
Paleface: The guts of Punk spilled out when it was disembowelled by the fraudulent hand extended in acceptance by the fork tongued powers that be. A hand that gently slid the knife into the soft belly of the beast while the other hand held us in a warm embrace. The whole episode is a shameful scam. Punk isn’t just dead, it was raped and murdered and the corpse slung in a ditch. Punk acquiesced and was disarmed and rendered impotent, its relevance and vitality by the establishment who skinned the carcass and sold the meat off cheap. It has been consumed in a wave of rampant commercialism and, ultimately has been sold back to those that are desperate for some kind of shrivelled relevance and identity in a tsunami of nauseating nostalgia by the corporate worlds in their efforts to dazzle you whilst they pry out every last copper from your purse as they fuck the whole planet up its arse. If anyone is convinced by this sham, if anyone actually believes that being a punk has changed or will change anything, that’s tragic, think again. You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of the time
Joe: This can only be achieved with the submission and acquiescence of these sanitised and sterilised so-called, ex Punks, to the dictates of a society that engages all means necessary to combat, dissent and compartmentalise society into divisive groups, thereby preventing any changes to the scheme of things because the fools are all fighting each other rather than the enemy.
Why didn’t you give the money to Charity?
Joe: Charity has become an industrial corporate organisation. A thing that has replaced the government responsibility to provide for the welfare state. As a result, as arm dealers need wars, charities need causes. It’s become a necessity to support the state. Corporate charity / shows – gala events, 90% of fundraising is on producing the event. People who don’t pay their taxes get off on how much they give to charity. Self-congratulatory exercises. They trade vanity in exchange for money.
That’s why I feel really strongly on my charities, that’s why 80% of the revenues from the Burn Punk London documentary will be donated to fight climate change and help London Youth organisations that I have already been supporting for some considerable time.
BPL: The Charity Industry is just another construct of the establishment.
Joe: But you know, out of all of this, the one thing I can understand is someone who is completely skint, and living in the most miserable conditions being upset by what they may consider to be squandered money. They can’t understand how on earth anyone could burn £5million? Because when you are in in that position your life is bleak and any ray of light is a blessing. Sadly £5m doesn’t even scratch the surface, it’s a piss in the ocean.
Unless we address our values and ethics, we are never going to overcome this charity issue.
Paleface: Question Everything. Clearly it is easy to misconstrue what we are attempting to do here. So question why? The conclusions are for you to make, but don’t believe what you are told, inform yourself and draw your own conclusion, one that is yours, not one that has been put in your mouth by Murdoch or Beaverbrook while they wave the national flag and rape you. We are painfully aware of the imbalance in today’s society, and the massive and chronic imparity between those living in poverty and those who are the 1%. Of course it can be dismissed as a petulant gesture, an act of wilful arrogance and toy throwing. But realistically, in a vessel as rotten as this, what kind of a hole does £5m plug and for how long? Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and …
The burning of the acetate infuriated many. They argue that you invalidated your point before you even started. Were you also going to burn the million you wanted for the SP acetate if you were successful in selling it?
Joe: I say to them: It didn’t sell, you didn’t bid, and it was better to burn it than it gets in to the wrong hands, like in some banker’s collection.
BPL: Whatever or whoever it is that is telling you something, question it. Ultimately what it matters to all is that you think by yourself. That was the point, in case you missed it.
Is this just a hoax?
Joe: We definitely burnt what I presented I was going to burn, if you want to see a hoax look at the ISIS videos commissioned by the Pentagon.
Paleface: You want to see a hoax, look at the reasons behind the invasion of Iraq.
A journalist insists: “Where was the £5million for punk memorabilia. Bollocks!’ I get the point but there must be other ways of proving your point.
Joe: There was so much to burn, it took a few weeks to do it, it would’ve been boring to watch and taken too long, which is why it was started on the 5th November. It is all documented.
There are many who see zero point on this act, other than to gain some notoriety.
