The Clash’s Paul Simonon On Competing With Joe Strummer And Mick Jones

The Clash bassist and founding member Paul Simonon recently appeared on The New Cue and discussed competing with his bandmates, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. During the interview, the bassist recalled the time he first wrote the lyrics for ‘The Guns of Brixton’ and shared feeling like he was in a competition with his two bandmates.

The bassist started by telling about the time he got ideas for their hit:

“I always had lot of things brewing, but I was distracted by working with Bernie Rhodes on the artwork and clothes or chucking paint over clothes. From day one, we were pretty much non-stop touring. We didn’t have a holiday for as long as it lasted. It was seven years non-stop. Things were brewing that never came out and then it went into that song. There you go, let’s try that again.”

The bassist then shared whether or not he was competing with Strummer and Jones since they were already the songwriters in the band:

“That’s the thing, with Strummer/Jones, how do you compete with that? It’s not competing, it’s just trying to have your own voice.”

As opposed to his initial thoughts, it turned out that the two members were really supportive of Simonon. He explained:

“Mick and Joe were always really encouraging. In fact, I initially gave the lyrics for ‘Guns Of Brixton’ to Joe to sing. He just said, ‘No, you’ve got to sing it, they’re your lyrics.'”

The only competition among the bandmates seems to be on stage only. In their interview with The Guardian, Simonon shared that if one of the bands started running on stage, he would run across the stage and jump higher than him, calling it a competition.

The bassist also shared that he wrote the song’s bass lines for money, one of the necessities in the music industry. He made it clear that musicians get paid by making music and not by designing clothes or posters.

Listen to the song below.