Notes From An Artist

A Conversation with Punk Rock Legend Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols)

February 06, 2024 David C Gross and Tom Semioli
Notes From An Artist
A Conversation with Punk Rock Legend Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols)
Show Notes Transcript


Bassist, composer, recording and performing artist, and founding member of the Sex Pistols - Glen Matlock, joins hosts/bassists David C. Gross and Tom Semioli to discuss the past, present, and future of the art form that is rock and roll.


A Conversation with Glen Matlock Playlist

Mind the Bullocks! A Conversation with Punk Rock Legend Glen Matlock

PREAMBLE: 

TS: Glen you are speaking with two bass players so you’re in good company

GM: Great! What’s that bass you’ve got behind you? 

TS: That is a standard Fender Jazz bass…with a Jackson Pollock-type pickguard and multi-color strings. I have to compete with my co-host David C. Gross who plays a bespoke six-string bass. [David C. Gross proceeds to display his Ken Bebensee instrument, replete with a pink hue and pink bass strings.]

GM: Wow! 

DCG: One of your colleagues, Bruce Thomas of Elvis Costello and The Attractions commented that this was not a bass, but rather a ‘coffee table.’ So, in response, Tom and I summoned our fellow New York City bassists and had them take photographs with their instruments as individual coffee tables. The results were quite impressive! Bruce got the message! (laughter)

GM: I haven’t prepared any basses for you I’m afraid! (laughter) I see you have a piano in the back there David!

DCG: I use it to compose.

GM: Nice… 

The problem I have with the Jazz bass is that they keep slipping off my knee when I try to sit down and play. That’s why I stick with a Precision. It sits nice on my lap.

DCG: I love the Precision bass, I always have. 

OFFICIAL ON AIR GLEN MATLOCK INTRODUCTION:

TS: Our guest tonight is a bass player… he is a composer…he is an author. Welcome to the show Glen Matlock. 

Glen’s must-read autobiography is aptly titled I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol – which was inspired by Ian Hunter’s Diary of a Rock and Roll Star. Isn’t that right, Glen?

GM: Yes it was, in a roundabout fashion. I’ve also got a new book coming out called Triggers. So I’ll be a twice published author!

TS: Glen is a recording and performing artist. He has served as a bandmember, a collaborator…and in his spare time he founded one of the greatest bands in the history of rock and roll – The Sex Pistols!

INTERVIEW:

TS: You were born into a quasi-musical family and named for bandleader Glenn Miller, yes?

GM: Yes. We weren’t really a musical family at all. My nan played piano… or as we used to say - she was a ‘pub’ pianist. She’d play songs such as ’Roll Out the Barrell. Sing-a-long stuff.’  

My parents loved big band music – Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller. So, I’m probably named after Glenn Miller – but they spelt it wrong. 

TS: I was in London working on a film and your pal, the famous guitar tech “Deptford John” Armitage, tried to hook us up for an interview however it was early in the morning and you were asleep. We had to settle for Boy George’s bass player Kevan Frost. Got any Boy George stories for us!

GM: Speaking of Boy George, I got to play one song only with him at the London Palladium, which is kind of a big deal in our theatrical theater world in London. It was for a charity and he was doing a duet with Suzi Quatro. 

I played bass with Suzi Quatro – not many people can say that! 

TS: You attended St. Martin’s Art School. Many rockers were art school students: John Lennon, Pete Townshend, Richard Thompson, Ray Davies, Bryan Ferry, Freddy Mercury, Joe Strummer… were all products of the British art school system. What was it about that environment that fostered so many rock and roll careers especially given at the time – 1960s – rock and roll was not considered an art form? 

GM: Well maybe not an art form to some people – but we treated it as such. I wanted to go to art school because all the people I liked…a lot of them whom you just mentioned, had been to art college. I thought that’s where I would find a band. 

I found a band outside the art college – which became the Sex Pistols - and introduced them to the art college scene where we did our first gigs.      

DCG: How did the arti school student and the academic student differ in the UK?  

Art school students had a different attitude than academic students. Art school was for people who really didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives; they didn’t want factory jobs, they didn’t want to attend university. 

If they could draw – which was what I was led to believe - they might be able to get a grant for three years where you could subsist while you were trying to decide what to do. I never actually got a grant in the end – I was a few days too young, so I got hoodwinked. But I did put my time there to good use. 

