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INTERVIEW GLEN MATLOCK, BLONDIE – February 2024

| 5 March 2024 | Reply
INTERVIEW GLEN MATLOCK, BLONDIE – February 2024
By Shane Pinnegar
 
Blondie head back to Australia for the PANDEMONIUM ROCKS FESTIVAL, alongside headliner Alice Cooper, with Deep Purple, Placebo, The Gang of Four, Dead Kennedys, Psychedlic Furs, Wolfmother, Wheatus, Palaye Royale, Cosmic Psychos, Gyroscope and Petch.
 
Apr 20, 2024 Pandemonium 2024 @ Caribbean Gardens Melbourne, Australia
Apr 25, 2024 Cathy Freeman Park @ Sydney Olympic Park Sydney, Australia
Apr 27, 2024 Pandemonium 2024 @ Doug Jennings Park Gold Coast, Australia
 
Playing bass for the new wave legends and Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductees is Glen Matlock – a legend in his own right. The former Sex Pistol bassist and co-author of many of the songs on their one and only complete studio album has worked with many acts since leaving the band just as they were about to blow up.
 
With so much to talk about, we had to dive in deep and fast, happily finding him in great spirits and more than willing to share some memories and crack a few jokes along the way.
 
 
Hello, thankyou so much for your time today Glen – it’s a buzz to talk with you.
 
No worries. Where are you, Shane?
 
I’m in West Australia – Perth
 
Oh, I love Perth. I spent some time there in the ‘80s when I toured with Johnny Thunders. In fact, I remember there wasn’t much to do in Perth in the ‘80s, so I did a ballroom dancing class in Perth!
 
Really? Wow, I wouldn’t have picked that!
 
Yeah – just the one, mind. But I did it – crossed it off the bucket list.
 
Wow.
 
Yeah, I love Australia, it’s great to hear the accent – brightens up my dreary morning here in London – sorry if I slip into [your accent] a little, I just can’t ‘elp myself sometimes.
 
No worries at all – you may not want to be here right now, though, we’re in the middle of a heatwave, 43 degrees today. The kind of heat that sucks your will to live! But you’re heading to Australia with Blondie for Pandemonium Rocks Festival, and the weather will doubtless be far nicer, which is exciting!
 
Yeah
 
You’ve been with Blondie for a couple of years, was that an easy fit for you, musically?
 
Yeah, I think so. Clem’s their drummer and he gave me a call – their bass player was unavailable for some reason, so he said come on over and do it. A week later I was in New York rehearsing.
 
And that call from Clem came when you were making a risotto, I believe?
 
Yeah – I almost didn’t take the call. It was right at THAT moment, y’know?
 
I do – I’m a chef by trade so I certainly wouldn’t have walked away either!
 
Luckily, I had a friend over for dinner, so I said ‘you come and stir this for me,’ then I told Clem, ‘get on with it, I’m busy!’
 
You’ve known Clem for a long time, and worked with him on all sorts of projects over the years…
 
Yeah, we’re old mates. He’s staying in my spare room here right now.

Matlock with Debbie Harry, performing with Blondie at Glastonbury 2023

 
Were you a fan of Blondie back when they first blew up?
 
Yeah, I always liked their songs, and they’re good to play the bass on, it’s great to be able to play with ‘em. When they first came to England back in the day the shows weren’t always full, so the promoter gave us tickets – I think I’ve probably seen them more times than any other band, actually.
 
The guitarist on my side of the stage – Andee Blacksugar (KMFDM) [Matlock leans into the camera and cups his mouth with his hand to whisper conspiratorially] – I don’t think it’s ‘is real name – he’s great – and Debbie’s singing like a bird.
 
I watched a couple of clips on YouTube from the band’s appearance at Glastonbury last year, and the band sound tremendous.
 
Yeah, she really does sound great. When I first started rehearsing with them we’d done a couple of songs and I said to the sound guy, ‘can you turn Debbie up for me,’ he was like, ‘are you not hearing her properly?’ I said, ‘yeah I am, but she’s great, turn ‘er up!’
 

 
Have you done shows with, or are friends of, the other acts on the lineup? 
 
I’m not really sure who’s on there to be honest, other than Alice Cooper…
 
Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Placebo, Dead Kennedys, Gang of Four, Psychedelic Furs, Wolfmother…
 
Alice Cooper I saw about 15 years ago – that was the first time I’d seen him. And the first half of his show, I thought was panto – you familiar with panto in England? [Yep] Then the second half he comes out as Mr Nice Guy and plays his big hits. But to start with, yeah, I thought he was the villain chopping people up – not for real, of course – to make this monster, so I was yelling ‘Boo Hiss’ like in panto, until some big American guy told me off!
 
