Billy Idol drew upon his near career-ending 1990 motorcycle accident for his new track, “Bitter Taste.” Idol has just released a new EP, titled, The Roadside, via George Harrison‘s resurrected Dark Horse Records imprint.
While chatting with Forbes, Idol spoke about recalling the accident that almost cost the rocker his leg: “That was a big moment in my life, like a crisis moment, a problem time, something where I had to readjust my whole life in a way, once it happened. . . I always said it’d be great when it’s 20 years or 30 years away from the motorcycle accident, just because it’s so far in the back mirror and then I did manage to recover okay. So the motorcycle accident was something I could write about that was a big crisis in my life, that was a bit of a watershed moment.”
He went on to explain, “I’ve had 30 years to reflect on it and really sort of come to terms with it and be able to talk about in a song really. And yeah, it came out really great, that’s the thing about ‘Bitter Taste,’ it really came out great.
Idol shed light on his life in the late-’80s when he moved from New York City to L.A.: “Yeah, I’d actually come out to Los Angeles from New York where I’ve been living a bit of a vampire existence. It’s not New York’s fault, it was really to do with me becoming so well-known on MTV and stuff. Just because you walked outside your door, and I’d never really thought about it. As a musician, it was like a little under the radar.”
He went on to describe the non-stop absurdity of his ’80s fame: “Being a television star was nutty, it was crazy. It was difficult going out because it wasn’t just music people who knew about you. As MTV got bigger and bigger it was like the whole of the world could recognize you, just from your voice or your hair or something.”
Billy Idol said that today, he marks the accident as a “before and after” situation in his life: “It took me 10 years or more of AA and a number of different things, to eventually put drugs on the back burner, where they weren’t central. You were getting some semblance of control, because there is no control. The AA people will tell you there isn’t, really. The motorcycle accident was a big watershed moment because I really did sort of address my demons, and I gradually got control of myself to where I can still be here today performing, enjoying it, recording, writing songs and enjoying it.
Billy Idol he admitted to us that although not exactly clean and sober, he’s left his self-destructive habits far in the past: “I’m not sober, I mean, I don’t. . . I have to sort of say to myself, ‘Yeah, you can do everything, man, but I’m not doing it.’ If I say to myself, ‘I’m never doing anything ever again’ — I’ll immediately go and do it. That’s what I’m like. So, I have to sort of say, ‘No, man, you can do (laughs) whatever you want’ — but there’s a side of me saying, ‘. . . but we’re not going to.’ I like smoking pot. I still smoke tons of pot, and so. . . I don’t do coke or heroin or anything like that. I like to drink with a meal at a restaurant, y’know? But nothing else.” (30 OC: . . . But nothing else)