When I was applying to art college, I needed a reference. I got a teacher from my school for the first one, but I was also working at Malcolm McLaren’s and Vivienne Westwood’s clothing shop – and I needed a second ‘referee.’ I don’t know why I didn’t ask Vivienne – I asked her if Malcolm would give me the reference. She replied ‘what for?’ I responded ‘I’m thinking of going to art college…’ Vivienne said ‘you don’t want to ask Malcolm for a reference…’ I said ‘why not?’ She told me ‘he’s been thrown out of every art college in London!’ (laughter)

So I was more interested in Malcom because of that! And Malcolm became more interested in me because I went to art college. But what Malcolm did, is he went from art college to art college and got a grant from each one! And that’s how he probably set up his Teddy Boys shop!

[Notes From An Artist Notes: Teddy Boys: A British youth subculture, the Teddy Boys exuded an affinity for American rock and roll and rhythm & blues. Their fashion drew from the Edwardian Era. The term ‘Teddy’ is derived from a shorted form of Edward. The term first appeared in The Daily Express in 1953.]  

DCG: Nice work if you can get it! London must have been a fascinating place at the time. I contemplated moving there to further my career as a bassist since I grew up loving British bands and musicians.  My first albums were Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and Jethro Tull’s This Was. I purchased them on the same day! 

GM: London at the time was just one big university – now it’s all amalgamated under University of London. They were all separate colleges which had dances on Thursday or Friday nights. And there was usually a theme and a good vibe in these places. My college was right in the middle of SoHo – so I’d go out and buy a pencil or something and I’d wander around the streets and see all these characters, comedians, actors just walking around. I’d see famous people all the time in the pubs. It was cool, I dug it.

One of my biggest regrets in life was that I didn’t stay on. I only did a foundation course – I should have continued – I could have been the first Damien Hurst, not the second one! Because I was older than him, but I got into rock and roll…

…but in recognition of my going ‘round St. Martin’s all the time - they get a lot of money foreign students, some of whom actually enrolled because they knew the Sex Pistols played there! 

They gave me an honorary fellowship awarded to me by Grayson Perry! 

DCG: Excellent, does it come with a proper title? Your majesty, your excellency?

GM: Your fabulous fellow! (laughter)

DCG: What an alliteration! 

GM: Thanks! 

TS: David and I have often discussed that the so-called punk movement – for lack of a better term – was actually comprised of exceptional players, composers and conceptualists. 

The media portrayed punks as talentless ‘yobs!’ 

GM: Half the Sex Pistols were not, and the other half were! (laughter)

TS: Well, let’s talk about the artists and their bass players, because that’s who we are... 

Elvis Costello – a phenomenal writer with bassist Bruce Thomas in The Attractions. Bruce’s bass lines were the hooks in the songs! 

Graham Parker, an exceptional writer with bassist Andrew Bodnar who was a rhythm & blues, reggae disciple. 

Ian Dury, a great character and lyricist with Norman Watt-Roy appropriating Jaco Pastorius on bass. 

Brinsley Schwartz had within their ranks a pretty good bass player, singer, writer who made a name for himself – Nick Lowe. 

Joe Jackon, another terrific composer with bassist Graham Maby – another player whose lines became hooks!

Looking back, it was a smart group of ambitious artists. 

GM: Yes, all people who set out to do something special. I do remember overhearing a conversation with Malcolm McLaren with some journalist and he was trying to disparage the Sex Pistols as ‘just an art school band’ and Malcom said ‘c’mon mate, can you see Steve Jones sitting outside on a drawing stool?’ 

(laughter)

And, you know what? When we did a Pistols reformation, it might have been in ’96… 

TS: That was the ‘Old Fat & 40 Tour’

GM: Right! Well, me and Paul Cook was only 39, so that was the other two. I was always a bit miffed about that… (laughter) 

We was rehearsing at S.I.R. on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles and we had to do a photo session which went on a bit. I had arranged to meet my friend, Al McDowell – who is now a big Hollywood set designer – he did Terminator, Charley & The Chocolate Factory - he was the first person to ever book the Sex Pistols at the Semper School of Art… so I said to the camera man, are we finished now? He said ‘yeah.’ So I continued ‘let me ask you something, ‘what’s the quickest way to Silverlake?’ 

The cameraman, who didn’t know who I was meeting there, said ‘you gotta graduate from art college!’  

(laughter) 

TS: The punk and post-punk alternative era was also a fertile time for guitarists: Keith Levine with Public Image Ltd., Johnny Marr with The Smiths, Wilko Johnson with Dr. Feelgood… In the United States, punk was somewhat dismissed, and it became “New Wave” fashion with the advent of MTV. 

However, in the UK it was more of a socio-political platform. 

GM: That may be so, there was a lot going down in the mid-1970s London and in all of England which is really mirrored today. 

