Dave Woodhall talks to the legendary Glen Matlock.
You’re about to start touring and there’s another album in the offing. How’s that going?
“I’m about two-thirds of the way through the new album. We’ve done all the recording but I’m just finishing off a few bits of singing. I’ve been tweaking it over the past month and I’ve got about one and half songs to do then it’ll be mixed. It’ll realistically be out towards the end of the summer.”
Is it quicker to record now, with all the technology you have available, or is it a case of the more you’ve got the more you use?
“The latter’s probably right. What people used to do was rehearse and rehearse and rehearse and rehearse, get it all together and then record it relatively quickly because they didn’t have so many tracks but now there’s almost unlimited time you go in and record and then record and record, throwing out loads of ideas, do loads of songs that go along a bit and then you have to spend ages sorting it all out after so it’s no quicker because you never seem to come to a decision.”
That’s the modern world. We grew up thinking technology was going to make our lives easier and now we work more hours than ever.
“I went in the studio and did all the stuff live with the guys. The things that really take time are the singing and getting the words right. I can do that at home where I don’t have to watch the clock going round so it is better in a way. And there’s not much on the telly.”
You called the last album, Good to Go, your Ziggy Stardust album. Will the next one be Alladin Sane?
“Er, don’t know about that one. I don’t know how to describe it really. It’s got an element of the last one and a bit of the one before. It’s got a bit more soul and there’s an odd cover on it, it’s a bit of a curveball that I’m not going to say anything about until it’s released.”
And that leads us into the band now, and in particular Earl Slick. He’s not a bad sideman to have.
“Not a bad sideman at all. There’s something about his playing that brings out my songwriting somehow.”
The two of you being so, er, experienced…
“Getting on, you mean?”
Ain’t we all, but you must bring out the best in each other.
“Maybe. We’ve got a good rapport on stage, he’s leaned his stage craft over the years and I like to stretch the songs a bit, give him a chance to do that. It’s a good rhythm section, Chris Musto on drums and Jim Lowe plays bass with me, although he wasn’t always on the album. Norman Watt Roy plays on a few tracks.”
I’ve read that you prefer to be solo rather than in a band now.
“That’s not quite right, but whenever I’m in a band, whatever name we come up with, unless you have a massive runaway overnight hit, it’s always Glen Matlock ex-Sex Pistols. It makes it a bit pub rock and gone are the days when I sit in a pub all night so no, we think about what can we call ourselves.
“The last band I came up with was the Philistines because I thought get a load of hits and I could have a best of that I could call Complete and Utter Philistines. I thought it was good but nobody else got it so I’m still Glen Matlock ex-Sex Pistol.”
I did notice a poster for this tour that called you ex-Rich Kids and Sex Pistols, so that’s at least a bit of progress. I also saw that your setlists have changed a bit in the past couple of years.
“I should hope so. I’ve got lots of songs to draw on, the only trouble is that Earl doesn’t live in England, so I don’t want to keep laying too many new songs on him. This time it’s like trying to build up a following again, on my own terms, from scratch. People realise I’m a reasonable frontman, there’s something to my music. I do songs from all aspects of my career so most people don’t go home disappointed.”
And moving to the obvious, the sort of thing you must have been asked a thousand times but do you sometimes think the Pistols are a bit of a millstone round your neck and everything you do has to be compared to them?
“It would appear that way but it’s very hard to step outside that when I keep getting asked about it.”
Sorry about that. It must be difficult to adjust when you changed the world while you were in your teens.
“Yes, but you’ve also got someone like Kenney Jones and the Small Faces, he started out drumming and recording when he was fourteen. They had an edge to them but they were a pop act, the Pistols were a social phenomenon, supposedly, or so we were pigeonholed. I started in a band because I wanted to play pub rock and I still do. Someone like Ray Davies is where I’m coming from.”
Did you ever think the Pistols might record another album during the time you got back to tour?
“It just wasn’t going to happen. Me, Steve and Paul were up for having a go but John wasn’t going to.”
It must piss you off when you get all these Pistols tribute bands and they always have a Sid on bass.
“I did get an e mail from someone in America who had a tribute band, tellng me that they’d got a Sid Vicious bloke and he wasn’t good enough so they slung him out and they got me. Another band got overly cheeky and asked me if I would stand in for their bass player.
“I don’t mind it too much, but on the other hand they take up a lot of space from new bands.”
Then again you’ve got the news this week that what’s left of Slade have split into two, so you do wonder where the band ends and the tributes begin.
“Well…how can you sack Don Powell? Noddy’s not around anymore although that’s not a surprise after the way he belted it out.
“Where I live in Maida Vale there’s a big pub and I used to drink in there with John Otway and Les Gray out of Mud. When Les passed away I got invited to his wake. Slade were at it and we played the Christmas song in September. I was proud of that.”
Glen Matlock plays the Robin 2 on 22nd February. Tickets