I have met him briefly before, Alice Cooper. Placebo I’m not really aware of. Gang of Four used to play back in the day. Psychedelic Furs, I like their stuff. And who was it? Deep Purple – oh yeah. [makes Black Night riff noises] Every bass player in every band ever when the drummer starts to warm up plays the Black Night riff!
 
Having worked with The Sex Pistols, The Rich Kids, Iggy, Bowie, The Damned, The International Swingers, Sylvain Sylvain, Walter Lure & Wayne Kramer, Blondie and so many others, as well as having a solo career –
 
And don’t forget The Faces! That was great. 
 
Of course!
 
I got that gig because I was friends with Ian McLagan, he played with us in The Rich Kids a bit. He was such a great keyboard player. So, I ended up doing that Faces reunion – well, Rod didn’t do it, Mick Hucknall stood in for him, he’s a great soul singer. It was Ian, Kenney Jones, Ronnie Wood – that was amazing. I used to stand in front of my bedroom mirror playing bass pretending to be Ronnie Lane! We only did a few shows – in fact the last show I did with them was at Mt Fuji [30th July, 2011] in front of 50,000 people!
 
And I’ve had a solo career through all that time as well – I don’t have EMI behind me putting out coloured vinyl or anything, but I think I’ve done some pretty good stuff on those records. I’ve just been in New York playing shows for my new one, Consequences Coming, which is about politics – the Brexit mess, Trump, and everything. I thought I might have missed the boat with that a bit [in terms of relevance], but I’m in New York and I couldn’t get a cab, turns out it was because you know who had his big court appearance that day, so the traffic was all tied up. So maybe I haven’t missed the boat with that at all? Look at what happened to Boris Johnson, of course. I’m not really political at all, but the far right politics took off all over the world and it’s just untenable, so there’s a couple of songs on this record about that, and about there has to be consequences for what they done.
 
Is that the new album?
 
Yeah, this came out in 2023 in America – it’s coming out in Australia soon. We might see how it goes and play a few solo shows while I’m down there. Like – solo, solo.
 
Solo as in just you?
 
Yeah, I’ve done them all over the world, they’re a lot of fun. [cups his hand around his mouth and leans in again] and you don’t have to share the money!
 
That would be cool. I’m looking forward to the new record. I really get a buzz out of new material – listening to an artist’s new songs, digging the melodies and working out the meaning of the lyrics. Seems though, that a lot of people aren’t like that, they only want the music from their glory days – is that frustrating as a creative artist?
 
Yeah, it is, really. Because I look at bass playing like carpentry. Oh yeah, you want this much bass put in there, huh? Hmmm [strokes chin], well it’ll cost you this much. Whereas my art is my songwriting. So, it is frustrating – but also if I went to see David Bowie and he didn’t play Heroes, I’d leave disappointed, so you’ve got to give ‘em what they want to some extent.
 
Wikipedia hints that there’s a new Blondie album coming – one which you play on. Is that the case?
 
Yeah, there’s some stuff in the can. It’s sounding really good, last time I listened to it.
 
Busy boy!
 
Yes – and going to continue to be, there’s lots coming up. Alice Cooper has just asked me to support him on his London shows later in the year. They’re just sorting out the details. 
 
[A few days after speaking with Glen, he was announced as the support act for Alice Cooper’s shows on 20th and 21st October at the London Eventim Apollo]
 
It’s a long way to come, all the way to Australia, for three shows – is jetlag a concern?
 
Yeah (sighs), it is actually [smiles wearily]. But we have some downtime built in to the schedule, so it is what it is.
 
You played the Dog Day Afternoon festival with Blondie last year – and you had a connection with just about everyone on the bill there – Iggy, Buzzcocks, Generation Sex – does that make for an enjoyable backstage environment, or are there animosities that you’d rather avoid?
 
Nah, it’s fine. I mean, Iggy just does his own thing – he’s getting on a bit now, so he arrives, goes on stage, then he’s straight into a car and gone. I went along with a friend of mine who’s getting on a bit, Patti Palladin [ex-Johnny Thunders, Flying Lizards, Snatch], and I wanted to go on the train because South London’s not easy to get to from my place, but I had to pick her up. And I was driving through London and didn’t realise that the Pride Parade was on that day and all the streets around Hyde Park were closed off, so we were running late. By the time I sorted passes for my friend I could hear Generation Sex starting up with the riff to Pretty Vacant, and I got to the side of stage just as they were finishing that. And I caught Steve [Jones] and Billy [Idol]’s eye, so I did this [wanker gesture] but some guy in the crowd filmed me doing it and put it up on YouTube ‘now now Glen, no need for that’ [he laughs heartily]
 
Actually, I’ll tell you who I did catch up with backstage, was Henry McGroggan who used to be our tour manager back in the day with The Rich Kids, and I recommended him to Iggy, and he’s been with Iggy ever since. Iggy left but he hung about, and it was good to see him.
 
