This interview was done by Andrew Probyn of The Let
It Be Beatles which is a Beatles radio show which has been running
for 6 years in Melbourne, Australia. Andrews' interview is absolutely
wonderful, one of the best I've heard/read. And it is refreshing
that Julian is so open in discussing his past and his music.. I'd
like to especially thank Simon and Andrew of The Let It Be Beatles
and Joanna for helping me get in touch with them.
Andrew: First of all congratulations
on the album.
Julian: Thank you.
Andrew: Now how many times is this
in Melbourne... you've been...been here?
Julian: Oh I don't know..
Andrew: Four or five times.
Julian: Yeah, at least. Yeah. About
Andrew: Do you like it a lot here?
Do you like it in Australia?
Julian: Yeah. I love it in Australia.
Unfortunately the times in the past that I've been here have always
been too brief.... and although this time is - you know we are here
for three weeks. It's again it is like running around like a headless
chicken on promotion. So... especially after not being around
for seven years you know, or however long it has been... But, because
I'm - we're working in partnership with Sony this time and I'm running
my company back in England through you know - with Sony. Especially
when we come back my idea, especially on the road, is to not make
it a grueling, hectic tour by any means. And for actually - not
only myself but for the band and everybody who is on the road, to
actually pace it in such a way that we actually get days - a couple
days off, either before or after each of the shows so we can explore
and enjoy and have a look around. That actually - That makes the
show better anyway. Because we want to get up and play rather
than you know..
Andrew: You've been here for two days.
What have you been up to around Melbourne?
Andrew: Have you visited any sites?
Julian: No. Not at all. I haven't
had a chance. I mean I've - I had a - the work schedule that we
put together in Japan was beyond grueling. I mean beyond grueling!
And there was literally no rest time! I mean literally
no - We had one day off in three weeks. It was - it was - it was
hard to find time to eat! Never mind sleep! Um.. and so with the
flight over and also not - I didn't sleep on the flight. So, it's
mainly been sort of catching up and resting up getting ready for
the next three weeks you know.
Andrew: Right. Have you ever considered
moving to Australia permanently?
Julian: I have. I have actually.
Every time I've been here. It's very scary. But every time I come
here I - in the past anyway, I've stayed an extra week or two at
the end, if I didn't have to go anywhere. And I've always
felt very, very comfortable here. I've always liked it here immensely.
And I have very much considered it.
Andrew: Australia or Melbourne in particular?
Julian: Well, Australia.. Yeah
Andrew: What is it about Australia?
Julian: Well I don't know, the
climate in Melbourne seems to be a little too close to England at
the moment you know. (laughs) Ah.. I don't know, there's just..
I like the people here for a starter, it maybe, it's just a feeling,
a vibe I can't - it's not particularly something I can put into
words but it's - I feel comfortable here you know.
Andrew: You dedicated 'Photograph Smile'
to Roberto... Bassanini
Julian: Good. Very good.
Well done. (Referring to Andrew's pronunciation of Bassanini)
Andrew: And is he the one who took
the photos of you? Those fantastic photos on the album?
Julian: No. Uh..
Andrew: Who took them? Especially the
picture of you playing the piano.
Julian: Well the one playing piano
was taken at home when I was about two or three when dad was still
around. I don't know if he took it. It could have been mum; it could
have been dad; it could have been someone around the house. The
front cover was me sitting on my mother's and my step-father's shoulders
Andrew: Oh really? You can't tell that
Julian: No you can't. I just cropped
it out just for the face and facial expression, you know.
Andrew: Just making sure this thing
Andrew: Don't want to miss this out.
Um. Do you think it was difficult for Roberto to leave knowing that
your dad was Beatle John.
Julian: Not at all. He didn't a
f--- basically. Him - uh you know, he was just a guy that enjoyed
life immensely. It was not about who was more successful or fame
or who was more famous or this, that, and the other. Roberto was
the kind of guy - His family ran a very successful hotel business
throughout Italy. And -and there was - it was a different life altogether
you know. It wasn't even - definitely he didn't want to get up and
be a pop star. He enjoyed the life that he was living.
Andrew: You've said in the past that
he was more of a dad and John.
Julian: Well yeah. He was that
you know, took me to school, picked me up from school. He was the
one who took me on holidays. He was the one that was around and
went to a football match with me or whatever.
Andrew: Who do you support by the way?
Julian: Well that was a long time
ago. I'm actually not a major - not into sports much these days.
Andrew: Who was it?
Julian: Well it was Liverpool back
then of course (laughs).
Andrew: Ah well. No. Well not necessarily,
it could have been Everton.
Julian: No. Very true. Well.. uh..
hmm..uh.. Okay! We won't get into that one. But that was in the
younger days so...
