Billy Idol is back with The Roadside EP, featuring his first new music in seven years. The legendary rocker is also back on the road, with a number of fall headlining shows and an October residency in Las Vegas.
This year also marks 40 years since Idol left his UK punk band Generation X and went solo, kicking off an amazing run that saw him become a fixture on the then-fledgling network MTV and unleash monster hits like “Dancing With Myself,” “White Wedding,” and “Rebel Yell.”
Now, at 65 years old, Idol is still going strong. On the new EP, he reflects on his near-fatal 1990 motorcycle accident on the song “Bitter Taste,” and addresses the #MeToo and Times Up movements on the songs “Rita Hayworth” and “Baby Put Your Clothes Back On.”
Heavy Consequence caught up with Idol via video Zoom to chat about the new EP, the pandemic, and his 40 years as a solo act, among other topics.
While discussing the song “Bitter Taste,” Idol told us, “The thought of trying to deliberately write a song about the pandemic, I didn’t think that was such a good idea. But I thought maybe I could think of time in my life that was challenging to me, something I had to overcome, which was scary and frightening … and it would reflect what’s going on with the pandemic for people. And I thought about my motorcycle accident.”
“I badly damaged my right leg to the extent where I thought … they might have to amputate my leg, so I didn’t quite know what it was going to do to me physically. I kind of done it to myself, really, because I was riding my motorcycle high, and that’s the worst thing to possibly do.”
As for his decision to go solo in 1981 after finding some success with his band Generation X, Idol told us, “It was frightening, scary, but also exhilarating … I was moving from London to New York, and I knew the punk rock scene. I could meet great people in London, but I knew I could meet great people in New York.”
He continued, “I was used to being in Generation X, I was used to writing songs with [Generation X guitarist] Tony James. … One of the reasons I actually went solo is because I was a singer singing somebody else’s lyrics. So, in my solo career, I needed to sing my own lyrics.”
Idol went on to talk about how the timing worked out with MTV launching the same year, and how he was fortunate to meet his longtime guitarist, Steve Stevens.
Back to the current day, Idol discussed his fun Instagram posts featuring his granddaughter Poppy, and also divulged that he has another granddaughter on the way.
Elsewhere in the interview, Idol talked about his experience during the pandemic, including his own bout with COVID late last year. He also addressed whether he’d perform his classic albums in full, considering they will be reaching landmark anniversaries over the next couple of years. And he touched on his supergroup Generation Sex with Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, teasing that more is yet to come from the all-star outfit.
Trouble viewing the video above? Watch the interview on YouTube.