Billy Idol was incredibly successful throughout
the 1980s. Born William Broad in 1955 he first
came to prominence in the band Generation X in
1976. Gen X were a fairly successful punk band
but it wasn't until Billy left the UK for the
USA that he became the worldwide smash we
remember today. With the help of the music
channel MTV and a new Chrysalis record deal he
scored hit after hit from 1982 till well into
the 90s. Songs such as "White
Wedding", "Rebel Yell", "Hot
In The City" and "Sweet Sixteen"
will remain popular for a long, long time.
In 2005 Billy is back with a new album
Here Billy Idol describes his new record
track by track.
Super Overdrive: I was thinking of the
Richard Branson rocket, especially that first
flight when it started to wobble just as it was
leaving the atmosphere. Rock & roll is like
that--very fragile, and it can kill you, but you
can ride it to places you've never been. Brian
had the riff and I said, 'Well, what are we
going to call it?" And Steve looked down at
his distortion pedal and said, 'Super
Overdrive'? We were laughing because it was so
brilliantly dumb. I was in super overdrive with
my music, but I've also been in super overdrive
when I was just crazy.
World Comin' Down: That's kinda written from
a kid's point of view. I remembered all the
things that I went through as a kid, and how
school is just the world in microcosm. There are
times for everyone as you grow up to resent
authority, but you have to break the rules to be
true to yourself. Now, they REALLY penalize you
for that. I've never been able to learn anything
that I wasn't interested in, just couldn't make
myself care why the litmus paper was changing
Rat Race: That's the adult me talking to
myself. Our public lives turn into rat races,
but then you discover that your private life is
a rat race too, and the problem is inside
yourself. It's so easy to get sucked into things
and then wonder why you're doing them, which can
cause damage. Somehow you're not going to be the
same person again, the person you're proud of.
Sherri: I wrote it from a girl's point of
view, something I'd never done before. I'd
pretty much done everything by the age of 16, so
I know how easy it is to run away from things
and then discover that there's really no place
to run. You've got to make the best of what
you've got right here. It's difficult to tell
anyone what to do, especially when you're Billy
Idol, but then, we all grow up a little don't
Plastic Jesus: I was playing this thing on
acoustic guitar one day and Steve Stevens said,
"That sound's like 'Plastic Jesus.'"
And I said, "What's that?" We couldn't
find a recording of the original, so I'm sure
the melody is different. We just downloaded
Ernie Marrs' lyrics, which had the feeling of a
hillbilly song. I identified with the guy being
an alcoholic carrying around his booze in the
plastic Jesus. There might be a little Donovan
in the chorus. The weirdest stuff comes out when
you squeeze the sponge."
Scream: Totally filthy. Its three o'clock in
the morning and the sex beast is on the prowl.
It's such a Billy Idol song, it's almost funny.
But it really roars.
Yelling At The Xmas Tree: My dad never came
home drunk like that, but I did a few times. And
I did spend an entire Christmas once yelling at
the tree like it was my manager or somebody. I
don't think my mother ever had sex with Santa
Claus. But maybe. Who knows?
Romeo's Waiting: A few years ago I found
myself in a strip bar with all the other losers,
and I started to see it from their point of
view. They're the most romantic people in the
world, because they're thinking that the chick
is dancing for them, that they're going to save
her. Romeo was always a bit of a loser. A total
loser, when you think about it.
Body Snatcher: My mother was an O'Sullivan
and she always said that people with an O in
front of their name heard the Banshee wail. And
I have heard the Banshee wail. I've been in that
place when I thought the body snatchers were
coming. I've nearly killed myself on the
motorcycle, and I've nearly killed myself with
drugs, so I'm very lucky to be here. But this is
more about something dark taking over your soul,
the melancholia thing.
Evil Eye: Continues the same theme as
"Body Snatcher." Heroin is a
relationship drug. That's how I got into it. I
fell in love, and we fell into heroin. That was
a long time ago, and it took a long time to
Lady Do Or Die: A mix of Johnny Cash and
Leonard Cohen. You're on the road, and you
decide that playing music for living isn't so
bad. Music as a way of freeing yourself from
prison--it's done that for me. Do that or die.
Cherie: The challenge was writing a song that
says "I Love You" and making it real.
I did it by flashback to my childhood in the
punk revolution. You have everything but you're
still looking for something more, so you lose
what you had. And yet you've still got your
memories, even after you fuck up so badly. So
I'm saying, "Thanks for helping me. You
made my life great, even if we're not together
Summer Running: I was riding my motorcycle
and rejuvenating the life I nearly destroyed in
"Body Snatcher" and "Evil
Eye." When you ride, it's almost like
meditating and you can ask yourself all the
important questions: What do I really love? What
do I really believe? What do I really want to
do? You can answer those questions if you just
find a place where you can stop and think. For
me, that was the motorcycle. For somebody else,
it might be a Winnebago.