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THERE'S SOMETHING ROTTEN IN TODAY'S MUSIC, SAYS EX-PISTOL.

Byline: FRED SHUSTER

>MUSIC WRITER

John Lydon's been keeping busy being Rotten.

The singer and lyricist of the Sex Pistols, perhaps the shortest-lived yet most influential band in rock history, hasn't been doing much music lately in public, but he has been mouthing off at every opportunity -- most recently as a talent judge on the reality TV series "Bodog Music Battle of the Bands," in which 10 bands competed.

The finale at the House of Blues Sunset Strip airs at 7 tonight on the Fuse channel.

The 51 year-old Lydon, whose avant-garde Public Image Ltd. (PIL) followed the demise of the Pistols before running out of steam, lives in Los Angeles and keeps a firm grip on the Pistols' legacy. He and the other living ex-members had a hand in the making of director Julien Temple's superb "The Filth and the Fury" documentary, which told the story of the punk group in artful fashion.

We caught up with Lydon last week.

What's the attraction of this Bodog competition?

Sometimes, it makes me want to jump up onstage and join them. Most of them are good from one night to another. What more can you ask for? Watching them perform live with all the sheer panic and stress that comes from knowing it will be shown to millions of people on TV. It's not about hard knocks or cruelty like "American Idol." It's about celebrating the art of songwriting.

What's the state of songwriting these days?

It's horrible. Music is just another career choice for young people. They're not using any of their life experiences. That was the joy for me -- writing songs that directly related to my life. And that isn't happening anymore."

Why is that?

It's all lost in a malaise of video games and mummy and daddy buying everything for you. The result is you get alleged pop stars preening about how much wealth they've got. It's this smug cynicism. People just sit on their lazy computerized asses, complaining about everything and saying, "I want, I want."

In such a state, where will the next youth culture spring from? Iraq perhaps?

(Laughs) Yes, with weapons of mass destruction on drums. It's not for me to say where the next youth culture will spring up.

You were an early supporter of reggae.

Reggae to me is not an affectation. I heard it growing up in the council flats (the U.K.'s low-cost government housing). It's a way of life, it's not entertainment. Now saying that, Jamaican music has been ruined by the American gangsta rap influence. There's a nastiness and bitterness in the music now. I don't think they know who the enemy is anymore.

The 30th anniversary of the release of the Pistols' album just passed, and nothing was mentioned by the label.

We're having difficulties with Warner Bros. It's been done. I don't want to put some repackaging or all the nonsense. It's done. It's out there.

Fred Shuster (818) 713-3676

fred.shuster@dailynews.com

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"Music is just another career choice for young people. They're not using any of their life experiences. That was the joy for me -- writing songs that directly related to my life," says John Lydon.

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Title Annotation:LA.COM
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 5, 2007
Words:539
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