MUDKISS FANZINE

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GLEN MATLOCK: FLYING SOLO IN NORWAY INTERVIEW BY TEDDIE DAHLIN

 
Glen Matlock is here in Oslo, doing an solo acoustic tour and he agreed to have a little chat with me for Mudkiss. Glen was the original bass player in the Sex Pistols, famously fired for being too conservative and replaced by the notorious Sid Vicious. He went onto form his own band The Rich Kids and after this The Philistines, later he toured with the Pistols on all the reunion tours in the 90’s and early 2000’s. He is a songwriter/guitarist/bass player and wrote 10 of the 12 songs on the Sex Pistols only album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’. I came running into his hotel 20 minutes late because I couldn’t find it. I was afraid he’d left, but he was patiently waiting for me in reception; laughing at how embarrassed I was. We decided to get something to eat, so off we went to the department store ‘Steen og Strøm’, and sitting outside in the sunshine we chatted about what he’s been up to. Glen wasn’t at all what I’d been expecting,  what strikes me first is his sense of humour. He sometimes gets this wicked little twinkle in the corner of his eye when he tells a risqué joke. As rock/punk icons go, this one has his feet firmly planted on the ground. He’s easy going, charming with boyish good looks and very entertaining. This is some of what we talked about…
 
TEDDIE: What brings you to all the way to Oslo performing acoustic sets?

GLEN: It’s just in the wacky world of Facebook, the internet and people write to you and ask you to do things. I’ve been doing some acoustic shows on and off, in between doing other things. So they asked me and I said ‘yeah, all right then!’ I enjoy doing it. I like doing it because I don’t mind playing things from all aspects of my career, because all the songs I write have all started out on acoustic guitar. The stuff I’m doing now and the stuff I did with Iggy Pop and the Sex Pistols songs were all written on my acoustic guitar.

TEDDIE: And it gets you into direct contact with the public doesn’t it, as apposed to standing on a stage…..

GLEN: Well, actually I am on a stage. I get far more nervous doing a little acoustic show than I do playing in front of 20 – 30 thousand people with a band. It’s like the buck stops there. When you’re in a band it’s a shared responsibility. There’s all that noise you can hide behind, and all the equipment, with a guitar you’re just there. But on the other hand, when I’m sitting at home writing a song it’s all in your head, in your bed or in your living room. And if you make a record, its a very long kind of convoluted process of doing the demo, then putting it down and recording it properly. And it’s all sort of in this little technological box, and you don’t really get the straight forward feedback from somebody. When I’m playing the guitar and singing the songs and you are looking into the whites of somebody’s eyes, you can see if you can cut the mustard and if they are digging where you are coming from.

TEDDIE: I think its common knowledge how you got into punk when you played with the Sex Pistols. Was punk music something close to your heart at the time or an experiment on your behalf? The music you’ve made afterwards seems so different and much more sophisticated, because you haven’t really done much punk music after the Sex Pistols.

GLEN: I always liked good music. It doesn’t really matter what the genre is as long as it’s good and heartfelt. I like Motown and soul stuff, I like big rock bands, going back a bit. One of my all time favourite bands is Humble Pie and the other one is The Faces, and that’s who I’ve been playing with recently. They were the link to me of what became punk. Also Steve (Jones) and Paul (Cook) were really big Faces fans so that was our common ground. John (Lydon) hated them. So I do stuff from before punk and just after punk. Punk to me isn’t a sound, it’s an attitude. Somebody like Jim Morrison is loosely a punk and going back further, somebody like Edith Piaf was a punk to me. There was just an attitude to what they were going on about. That’s what interests me more than the leather jacket and the three-cord kind of thing.

TEDDIE: You started The Rich Kids with Midge Ure, Steve New and Rusty Egan. Even this is totally different to punk. Was it your intention to do something completely different to what you had before?

GLEN: When I fell out with the Sex Pistols the first time around, it would have been so easy for me to find some singer and just become a sort of ‘second division Sex Pistols.’ I just wasn’t interested in that. I think I’m cleverer than that and I just wanted to do something more interesting. I had actually spoken to Midge a few years before, even before we spoke to John. Midge was a very small contender for the Sex Pistols, believe it or not. Malcolm McLaren and Bernie Rhodes were up in Scotland trying to sell some equipment that Steve Jones had ‘got hold of’. And they bumped into this guy in a music shop and it was Midge. They picked up on him because he had short hair. Everybody had long hair back then. They asked if he would be interested in doing this band and they swapped numbers. I actually called him up from Malcolm’s shop. This would have been late 1974 or 75. His mum answered the phone and I said ‘Is Midge there?’ and she went ‘Hey wee Jimmy, there’s somebody from London to speak to you!’ (laughs) I spoke to him and I said we are doing this thing and would you be interested? And he answered ‘Thanks for your offer but I’m doing his thing at the moment and I think it’s gonna go so I can’t’. The thing he was doing was a band called Slik and they ended up having a number one and a number two record just before punk kicked off. He has a great voice. When I was getting the Rich Kids thing going I did try out loads of singers and I couldn’t find anybody who I thought had a really good voice. I write tunes and I wanted somebody who could carry the tune a little bit. I think we rehearsed somewhere and somebody hadn’t worked out the PA system, and it was rubbish. Just out of frustration I went out for a walk and I went into a record store, and I was just going through the racks and I found this Slick record. They had been and gone by then, and I thought ‘I wonder what that guys doing?’ EMI were interested in what I was doing and I called them up and said ‘Can you call this guy and find out what he’s doing’ and they did and he came down and that was it.

