“Ever get the feeling yoU’ve been cheated?”
When a bored and self-loathing John Lydon took to the stage on January 14, 1978 at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom with this much-repeated proclamation, it would be the last time he’d perform with the Sex Pistols. More than a cheap shot at endless touring schedules and the band’s galloping fame, the singer’s seven word obituary was directed at the institutions that promised so much, only to slam down the shutters once enough records had been sold. We’re Talking Virgin EMI, A&M, and money-minded draconian weasel, Malcolm McLaren. By the time airplane tyre met tarmac, Lydon had started hatching his next move: Public Image Limited.
PiL matched gaked-out dub reggae rhythms with pukey post-punk guitar discordance and Lydon’s gory, glorious war cries. For many, they were a curiously invigorating antidote to punk rock which, come the early 80s, was careening dangerously tOwards self parody. Moulding a blissfully avant- garde rock sound with some of the decade’s most forward-thinking musicians — bass wizard Jah Wobble, six string terroriser Keith Levene — out of the rubble of dishonoured record deal contracts and tabloid mania, Lydon had created his own, broken kind of paradise.
This menswear AW16 issue of Rollacoaster is themed “utopia.” We’re not referring to the word in a biblical sense, the Lynchian sense, or the 1960s sci-fi TV show sense, but an updated, 2016 interPretation. Under Tory rule, since 2010 just shy of £60 million has been been bled from local councils’ arts funds. Speaking to the talents that pepper this issue — established luminaries like Derek Ridgers, the superfluously gifted Dev Hynes and Kanye’s Creative Director, Virgil Abloh — it’s clear that the feeling from artists living in major cities is one of Post-Apocalypse. Everything’s gotten a bit Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in New York, LA, London and beyond, where creatives are being out-priced; shipped to the peripheries of society.
The artistIc and the poor may not matter in the eyes of the city, but they’re fighting back. In a bid for fun, expression and autonomy, communities of young people across the globe are getting organised. This issue explores this very modern, desperate kind of energy, pin-pointing new collectives and urban hubs hell-bent on moulding self-contained, self-motivated bubbles of DIY perfection. We journey to Johannesburg, where a tribe of dancers, performance artists and musicians are waging war on the country’s oppressive, post-Apartheid government. Elsewhere, Kaner Flex, a liquid-jointed dance talent who starred alongside twigs in the viral CK Jeans campaign you watched — selects his favourite nascent London-based performance artists, and triple-threat Martine Rose, Sibling and Matthew Miller envision the uniforms people would where if they were to start a utopian cult.
Enjoy, and remember: if you shoot us, we will shoot you right bAck.
Jack Mills, Editor