GLEN MATLOCK (SEX PISTOLS): “It’s Important To Keep On Growing As A Musician”

GLEN MATLOCK (Live at The Cluny, Newcastyle, U.K., May 24, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

He may have made his name as the original bassist in the Sex Pistols and co-writer of classics such as Pretty Vacant and Anarchy In The UK but Glen Matlock has done much more in the following 40 years with The Rich Kids, Iggy Pop and The International Swingers and guesting with The Faces not to mention his own solo work. He’s back on tour supporting his latest album Good To Go along with Earl Slick on guitar. Mick Burgess called him up to chat about his tour and his current album.

You’re out on tour at the moment. How is it going so far?

We’ve done four shows already down in the south including the Portobello Festival and they’ve been going very well. We’re doing 13 in total and I’m well pleased with how the tour is going so far.

On this tour you’re joined by legendary Bowie guitarist Earl Slick. How did that collaboration come about?

He played on my album that came out last September. He plays guitar on most of that. We recorded it in upstate New York and Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats drums on the album too. I’ve known Slim for a long time and Slim is mates with Earl. I’ve done stuff with Earl in the past but when I mentioned to Slim about a guitarist, he suggested Earl and I thought that was a great suggestion and everything just fell into place.

Is this an electric show with full band or more of a two-man acoustic tour?

This is a full band show. My mate Chris Musto who I’ve played with many times over the years is on drums. Jim Lowe is also my mate and he’s a record producer who worked with the Stereophonics is quite happy to play mostly my bass lines while I’m doing acoustic, rhythm guitar and singing which I like as it’s a step up from doing a solo acoustic show. I’m still doing that really but with a band behind me. It rocks and it’s heavy but it’s not Heavy Rock if you know what I mean.

Between you both, you have a lot of material to choose from with Sex Pistols, Rich Kids and more recently The International Swingers as well as your own solo work and Earl’s work with Bowie and John Lennon. What songs will you be pulling out for these shows?

I’m mainly doing this tour to promote the album so that will feature a lot in the set but I know if I went to see Bowie and he didn’t do Heroes I would have gone home disappointed. I know people want to hear certain songs but I’m not going to tell you what they are, you’ll have to come down to the show to find out.

Your latest album Good To Go to came out in September last year. Were you pleased with the reaction?

Yes, I am. It’s been getting some good reviews and a pretty good reception. People seem to like it which is always good so I’m very happy with it.

Did you write together with the band or are these your songs?

They are mainly my songs and people in the band will come up with bits and they take on a different life and if it sounds any good, we’ll go with it. I’m not too precious about it. If it’s right and sounds good then I’ll use it in the song so we work together like that. I think the best advice we can follow is what Nick Lowe once said and that’s to slap it down and tart it up.

Chris Spedding makes an appearance too. You worked with Chris in the early days of the Sex Pistols. Have you always stayed close since those days or have you recently reconnected?

We’ve always kept in touch. He just played a show with me last year. It’s great to stay in touch and be able to call on such great musicians. He plays on one track on the album, Keep On Pushin’. That only came about because that was an extra track that I’d written. I put it down with Slim Jim on drums and I played rhythm guitar and I was listening to it and thought it needed something else. I came up with the riff and it just reminded me of The Price Of Love so I tapped that into the computer and it came up with a video of Bryan Ferry doing it and who was playing guitar, Mr Spedding. So, I called him up and he came down. I asked him how much he wanted and he said that as I’d played bass on his album for nothing he’d call it quits.

Your current album features a pretty diverse range of songs from the Rocky Won’t Put The Breaks On Me, the Bluesy Hook In You, Rockabilly of Sexy Beast and Keep On Pushin’ which has something of a 60’s feel to it. Was that your plan when you started writing the songs or is that how it developed over time?

It does have a diversity to it but I think they hang well together as an album so it’s not too disparate a mix of styles. I think it sounds good, there’s a fast one, a mid paced one and a couple of ballady things. I had a bunch of songs and recorded about 18 of them and a few covers too including a Rockabilly version of Happy which I think sounds like The Pretty Things.

As a musician, how important is it to you to keep creating new music and pushing your musical boundaries?

It is important to keep growing a little bit but you don’t have to be the new Philip Glass or someone like that. I like having a little twist on things and ideas for songs seem to come along in batches. Once I have a dozen or so songs in my head that aren’t recorded, I can’t really think straight and I know that it’s time to make a record.