 

Also with the Rich Kids, around that time Bowie had made those 4 fantastic records. He made Low, Hero’s, Lust for Life and The Idiot. The last two were Iggy Pop, but Bowie collaborated on them, all just prior to the Rich Kids. And we, as a band, just used to listen to that all the time. It influenced me in a big way; some of the sound and things. We got Mick Ronson (guitarist, songwriter and producer) involved and he produced us and it was, kind of that Bowie connection.

TEDDIE: You did all the Sex Pistols reunion tours. Why?

GLEN: I think I started them to be honest.

TEDDIE: You’d fallen out with John (as you do….giggle) Anyway, then you went on tour with them again.

GLEN: Yeah, I was actually the instigator of getting back together again. In 1995 I went to Los Angeles. I hadn’t been over there for quite a while. I was staying with a mate who wanted me to do some work with a singer guy he’d found. When I got there, the producer found this singer and said we should check this guy out. So we went over but it didn’t work out. He was a great guy and he had some good ideas, but he wasn’t the type of singer we were looking for. So I had a lot of time on my hands and they asked me what I was going to do. So I said I haven’t spoken to Steve Jones in about 15 years so I might see him because I know he’s over here. So the next day the guy came back with his phone number and said ‘call him up’. And I said ‘oh I dunno…’ And the next day he said ‘call him up’. And this ran on for about a week and in the end I called him and Steve answered and said ‘Hey Glen you’re here. I heard you were here. Come and meet up’. As soon as I went to meet Steve, he said ‘Lets go and see John’. I though ‘oohhh’ So Steve was really keen without anyone saying ‘Oh lets reform!’ And I thought it was time to mend some fences. But if I hadn’t bothered to make the call it wouldn’t have happened because they said some pretty shitty things and I thought ‘oh well’ Anyway that led to us doing the tours. I was pleased we did it. Oh and when we met John, Steve said ‘let’s call Paul’. And we called up Paul in England, but he was out. And then we ran out and we were out when he called back. But it kinda set the train in motion so come 1996 we did the thing. I’m glad we did it. We have something in common. We are the only 4 people in the world that when we get together and we start playing; we are the Sex Pistols. It’s something to be celebrated and to earn some money out of I think. It rebuilt some things. It mended some fences and opened up some other ones. It’s hard. I’m not moaning because I enjoy my life and I do lots of different interesting stuff that lots of people don’t get to do, but I’m always under the shadow of the Sex Pistols. It’s not such a terrible thing. I think we collectively thought about reforming, without really talking about it. Give people what they want and make them happy. But also I think when we did it we were good. It wasn’t some kind of naff old cabaret act and we were much better than a lot of contemporary things.

TEDDIE: I saw Johns re-released ‘God Save the Queen’ for the Golden Jubilee. Have you been involved with that at all?

GLEN: I’m sort of once removed from all that kind of thing. I don’t think Johns re-released it, but the record company has.

TEDDIE: I thought it was really good that they turned down the Olympics, that shows balls.

GLEN: Yeah, first I thought it would be really good playing the Olympics, but when I found out what was involved I think John was right to turn it down. It was going to be naff. The other thing I heard was that they asked The Who to do it and they said ‘Oh by the way can Keith Moon play drums this time’. Which shows you the kind of level that they’re at!

TEDDIE: What sort of contacts do they think The Who have got…spiritual…(laughing). My personal favourite song of yours is ‘Born Running’ with the Philistines. What is your favourite of all time that you’ve done?

GLEN: What? That I’ve ever written? I think the best song that I’ve ever written is a song called ‘On Something’. The album is also called ‘On Something’. It’s a little ‘Small Facesy’ kind of song but the lyrics are good. ‘On something’ means being on drugs, you know. In England if you’re on something, you’re on drugs. Lyrically it’s a strong song for me. Generally for me, it goes through fazes. I like ‘Born Running’, I think there’s some stuff on the album I put out about a year and a half ago. I think my quest is to get people to realize that I don’t just live in the past. I try not to.

