ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 23, 1992
By Steve Newton
When he was a headline-making member of the infamous Sex Pistols, John Lydon went to extremes to make sure people either loved or hated his grating, nihilistic Johnny Rotten persona. And, according to Blind Melon vocalist Shannon Hoon, Lydon hasn’t given up his Rotten ways.
“One week I would think that John Lydon was great, the next week I would just completely hate the guy,” says Hoon, whose group opened for Lydon’s Public Image Limited and two other acts on a 25-date North American tour earlier this year. “The egos tended to really swell when the soundcheck time-frame came around, and obviously with us being first on the bill, there were a lotta times when we didn’t get to check our stuff, which I thought was kind of…I would like to hope that I would never be so inconsiderate of the other bands on the bill that I wouldn’t let them at least make sure their equipment was workin’ before the show. Those were the weeks when I hated people.
“I mean we had fun playing,” he says, “regardless of who it was with. We were exposed to a lot of people on that tour, you know, we got a chance to meet a lotta really really cool people, ’cause the tour touched in a lotta rural areas. It didn’t necessarily stay in like the major cities, it wandered out of the boundaries of the downtown areas.”
Also on the tour—which played the PNE Forum this past March—were the groups Live and Big Audio Dynamite, which featured another British punk hero in former Clashman Mick Jones. But Hoon says Blind Melon had its moments of glory on the tour, and—depending on the attitude of the crowd—wasn’t lost in the shadows of the better-known bands.
“It came and went in a lotta places,” says Hoon, whose band brings its southern-tinged, multicoloured rock sound back to Vancouver for a show at the Town Pump on Tuesday (December 29). “You know, a lotta people, if you haven’t been shoved down their throat by radio or video, they’re not receptive to new music. But some places were, you know. Some places were just open to hear new music, which is a lot of the reason why I enjoyed the tour–was because people didn’t know what we sound like. You know, they didn’t have any clue what our band was like, and it was a chance for them to make up their own mind, prior to having a radio station shove a song down their throat or have a video played every third video, like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
“To me, that’s how I enjoyed seeing bands. I enjoyed seeing bands before the project was rolling, you know.”
Speaking of heavily played videos, Guns N’ Roses “Don’t Cry” is right up there, but Hoon doesn’t mention that one—since he’s in it. He’s the bristly-chinned non-Gunner stomping around and sharing the microphone with Axl Rose on the song’s chorus. He also sang on four other tunes from Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I album.
“It was interesting,” says Hoon about his Illusion stint. “It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, and spur-of-the-moment things are good. I like when you just do something right off the top of your head.”
The 25-year-old Indiana native doesn’t care for some things that come right off the top of an interviewer’s head, though, especially if they’re questions concerning his cameo in the aforementioned video. It gets him a little riled up, actually, although not as ticked off as his buddy Rose gets when a fan takes his picture.
“Come on!” rails Hoon. “This was a year and a half ago! I hate talking about the past. It tends to be quite annoying. It’s starting to reach the annoying point now, by talking about it.”
Okay, okay—easy, fella. Perhaps it would be safer to talk about the future, and what Hoon would like it to hold for Blind Melon. (With management by the same team that handles hard-rock kings GN’R, it could be a bright one.)
“Longevity,” is Hoon’s easy answer. “I mean, I’d like to do this with these guys for a while, you know… We’re all friends during the working hour and when we’re not working together. We’re not an anti-company, attitude-oriented band, ya know.
“So my definition of success would have to be making it last. Monetary value is not a good way to define success to me. Fame…it’s not… those things are so simple to attain, there’s so many people who have it. You don’t have it one day and have it the next, but making what got you there last is what, I think, [counts].”