Joe: People think this publicity makes millions. it surprises me that people really believe that, but there you go. BPL was a publicity exercise; the aim is to get a bigger message across. Publicity is a tool, Propaganda a weapon. The key is finding the truth is by checking the facts. Could the message be about our obsession with spurious value? Our fetishisation of history? We are obsessed with the loss of things, things that we attach a financial value to, things we don’t know why anymore, things we simply own and possess, we forgot their value, their real value. We must re-examine and re-evaluate our value system and do whatever is necessary.
“True integrity would have been to burn it without the press coverage”
Joe: Why didn’t you burn it in private? That question again – the whole point was to use it as a platform to talk about some really important issues – how corporate globalization, Neo-Liberalism, is destroying the planet.
Paleface: Just as a further clarification, we did burn tons in private, at least 90%, we saved a few special pieces for the boat, the lion’s share of it was already burnt weeks before in case we got stopped by the authorities. We were told by the fire brigade that they had firemen on standby to respond in each of the 3 boroughs that we were citing as possible locations on the day. We were concerned that there would be some measures taken to prevent or stop us, we wanted to make sure that couldn’t happen. As it turned out we were right, but we managed it anyway.
Joe: Punk rock is a part of “business as usual”, being Punk and “alternative” in this perverse social climate is just another form of illusory dissidence. It’s just another uniform perfectly assimilated within the corporate structure. Punk is just “distraction as usual”.
On the boat on the Thames during the “Burn” you talked about financial and corporate elites and the power they hold over all of us. But you are often included among that very same elite, an elite that you state are responsible for most of our problems.
Joe: We all are part of the problem and to find the solution to the problem is our common responsibility. But first we need to address what the problem is: 1% owns as much as the other 99%. There is a real elite and I think that you know exactly of whom I speak, the Rothschilds, the Rockerfellers and the various other parasites that control our hideously evil and rotten financial system, the corporate monoliths and their martial counterparts that control politicians, media and ultimately governments and the world through means of corruption and greed. I came from nothing and had nothing and I took them on at their own game, playing by their rules, and won. Then I get slated, because I was relatively successful in the opinions of some. I guess that is par for the course, there is always a presumed delineation between those who are considered to be financially in a strong position and those who feel that they are less so, the ‘haves’and ‘have nots’.
This is the same ridiculous prejudice that says anyone who has made a success within the capitalist system, regardless of whether they have done that by unconventional means or not, and regardless of what their morals or intentions were, they are by default, now part of an elite whose intention is to subjugate the masses and as such they are no longer entitled to an opinion.
The term ‘elite’ indicates persons of a certain class or group that holds or exercises the major share of power and control, who hold authority or influence within a larger group. I don’t think I fall into this category. Clearly there are many exceptions to this but I understand that some people will inevitably hold a grudge towards me because of my success. Check the facts: I am certainly NOT part of the 1%. I am nowhere near part of the 1% or any elite.
Paleface: Furthermore, Joe doesn’t want to try and assert any form of control, on the contrary, he wants to encourage people to use their eyes and ears, to see what is happening around them and to think about that and react, to join together and actively pursue their future, YOUR FUTURE.
He has said this before but this is vital, the generation emerging today face issues on a level never before contemplated. EXCTINCTION. Extinction, of us as a species, and the end of life as we know it. Issues such as catastrophic climate change, environmental destruction and pollution on unprecedented and dangerous levels, society is more unequal than in feudal times, Greed is the new God. Education, health care and accommodation are now luxury items not basic human rights. The divisions across society are becoming deeper and deeper, we need to embrace what we have in common as well as celebrate our uniqueness and collaborate. How can we fight the problem as opposed to creating the problem? We need to isolate and institute solutions on both a long and short term basis and adhere to those solutions. If we unite on core issues, then we become unstoppable and changes have to be made. Stop sitting there like rabbits caught in the headlights, react before you get flattened. We need to understand and start to consider what this generation face, what we all face, and act accordingly and without delay. I am trying to highlight the issues so we can start to talk and react.
It seems that the majority of people hated the Burn, they took it as an affront to their principles that are well rooted in nostalgia and in what they consider to be the normal scheme of things. Some say “I understand the stuff is yours but it’s akin to burning the nations baby photos!”
BPL: Nostalgia is often a paralysing emotion. While we are looking at the nation’s baby photos, our house is getting burgled.
