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Glen Matlock - Head On A Stick
Glen talks to Phil Singleton about his politically charged new single

Phil : What’s the background to you selecting Head On A Stick as the single and lead track on your forthcoming album?

Glen Matlock - Head On A Stick - Single CoverGlen: The state of the country since just before the Brexit vote. I think the whole thing was total stupidity and it enabled these ultra- right-wing, inept, uncaring, self-centred and self-serving politicians. I am railing against that. I think they should be made an example of.

Any particular individual targets?

When you make an album there’s a gestation period, not only the recording of it, but you go through the whole period of writing the songs before that so some of the songs go back a couple of years. There was the whole thing with Trump in the States and Johnson coming into power over here, how anyone could vote for him, he’s a nitwit. I was really shocked when I said a few things on Facebook and people said “don’t you realise that the right is now the new left”. That’s a load of fucking bollocks. The Tories came on as though they were not Tories, like they were the new vanguard and anti-establishment. They’re the most establishment bunch of people ever. I was picking up on that with the songs I was writing and I think some people should be made a metaphorical example of, hence Head On A Stick. I’m not advocating violence against anybody but I did like the idea when they used to put people in cages at Traitors’ Gate, and I think they’re traitors.

On top of that, it’s not a bad little tune an’ all. It’s got a cool guitar riff. I wrote this song along with another one called The Ship which is on the album. I had recorded most of the album earlier and I revisited it and in the meantime I’d written these couple of songs. It was in the tail end of lockdown and I did a couple of things like a charity record at home recording my part separately and another with a group from Argentina who sent a track over to me. They came out sounding really good and I thought it was an interesting way of working. I was talking to Clem Burke and told him I had a couple of songs. I sent the guide guitar parts to Clem in LA and he did the drums. James Hallawell - he played keyboards with The Waterboys - did the keyboards on it and there’s a Roxy Music piano thing going on through the verses. I came up with the guitar riff which I played myself, I’m not short of a guitar riff or two. I think that’s my first guitar solo on record.

I think a song should be about something of consequence and a musician is in a privileged position ‘cause if you get on the radio you’ve got a bit of a soapbox so you shouldn’t really duck the questions of the day. Now I don’t think I’m Karl Marx or anybody, far from it. I’m probably a bit more middle ground, but things have gone so far to the right. I just think the people that we’ve got at the moment are hopeless, and so brazenly corrupt that it should be pointed out and should be made an example of. Head On A Stick. I don’t think you get too many songwriters having to go and see psychiatrists because they’ve got an outlet and a vehicle for getting out what’s on their mind. When you write a song, it’s a combination of the lyrics and the music, it’s not like you’re writing a newspaper article, the two things combined hopefully are more than the total of the sum of the parts - you’re dealing with an emotion.

Photo Credit Danny CliffordAnd you feel stronger than ever about this now?

I think it’s going from bad to worse. Although what I do think now I know from what I read in some of the papers and online, and from some of the people I talk to, that there’s a chink in it and people are coming around to a different way of thinking. Whatever has happened, people were hoodwinked and this enabled the people in power, not only in this country but around the world, to instigate a real lurch to the right . The whole Brexit thing is cutting off your nose to spite your face. I know I’m a musician and I’m fortunate enough to travel around the world a lot more than other people and I see how inter-dependent countries are. You learn pretty much wherever you go in the world people want the same thing, food on the table, to look after their families, and to go out and enjoy themselves and let off steam without too much hindrance. That’s what you learn through travel.

One of the biggest eye-openers for me was a few years back, we did a gig to help cooperation between North and South Korea.The gig was right on the border. There was this funny hill, it was built by the South Koreans as an anti-tank escarpment, but there was some stairs going up it. I said “can you see North Korea from up there?” they said yes but that’s not the reason for it, there’s a bird sanctuary there where you can see this rare breed of ibis. It’s kind of weird because there’s the threat of nuclear Armageddon and there’s a bird sanctuary right in the middle of it. Unless you are fortunate enough to go to these places you don’t get to see that. There’s this demilitarized zone and it’s really nice farmland, mind you there are bits cordoned off which are minefields! The place is beautiful, I thought it was going to be dingy and dark like something out of Lord Of The Rings, but it wasn’t.

There’s always been a disconnect between the top one percent and the rest of us.

I think the sad thing is as the years go by, you think there would be less of that but the last 5, 6, 7 years it’s become more so. I think we’ve got to pull that back. The thing with these people and the way they treat the populace, is they’ve had hundreds of years of practice at it and they’re very good at doing it. The best thing that ever happened to me was freedom of movement in Europe, and that’s been taken away. And for what? It hasn’t been replaced with anything. I’m moaning about it, I’ve got it off my chest, that’s how I feel.

Oh and the song is also a toe tapper! With an edge to it.

Head On A Stick is available from 27th January on digital platforms and to view at
Album Consequences Coming due 27th April on Cooking Vinyl. Available to Pre-order

Photo Credit ©Danny Clifford
Interview conducted 21st January 2023
Text ©Phil Singleton 2023 /

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