WHEN I called before you said you were cycling.
Yeah, I love cycling. I used to do 80 miles a week quite often and it wouldn't be a big deal. I just enjoy the freedom of it.
Do you still cycle as much?
No. It's not much fun in the city. I had some of my worst accidents in London. It's just a lottery. You get hit and no one really cares.
You have played Nottingham numerous times.
Yeah I like the city. I've wandered around it, been in some of those cranky old pubs. It's pretty cool.
Is it the sort of place where you can always rely on Spear of Destiny fans to be?
Yeah, it's kind of like a stronghold city for us. You know, like Manchester, Glasgow, London. It's one of those places, yeah definitely.
Do you know why that is?
I really don't know why there's a relationship with some of these cities. Maybe it goes back to the start of my career, all those 250 years ago.
This time around, it's marking the 25th anniversary of One Eyed Jacks. Was that your best album?
To be totally honest, the only things I'm really interested in are the songs I'm writing at this moment. I can't go forward looking over my shoulder. There are some great songs on that album, definitely.
How does it work on stage? Are you going to play it all in chronological order?
Yeah we are, we're going to do it as it appeared.
So is that the first half and then the second half is just general hits?
I think we might do a few Theatre of Hate songs on this tour. People are always asking us to do them.
Do you think you should have been a lot bigger commercially? Would you have liked that?
I don't think anyone would turn down pound notes. There's no need for martyrdom nowadays, but what didn't happen, didn't happen for a variety of reasons. You can go back in the past and kick yourself for not being a bit brighter about things but at the end of the day, what happened, happened.
What's happening with your next album? It's been a couple of years since your last one…
I've got music for it but I've got no lyrics, so I'll have to wait until the lyrics turn up magically in my head. That's something I can't force. I do spend a lot of time over the lyrics nowadays because you know, it's not "shalalalalala I love you and you love me". That whole kind of rhetoric is gone unless you're in the pop end of the market. People expect me to say something that means something.
Is that always how you work?
Oh no, not at all. Most of it I do just at home on acoustic guitar playing into a little old Gibson amp. I just sort of play along and then suddenly if something comes into my head I get a pen and paper out and quickly write it down. It's just like you get these shards of sunlight in the darkness (laughs).
You toured with The Clash in the eighties. That sounds like a fantastic experience.
Yeah it was a lot of fun. I saw Mick (Jones) at the last Notting Hill carnival actually. It was a great afternoon.
So were you always closer to Mick than Joe Strummer?
I was a lot friendlier with Mick. Joe was more complex, but he was a cool guy. The last time I saw Joe was in New York. We were talking at a bar with him and his girlfriend. That was a while ago actually. We had a great conversation, just sort of standing around laughing at dumb stuff.
How did the tour with Belinda Carlisle come about?
(Laughs) My agent Jack Gray knew (promoter) Tony Denton so he just said 'What you doing this month?' I said 'nothing' so he says 'Do you wanna go on tour with Belinda Carlisle?' I said 'that's ridiculous, Jack', but he said it would be good to do it for a laugh so I said 'okay' and I did. It was just so funny, some of it. We were playing these really dark songs and there were people out there ranging from 16 to 75. The audience was expecting some nice pop hits. I bet they thought I was Satan. We just thought it was bizarre but it was good fun. She's a nice woman.
Have the band you've got with you now been with you a while then?
Yeah. There's Craig Adams, who was the bass player for the Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and The Cult. He wrote all their songs and tons of others.
Was it hard for them and even you to go back and re-learn One-Eyed Jacks?
Err… it was probably harder for me (laughs).
Did you want to change any of it?
Obviously when you're looking back, you do things in a certain kind of way, whereas today you would probably do them in what most people consider a better way. Or maybe not, I don't know. Maybe the naivety is the thing. Some of those songs are very naïve but I guess that's part of their charm.
Spear Of Destiny, Rock City, Friday May 1, 0871 3100 000, www.alt-tickets.co.uk