Joe: But this is not the case with Burn Punk London. The things that were burnt were recorded in a way that is so much more vital, and preserved in action on film and in fact had a very fitting end in line with their purpose. These were inert objects. We injected new life into them. And is all well documented.
Paleface: Ultimately they are relics. Realistically they have no value other than a perceived value due to their scarcity. There are 1,000,000’s of copies out there. It is interesting how people react to burning a few old clothes, a sweater with holes in it that his mum made and some other stuff, yet the things that are really important, that really are significant and are killing us as a species and the world around us, are allowed continue unhindered. We are being smashed to bits, your rights and human dignity sold off to the highest bidder, you are choked to death by industrial fumes but that is all ok apparently.
Some people hold the opinion that you come from a privileged background. Their argument is that you don’t understand the struggle they are going through, so you shouldn’t comment on society’s problems.
Joe: Some people assume that because my parents achieved a certain notoriety on their own terms it follows that we were rich or made a fortune from their multiple endeavours. Clearly, people who hold this opinion are those that know the least and shout the most. My parents moved to the beat of a different drum and were both artists first and foremost, and artists are notoriously bad with money. We were always skint and struggling to make ends meet. Anyone who knows the truth will be able to confirm that my parents white knuckled it financially throughout the entire history of their collaboration on an artistic level. We were about as far away from living a life of luxury as the rest of the families living in the flats on the various South London Council estates I grew up in. Anyone who knows my history knows that I don’t come from a privileged background at all. Quite the reverse.
I just find it to be an incredibly strange logic that, if you’ve got nothing, and you are completely poor, nobody cares or is willing to listen to your opinion. Then if you make a success out of your life against all odds, you are not entitled to an opinion because you are too rich. Only a simpleton would think that the opinions of poor people are the only ones that matter. I wonder what makes them think that only poor people have a voice. The fact is that they don’t.
Paleface: This line of criticism stems from ignorance and prejudice and I struggle to give it the dignity of a response. To follow that inane line of thought further illustrates how plainly ignorant and dim-witted it actually is. Take for example Che Guevara, the fact that he came from a wealthy and privileged background never altered his commitment and his values and he died for them. Hitler and Stalin grew up in circumstances of relative poverty. It is a very dictatorial and naïve line of thought, no?
Have you ever thought about writing a book? A retelling of your years growing up…?”
Sometimes we heard that “you Joe are part of the problem; the very demographic that you claim to rally against. Your parents commercialised punk, and packaged it for the mainstream…”
Joe: Again this is someone that jumps to conclusions based on prejudice. First, my parents made nothing from punk, he ended up skint, at the time of his death my father’s entire estate would have bought about a 1/3 share in a one bed London flat. My mother ended up skint, the shop closed down, if anyone looked at the history they would know that. Others made the money, not us, Richard Branson, for example. Vivienne worked very hard for years to be where she is now. Nothing was given, all earned. I can’t think of an example of how they packaged it, can you give me one? If it were, in fact, the case that they had sought to commercialise Punk, then why did they choose to move away from it into other directions when they could have milked the fat cow dry. It doesn’t make sense to say that they commercialised it when they didn’t.
Paleface: Malcolm and Vivienne were trying to make a living designing and selling clothes long before Punk Rock. Malcolm was trying to manage a successful group and ultimately moved into making music himself. Vivienne went on to make a success through her fashion genius. If anything they were subject to stigmatism from many sources due to their actions, that had offended or upset the establishment, they attained success in spite of this. There was never any attempt to commercialise and package punk for the mainstream, it was always subversive and counter culture. To describe it as a strategy or a deliberate calculated act is absolutely misleading. Hindsight tends to make things look rose tinted and simpler than reality and sheer chance can look calculated beyond the reality of events as they transpired. Their ‘success’, for want of a better word, was as a result of their attempts to create trouble which then became something that caught on. They were amongst the protagonists as much by accident as by design, they are no more guilty of commercialising punk than the Sex Pistols or the Clash. No one accuses them of commercialising punk, they were just doing what they did, so were Malcolm and Vivienne. I think that the difference is this, Vivienne and Malcolm [and others], acted with integrity, believing fully in what they were doing, they didn’t set out to commercialise and any commerciality that arose was by way of coincidence rather than as a result of an actual strategy, that is important to bear in mind. Ultimately and inevitably, it became a commercial entity as it gained momentum, but Malcolm and Vivienne had changed direction by that point anyway.