I had that conversation with Marky Ramone once, we were doing a joint interview, and somebody mentioned a similar thing. Marky launched into this quite good and elegant tirade about the state of New York City when those bands came through. And in the 1970s, New York was experiencing tough times as you fellas know. So maybe, maybe not…

DCG: Music moves in cycles as well. 

In the late 1940s, early 1950s we had early rock and roll with artists such as Louie Jordan, Fats Domino, Little Richard and folks like that. Then it became a little more homogenized with some of the white artists such as Pat Boone. Then we had The Beatles and all the similar groups in the 1960s.

The 1970s saw the emergence of the bland singer-songwriter folkies, along with the bombastic progressive rock bands. 

And then punk bought it back to the ‘50s with a nod to rockabilly and early rock and roll. So, we see the cycle repeating itself… The 1980s hairbands, which I was a part of, returned to bombast, as did the New Romantics. The 1990s grunge movement brought it back to basics again.  

GM: I agree, I think what happens is that each generation that comes along wants the opposite of the generation that came before them. Punk was rag tag, torn this and torn that on purpose. And the 80s came along and it was all about greed, and money and showing off extravagances. Which I feel was a direct reaction to the punk thing, although, by the looks of those bands, they had come through the punk years. And they evolved into the New Romantic thing – which wasn’t quite for me, but they did quite well! 

DCG: What is also interesting about the punk movement to me is the strong ‘do it yourself’ ethic. 

GM: Every generation finds a way to do things. Look at house music – that came about from new technological inventions – computers!

For a start, if you didn’t have tape echo you wouldn’t have rock and roll! You wouldn’t have Jimi Hendrix without feedback, you wouldn’t have soul and funk without a wah-wah pedal…

DCG: Give us an example of Sex Pistols D.I.Y. 

GM: When we were starting out and we needed posters to promote our gigs. The height of technology at the time was called the electro-set. Problem is you always run out of ink, and it’s bloody expensive, and the same letters are used all the time. So we couldn’t get by with the electro-set with the two ‘e’s in our name – it’s the most common letter in the set and they would run out! 

Ellen, who was the draft girl who worked for Malcolm, had the idea of cutting letters out of the newspapers. Necessity is the mother of invention. And it became our ‘ransom letter’ look! There’s always a lot of happenstances. 

TS: Oft times limitations spark creativity. 

GM: Absolutely! But the thing is not to be put off by the attitude that you can’t do something. Picasso had his blue period because he could only afford blue paint!

DCG: In our conversation with bassist Jerry Jemmott, he insisted that Jaco Pastorius would have continued with the four-string bass because its limitations made him the great player that he was. Your thoughts?

[Notes From An Artist Notes: A long running debate in the bass community is the validity of extended range basses – that is, instruments which go beyond the harmonic range of the traditional four string. To break said harmonic boundaries, extended range basses are usually in the 5 or 6 string configuration. Leo Fender, the father of the electric bass, designed his instrument to be 4 strings to appeal to upright bassists. However, the true bass guitar, according to such important players as Anthony Jackson, is the 6 string bass – as the bass guitar is a member of the guitar family, not the upright bass family!]  

GM: Right. Someone suggested a five-string bass to be because I could go down to the low-B below the E. But that’s a cop out to me! You need to find your way around things. If the song is in D and you can’t go down to a low D, then that little constriction makes you think a bit harder.  

DCG: Funny you say that because when I was listening to early Miles Davis, I was wondering how the bass player got down to a low D? All he did was tune his E string down to a D! 

GM: That has been done as well but the thing is you have to have a good memory to tune it back up again! (laughter) 

Lots of people tune their guitars down. And I don’t mind you borrowing them, just remember to tune them back up again! 

TS: Your generation was still recovering from World War II to some extent. When we had Bill Wyman on our show to discuss his book Billy In The Wars - which is recollection of growing up during that war, he noted that the British people were not only grateful for surviving, but they came away with a sense that life was an adventure and open with opportunities. Reading your first book, I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol, I get the feeling that you subscribe to a similar ethos.

GM: Yes I did and I still do. Now Bill is older than I am so yes, he saw the bombs falling and all that. When I was growing up London was filled with bomb sites. Our neighborhood playground was a bomb site – not a euphemism for a bomb site – it was an actual bomb site! We’d be clamoring over the rubble…with scraps of metal. Yes, it was a recent thing, and England was still coming to grips with it. We lost our empire – the bloody Americans kind of canoodled it away from us. 

If you have that attitude of ‘let’s get on with it…’ the world is your oyster. However nowadays I think the powers that be have a real problem with that. We’ve ended up with politicians who cannot come to terms with their place in this world. 

