As some of you reading this well know, and others will not, Keith Levene, later of Public Image Ltd., was an early member of The Clash. So why did he leave “the only band that matters”?
“Anyway, my heart wasn’t in The Clash sound at all—I remember going to rehearsals and just being so depressed about their sound. They got it so wrong man, they thought I was depressed because I was having a bad amphetamine come down. So it happened like this :one day, I get to the rehearsal room which is this dark, damp room—the band are sitting around, playing tunes from The Stooges and The MC5 and King Tubby’s Hi Fi on their little cassette machine, waiting for me to arrive cos I’m late as usual. We plug in and start playing, and I remember Joe Strummer poking me in the arm and going, “Look Keith, just what is wrong with you man, are you into this or not”. I’m not into it, so I just leave my guitar up against the amp, feedback howling back like mad, like white noise, and I just walk out. I can still hear that feedback whine as I leave the studio and walk onto the street. Fuck them. And they thought it was a bad speed come down. You wanna know the truth? The truth is I hated their sound. Even though I wrote some of their first album, I can’t listen to it. That’s the truth. There is the printed version of what happened, and then there is the real version of what happened. It didn’t bother me when I left The Clash, not at all. I mean, how could I be in a band which played songs like ‘White Riot’! Fuck off! What did we have to riot about? Then there were the fucking stupid lyrics like “No Elvis, no Beatles and the Rolling Stones.” Fuck off! I didn’t want anything to do with it. Then there was some bullshit like Mick Jones told me he predicted the death of Elvis. Bullshit.”
Tell us how you really feel, Keith!
Below, Levene with PiL performing “Chant” on a TV show called Check It Out before the group storms out of the interview.