in conversation with Phil
5th September 2016
Tonight would see Glen, along with Paul Cook, take to the
stage as part of Zak Starkey and Sshh Liguz's Teenage Cancer Trust project album
With Glen as busy as ever, there was no better occasion to catch up on the latest Pistol to turn 60.
Phil: You're 60 now Glen, why
Glen: Why am I 60?
Because I used to be 59, and life is like one of those old movies where
the calendar pages fly off at a rate of knots. I feel like I'm 50, but
I'm wrong, I'm 60. I'm the last one out of the Pistols to be 60 though!
It's 40 years since it all started with the Pistols..
And it's been 40 years
of being reminded about it!
20 years since the Filthy Lucre Tour...
That's the surprising
thing. Time goes quicker when you're older. But during that time I've
been really busy with lots of different projects. None are runaway
successes but I get around a lot; put a smile on people's faces
sometimes. I feel in a good place. I was chuffed this year when I did
an acoustic set at Glastonbury and 2000 people came and checked it out.
Just me and my guitar. I did the Montreux Jazz Festival - it's not
really a jazz festival, it's more "all that jazz" - and I played in a
club and it was rammed. So I think people dig my particular take on
You're playing to many people who won't have heard you before. It must
be satisfying to make a connection with them.
Yes, at Montreux
definitely. There was a lot of young people at Glastonbury, older
people brought their kids down. It's back to what I always say, all the
songs I've been involved in started life on an acoustic guitar. When
you're presenting them like that it's the connection with the audience
of something that was once a figment of your imagination, a few guitar
chords, a pad of notepaper, and you get something together and people
dig it. That's what I thrive on. I don't only like doing that. I got
back from Stockholm recently where I played at a private party with a
couple of Swedish guys, Nicke Borg and Dregen from the Backyard Babies,
and Phil Campbell from Motorhead! It was fun.
I did a gig at 100 Club
recently with Slim Jim Phantom. Jim and me are involved in an ongoing
project that Earl Slick has been involved in. Earl wasn't available
so I asked Chris Spedding. We also played the Brooklyn Bowl at the O2
and a festival in Spain with Spedding. Everyone
knows each other and we are on the same wavelength. We used Mark
Halligan, the bass player from Furious, the band from Liverpool. He's a
really good stand-up bass player. It's like the loud version of my
acoustic set. It works, so I think there will be more of this down the
In November I've a dozen
dates around the country, just me, which I'm looking forward to doing
(An Evening with Glen Matlock). It's a version of the show I did at the
Edinburgh Festival which was successful, and I did one in Nottingham a
month ago. I like doing it, it's more scary doing it yourself than with
a band, but that's a good reason to do it. It puts hairs on your chest.
The more you do it, the more accomplished you become. And I don't have
to worry about the band having to know all the songs!
If I see someone in the
audience doing something that reminds me of a song - and I've plenty up
my sleeve - I can just launch straight into it without worrying about
the band knowing it. I read from my book a bit, go off on a
tangent, then pick up
the guitar, then come back, read a bit more. It's kind of loose. I try
and get some crowd participation going. The songs are written by me
so they all slot together pretty well and people seem to dig them as
as the old chestnuts. Maybe cos they are all in the same key and I'm
wearing the same shirt!
People of my age group
don't always want to go to a gig and be threatened with having a beer
spilt down their back; they want it a little more upmarket and not so
loud. I like the loud but I like the more considered as well. Every
musician I've liked has been a singer song writer. One of the best
shows I've seen this year was Donovan at the London Palladium. That was
I don't think the world
needs a brand new rock band by some 60 year old blokes pretending they
are 19. So I've stayed clear of that. But, who knows if one day Rotten
wants to do some Pistols shows, I can always do that maybe.
I think everyone in the
music business has to be flexible. Look at the Pistols. John does his
Public Image Ltd, his butter adverts, presents wildlife programmes, and
does talks. Steve does his radio programme and wacky things in LA. I'm
doing loads of different things as Paul does. Me and Paul are playing
tonight, we are doing this little showcase, helping Zak Starkey and his
girlfriend out with their Teenage Cancer Trust Project, SSHH.
