By Alan Brostoff
Although he might be first recognized as the original bassist for the Sex Pistols, Glen Matlock has been playing music for over 40 years with different bands. His newest album, Good to Go is his first solo release, although he is backed with an all-star band.
Glen was willing to talk to Goldmine from his home in England.
GOLDMINE: The new record is just listed as “Glen Matlock.” Why no band listing this time?
GLEN MATLOCK: I have been in so many bands over the years I just ran out of good names and the enthusiasm to come up with them. And when you do come up with a good name everyone just puts Sex Pistols over it or next to it. I would have liked it to be a band but (drummer) Slim Jim (Phantom) is out with the Stray Cats again and (Earl) Slick is out with his Bowie thing again. In England we say it’s a bit like putting together an amateur Cricket team; people telling me that they would love to play with me on the tour but their wife has a dentist appointment and we have to put out the cat.
GM: You are only coming for a few dates in the U.S.
Glen: Yeah, I have three solo cities playing five shows, which I have been doing a lot of lately. I have been doing them all around the world. Seem to be going well. At one of the shows at a festival, after the show I went out to sign some autographs. After these two older guys told me that they had liked the show, I asked them who else they had seen. They told me Neil Young, but I knew that Neil Young was on at the same time as I was. They said they only listened to two of his songs and left to listen to my set, so that was kind of good.
GM: Any chance of getting a larger tour of the U.S. in the near future?
Glen: Actually there are some dates on hold that I would like to do with a band. So we will see how these shows go and go from there. It’s just that every time you do these things I feel like I’m starting all over again. Not sure why. Last time I was in the States I did some shows about a year and a half ago with Clem Burke, Mike Ness and Walter Lure for the 40th anniversary of the Heartbreakers. We did some pretty big shows; maybe some of them will come down, we all shared the singing but we did mostly the coasts.
GM: What is the big difference for you touring now versus 40 years ago?
Glen:It’s pretty much the same. I’m a sober guy these days and I never used to be. I don’t remember much of the ’78 shows because I was drunk and had a lot of hangovers. The experience is the same but for an old guy it’s not the punk rock we used to have. I like doing what I’m doing. I like the acoustic shows because people can pick up on the lyrics and sing along and they interact a lot more. I don’t have to worry if the drummer knows the song or something. (But) I like playing with bands, there is kind of a rivalry involved. I’m fortunate that I get to play with some pretty good people.
GM: With your new album Good to Go you used Pledge Music. There has been some issues with Pledge Music. What were your experiences with them?
Glen: I wish I had not done it because no one has been paid. They owe me about $10,000 and I’m really annoyed by it. I did get all the orders filled. People from all over the world supported this project. I thought this would be good. I put all of this in the posts and then no one got paid. They are going under. It’s not just bands that have not been paid but bands reserved studio time against the money they would receive and they did not get it. So, in theory it was a good idea, but in practice, not so good. The main guy who spent all his time and money on this has really got a bad reputation now and I don’t think it was all his fault. I went down and saw the offices and they looked good but I got nothing. So there you go but who knows.
GM: So what went into making Good to Go?
Glen: I like what Good to Go sounds like. I think there is a bit more going on in it musically. I like to write pretty simple songs of some kind of consequence. It does not have to bring down a government. There are lots of very personal things in the lyrics. There is a track on the album “You Speak Too Soon” that I think is really good. Earl (Slick) plays some great guitar on that one. Just a simple song that is dressed up by the other musicians playing on it. This even goes back to the Pistols a little. I think they were simple songs that John’s vocals really added to.
GM: Who would you like to still record with?
Glen: I would have liked to have recorded something with Bowie. I did get to play with him once when I was playing with Iggy Pop. He came down and we did have a little run in as he dismissed the Sex Pistols as the noble savages. I had to remind him that some of his microphones that had gone missing came in quite handy for recording the demos that came out as the Spunk album. He was quite annoyed. I said to him that things always sounded better on stolen gear. He was okay after that and he got up and sang with us. So I did get to play with him. I did get to see him a few times because he was Iggy’s mate. I remember that we were playing with Iggy Pop in New York and we did this extra gig and then we all went got into Bowie’s limo. There were more of us than could fit so I ended up sitting on David Bowie’s knees as we drove down Madison Avenue. You know how those big limos usually have mirrors on the inside? Well, this one had paintings. One was a miniature Matisse, I think, and on the other side he had a Picasso. I was sitting on Bowie’s knees and we all had drinks and I said, “That is a Matisse” and Bowie was quite shocked that I knew that. And then I said the other was a Picasso. I then asked if they were real. And he said yeah. It was fantastic. When I do my little acoustic shows I tell a few stories like that. I’ll tell you another story about a night out with Iggy in Berlin. After the show we went to this transvestite club, a famous one, it was something out of Cabaret. They had this famous transvestite that Iggy was friends with, and she dated David Bowie, her name was Romy Hagg. She was an amazing redhead and took a shine to me. We ended up in this little room early in the morning and I felt that I had to make this gentlemanly pass at her. After she had been telling me about the operation, Iggy was listening and I asked if she was a natural redhead. She said “Glen, I have never been so insulted in my whole life. You never talk to a lady like that.” She walked off and I breathed a sigh of relief, and Iggy was laughing his ass off.
GM: What music have you been listening to?
Glen: Dave Brubeck and Bo Diddley. I’m looking over at my vinyl collection... John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Plastic Ono Band. I did find my original 1968 Sgt. Pepper’s with the inserts. I never touched that so I guess I could not have been that big of a Beatles fan. Humble Pie, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, you know, stuff that is reliable. I don’t really listen to a lot of modern music. I do find if I’m listening to too much music and I’m trying to write a song, I write what I just listened to and you don’t want to do that.
GM: What is next for you?
Glen: Well, I’m going to fulfill the dates we have and I’m looking forward to playing in the States. Then we go back to England. I will be writing a lot of songs so I can record a new album. I’m kind of looking forward to that. Playing some festivals in Japan and some more shows in Japan.
GM: As you look back on the last 40 years, when the Sex Pistols were first starting out, there are not a whole lot of people out there who can say they didn’t help define a genre of music ... the way the Sex Pistols transformed a whole style of music.
Glen: Don’t blame that on me.
GM: How do you look back on those times?
Glen: I don’t. I’m not allowed to not look back at it because of people like you. It goes with the territory. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. I try to look to the future. I have been a Sex Pistol my whole life so I kind of don’t know anything else. I’m proud of what I did. I go around the world a lot and get to play at a lot of different places. Punk rock means a lot to a lot of people. It’s a rallying cry for a lot of people. It’s like that old movie The Blues Brothers, when they are trying to get the band back together. We weren’t on a mission from God but it was good to see it all come together, and now young people pick it up.