TS: Like my co-host David, you both grew up in a golden age of concert performances. Glen, you attended the Lyceum quite a bit, while David was at the Fillmore East in New York City. Those shows had quite an influence on the both of you.

GM: Who did you see David?

DCG: I was at the show that became Humble Pie Live at the Fillmore East.

GM: You bastard! That one of my all-time favorite albums!

DCG: Well, I’ve got more for you. About five years ago I played bass in one of the latest incarnations of Humble Pie, which is now run by drummer Jerry Shirley. 

GM: Really! Who was in the band?

DCG: The only member left who had any actual lineage to the band was ‘Bucket’ (David Cowell). Since Jerry put the thing together (under the aegis of “Jerry Shirley Presents: Humble Pie Legacy”) I assumed that Jerry would be the drummer – but he was having hip replacement surgery so we ended up with a different drummer. But let’s face facts, you can never replace Steve Marriott. 

[Notes From An Artist Notes: David “Bucket” Cowell recorded one album with Humble Pie entitled Back On Track – released in 2002. The band included founding Humble Pie members Jerry Shirely, and bassist / vocalist Gregg Ridley who passed in 2003.] 

GM: Who was singing?

DCG: Jimmy Kunes. He was in Cactus, Savoy Brown… The great thing is, now if you look up Humble Pie on Wikipedia, my name is listed! 

(laughter)

GM: That’s cool!

DCG: I have an interesting pseudo-Anglo life. In the 1960s my sister dated Tony Hicks of The Hollies. Then she dated drummer Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds. My former brother-in-law was Ian McDonald of King Crimson and Foreigner, and I played with him too. I witnessed many great British Bands at the Fillmore: Procol Harum, Jethro Tull, the list goes on. 

One of the strangest bills I saw was a band called If – which was the British version of Chicago, following If, The Faces came on – and I know you love them – and the headliner was Black Sabbath! 

GM: That is a bit weird that! 

DCG: Bill Graham (Fillmore East and Fillmore West impresario) had this knack for putting bands together for shows that didn’t make sense on paper but worked on the concert stage.  

GM: Same in England, all sorts of bands that you wouldn’t normally group together played on the same bill. 

TS: Glen, tell us about playing with The Faces, with Ronnie Wood, Kenny Jones, and the late great Ian Maclagan, and assuming the role of your hero, bassist Ronnie Lane. 

GM: It was fantastic. Now of course, it was a different version of the Faces. Rod (Stewart) did not participate. We had Mick Hucknall of Simply Red fill in for Rod, who is a great soul singer. For me The Faces were always a great rock and roll band with a great soul singer. But still, it was Ronnie, Kenny, and Mac on the gig! 

When they decided to invite me to join, Mac rang me up and asked ‘are you sure you’re in? You’re sure you got this down?’ I said ‘Mac I learned to play these songs backwards!  He responded ‘great!’ And I told him ‘it’s just forwards that I’ve struggled with!’ He had a big laugh at that. 

That band, as well as having great songs, a great vibe and sort of loose kind of musicianship which was really good – they opened the doors to so much other music for me such as The Staple Singers, Big Billy Broonzy, The Meters, Bobby Womack and all that kind of stuff. 

[Notes From An Artist Notes: The Faces, despite no shortage of songwriters, oft rendered songs from their American rhythm & blues heroes, most notably Ike Turner, Chuck Berry, Arthur Crudup, Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland, in addition to Glenn’s references.] 

After hearing Rod sing, I took the Temptations a bit more seriously after you’d see them on Top of the Pops while they were in their cabaret outfits.  I saw the Faces three times, twice with Ronnie Lane and once with Tetsu… which wasn’t as good. 

[Notes From An Artist Notes: Bassist Tetsu Yamauchi replaced Faces and Small Faces founding member Ronnie Lane towards the end of the band’s career. Critics and fans agree that this version of The Faces greatly compromised their initial appeal.] 

Early on, the first time I saw them before they came out with ‘Stay With Me’ – they did ‘It’s All Over Now’ with that great Ronnie Lane bass line. But as soon as ‘Stay With Me’ became a hit – they dropped ‘It’s All Over Now’ and I wondered why… and now that I’ve played with them I don’t have to wonder why because it was giving the game away! 

TS: We’ve been reading in the rock press for the past year or two that there are unfinished Faces tracks in the vault. Some of that material has been included in archival releases over the years, but new tapes are surfacing…

About a year and half ago Ronnie Wood called me up to play bass for him for some sort of quasi-Faces project. Now dig this…they (the surviving Faces) have been looking at some newer stuff and some older stuff…and I knew that was happening. There was one song called ‘Seventh Son’ – that’s s-o-n as opposed to s-u-n… that was recorded just before they split up (1975). And they had to change some of the keys because Rod was gonna do something – I don’t know if he did or not.