You have to
diversify but what you are doing all the time is playing music. There's
just different aspects to it.
And it means you are still getting around a bit. This year I've been to
Australia, Italy several times, Sweden,
Berlin, the States, around the UK. It's only just gone August! It's not
such a bad place to be.
SSHH - 5 September 2016 (Glen, SSHH, Paul Cook, Zak Starkey)
So retirement isn't something you're considering at the moment?!
No, I've never even
thought about it. It's like the Rolling Stones - Keith Richards sees
himself as some old blues bloke. It's not a grind, but when you are
going to Australia and you get into Hong Kong at 6 in the morning and
are sitting by yourself waiting 3 hours for the connecting flight you
do think to yourself, what am I doing here? But then your plane lands
in Brisbane in early February and it's all sunny and you think, oh
yeah, I remember! But
the other thing is, if you say you are a fisherman and you don't go
fishing, or say you are a mathematician and you don't do any maths, or
you are a musician and you don't play any music, you're full of shit.
what defines you. So you've got to keep doing it. So come and watch and
support your local rock 'n' roller.
I've got some good new
songs. I've an album in the can which I'll get out later this year, or
early next year. I'm really proud of it. It's got Slim Jim on drums,
Earl Slick on guitar, and I've cut another track with Spedding on it.
It's quite funny actually, I had this song and thought it needed
something, needed a riff like on The Price of Love by Bryan Ferry. I
looked the song up on YouTube and there is Spedding playing guitar on
it! So I called him up and asked if he fancied coming down to the
and he said "yeah sure". He said he didn't want anything for doing it
cos I played on his record for nothing. There's a lot of that going on,
a barter system. Then I had a couple of gigs and asked if he fancied
doing them. He's a great guitarist.
As a bit of a blueprint
for what I'm trying to do band wise, I went to see Dylan a few years
back at the Albert Hall and while I'm not a big fan, I can appreciate
him. But the band were great, a stand-up bass player, a drummer playing
brushes. I thought if I can put my more punk slant on that I'd have
something which I've kind of got now. What's eluded me is the good
business side of things, but I'm getting there slowly.
Sometimes my timing has been out, but this is the time of year you set
things up for next year. I can play with my band and I can go and do
acoustic shows. I like doing it, there's never that much on telly.
Do you enjoy being a musician more now you're older than say, when you
I don't feel as uptight
as I used to. The Pistols is one thing and we reformed in 1996 and it
was a really big deal everywhere we went, but I've done everything.
I've seen the whole music industry change and it just isn't what it
was. I know so many people in my kind of field who can't get a record
company. Everything is different and all you can do is carve a niche
for yourself. I do it cos I want to do it. If you think this has got to
be a hit you come across as desperate and it comes across as desperate
on stage a little bit and people pick up on that. If you are doing it
for fun and a laugh that comes across as well and people dig it more.
The invitations come.
The phone rings, or Facebook clatters into life, and you size it up.
Saying yes to one thing can lead to something else. You have to get on
with doing what you want to do. You see those artists who paved the way
for you passing away.... life's short and you have to get on with it.
We are all trying to give a good account of ourselves with the hand
we've been dealt. I don't think you can do much more than that.
Now you are 60 you can get a free Oyster Card (free public travel in
London). How do you feel about that?
Well, I know a lot of
people who didn't make 60 sadly. Some through misfortune, some through
their own devices, so yes, it's an achievement. A couple of years back
when it was my birthday I happened to be playing a festival and Dave
Gilmour (Pink Floyd) was there. As we were waiting for a knife to cut
the cake, he
asked how old I was. I said 58. He said "do you know you can get a
free Oyster Card when you are 60?!" I said "hang on Dave, I'm supposed
to be a prime mover in punk and you are in psychedelia, if anyone could
hear us talking about free travel passes!" We both had a laugh about
it. Reaching 60 is a badge of honour. I was chatting to Paul Cook about
Is there anywhere you've not been to that you'd still like to visit?