Punks are going: “You will never be one of Us!” “What makes you a spokesperson for punk?”
Paleface: Firstly Joe isn’t, nor does he consider himself a spokesman for Punk, or an apologist for it, for that matter. His comments are personal and he does not seek to speak for anyone. He may draw attention to the fact that it would appear that most of the ex-punks have forgotten what set them apart in the first place and now sit contentedly eating their bowl of gruel, happy to be part of the establishment they so wanted to change. The wheel has turned full circle, the revolution is complete. Secondly, he is not speaking on behalf of anyone but himself, none of us are. Use your own words, speak for yourself. Turn your anger where it needs to be. Look at what is going on in the world, actions that are carried out in our name, don’t shoot the messenger.
Joe: If I’m not a punk, then I don’t want to be one. I do not want to speak for “you”. Why would I want to speak for the dead?
Some also suggested selling the collection and using the money to create a new music revolution…
Joe: In the words of Jamie Reid,” We don’t care about the music”. Punk was not about the music to me.
Paleface: Someone kindly pointed out we could have bought 28,000 Fender guitars with the money and asked why we didn’t do that? What the hell would 28,000 guitars do? Presumably they were talking about acoustic guitars otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many as we would have to have provided amps. Or there was a suggestion to buy..
BPL: Revolutions are not created. Revolutions are not even instigated, but born of the common discontent. Nostalgia is a narcotic that numbs the revolutionary spirit. We need to discard nostalgia and the cult of the icon to move on.
Paleface: This is not a statement at all, Malcolm understood completely how controversy gets massive media attention, Joe is clearly the son of his father. He obviously did this for the publicity. That is clear and established. So look at what he is trying to publicise, what he is drawing attention to, what he is trying to shout above the fray. Think about that. Talk about that. Step back from the smoke and mirrors and look at the big picture.
And your statement “It’s unfortunate that those who identify with the Punk culture are missing the larger picture. Which is sticking to your core values”
Joe: I’m pointing at the larger picture: It is propaganda that is actually determining our so-called “core values”.
Paleface: I think that is a very true statement. It is sad and disappointing to see so many ex-punks looking at it solely from a financial or nostalgic point of view. What happened? Where did their belief system go? They like to talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. All this yawn “I was there” is bollocks, well where are you now? Turncoats.
What do you say to those accusing you of speaking only for yourself?
Joe: I can only speak for myself and you should learn to do so as well. One morning you’re going to wake up and realise that you’ve been repeating someone else’s words. So, I want to encourage everyone to speak for themselves, to make their own opinions, find their voices and a platform to shout from. If you don’t speak out, others will speak for you until you no longer remember what your voice sounds like.
Paleface: We all have a voice and the opportunity to act. We don’t pretend to speak for anyone. Please make your voices heard. Do something rather than snipe. Joe’s objective, our objective is to try to get people to stop staring into the headlights and take the initiative to participate in YOUR FUTURE. Its tragically ironic that there is a hole in the sky, rivers and oceans too polluted to sustain life, air too toxic to breathe, the polar icecaps are slush, temperatures rising higher and faster than the computer models, climatic extremes are now the norm and everyone is shouting because Joe burnt his souvenirs. Shout about burning the fucking rain forest. This whole affair has come about because of society’s abject failure to react to what is going on around us, this is about protest and sacrifice. The changes that Punk sought to bring about have been paid lip service and dismissed. To celebrate 40 years of Punk is to celebrate being beaten, abused and defeated and consumed and shat out. Those old punks who criticise and mourn the loss of a few clothes, or rather the sum of money that they might be worth, need to wake up from their nostalgic wet dream and rediscover what made them punks in the first place and think about what made them decide to take the King’s schilling, and sign on board HMS Establishment sailing to destination, EXTINCTION. Don’t worry about who is speaking, worry about what they are saying.