Patti Smith on Performance, Drugs and Patriotism

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Patti Smith in AnOther Magazine S/S06
Patti Smith in AnOther Magazine S/S06Photography by Melodie McDaniel, Handwriting excerpt from Patti Smith's Notebook

In honour of Converse's new campaign starring Patti Smith's Chuck Taylor All Stars, we take a look back at Jefferson Hack's interview with her from AnOther Issue 10

Today marks the launch of Converse's "Made by you" campaign: a series of portraits of the iconic Chuck Taylor All Star sneaker, which has now been a cult classic for nearly 100 years. But the shoes that the images depict aren't box-fresh, instead they have been worn, customised (and slightly battered) by some of the creatives who keep them in their wardrobe: from AnOther Magazine's Editor in Chief Jefferson Hack to legendary musician Patti Smith. In honour of the campaign, we bring you moments from Hack's interview with Smith, originally published in AnOther Magazine S/S06.

On performing...
"I was always shocked at how aggressive I was, because normally I'm pretty even tempered. But I have these feelings in me, because there is so much injustice in the world, that I can't help feeling a certain amount of rage. Performance has always been a way for me to channel that rage. lt 's been a very good vehicle."

"There is so much injustice in the world, that I can't help feeling a certain amount of rage"

On personal codes...
"When I was younger, I didn't really think about how my actions or work would affect people – how it might redesign their thinking. Or if I hurt somebody, how that resonated in their life. So I am really trying to be more conscious of that, and I think that a lack of codes or having certain personal standards just leads to a murky chaos. Not an exciting anarchy or anything, just people hurting each other, people getting sick. I think it 's important to have that. I learnt a lot when I lived in the Chelsea Hotel in the 60s. I would see people spinning out of control all over the place. Some died, some committed suicide, some got so disconnected from reality that they could no longer work or form a sentence straight. I certainly didn't want to get like that."

On drugs...
"When I came to New York in the centre of drug culture in 1967, I saw all these people around me, all this drug use, without any spiritual or aesthetic meaning, or any kind of direction, just partying, using drugs, being slaves to them, and I didn't understand that. I found it very disrespectful. I didn't think people shouldn't take them, but I thought that they should be taken seriously. I don't believe drugs should be taken for recreation and so casually. I thought that then and I still believe it now."

"Thomas Jefferson said rather overthrow your government than be sheep"

On patriotism...
"After the attacks people united, and that brought nationali sm back to America, which I think is really unhealthy. Being nationalistic to me is being self-orientated. Patriotism is completely different. The Bush administration would like us to think that if we question the government we're not patriotic, but what Thomas Jefferson did in penning the Declaration of Independence, was highlight the absolute need for Americans to constantly question the government. I mean Thomas Jefferson said rather overthrow your government than be sheep."

The full archive of AnOther Magazine is available at Exact Editions.