TEDDIE: It’s just that your past is so huge. It’s so controversial


GLEN: Well it’s controversial, and the controversy overshadowed the thought and the talent. I was born in the 50’s. I really started to listen to music in the early 60’s. We didn’t have a national radio station then. You could only listen to music on the radio on a Saturday morning on the Brian Mathews show for an hour. And on Pick of the Pops on Sundays, which was Jimmy Saville’s program and he played the Hit Parade. I was only 8 years old and I always though ‘How can you have a hit parade if nobody’s heard what songs are out there?’ Then all these pirate radio stations started broadcasting on boats from the North Sea and it was exciting. The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds, The Stones and the Small Faces. You weren’t really supposed to be listening to it. Transistor radios had just come out then and you would be listening to this on this illicit sea of phase. Radio Luxembourg. All those songs are really ingrained in the way I write. It’s not what I write about. I’m not trying to live in the 60’s. But there was a real craft to the way they wrote. Someone like Ray Davies (The Kinks) is the greatest living songwriter I think and I kinda picked up a lot from him.

TEDDIE: Well you do it well.

GLEN: Thank you!

TEDDIE: You recently played the US and toured Australia (2011) with the super-group. [For us it’s a super group]. The International Swingers consisting of you on bass, Clem Burke drums ( ex.Blondie), James Stevenson guitar (ex. Chelsea, Generation X, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Alarm, Kim Wild, The Cult) and Gary Twinn singer.  How did you feel it went and are you planning to record something new with them?


GLEN: It wasn’t bad. I’m going back to the US in June. We’ve got another ten days in California. We’ve put a couple of things down that somebody’s going to mix for us and we might do some more. We are like a covers band but we cover the songs that we wrote. We do a couple of Blondie songs and a couple of Pistols ones. There’s a guy called Gary Twinn who had a lot of success in Australia with his band Supernaut and he has a great voice. When punk was going off, he was a teen idol.  He was living in London after that. We are going to cover stuff and then slowly filter in new stuff. We went to Australia and we put a couple of songs down over there. We bagged some studio time. There’s this massive big kids TV program called  …. I can’t remember what it’s called offhand. It’s a whole big production company. The guy that took us over there is mates with them and they let us have their studio for nothing. We put a few tracks down we did a similar thing in America. Everybody’s dotted around. James lives in England, Gary and Clem live in LA. So it’s just an excuse to get together and have fun.


TEDDIE: You toured didn’t you? First you went to LA and then on to Australia.

GLEN: Yeah, we did a few shows over there. You are really just sewing the seed to then go back again.

TEDDIE: You have a long standing friendship and music relationship with James Stephenson. Tell me about that. How did you get together with him?

GLEN: Well I’ve known James for thirty-odd-years. We’ve done various little harebrained projects, but James is a great guitarist. He’s got a very workman kind of attitude. I’ll say ‘I’ve got this gig, the moneys not great’ and he will always say ‘Well I’ll do it!’ He loves playing and he loves being on the road. Sometimes you just click with people and it works. If I say to James ‘I’ve got this song and this is the way the cords go, there this riff and then there’s this solo bit.’ You know, solo’s don’t always work. He’ll say ‘oh I’ve got it!’ And he’ll just rip off this fantastic solo because he’s got the same set of influences that I have.

 

TEDDIE: You are playing in The Faces with these rock icons, yourself included. Ronnie Wood, Kenny Jones, Ian McLagan and Mick Hucknall. What’s it like to play with these people?

GLEN: Well I do love that quote that Keith Richards said about Ronnie Wood. He said ‘I’ve known Ronnie Wood totally out of it for thirty years and I’ve known him sober in recent years and there’s no difference’. He’s just a really up, enthusiastic about everything, guy. I mean we’ve only done about eight shows and that’s down to the fact that Rod Stewart isn’t doing it. If Rod was doing it, we’d be playing Arenas, but we can’t seem to get on the same page as him about that, but Mick Hucknall does it and Mick is a great soul singer. The Faces to me were always a great rock band with a great soul singer and with Mick Hucknall it still is. We did some shows and at the end of the set because Ian McLagan and Kenny Jones from the Small Faces are in it, we decided we’d do a couple of Small Faces songs; ‘All Or Nothing’, which is quite easy and ‘Tin Soldier’ which you have to apply yourself to a bit for that. When we played it the first time and we were just coming off stage, Ronnie Wood says ‘Hey Glen how about that, me and you played with two of the Small Faces.’ He weren’t joking. He meant it. He was as much a fan as I was. He’s just really enthusiastic, but the whole thing, the way they play is just really so much soul. Everything is like on feel, it’s not very technical. They don’t really mind what you play as long as it’s not terribly wrong. I mean we just get on with it, but I feel I brought as much to the table playing in my all time favourite band, which it was. What’s going to happen next? I don’t know what’s going on.

