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Glen Matlock Interviewed
On Something - Track by Track
As told to Phil Singleton

Tracks: Piece Of The Action / Be Somebody / OK Kiddo / White Knuckle Ride / On Something / Suck It And See / Playboy Blues / On The Horizon / Kooky Animal / Whose Side Are You On? / Better Start (Getting Used To It) / The Swanker

On Something - Track by Track

Piece Of The Action
It's an out and out rocker and it's born of frustration lyrically. You see others getting this, that and the other, and making their way in the world, and you think I could bloody well do that, so I would like a piece of the action. People can identify with that.

As an album opener, I like the way it starts, the guitar comes thundering in, it's got a good riff. For people listening to the album, it's a good thing lyrically to state where you are coming from. "Don't wanna hear about no more, the weight upon your shoulders." We've all got our problems. I've got mine too, but fuck off, I want a piece of the action.

Be Somebody
It's the other side of the coin. Everyone is just trying to claw their way through the world, the same as if they want a piece of the action as well. Most things that go down in the world are just because people are trying to make life a little bit better for themselves.

Musically it's a Matlock pop-rocker. The descending guitar riff is a little bit of a hats off to George Harrison, a Paperback Writer kind of sound, but not out and out Beatles! Badge by Cream is another point of reference. It also features my very first Hammond solo. That's me playing that!

OK Kiddo
It's my nod to The Faces. It's got a boogie feel to it. It's got one set of chord sequences that goes round and round, like Stand By Me does. The lyric is kind of me talking to myself. You've done this, you've done that, so what are you gonna do now? Where do you go from here?

In the back of my mind I heard that Rod Stewart was looking for some songs, so initially that's why I wrote it.

White Knuckle Ride
It's about some bird that one! Every man's missus! They keep you on your toes, which is a good thing. It's about how you deal with things, and having shit thrown your way can sometimes be good because it make you buck your ideas up. It's enjoying the fact. There's also a subtext. If someone at an AA meeting tries to give up by themselves without the help, assistance and blessing of the brotherhood of fellow AA'ers, you are said to be on a white knuckle ride. That's not what it's about, but it uses some of the terminology.

Musically, it's a bit of a jolly old thrash. I like things like that. There's so much you can do. It's a D and an A, but it's the rhythm of the D when it cuts back to the A, that gives it the catchiness. I like writing really simple songs, the simpler the better. If I could write a song with one chord all the way through I would do.

I heard an interview with Lou Reed not too long ago. People were saying there's only 3 or 4 chords in his songs. He said "yep, and there's still plenty of ways I haven't used them yet." I think it's as much a challenge to write something simple, as it is to write something complicated. I'm quite capable of writing something complicated, but I think simple is where it's at.

On Something
I think it's one of the best songs I've written in a long time, if not one of the best I've written. Full stop. It's a song of strength and heartbreak and how you deal with it, or not deal with it. Sometimes you look for the easy way out, and you know it's not the right way to go. Just for a brief second you wish you were on something, to be able to take a sideways step away from things.

It hasn't really changed since the first time I played it. The way it sounds on the record is the way it's always sounded in my head. Musically it's in Small Faces' Afterglow territory. A power ballad. It's out of the days I spent in the back of a Morris Minor twiddling with a transistor radio, listening to Radio London.

It's got a good set of chord changes, a good riff, and a good lyric. It should be a hit!

On Something - Track by TrackSuck It and See
I've been doing this song live for a while but it's never been on a record that's been released properly. It's about what can you do in life, other than try your best and see what happens? It's an optimistic song. Optimistic in the way you set yourself up and go for things only to be heading for a fall. It's a watershed song. Not being afraid of a fall and taking it on the chin and living to fight another day. Musically it's a monstrosity! It's got a really dumb riff, which I like. Where would Pretty Vacant be without a dumb riff?

This album is me just sticking to my guns. There's some kind of boogie stuff in there, which people don't do anymore because they think it's uncool, but I think "fuck that" I like it and I'm going to do it. Suck It and See has some boogie in the chorus.

Playboy Blues
It's got a bit of Tiger Feet tucked in the middle. I don't think that's a bad thing. It's my homage to Les Gray (Mud's lead singer) who passed away recently, and he was a good lad. Although the song doesn't sound like Mud, there's a bit tucked in there.