I went in there with Kenny and Ronnie (Wood) and Matt Clifford (keyboardist / producer) who plays with the Rolling Stones and Iggy (Pop) recently, and Jools Holland came down as well. I’d learned the song ‘Seventh Son’ and I came in early to the studio the next day to record with them. I figured when they came in and told me what key it’s going to be in - I’ll simply transpose it.  So, I told the engineer to put the tape on – with the bass player turned up, who was probably Tetsu. It’s a good song, actually a bit punky. It reminded me of the Faces in their ‘Pool Hall Richard’ heyday.

All of a sudden I heard Rod Stewart doing a guide vocals! And here I am playing along with him, counting it off---‘1-2-3-4 intro…’ And giving directions such as ‘it goes ‘round again… baby, baby, baby…go to the bridge… now back to the verse…’ 

And I’m looking around for my mates, The Faces, and it’s just me and the engineer! (laughter) There I was playing with The Faces like it was 1975! 

Whether or not those recordings will see the light of day, I do not know.

TS: You had an affinity for the blues early on, the first record you purchased was The Story of the Blues. What is it about American blues, a musical genre borne of slavery in the United States, that attracted young British men? 

GM: The bands we listened to, the early Rolling Stones, Kinks, and The Who were all blues based. You can pick out twelve-bar blues quite easily. In the 1960s there was a popular program in Britain on Saturday afternoons on the BBC called the Mike Raven Blues Show. 

When I could scrape enough money together to buy a record, I bought a blues album.  I went to my local record store, I had a Mod haircut back then, and I saw I guy with long hair and an Afghan coat and he came up to me and said ‘hey man, can I help you?’ He was like the character of Neil in The Young Ones. 

[Notes From An Artist Notes: The Mods where a British youth subculture that clashed socially and aesthetically with the ‘Rockers.’ Whereas the Rockers displayed an affinity for leather jackets, motorcycles, pompadour hair styles – their hero was Marlon Brando as he appeared in The Wild Ones – and rhythm and blues music, the ‘Mods” favored suits, scooters, clean-cut outfits, and they took their musical cues from ska, Motown soul, and jazz.  

The Young Ones was a popular 1980s British sitcom which spoofed British youth culture – the character ‘Neil’ as portrayed by Nigel Planner, was the quintessential British hippie, who stood in stark contrast to his Mod, Punk, and Rocker colleagues.]    

I asked for a Billy Broonzy album and they didn’t have it. Then he asked me why I wanted a blues album with my Mod get-up and I told him I was just learning to play the guitar. He eventually talked me into getting The Story of The Blues it’s a double album. I’m glad I bought it because it covers the whole history of the blues from Southern country blues to the mid-60s rock blues. I learned where everything comes from in rock. 

Another record I got at the time was called Stars of The Apollo, which was the artists who played at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. It has the best jazz track I’ve ever heard in my life on it; ‘Venus Velvet’ by The Bobby Brown Quartet. Fantastic double bass playing on it! And since then, I’ve looked for another record by him and I’ve never found one! Even in Amoeba Records in Los Angeles – I had all these people searching. All I could reckon is that guy must have been a junkie or something and just managed to get one recording out. 

DCG: The “punk movement” for lack of a better term, was also founded in blues and folk.  Can we suppose that punk was actually borne of traditional music. 

GM: Yes a lot of it is, but not all of it. If you talk to Mick Jones (The Clash) – he certainly knows his way around 12-bar blues – as you can hear in ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go.’ 

DCG: You must have learned a lot from listening to ‘pirate radio’ growing up in London in the 1960s – which broadcast music that wasn’t on the BBC radio playlists.  

[Notes From An Artist Notes: Pirate radio, popular in the 1960-70s UK were unlicensed radio stations that broadcast from boats along the British coasts.]  

GM: Yes, it was a fantastic time, that’s where I first heard The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones – and all the bands I’ve mentioned. 

Kids my age had transistor radios under their pillows. I’d tune into a station called Radio Luxembourg – I could hear American Forces network as well.  Around 1963 the pirate radio stations started broadcasting – they were housed on boats just outside British territory. They played amazing records!

We also had the best music TV show in the world called Ready Steady Go! Now Dusty Springfield was on it quite a bit. She came here with Tamla Motown artists. They were doing a tour in England – I learned all this in retrospect – and it wasn’t doing very well at the box-office. She insisted that they put the other acts on the program. Then we’d see Smokey Robinson, Junior Walker and the All Stars, Sam Cooke, The Supremes… then a bit later on, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas.  And they all played live. 