Andrew: Yeah. You say on the inside
of the 'I Don't Wanna Know' single - In fact, a lot of people would
have missed it because you don't expect things to be written on the
Julian: Yeah. I did write a lot
Andrew: Inside it says that 'this is
the song - this is the sound that many people out there have been
Julian: In a sense, yeah.
Andrew: Was it a deliberate..
Julian: Oh absolutely! Beyond deliberate.
Yeah. I mean, after, you know, after so many fans and critics in
the past making the comparisons all the time saying 'well he sounds
just like the Beatles or just like his dad' and I always sort of
push away from that. Didn't even make any comments about it.
Andrew: When I heard it for the first
time I thought it was absolutely startling.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah when it first-
on the track.
Andrew: It's - Do you think it's -
it sounds like something from 'Hard Day's Night'? It could have fitted..
Julian: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Julian: I wrote it and designed
it specifically to do that.
Andrew: Around 'A Hard Day's Night'
Julian: Well no..
Andrew: That style..
Julian: Well that style, mid-sixties
basically. You know and sing it as close to dad's style as possible
you know. That was the idea. I mean also it was, from my point of
view, it was tongue in check you know, because of all those critics
who had said 'well when are you going to cover a Beatles' song?'
I said, 'Why would I want to do that? Number one they did a brilliant
job the first time around. And number 2, if I did that you know,
how am I supposed to move forward in my own life? You know, if you
keep pulling me back?' and 'No! I'm not a replacement. You
know, I'm a different person entirely. Grew up in different circumstances
you know.' Um.. you know.. and so I - after all those years of the
critics saying you know 'you sound just..' so this time I thought
well I'll do one exactly like it and so when they say this again
I'll say, you know, 'well he sounds just like..' I'll say, 'well
yes I do.'
Andrew: And well it's - it's a wonderful
song in it's own right.
Julian: Yeah its alright. It's
a little ditty, poppy, thing you know. But.. uh.. you know. The
idea was to say 'well yes I do' now and get over it. Get past the
comparisons. There is more to the work that just comparing it to
the Beatles or you know it's like when people ask me about like
bands like Oasis and say 'well what about the comparisons.' And
I say, 'well you know, at the end of it, it's not the about comparisons.
It's whether you like the song or not.' It's as simple as that you
know. Everybody takes influence from everybody. That's where we,
you know, accumulate our knowledge and our history you know.
Andrew: I suppose it has occurred to
you that today..
Andrew: ..is your dad's 58th birthday.
Um Have you chosen today especially?
Andrew: It's just a..
Julian: Not particularly. No. It's
a fluke of nature.
Andrew: You've described Paul McCartney
in the past- I think it's in a very recent interview, as a real sweetheart.
Andrew: In as far as he has been very
supportive of you. I believe he was in contact with you during the
making of this album. Is that right?
Julian: Well after the album actually.
After the album. Not during the album. He's always been one to send
Christmas and Birthday cards. Every year! Amazing! And um - A (someone
takes Julian's picture here and distracts him a bit. When the photographer
apologizes, Jules says: 'No. No. No I don't mind') And uh it's -
he's always been there and like an Uncle but it's always .. ah..
it's been a little awkward you know, because it's difficult for
him you know.
Andrew: Have you contacted him since
Linda's very sad passing?
Julian: No. No I purposely didn't.
I purposely didn't because I felt that more than anything, knowing
what dealing with what death is like it's - it would be more beneficial
to let him have some time and some space. And he needs to be with
his family, and he needs to do a lot of healing you know. And when
the time's right, I'll - you know, I'll 'ither see him personally
or what. But I felt he needed time first. I didn't want - you know
'cuz everybody is going to send everything in at the same time saying
- you know. And it's all overwhelming. It's all too much you know.
Andrew: Yeah.. um.. If you hadn't been
the son of John Lennon, would you have been a Beatles fan?
Julian: Probably yeah. Well..
Andrew: Who would have been your favorite
Julian: Ah. I don't know. I think
- I think - That's very difficult to say because between .. ah..
I mean, they all had elements that are individual that when brought
together made a fantastic situation. But.. um.. individually, they
had their own talents which were equally as good as each other in
different areas you know. Dad was the more raw. More sort of more
raw, honest, aggressive approach. And Paul was much more the melodic,
softer side of things. And I like both those sides you know. Uh..
I think, quite often that more of my stuff that I think that IS
influenced, is more on the side of Paul because of the melodies.
I'm a melody freak. I love melodies you know. But I still like that
harder edge side too you know.
Andrew: In the seven years before 'Photograph
Smile' you had a rest, you had a break from the industry, what were
Julian: Ah LIVING! I lived!