I was wondering if you might have got up for a jam with Generation Sex [Steve Jones & Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols, Billy Idol and Tony James from Generation X], seeing as they’re your songs, some of them?
 
Nah, it doesn’t always work like that [he grins wryly]. The festival isn’t going to Perth, is it?
 
No, sadly not. But I’m hoping to get across for it.
 
Ah yeah, do. I remember a lost weekend I had in Perth one time – it was in the ‘80s after that tour with Thunders, and when the tour was done I went back to Perth for a month. And I bumped into this guy Steve who used to live in a squat just around the corner from me in Ealing, London. And he was like, ‘what are you doing here?’ – ‘I just did the Thunders tour. What are you doing here?’ – and we was next to this lovely old Australian style building but it had fencing all around it. And this guy goes, ‘well in five minutes this fencing is coming down and you and me are gonna have the first drink in there – I’m the publican!’ [laughs] So we had the first drink – AND the last one!
 
Do you recall the name of the pub? 
 
Nah, it was on a corner and it was in the touristy part of town, there were lots of people going by and I remember seeing, like, a horse and carriage go past as well, taking people for rides. I remember the bar pretty well, though.
 
I have to ask about the TV show Pistol which came out a couple of years ago and caused a bit of a rift in the Sex Pistols camp [to put it lightly]. The show seemed pretty one sided, from Steve’s view, but even though you weren’t happy with the way you were depicted in the program, you still voted to allow the Pistols music to be used in it…
 
[a little reluctantly] Yeah well, of course it was one sided ‘cos it was based on Steve’s book, and if that’s the way he remembers it, then that’s fine. John [Lydon] wasn’t happy about it, but… And I have a thing that I am working on based on my book I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol – it won’t be on the same sort of scale as that one, but it’ll be good to get that happening. 
 
It was his band: Steve formed the Sex Pistols, so of course that was to be expected. I was ultimately disappointed in the show, but mostly I was disappointed in Danny Boyle, because we met a few times and he listened to what I had to say, and he made assurances – but then these things never happened. But it’s out there now, so… [shrugs]
 

 
How are relationships between the four of you now? I presume things are a bit strained with John, but with the other two?
 
Yeah, fine. I had brunch – as they say in America – with Steve just a week or two ago. We’re fine.
 
How do you feel about being labelled a ‘punk’ nowadays?
 
Well, I always think that there’s The Sex Pistols, and then punk is what came afterwards. Because we were the originators. But it’s an easy and convenient label for anything that comes out that’s a bit aggressive, a bit raw, so if they wanna call them punk then that’s fine by me. But yeah, there was The Sex Pistols – then everything after was ‘punk.’

The Sex Pistols: L-R Steve Jones, Paul Cook, John Lydon, Glen Matlock

 
Of all those great bands you’ve worked with, is there anyone you wish you could’ve stuck with a little longer and done more creatively with?
 
Well, The Faces for sure, that was a great experience. I would like to do more with Iggy but that seems unlikely now. 
 
What do you look for when someone calls you up and offers you a gig playing on a record or doing a tour – is it the people involved, the music, the money?
 
It’s a bit of it all, to be honest. You can’t always expect great money, but sometimes it happens. I like to have an affinity with the people, and I need to like the music and know I can play on it. So, a bit of everything, really.
 
Do you have any favourite rock n’ roll movies, Glen?
 
The Girl Can’t Help It. That’s just great. A Hard Day’s Night. Such a great film – you’ve got Steptoe in there [Wilfrid Bramble], Victor Spinetti – all those great British character actors. Jailhouse Rock with Elvis. They’re all old ones, but they’re the ones which really got me.
 
I try to be careful what I say about The Beatles, ‘cos of the rubbish that was said when I left The Pistols – I liked ‘em, but I wasn’t in love with them like some people said I was. Someone tried to sell me one of them violin basses a while back and I was – no way was I even gonna be photographed with it, because they’d all say “Matlock’s trying to be like his idol McCartney” or whatever!
 
What a life you’ve lived, Glen. Are you happy with what you’ve achieved both personally and creatively?
 
Yeah, mostly, I think. I mean, I think I’ve made some pretty good [solo] records and some of them flew under the radar more than I’d have liked. It’d be nice to be able to get them more known, but I’ve done a lot of good work, I think, written some good songs.
 
That’s an understatement! Thanks so much for your time, Sir.
 
 
 
 
 

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