Rock’n’Rules: Chrissie Hynde

The aspiring rock star’s indispensable guide

The aspiring rock star’s indispensable guide to surviving a life in music, with advice from those who know best. With her strikingly iconic fringe, fierce reputation and couldn’t care less attitude, Chrissie Hynde has come to represent the embodiment of a rock ‘n’ roll star. These are her Rock And Rules.

Be A Rock Star, Not A Business
I don’t pay any attention to that stuff. People have been telling me for thirty years that I really, really should be paying more attention to my business. I always tell them that I’ll be fine and they warn me that I’m gonna get ripped off. I say, “Okay, rip me off!” What’s the point in being a rock star if you’re worried about money and finances? I feel I owe it to my fans not to think about it. It’s the only way I know – the last time I looked at my bank account was when I was twentytwo years old and I moved to England. I think I had about $500. After that, I was living in squats and stuff – you don’t pay too much attention to money then. I remember friends who would only have 70p and question whether to get a pack of Number 6 and have some change or get some Dunhill. We’d always just say, “Fuck it, let’s get the Dunhill.”
“I paid a lot of attention to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Trust Some People Implicitly
I’ve always trusted the people I work with. I’ve only had a few managers. Dave Hill was my first manager and was there throughout all the traumas of my original band, and still is a really good friend. I’ve been with Gail Colson for fifteen years. Even if we’re going to go and look at a contract or whatever it is, even if the attorney has spent weeks sorting out a deal, I’ll just go in and look at Gail and say, “Have you read it?” She’ll say yeah, and I’ll be like “Okay.” You can see the crushed look on the attorney’s face who wants me to go through everything. Then I’ll sit there for a minute trying not to bum him out and then look at Gail and ask, “Does he know I’m not going to read this?” Then we’ll get through that and I‘ll sign it.

You’re Nothing Without Your Band
With a band I’m a real team player. I’m nothing without my band. The guys have always been more than willing to help out doing press, as they know I don’t like doing it. I don’t like to be in the limelight when I’m off stage. I only like to be in the limelight when I’m on stage because that’s the deal. People always want to talk to the lead singer so it’s just one of the shitty things. Even though you’re the one with the least musicianship, you’re the one everyone wants to talk to. That’s why everyone else hates the lead singer. If there’s a guitar-playing magazine then James will talk to them. We’ve been farming Martin out to do stuff, but he’s as mad as a hatter so if they’re asking him about a tour or something, he’ll more than likely end up talking about the coving in a pub somewhere in Devon.

There’s A Seedy Side To Music
I don’t pay any attention to the business side of things.I paid a whole lot of attention to the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll though. What can you say, that’s part of it. My manager always asks why I can’t just have a couple of drinks. I’ve never met anybody in my position who isn’t the same. But you end up at someone’s funeral and people are trying to score – and that’s shitty. But that happens, that’s the world. Basically I’m always trying not to do stuff… trying. You can’t really advise someone on that subject, it’s a bit pot calling the kettle black. There’s not really much you can do. People have to learn from their own mistakes. I certainly wouldn’t advocate anything, I don’t like to think that I’ve influenced anyone to get wasted or fucked up. I’d love to think that I’ve maybe influenced people to consider a vegetarian lifestyle, but in my heart of hearts I fear that more than that I’ve encouraged them to get wasted and fucked up. The other downside to that is you look at the people who haven’t taken drugs, and they’re not the people you aspire to be – they’re not the real artists. They’re not the deep ones; they’re the superficial self-promoters in the mainstream. I think my vegetarian lifestyle has kept me alive. I’ve been burying people right, left and centre.

Don’t Burn Out
You have to be very careful not to burn out. It’s a fine line. There’s a certain amount of time you can tour for before you burn out. Obviously the drugs and alcohol take their toll. They might keep you going for a bit longer, way past where you should be going. Not only are you burning up physically and mentally when you’re on tour, you also have to readjust to your home life when you come off tour. It’s too hard to readjust to when you’ve been going too long. It’s hard anyway, you go back home and it gets to nine o’clock at night and you’re not standing on stage. Road crews, bands, everyone involved will tell you the same thing. They lose their mind for the first few days. You’re dying to see your family again but get back and you’re just not there. Try not to drink, try not to smoke so much, keep a routine that’s the same in your room. There might be the same incense that you use. If you’re British and going to America, I beseech you to take your own kettle and tea bags, because you will never get a decent cup of tea.

Interview by Josh Jones

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