I've never been to
Africa or India. I'm fortunate cos I get to go to places most people
pay good money to visit.
How much did you enjoy the Rich Kids reunion this summer, bearing in
mind Steve New is no longer around? Was that odd?
We only did it for the
hell of it. I'd bumped into Midge Ure and I'd seen The Professionals at
100 Club round about the same time, and I thought maybe we could do
some shows as a double header. We were going to do a tour but it didn't
quite come together. Then we were doing the Shepherds Bush Empire but
the ceiling had fallen in, so that moved to Islington O2. Anyway we did
it and it was good. Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet) stood in for Steve who
passed away 6 years ago now. We've all come to terms with that. Gary
was great. I roped my mate James Halliwell in, he's a fantastic Hammond
organ player. It all clicked. Whether there will be any more, I don't
know. I think we are all open to offers, we know we can do it.
Kemp guested on stage at one point during the Rich Kids 2010 reunion.
The connection is that
Gary is a contemporary of Midge's, a bit more 80s than me! I didn't
know that Gary was a Rich Kids fan. Gary said to me that doing the Rich
Kids was like me doing The Faces. He was a fan and told me he'd queued
to see the Rich Kids play at the Nashville, and now he was playing with
them! It was good having him play cos I was able to say "Now we've a
real rich kid on stage!"
Earlier in the year I
produced an EP for a Japanese girl band called The Tomboys. I'll be
going back in the studio to do more with them. They are a punk rock
band who look like they have been studying Mary Quant adverts from the
60s. They play good.
I did a talk at the
British Library, like Rotten did. We are kind of elder statesmen. They
have a shop there with a display with pristine punk record covers. I
asked if they were reprints, and they said they were originals, they
keep a copy of everything that's issued. I knew they did that with
books, but they do it with records as well. It's funny because a lot of
my contempories who were punk fans have now got positions of authority.
How do you feel being asked to take part in yet another 40th
The first thing you ask
is how much are you going to give me?!
Is punk still going to be talked about in another 40 years?
Not by me it won't be!
The problem with punk nostalgia, and I'm sure the other Pistols feel
the same.... good luck to John with Public Image but people still think
of him as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and I'm sure that must drive
him mad. Me as a writer, I write a whole bunch of stuff and I'm really
pleased with it, yet it's a struggle to get it out. You think it's you,
but it's not, it's the way the music business is. I just wish people
would give what you are doing now a higher percentage of their
attention than they do give it, so you are not living in the past. All
my life I am taken back to living in the past. It's not that I want to
be like that. Half the week the phone rings and it's someone asking
"what do you think about what Rotten's done?" ! What I'm actually
thinking is, I've got to get to Homebase because they've got that
kitchen deal on!
Take my song On
Something, I know you like that. To me, in its own way, it's as good
as Anarchy In The UK, but it's falling on deaf ears all the time. So by
doing the shows I'm doing I'm getting some of that across. "I'll play
the one you want to hear, now you listen to this one." People sing
along to it now, which is pleasing, far more than actually bought it. I
play Sexy Beast, a rockabilly-ish one, that always goes down well.
I played in Nottingham
recently and this bloke came up to me at the end and said "Why wasn't
that song a hit?" I asked which one. "Born Running. I've got that in my
cab." I thought he must be a taxi driver. He said "No, the cab in my
lorry. I've a fleet of lorries and I've put a copy of the album in each
cab. It's great driving music!" Little things like that are good.
You've played Blank Generation (Richard Hell and the Voidoids) live
Yeah. All around the
world people know it. The playing on the record is great, Robert Quine,
Ivan Julian and Marc Bell. I
think it's the most important punk song.
It seems you've got an uncharted road map ahead of you.
Yes, there's always more
things happening on the A6 than the M6.
on SSHH: Issues album launch, featuring Glen, Paul Cook, Zak Starkey
Text & SSHH photograph ©Phil Singleton 2016
This feature is copyright to God Save The Sex
Pistols and the
author and may not be reproduced without written permission.