TEDDIE: So is there nothing in the pipeline with them?

GLEN: No, not that I know. I spoke to Mick [Hucknall] about a week ago. He called up and said he’d love to do it again if it happens, but then Ronnie [Wood] might be going off again and playing with the Rolling Stones. Some people moan, some people sent some snide facebook messages ‘you are always on a quest to destroy your hero’s’ - Fuck that, and that sort of crap. People don’t understand what great players they are and how instrumental they were to what I was doing and to what Steve and Paul were doing. If there hadn’t been a Faces, there wouldn’t have been a Sex Pistols.

TEDDIE: You contributed to Honest John Plains latest album that will be released later this year. I know Cas Steel very well, and the others a little. Was it fun being in the studio with the guys?


GLEN: Yeah, I did some work on his latest album last year. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. Cas and Michael Monroe weren’t there when I was there. It’s funny because we’d just played the Cornbury Festival with the Faces. Martin Chambers from the Pretenders played drums on the stuff that I did with John. He came down for the gig and then we drove down to Rockfield afterwards. I think we cut about 15 tracks. It sounded pretty good. We were only there for four or five days and we put like 15 tracks down. No high jinx just work really but it was fun.


TEDDIE: Cas has been a mate of mine since 1977 I think. He was a mate of Sid Vicious too and another mutual friend Gary Holton and of course yourself.

GLEN: Yeah we all used to live in the same area in London in Maida Vale. When Sid went off to the states we did a one off gig me and him, as The Vicious White Kids. It was me and Steve [New]. It was more to show we were not enemies more than anything else. We did the gig and a day later he was going to the States. We had a lunchtime pint in my local pub.

Gary Holton was funny. You know he was in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet? He used to live around the corner from me. They used to rehearse around the corner in this church hall and then go down the pub. There was this other big pub in Maida Vale called the Warrington. Gary lived a bit closer to the pub than me. When Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was really big, which it was in the UK at one stage. I used to watch it and he obviously watched it and I would go down the pub. So I’d walk down there passed his house but he’d obviously gone there quicker. So by the time I got in to the pub, he’d be standing there on the corner wearing the exact same clothes as what had been broadcast in that episode earlier on, excepting free drinks off everyone. (laughs) he was cheeky, Gary.

TEDDIE: (laughing) That’s typical of Gary. He was just basically playing himself in that series.

One last question -
You are all clean and serene now, aren’t you? So what do you do for fun besides music?

GLEN: Yeah, well I’m clean (laughs). I go to the football, art galleries, I like travelling. I’ve got like a permanent busman ’s holiday. I’ve got a couple of kids that are in bands, starting out, so I help them. My oldest boys band is D.E.A.D. They are just starting out and doing a few gigs around. They like bands like New Found Glory, so they are in that type of vibe. I’ve got a younger boy who’s really just starting out, he’s in a band and they keep changing their name. He’s just turned 15. They are both pretty good. I know I would say that, but they are pretty good.

TEDDIE: Thanks for the interview Glen, now lets go shopping!

We finish lunch and have a browse round the shops. Glen loves suits, Paul Smith being a favourite, although he kept looking at pinstriped ones because he said they were slimming. This guy doesn’t have an ounce of fat to worry about. I left him there after he agreed to let me come to one of his gigs a few days later. Glen went off to explore Oslo, and strangely, he seems to like being here.

A couple of days later I caught his ‘Close up and Personal’ acoustic gig at a local club. It’ wasn’t a big place but it meant the audience got a much more personal performance than is usual for stars of Glens calibre. His easygoing nature was self evident in his approach to the fans. He mingled with people first and by the time he took to the stage everyone was keen to hear him play. He didn’t disappoint us. The set was well crafted and tight. He has a powerful voice that hits the right cords with confidence.  It was a strong and inspirational performance celebrating all aspects of his career so far. He played his set to an appreciative audience and I think we all felt we got our Matlock-fix. There was much force and energy behind his performance and he left us wanting more. He got the audience singing the lyrics and doing the backing for him and it was a great performance, not to be missed.

setlist:

Somewhere Somehow
A Different World
Burning Sounds

God Save the Queen
Yeah Right!
Ambition
Ghosts of Princes in Towers
Hey Mister
Montague Terrace
Stepping Stone
On Something
Born Running
Pretty Vacant
All Or Nothing


Interview/review by Teddie Dahlin
Live Photos by Anders Gundersen
Glen and Teddie by JBD