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Glen Matlock - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 26 / 4 / 2023

Glen Matlock - Interview

Glen Matlock will always be best known for being the original bassist in The Sex Pistols. Since he left them, he has carved out an impressive musical career, first of all with The Rich Kids and then as a solo artist. He has also worked regularly as a session artist and toured with Iggy Pop. His sixth solo album, the fiery 'Consequences Coming', is due out in April, and takes a damning and probing look at the failings of our political leaders on tracks such as the title number, recent single 'Head on a Stick' and 'Speaking in Tongues', but also throws in a curveball with a stunning cover of kd Lang's 'Constant Craving'. Matlock also spent much of last year touring with Blondie, temporarily replacing bassist Leigh Foxx, who has injured his back, and is signed up to play more dates with them this year. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Glen Matlock about 'Consequences Coming' and working with Blondie. PB: ‘Consequences Coming’ was recorded presumably during and as we were starting to come out lockdown. How much of an impact did that have on it? GLEN MATLOCK: I was as busy as I have ever been during lockdown. I did lots of recording sessions for people that I had never heard of who approached me, I played bass for some guys in Brazil, who contacted a friend of mine from Corsica to see if I was interested, and then I spoke to their manager who was in Switzerland, and sent it back and claimed my pay from the guy who was in Switzerland (Laughs). There were lots of things that you could do, so my album has got an element of that, but I actually put down the rhythm tracks before lockdown and I then added to it. So, the lockdown aspect was not that important, although it gave me time to sit and think about what I had already recorded, and then I added a few more songs that I wrote during lockdown which were ‘Out of the Blue’, ‘Head on a Stick’ and ‘This Ship’. It was more a reflection, not on lockdown, but on the political chain of events that we have had going on the last few years in this country and the rise of those who rule us. Every so often when I am in London I bump into people like Paul Weller. I was chatting to Paul and we agreed that the last thing people really wanted to hear when we came out of lockdown was an album about how pissed off we were during lockdown. It would be like preaching to the converted. PB: You have called the album ‘Consequences Coming’. Do you see the fact that as we are talking today that much of is Britain is striking as one of those consequences? GM: I think that people are beginning to wise up to the fact that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes and have been left behind. The consequences are coming, as far as I can see, to the people that have done it. I think that heads should roll. I think that some people should be accused of treason really. PB: On ‘Head on a Stick’ you say that you are “witness to a crime”. Is that song targeted at anyone in particular? GM: No, it is a whole show of people. and it is the Johnsons and the Trumps and the Goves of this world. When I wrote that song, Boris Johnson was still in power but I see it as an ongoing thing with this particular bunch of Tories, who are so brazen and corrupt and inept that I think that they should alll go. The strikes which are happening now is people beginning to see the light. It is beginning to dawn on people the consequemces of the Brexit mob, and how we have ended up in this situation. PB: Labour are twenty points ahead in the opinion polls. It looks like the Tories will go at the next election. Do you see things being much better under Keir Starmer? GM: I don’t think that they will be as worse. I wish that Starmer would come out and revisit the whole European thing, which I think that he will do. He has got to be careful how he goes about it. I understand that, but as a touring musician who has now lost my right to live and work, freely in twenty-seven other countries I am pretty pissed off about the whole thing. I have got two sons who are also musicians, and it has affected them as well, and there is a whole show of people that have lost a hell of a lot of work for no particular reason other than to get the Tories elected. They didn’t have anything other than the whole Brexit thing. They are very good at bullshit. The Tories have had hundreds of years of practice at it. This is just the cherry on the cake. For all that,, I still feel that there is an element of tongue-in-cheek to the way in which I put things across. I don’t want to come as too po-faced about it really. PB: ‘Speaking in Tongues’ and ‘Shine Off my Shoes’ certainly have a dry humour to them... GM: There is a dry humour to all of my songs really. Whether it comes through or not – maybe it is a bit too dry for some people – I don’t know. ‘Speaking in Tongues’ is about so many people talking such rubbish that they might as well be speaking in tongues. You go and look at a painting sometimes, and people say, “Well, what is it about?” and a lot of the time it is not really about anything. I think that is what is going on with a lot of our political commentary. It is just about keeping people in their place. That is where ‘Speaking in Tongues’ comes from. ‘Shine Off My Shoes’ is more of a personal relationship song. and about getting the bum’s rush from someone, and how disappointed you are when that happens. PB: Why did you decide to cover ‘Constant Craving’? GM: t is a song that I have always loved. On my last album I did a cover of a Scott Walker song ‘Montague Terrace’. I like to throw in something that people wouldn’t expect. and that maybe will make them look at the song in a different way. I liked the lyrics for ‘Constant Craving’. There is a yearning in us all. I don’t see any point in copying a song. Sometimes you just like a song and you know how it goes, and you are larking around in a rehearsal room or a studio, and I started playing it and the drummer picked up on it, and I said, “Maybe don’t play it like that. Play it like the Stones doing ‘Harlem Shuffle’, so it has got that pushy kind of feel , and the guitarist came and played the guitar and he got an ‘Ashes to Ashes’ feel to it. There are loads of different ideas going on in there, so hopefully I ended up making something of my own with it. PB: The fact that you have taken something which is seen as a gay woman’s ballad and totally reinterpreted it just does just that. GM: A good song is a good song. It doesn’t matter whether it is gay or straight or whatever. It was just that kind of yearning aspect of it which appealed to me. PB: You toured with Blondie last year and that you are doing more dates this year. You have worked with Clem Burke before in the International Swingers. GM: I have done other things as well over the years with Clem, with different sessions and different people, some kind of good, some unheralded, some a bit harebrained, but we are on the same page musically. If I do something, he will know how to pick up on it. He will know how to do that drumfill. If he does that drumfill on something else, I will maybe know how to do that little bass part. He called me about Blondie because he thought that I might raise to the occasion, and I thought that if I did it that it might be good because I would maybe bring something to what they are doing. PB: How well did you know Debbie Harry and Chris Stein beforehand? GM: I had met them many times, but usually just for a short period of time. So when I worked with them last year I wasn’t totally the new boy at work. Even the younger guys in the band, Matt Katz-Bohen and Tommy Kessler, I knew them. although not well. PB: You have been involved in recording the forthcoming album. Can you say much about that? GM: Not really, because I don’t know if I am supposed to say that much about it. We were just putting the rhythm tracks down when I recorded it. I haven’t heard the finished thing yet. When you are just a temporary member, you just do your thing and tend to let the guys get on with it. PB: You are always going to be known as the bloke who co-wrote ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’, but you have done so much since then. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement? GM: I don’t know if it is for me to say. All I like to do is listen to the present, dof my cap to the past and look to the future, which is what I am trying to do. I might get up in the morning and think that I wrote ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘God Save the Queen’, and that might be enough for most people, but I don’t think like that. I am more interested in the next idea that I have got. The other thing as well is that it is work. I have to work to make a living. I am a working class bloke. I have that installed in me and, that is what I do. Yeah, the Sex Pistols thing was kind of cool. I have done it, am proud of it but what’s next? PB: Maintaining a career in music for ove 45 years is a massive achievement in itself.... GM: Yeah, but it is also hard. Either you are really clever which I don’t really think I am or you just don’t know any better (Laughs). PB: Thank you.

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Ex-Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock talks to John Clarkson about his politically-conscious sixth solo album 'Consequences Coming' and working with Blondie.


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