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Clash Legend Mick Jones on His Crazy Fans, His New Album, and Why He Didn’t Download ‘In Rainbows’

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Clash guitarist Mick Jones and fellow punk-hero Tony Jones (of Generation X) got together in 2002 to record some songs, and a brand-new garage-rock outfit, Carbon/Silicon, was born. Soon, the pair started giving their catchy, co-written songs away for free — way before Radiohead made that sort of thing cool. Jones chatted with Vulture as his band prepares to play their first-ever New York show at the HighLine Ballroom next Wednesday in support of their first (official, physical) album, The Last Post.

You and Tony were in London SS together 30-odd years ago. How have things changed?
We were idiots then. We’re even bigger idiots now, just older.

What’s your dynamic like?
Well, he’s Tory, and I’m Labour. I’m Gordon Brown, and he’s David Cameron.

He calls you “the Soul” of the group and blogs about you on the Website.
That’s really nice of him, and I’ll have to keep up with the payments so that he continues to do so.

But you’re both rock-and-roll legends now. Do you fight over who’s more popular?
With my own legendry, I try to ignore it entirely. Basically, if I took any notice, my head would explode. I wouldn’t be able to do anything.

Speaking of legends, what did you think of the Joe Strummer documentary?
Well, I thought I was good! No, that’s a joke. I thought it was like a really good three-part or traditional play, like a tragic-comedy: before, during and after. I thought it was one of Julien’s best films. I might have done it more like a stage show though. Like West Side Story.

Back to the new band: Do you worry that fans are going to come to your shows expecting to hear punk?
Oh no, I hope not. I hope that if they liked what Tony and I did in the past, hopefully they will be interested in what we’re doing now. It’s really different. We’re older guys. We’ve got lives and stuff. What we write about is how things affect our lives as we are now. We’re not trying to be like young guys prancing around like idiots.

How do you think your stage show has changed?
I don’t know. We dance, but we have the hurdles lower?

What’s your wildest fan story?
There was this woman once when we were in Big Audio Dynamite; we were playing a show in L.A. and someone said, “Lisa Stansfield is here and she really wants to meet you.” So we said, “Oh, sure, yeah, bring her back.” This girl came in wearing a black dress and a black beret but was obviously was not Lisa. And it was like where is she? And we kept looking over her head, and she was saying, “No it’s me!” I’m sorry for that person if she reads this, but she really shouldn’t be pretending to be Lisa Stansfield.

Did you let her stay?
Yeah, we just pretended she was Lisa. In a way it worked. We were too nice to say, “You’re not Lisa Stansfield.”

So you guys are nice guys?
We’re too nice. That’s what we learned from it all: Be a good person in a way. We know everyone’s scared of punks, but we’re actually really nice guys. There’s two different strains of punks, nice ones and horrible ones. We fall into the nice category.

Not to endanger your karma, but you guys have been giving away your music free for a long time. Do you feel like Radiohead jumped on your bandwagon?
Well, we can’t be doing it for years and then see somebody else who’s bigger than us come out and start doing it, and then start moaning. I think, good for them.

Did you download the album?
Definitely not. [Laughs]
—Lauren Salazar

Clash Legend Mick Jones on His Crazy Fans, His New Album, and Why He Didn’t Download ‘In Rainbows’