Original article here.
Hynde’s clean living also extends to her having been a vegetarian since she was 16. “Back then, I was living on what the English called ‘cheese salad’,” she laughs. “I can eat in thousands of places now!” So many good social changes have happened in her lifetime, she says, not that you’d notice this today. “The ongoing discussion about how shitty things are now annoys me – come on. Obviously, there’s some bad shit in the world, but there always has been.” Positive changes get forgotten far too quickly, she continues. “Smoking killed more people than two world wars and nobody’s said since the ban that it’s great that so many people have stopped. Stop fucking moaning about things! Do something about it or shut it!”
This extends to her feelings about women in music. “The idea that women couldn’t be in the music industry 40 years ago – not only did I prove that wrong, but I just disagree. In music, you can do whatever you want. The only person who ever tried to stop me was me.” Surely she was treated differently to men in the industry in the 70s? “I was a chick and it was a novelty, sure – but this is showbusiness. Novelties are what showbusiness runs on. Jimi Hendrix didn’t have to set his guitar on fire. He played pretty fucking good without the theatrics. But people liked it.”
She was never discriminated against either, she says, then pauses. “I think a lot of guys didn’t want me in their band because I was a girl. Maybe. But so what?” As for the controversy about the gang-rape in her book: “It was just total bullshit. All of a sudden, I became this rape apologist. I thought, ‘Fuck you all!’ I don’t talk about it [feminism]: I am it. I fucking do it.” She’s never “taken a penny from a man”, she adds. “I’ve never had anyone help me get to the top, so to be suddenly this anti-feminist…” She shakes her head. “Go fuck yourselves.”
She wants to move on, but doesn’t quite yet. “I wasn’t saying I was a victim, but I was saying I was a bit of a fucking idiot. I mean, you don’t walk into a bikers’ clubhouse, with a sack full of Quaaludes, all padlocked up and you find out you’re the only person there. Surprise, surprise!” We talk for a while longer and she asks me not to include a few of the things we discuss: she worries about some of her tamer, topical statements becoming the only things people ask her about in the future.
And this worries her today. “We’ve now got to a point where even people who are very outspoken, know their own mind, who aren’t afraid to be criticised, who don’t care what people think, are putting a sock in it because it’s not fucking worth it any more.” She went to see Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse on tour recently, she says, and noticed how they were restricting themselves. She’s not advocating general rudeness, along the lines of people who troll – she doesn’t like that – “but the idea of doing it anonymously, it means most people can dish it out, but they can’t take it”.
Hynde can take it, clearly. “Anyway, I told my story [about the rape]. That was my story. If you don’t like it, don’t buy the book. Let’s move on. I don’t give a fuck.”
I ask to see Hynde’s studio. “Yeah, sure!” She’s bouncy after her rants, which never seem directed at me personally, despite my questions. Hundreds of canvases lean against each other on shelves and teeter against the wall. Some lovely abstracts sit drying, full of colour, light and noise. By the door, there’s a black-and-white photograph of her parents, Bud and Delores, in front of the house her father built. “We didn’t get along,” she explains. “It was during that time in the 60s when no one got along with their parents. Mine were very conservative and the only way I could deal with it was just to split.”
Did she feel guilty? “No! I never thought about it. I kind of feel guilty now. I think, ‘What did my mother think? I just disappeared.’” Even after she got famous, she didn’t stay in touch beyond the call of duty; they came to see her on tour “eventually”. “I just needed to go to another continent to do what I wanted to do,” she says, all matter-of-fact. “I could be bitter about that or see it in another way – that’s how I fulfilled my destiny. So now I can actually say, ‘Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making it so hard on me that I just pissed off!’” She smiles, a little sadly. “I know they’d be offended by that. I don’t want to offend them. But that’s what it was.”
Hynde likes being 67. “I find it really interesting, getting older, because life starts to make sense. I didn’t get famous until I was quite old – 27 – so maybe that’s part of it too.” She also thinks being alone gives her perspective – she’s been single for a long time. Her last marriage, to artist Lucho Brieva, broke down in 2002; she also points to a painting of a man in her room – “some arsehole I don’t hang out with any more”. “You have to have a very strong sense of yourself to be alone,” she says. “It’s hard work and I don’t recommend it. It’s not like you can have a lovely moment sitting over a cup of coffee discussing the ordinary pleasures of everyday life.” She picks up a paintbrush. “You’ve got to find an outlet. And if I was in a happy relationship, you wouldn’t be looking at these paintings.”