Wobble blast for the music ‘dead zone’

A founder member of Public Image Limited, Jah Wobble’s distinctive, brutal bass became the backbone of the pioneering sound on the band’s celebrated album, Metal Box.

Friday, 7th November 2014, 8:00 pm
Jah Wobble
Jah Wobble

The Wobble trawl through music has seen him play with Bjork, Primal Scream, Brian Eno, Sinead O’Connor and The Edge from U2, but while he became a respected musician in his own right, steeped in world music, he reckons the industry has grown dull and predictable.

“It’s like one big heritage site,” said Wobble, who will talk about his life at the The Louder Than Words Festival in Manchester next week.

“I avoid it like the plague. It’s full of businessmen bores, a lot of whom are too old to try anything else. Everybody is so conformist and on message.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“The music industry is full of dilettantes. It’s a dead zone.”

Musically, Wobble has never enjoyed so much artistic freedom. Having formed his own label – 30 Hertz Records – he is free to play musical mad scientist without interference from “management types” aiming to make his musical marketable.

“I’m really happy at the moment. I’ve got a new single coming out – Hey Ho! Let’s Go Psycho. It is a pop punk record, and I love it.”

Music, though, says Wobble, has become the lowest art form.

“It is behind baking on the TV now, and I don’t know how any young musician can make a crust anymore,” he said.

“Music was everything when I started out, it was the premier art form of our culture, a microcosm of society.

“There’s a lack of respect for culture now and for living a life well. Life’s not about whether your car has got a dent in or you have a nice motor.

“Life’s how you deal with and respect other people.”

Born and bred in East London, Wobble lives in Stockport with his family. “We’ve been here 15 years.

“What I like about the North is the dry sense of humour and down to earth nature of people who like to put the kettle on and say, ‘Do you fancy a brew, lad?

“London’s a city turned inside out, it’s become an upmarket version of Blackpool.”

Wobble recently teamed up with former Public Image guitarist Keith Levene, with the duo playing the Metal Box album live for the first time in three decades.

“I think it was something we both needed to do to lay the ghost of Public Image Limited,” added Wobble.

“We missed the boat with PIL. We had our window of opportunity but let it slip through our fingers.

“Dear old John Lydon, he gave me a bit of a coating in his new book, but I don’t wish him any harm and there’s no hard feelings.

“I always say music follows art 30-odd years later. I probably only did 20 shows with PIL.

“We’re in our 50s now and when we played Metal Box last year it was a bit of fun – we had a cup of tea, and me and Keith had a laugh – but boy, did it sound good.”

Louder Than Words Festival, November 14-16, Palace Hotel, Manchester.

Jah Wobble also appears at Manchester Sound Control with his band The Invaders of the Heart tomorrow.

Tickets £14, see www.soundcontrolmanchester.co.uk/

Tony Dewhurst