On one show I’ll never forget, the was not a duet but a tri-et with Eric Burdon of the Animals, Sam Cooke… and another guy I can’t remember his name…

TS: I saw that clip on YouTube, the third singer was Chris Farlowe! 

GM: Yes, that’s him. Stuff like that really got me. Then we had bands such as the Small Faces that looked like us young kids. 

DCG: It always blew my mind that the Small Faces never came to America – they would have been huge here. That was because of their dubious manager – Don Arden, which is another story.  

GM: They never got paid either! Kenny Jones told me that they used to get clothes on Carnaby Street on an expense account, and he’d flog them to his mates to get money! 

I saw Steve Marriott a couple of times and he would be playing in pubs. He’d have five hundred people in the place, the highest ticket prices, and it would be all cash. So he did all right there. It was all about keeping somebody else’s hand out of his pocket. It’s such a shame, because he should have been so much bigger.

He even said about The Faces, when they got Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, that it took two guys to replace me! And it’s true! 

DCG: I was managed by Lieber-Krebs in New York. Steve Marriott had a version of Humble Pie that was also managed by them. Whenever he came into the office it was a scary thing. People called him ‘Melvin’ when he was in his crazy phase. It is a shame about Steve, he had the most incredible voice of all. He was a great songwriter.

GM: And he was a great showman. He was a great guitar player. I think he ended up the way he did out of frustration. He knew he should have been doing better than he was. 

I did talk to Mac (Ian McLagan) about it – I asked ‘when Marriott was over there (in the United States, where McLagan had migrated to in the 1980s), did you ever speak to him?’ He said that Steve had called him up and left a message. I asked Mac if he’d called him back – and he said no, but he should have. He said he loved Steve but ‘he was just too much…’ 

DCG: Steve sabotaged himself, but he also suffered from bi-polar disorder.

GM: Yes, that explains a lot. 

DCG: Interesting to note how influential the Small Faces were in the UK, Humble Pie were also a huge influence on American musicians of the era. When I played in Humble Pie we did the Small Faces tune ‘Tin Soldier.’

GM: Fantastic! Good for you!

When I did The Faces thing, it had occurred to everybody that Mac and Kenny (Jones) hadn’t played a Small Faces song together since 1968 or something like that. So, as an encore we learned ‘All or Nothing’ and ‘Tin Soldier.’

‘Tin Soldier’ is a bit tricker than ‘All or Nothing.’ When we walked off stage, Ronnie was beaming like a school kid. He said to me ‘how about that Glenn, me and you played two Small Faces songs with two of the Small Faces and we got ‘em right!’ (laughter)

TS: What did you think of the new Beatles song wherein Paul and Ringo utilized Artificial Intelligence to summon John and George.

GM: (silence)

DCG: That says a lot! (laughter)

GM: Clem Burke said to me that he thought it sounded like Oasis. (laughter)  How would you like it if there was an AI podcast of you two!

DCG: It’s already happening – not to us – yet. iHeart is experimenting with AI DJ’s. 

TS: Glen let’s talk about your post Sex Pistols career. You’ve played with The Rich Kids, Iggy Pop, The Damned, Blondie among others. How did you make the transition be becoming an occasional bandleader? 

GM: Every now and then you have enough songs and the only way to get rid of ‘em is to put together a band and make a record! You have to do some gigs to plug it. So off we go on this greasy pole of promotion and stuff. I’m not renowned for being a lead singer – it’s been a bit of hard work, but, it seems like some of the slipperiness from the greasy pole has worn off on me over the years!

And I enjoy it! Years ago, I was recording in Wales with Iggy Pop and we were having dinner. I told him that he had a naturally great voice. He responded ‘no I don’t, I’ve worked hard at this for years!’ 

Back then, if I wrote the song – and you guys must know this being musicians – you’re a bit cagey ‘cause you haven’t finished all the lyrics – and you don’t know if it’s any good… you go to a rehearsal room and show it to the band…you show the drummer, the lead guitarist has twenty goes at it to get the solo just right… then you get to the vocals…and then there’s only a half hour left! And then it’s in the wrong f’n key! So I’ve learned a bit over the years. I’ve learned Pro Tools and Logic. I’m working hard, like Iggy said.

Now, the danger with home recording is, you have all this backloaded stuff – but you don’t really know if it’s a good song. You can convince yourself that you’ve got something. The real test is if you can go out and perform it live. Even with just an acoustic guitar – which I’ve done quite a bit in the UK and the United States. 