Andrew: You were becoming a chef..
ah dabbling in things..
Julian: No. I've been cooking for
years. I've been cooking since God knows when. uh..
Andrew: What about designing computer
games? Is this true?
Julian: Yeah. That's true.
Andrew: What sort of games?
Julian: Ah.. I Ah.. to not give
the game away. But it environmentally - it's a particular game that
deals with teaching kids without - it's on a subconscious level,
on a very subtle level, teaching kids about the environment. About
the consequences of what happens. And morally, judgment, and the
consequences there of. You know.. I can't give too much away
until it actually happens. I don't want someone else to take the
Andrew: Okay - Your own label, 'Music
From Another Room', what does that mean?
Julian: What does it mean?
Andrew: Yeah. What does it mean?
Julian: It means freedom! That's
what it means! It means after all those years of putting so much
trust and faith in other people who didn't do f---ola for me..
Andrew: Well you've been shafted in
Julian: Well that's another way
of putting it yes. (laughs) Yeah. Yeah. I didn't say that. No -
You know there was just too many broken promises. Too - Great lack
of support.. which was so frustrating when I was on promo tours
working my backside off and .. you know, the record company before
I even do that - did that- And the management, knew that there
was going to be no support. So I was going out on the road doing
a promo tour for a year or two with the management, the record company,
knowing that they weren't going to support me on this and this was
absolutely frustrating. And so I just said 'That's enough!' I had
enough. And their idea of who I was, was different from mine. I
mean they were marketing me, you know, as the 'son of.' They didn't
know how to handle me. They didn't approach me on a personal level
or an artist in my own right you know. It was never the case. And
so it was time to get out of all those contracts. That took about
four or five years. And then.. ah.. you know, I just lived. I had
been in the industry since - from the age of 20 you know, 'til seven
years ago. So as an adult, I had no time to myself to figure who
I was outside of the music industry.
Andrew: Just a couple quick more questions.
I know they are trying to wind us up.
Julian: Sorry, it's dinner time
that's why. Go on.
Andrew: Do you think that Yoko Ono
would be annoyed that your latest album has been getting far better
Julian: HELL YES! YEAH! Absol-f---ing-lutely!
Andrew: Now she's put a fortune behind
Julian: She's put enormous amounts
behind Sean. I - Listen, I love Sean to death. I support him beyond.
You know. But I think he has little understanding or knowledge of
what actually she's been doing behind this you know. I feel
he's gone into this Indy label you know, thinking that it's given
him street creed and clap but the actual money she's forking out
of her own pocket to support him to do all the promotional stuff..
It's mind boggling. Mind boggling!
Andrew: What do you think of his album?
Julian: I like it. You know it's
Andrew: Do you think it is a bit pretensuous
Julian: I don't know.. you know,
these days people are definitely (someone interrupts) these days
you know people are definitely getting on with things they want
to do themselves rather than what other people want them to do.
So you know, in that respect, I'm happy for him. I'm not necessarily
sure.. you know.. this was the right style or the right choice as
a debut album because, you know, this is supposed to be some indication
of where you're going and it's..
Andrew: It's many styles in it..
Julian: It's a little - he's a
little confused in which area he wants to go. Because he love melodies.
I know that. But he's also grown up in an age with grunge and Pearl
Jam and all that kind of stuff and he's trying to do this to it.
Ah. Ah .. he' having fun. But it's early days yet. And I think he's
- I think he will do something great down the line.
Andrew: Would you like to record with
Julian: Maybe. I don't know. Who
knows? I don't know.. I don't know. If we have an idea together
one day. I mean we see each other maybe once a year.
Andrew: You've accused Yoko in the
past of cheapening your dad's image.
Andrew: Yeah. What can you do to stop
Julian: I can't do anything! Nothing!
Not a single thing.
Andrew: You've spent a lot of money
buying those things that she's been selling.
Andrew: Hmm.. It must just infuriate
Julian: It's beyond infuriating.
The most infuriating thing is the money that I'm buying it with
was dad's money in the first place.
Andrew: Right. Yeah.
Julian: So I'm buying it back with
his cash. It's like how ridiculous is that! you know.
Andrew: Yeah Look Julian. While you're
talking. I - the reason That I'm such a fan of the Beatles and the
reason I've been following your career with great interest is... I
actually do a Beatles show in Melbourne. It's the only Beatles show
Julian: Are you serious?
Andrew: Yeah. Six years it's
been going. I was - Could you do a little primary for us? Saying 'this
is Julian Lennon and you're listening to 'The Let It Be Beatles''
Julian: Sure. Why not - 'Hi this
is Julian Lennon here and you're listening to The Let It Be Beatles.'
Andrew: That's brilliant.
Julian: No problem.