It's about everyone thinking that the world is down on them, but they've very little to really moan about when there are people starving in the world. There's a lot of irony in the song. "Playboy blues, you've got shine on your shoes, but you're on a short fuse, you've got a whole lot to lose, all the clues gotta point to those playboy blues." In other words, what are you moaning about you Yuppie?!

On The Horizon
The music and imagery goes hand in hand. Lyrically it's tough. It's an older song which I thought I'd revisit, with what's been going on in the world the past year or two. It ain't no light weight affair. It's quite a haunting tune. It's got a bit of Shirley Bassey about it, those minor thirds. It's also got a bit of Lionel Bart, and bit of Anthony Newly in there. I like to put a ballady song on every album. It's my record and I'll do what the fuck I like! It's a wanting song with hope at the end of the day. "But to go and let things get beyond our reach, when under the paving stones I know there lies a beach. There in the making, there for the taking". There's no future unless you do something about it.

Kooky Animal
It's more of a laugh song. It's from watching people trying to make their way and trying to climb the ladder of success in London over the past few years. I find it funny the way they do it and how they manage to land on their feet.

Musically, sometimes you just write something that sounds good. It didn't start out as my most favourite, but I like it. There's something in the mix that gives it a character.

Whose Side Are You On?
A potential title track. The other potential title was Behind You! It would cause some fun in the record racks! Musically I've always wanted to write a good twelve bar and now I have. Boogie is a neglected idiom. Status Quo meets The Modern Lovers. It shows some of my contempory influences. If something was good a while back, just because it's not hip anymore, doesn't mean it's no good anymore. You can try and sound modern, but end up sounding dated by being too late! Post Currentism! A new musical idiom!

It's blatantly obvious what this one's about. You are force fed so much bullshit in the media all the time that you need to read between the lines. Every time you read an article in the paper you've got to work out whose side they are on, who they are working for and what's their agenda. People should declare their allegiances before they give you any bullshit. This song was written with the build up to the Iraq war going on with all the crap that was going down. I think it's just as pertinent to ask that question now as it was before they went in and started bombing everyone into bits and pieces. I reckon George Bush and Tony Blair should be made, when they finish off this, to do some kind of charity work to make amends. They should be made to wipe the arse of the kid who had his arms blown off, for the rest of his life.

Better Start (Getting Used To It)
It's my soul number. All the BVs. My idea of electric classic soul. There's a lot of energy in a lot of soul music.

Lyrically, don't let the fuckers grind you down. You're gonna do it anyway so they better start getting used to it. Flying in the face of adversity. It's in an everyman/personal kind of way. So many people expect certain things of you and they read you wrong, and then you get to an age when you just do what you wanna do anyway, so they might as well lump it. You're delighting in the fact that you've finally reached that plateau of decision. It's a pretty up track. It rocks.

It's not about "that's all you're gonna get, so you'd better start getting used to it", it's about the fact you're gonna do what you want to do, so everybody else better start getting used to it.

The Swanker
It's a tribute to John Barry and my love of all those themes. It's a tune that's been going round in my head for ages, and I thought I'd get the string samples out and have a go at the James Bond movie that's not come out yet. I love it. I was brought up with all this stuff and it can't not sink in. It's a good uplifting song. Terry Edwards did the piano and nailed it jut right. Terry got it off to a tee. There's also a bit of the Ventures in there, or Johnny and The Hurricanes, or even The Shadows. It's got the guitar theme kind of sound. I think it would have been good for that Johnny English movie. Someone should write a spy show called The Swanker, starring Steve Jones, and that could be the theme tune! I'm pleased with the way the song came out. I like the way it ends. As it tails out I could imagine the dialogue starting at the beginning of the movie! I was always intrigued by Keith West's (one hit wonder) Excerpt From a Teenage Opera, and wondered where the rest of it was? To write a sequel was another inspiration.

I've enjoyed working with the Engineer, Greg Jackman, who has got a fantastic pedigree. The band for the album was me and Chris Musto, augmented by Steve New and Terry Edwards. Chris kicked up a storm on the drums.

Looking back at my previous two albums, on Open Mind my singing had come up from my first album, and it's come on in leaps and bounds for this one as well. People seemed to dig the guitars on my first album, but I liked the songs on the second album better. I deliberately decided to make a cross between the two and think I've succeeded with On Something. I reckon it's turned out pretty good!

On Something - Track by Track

Studio visit / album review

On Something Index

Transcribed by Phil Singleton. Text ©Phil Singleton / Glen Matlock / 2004
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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