Sometimes fronting a band is scary – but that’s no reason not to do it! And when you pull it off it puts hairs on your chest!

TS: You have seven solo releases under your own name, it the album format still relevant in an age of streaming? 

GM: I don’t know! I’m quite contrarian. I’ll do them anyway. People have dug my last few albums – Consequences Coming (2023), Good To Go (2018), Born Running (2010) – because they like albums! I see them as a statement – this is where Glen Matlock was at the time. They kind of hang together. I’m not gonna say no!

[David notices a framed image behind Glen…]

DCG: Wait a minute, is that The Rebel, by Tony Hancock behind you? 

GM: Whoa yeah, that’s an original poster! 

DCG: The name of that film in America was changed to Call Me Genius!

GM: I had no idea it had come out with a different title in the US. There was a big Hollywood film agent who was a friend to all the punk rock stars. He was a bit troubled, and sadly he didn’t last the course… but about eight or nine years ago he called me up… I can’t remember his name but I wouldn’t say it anyway. 

He usually rang me at 3 or 4 in the morning in Los Angeles and he would coax me into a quiz on the bit players in The Rebel. And he knew them all! 

I love the film because it’s a savage indictment of the art world as it was…and as it is now. Fantastic film. The reason I got it was – not far from where I live – there’s a neighborhood– which is a bit up-market, sort of like Rodeo Drive in LA, and I was walking down the street during a pouring rain. I came upon a poster shop – and I just wanted to get out of the rain. The owner asks ‘how can I help you sir?’ And I started asking the prices of the vintage film artwork, and they were something like $12,000, $15000 in US dollars… Blimey!

So I said to him, I’ll bet you don’t have The Rebel by Tony Hancock… he’s says ‘yeah, it’s 500 pounds, ya want it?’ I answered ‘wrap it up, I’ll have it!’ 

TS: Impresario, manager, studio owner Bernie Rhodes, who was an essential figure in the formation of both The Clash and the Sex Pistols, advised you to be ‘clear cut!’ A credo which you’ve adhered to throughout your career. Tell us about this new band and tour… Glen Matlock and The Maestros which features you on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, lead guitarist Gilby Clarke formerly of Guns ‘n’ Roses, your Blondie rhythm section mate, drummer Clem Burke; and bassist Steve Fishman. 

GM: We did one show so far at The Roxy in Los Angeles. It was between Blondie shows – it worked out really well. We had quite a few guests come up, such as Kathy Valentine (Go-Go’s), Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats), Kevin Preston (Green Day touring guitarist) who is an old mate of mine. 

It was loose like Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, but more like ‘Rolling Blunder!’ (laughter)

I like coming to America to play. John Cleese was on an award show here in the UK, and he gave his acceptance speech from a rooftop in Los Angeles. He apologized for not being here in person because he ‘really missed being in London in January!’ (laughter)

So that inspired me! I’m playing rhythm guitar because the thing is – I don’t know if you’re soccer fans but the striker, the guy who is supposed to score the goals, they’re always pointing to him when they want the ball…now, if you’re the lead singer and you want people to join in you’ve got to point to them… ‘c’mon you, sing!’ And you can’t point if you’re the bass player. 

DCG: That’s the secret! 

GM: They’re all good players – and the name has a nice alliteration. Earl Slick is all over my last album and the previous one. I’d like to do something with him again. But he lives in upstate New York, it’s a long plane ride to the west coast. In this band everybody is as good as each other. 

TS: Guns ‘n’ Roses were big fans of the Sex Pistols and The Clash, especially Duff McKagan and your Maestros bandmate Gilby Clarke. In fact, many of the rock artists we’ve spoken to who came to prominence in the 80s cite your former band.

GM: I do know that and I kind of appreciate that, but they couldn’t have been that big a fan since they didn’t get their bleedin’ hair cut! (laughter) 

TS: That’s because they were rebelling against The Sex Pistols! 

GM: Yeah, there you go! (laughter)

[David displays a photo from an 80s publication depicting his glam metal days of the Regan / Thatcher era -replete with blonde locks – see photo]

Photo of magazine 

DCG: This is from a bass magazine in Germany… 

TS: David was the LA metal answer to The Sex Pistols

DCG: In the photo I am wearing spandex, the most forgiving of fabrics!

GM: Well, mate, it all depends if you’ve got something to be forgiven for! (laughter) 

DCG: How true! You must remember the film, This is Spinal Tap (1984) … this was the look!

GM: I’m a born and bred Londoner, and Cockney at that. When I first saw that movie, I thought, ‘who are these actors?’ I had no idea they were American!