Does it frustrate you that people keep referring to your Sex Pistols past even though that was over 40 years ago?

I want to be known for what I’m doing now, not what I did 40 years ago. It used to frustrate me but it doesn’t anymore as I feel good about what I’m doing now and I’m beginning to get a crowd for what I’m doing all round the world. I’m sure people will still want to hear a Pistols song or a Rich Kids song and I don’t mind doing that but I’m not going out as a Sex Pistols tribute act like some musicians do, reliving the good old days.

After you left the Sex Pistols you formed the Rich Kids with Midge Ure. You recorded one album together that was produced by Mick Ronson. How was it working with him?

It was a fantastic experience working with Mick. I learned how to tell a joke properly and how gambling isn’t a great idea. He was a superlative musician and a really clever guy to work with. He was a great laugh and very humble but didn’t suffer fools gladly. I wish he was still around.

You recently played together with The Rich Kids at a Viva Le Rock awards ceremony with Neal X in place of the sadly departed Steve New just a few weeks ago. How did it feel to play together again?

It felt great. I was doing something with the house band at the Viva Le Rock party. Eugene, who runs it asked me if I thought if Midge would take part so we got in touch with Midge and he was up for it and Rusty was going to be there anyway so Eugene asked if we’d be the mystery guests. Neil X was around as he’d been playing with me and I asked if he knew any of the songs and he said he knew the lot. We rehearsed for a while and played the show. It was a lot of fun.

You got to play with Iggy Pop too. How did you end up working with Iggy?

When I broke The Rich Kids up as Visage had taken off and Midge and Rusty were involved in that and we were really suffering from the Punk backlash, I was sitting around wondering what I was going to do and thought it’d be great if the phone rang. Literally two minutes later the phone rang and it was Iggy Pop’s manager who asked if I’d like to come down and play with Iggy. Next thing I knew, we were touring Europe which was the first time I’d done a proper European tour. We then recorded the Soldier album in Rockfield Studios in the Welsh countryside and then we did an American tour. So, the first time I ever went to New York I was playing with Iggy Pop.

David Bowie was involved too wasn’t he?

He ended up mixing one or two songs including the song Loco Mosquito and there’s a big bass run in it and Bowie put the bass right up in the mix so that was kind of a buzz. He was there in rehearsals too and he’d sometimes get up and sing with us when we were jamming which was pretty good.

You’re a big fan of the Faces and actually got to perform with Ronnie Wood, Ian McLagan and Kenny Jones for a few shows. That must have been an incredible moment for you?

It was amazing for me being able to play with a band that I stood in front of a mirror as a 14-year-old pretending to be in. That was incredible for me. Rod Stewart was unfortunately not involved so Mick Hucknall did it, so in a way it wasn’t the same but it was a great Rock band with a great Soul singer so it was great to be part of that and to play with those musicians who influenced me so much as a kid. We only did about ten shows but the last one we did was in front of 50,000 people at a festival and there was me being part of it which was kind of cool.

Would you like to do that again sometime?

Yes, definitely but what nipped that in the bud is that Ronnie Wood got the call from the Rolling Stones and you can’t really argue with that.

Is there anything that you could do musically that could top that experience for you?

Well I don’t know. There’s always a new song to learn or a new way of delivering a line in a song and more places to play. The last year has been pretty interesting for me. I played on the North South border of Korea in the demilitarised zone last year with some Korean people. That was a great experience and earlier this year I was playing all over South America. I actually went on the hydrofoil on the River Plate in Argentina and was looking forward to seeing the place where they scuttled the Graf Spee but I couldn’t see anything as the windows were frosted out. I got up at six o’clock in the morning to see that you couldn’t see out of the windows. You sort that one out. A month ago, I was involved in a festival called PMX at Ramallah in Palestine and the idea of that is to give the people of Palestine a window to the rest of the world. They were such lovely people and experiences like that are great to be a part of but it also gave me an insight into their lives and having to pass through checkpoints with armed guards every day.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

I have some solo shows in America and after that we’ll do some more recording and then will head off to Japan to the Fuji festival and we some club shows too while we’re there so things are really picking up and we’ve been having good feedback from what we have been doing so it’s all looking good.

Glen Matlock with Earl Slick is on tour in the UK now and his latest solo album Good To Go is available now.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.