We (Sex Pistols) did a big reunion show in Finsbury Park in 1996. And we had to burst through this screen – it was something like 80 foot wide by 40 foot high.  And I’d made the mistake of watching Spinal Tap the night before. All I could think of was the bass player (‘Derek Smalls’ as portrayed by Harry Shearer) getting stuck in that pod! (laughter) 

TS: Author, author! Tell us about your new book Triggers which is not out in the States yet as of January 2024. 

GM: I wrote I was a Teenage Sex Pistol back in 1996. This is before all sorts of people were writing their rock and roll biographies. It’s in its 7th printing, but it’s kind of gotten lost over the years. People have been requesting a follow-up. I wasn’t in a rush to do it, but I’ve done a lot more since ’96 which I think people will find interesting. I thought, well, I can’t write the same book again and just update it. 

Somebody suggested that I hang it on some of the lyrics I’ve written. Each chapter is a song – some that I’ve written, some I’ve had a hand in writing, songs that I’ve done covers of, and songs that have influenced me. 

And it’s all about trigger points – how I arrived at certain things in my life, there are stories swapped in. It’s been very well received and the UK and it’s be out next month (February 2024) in America. 

TS: Bass players make good authors.

DCG: As we mentioned to you before the show, we’ve had Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones bassist) on twice to discuss the two books he put out in the last year – a very prolific writer.  

GM: I’ve got to get hold of Bill’s books. Also, I have an award that belongs to Bill Wyman – hang on, I’ll show you!

[Matlock retrieves said statue.]  

Just before lockdown I did a charity gig at Kenny Jones’ Polo Club. It was in memory of Brian Jones… 

[Notes From An Artist Notes – The former Faces, Small Faces, and Who drummer is the owner of Hurtwood Park Polo Club in Surrey. The event Matlock speaks of was ‘Rockin’ Horsepower Presents The Golden Years: A Tribute to Brian Jones.’ Proceeds from the event were given to The Racehorse Sanctuary for the upkeep of retired racehorses, and the David K Lynch Foundation UK - an organization which provides the transformative benefits of Transcendental Meditation to youth, wounded war veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers, the prison population, homeless, and various other disadvantaged persons. Brian Jones was a founding member of the Rolling Stones, and a spiritualist who, along with the Beatles, attended many Maharishi Mahesh Yogi events in the 1960s.]

A lot of folks played that day – Donavan, Steve Harley, I played… At the end of the night, we was all waiting to get an award which was a ‘thank you’ for doing it. Now it was very dark on the side of the stage. So, they said to go and get your award, and when we’re finished we’ll go back to the green room and sort out which one is which. 

I just grabbed this one. I brought it backstage, and I looked for my award with my name on it. It turned out that Steve Harley had it, and he’d already gone home! I looked at the one I had and it belonged to Bill Wyman. He was nowhere to be found.  And I just took his award home. A few weeks later mine arrived at my home in London, and I still have Bill’s award as you see! 

I don’t know him that well, so I might have to take it down to Chelsea Arts Club which I know he frequents!

TS: You are in possession of stolen goods Mr. Matlock! 

DCG: Bill Wyman is scheduled to be back on our show in a few months to discuss a new album, and likely yet another book!

GM: Well, when you see Bill again tell him I have his statue! He can keep it!! 

###

Glen Matlock NOTES FROM AN ARTIST PLAYLIST

“Anarchy In the UK” The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

“Ready Steady Go” Generation X – Generation X Deluxe Edition 

“Venus Velvet” Bobby Brown Quartet – Stars of the Apollo 

“Don’t Forget About Me” Dusty Springfield Dusty In Memphis 

“All or Nothing” Small Faces Immediate Collection 

“C’Mon Everbody” Humble Pie Smokin’ 

“Hung On You” The Rich Kids – Ghost Princes In Towers

“Ambition” Iggy Pop – Soldier

“Time Bomb” Glen Matlock and The Philistines – Born Running

“Couldn’t Give A Damn” Glen Matlock – Consequences Coming 

“Magic Carpet Ride” Glen Matlock - Magic Carpet Ride 

“Fools Holiday” The International Swingers – The International Swingers 

“Gun Control” The International Swingers – Gun Control

 

Glen Matlock NOTES FROM AN ARTIST BIBLIOGRAPHY

Glen Matlock I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol (Rocket 88)

Glen Matlock Triggers: A Life In Music  (Weldon Owen)

Johnny Lydon / Keith Zimmerman No Irish No Blacks, No Dogs (Picador)

Johnny Lydon Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored (Dey Street Books) 

Steve Jones Lonely Boy Tales of a Sex Pistol (Da Capo Press)