Glen Matlock

Interview by Dennis Morgillo

Glen Matlock
Interviewer - Dennis Morgillo

Glen Matlock was the original Bass Player for the legendary Punk Band The Sex Pistols. 
Glen has had a long successful solo career after the Pistols with bands such as ‘The Rich Kids’, and ‘The Philistines’. Glen has toured with Iggy Pop, The Faces and many more. He is still making music and touring and will release a new album in 2017. 

Madhouse Magazine: What were your favorite bands as a kid?
Glen Matlock: In the early to mid 1960’s we had Pirate Radio which was based on boats. There was a movie based on it. That’s where I first heard the Kinks, Yardbirds, Small Faces, Stones, The Who. Thats what sunk into me when I was 11, 12 years old. To me that was the classic age of pop rock songwriting. 

Madhouse Magazine: Did you start on Guitar or Bass ? 
Glen: I had a cheap Acoustic Guitar and I learned the chords and played around with it. There was a guy at school that was a week ahead of me in learning the guitar and he would teach me some chords. His name was Steve Jones, but not THAT Steve Jones. Then I picked up the Bass but sitting home playing the Bass alone is like the sound of one hand clapping. Then I met Paul Cook and Steve Jones who were looking for a Bass Player. I picked up the Bass and played the Faces song ‘Three Button Hand Me Down’ for them and they were knocked out because it was quite a complicated Bass part. But what they didn’t know is that it was the only song I could play all the way through. 

Madhouse: What was the music scene like in England at the time the Sex Pistols were formed?
Glen: Musically we had Glam Rock, Bowie hit it big and like what happens when bands make it big in England they then split and try to make it in America. So what we did have around was Prog Rock like Genesis and The Moody Blues. These bands, didn’t really move me. They didn’t mean anything to me. There really wasn’t anything for our generation so we started something that was different and new. 

Madhouse: What was the political climate like in England at this time and why do you think it was ripe for Punk?
Glen: London at this time was quite dreary and there was a lot of political unrest. Everyone was on strike, there were riots, power cuts. It seemed like there was no future. And of course that was what ‘God Save the Queen' was about.

Madhouse: New York City had the same issues going on during this time as well.
Glen: Yes I was talking to Marky Ramone about this. The one common link between what we were doing in London and what the NY bands were doing is Malcolm McLaren. He was going back and forth between London and NYC for his vintage clothing business. He managed the NY Dolls for a bit and he would tell us about the NY bands and them about us. Punk was simultaneously happening in NYC and London at the same time.  

Madhouse: What was it like when the Sex Pistols first formed?
Glen: It was fun. John was out there, Paul was fun, and Steve was a petty thief. It was really like the Blues Brothers movie, we were on a mission from God. The kids were looking for something but they didn’t know what it was until they saw us. 

Madhouse: Who wrote the Sex Pistols songs?
Glen: It was a collective. John was the main lyricist. ‘Pretty Vacant’ was mine. I had a big hand in the first 3 singles: ‘Anarchy in the UK', ‘God Save the Queen’, and ‘Pretty Vacant’ were mostly mine. But the way John delivered the songs and the way Paul Cook and Steve Jones played were crucial. 

Madhouse: Did you play Bass on ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’?
Glen: That’s me on ‘Anarchy’ but the rest of the album is Steve Jones on Bass. I think I play much better than that. He plays Bass like a Guitar Player and I play it proper. During our reunion concert. Duff McKagen from Guns n Roses came up to me and said I didn’t realize you threw all that Motown riffs in there and it really gives the songs color and new life.

Madhouse: In your book ‘I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol’, you mentioned that you quit because of the craziness of the whole situation. 
Glen: During the Anarchy tour, we weren’t allowed to play anywhere. It was a total media circus. Honestly it was boring, because we werent allowed to play and we were followed everywhere by the press. There was a lot of in fighting and I didn’t get along with John. He changed when he got his face on the daily papers. I wanted to be in a band that could play. 

Madhouse: How were the Sex Pistols reunion tours?
Glen: It was great. We were older. Instead of driving around in the back of a van, we were flying around the world first class. You can afford to get along with each other when you have more space. The next tour we had two buses, John was in one bus, me, Steve and Paul in the other bus. I said this is very expensive, and Steve said listen Glen this is money well spent, at least we will finish the tour. He was right.

Madhouse: Was there ever talk of doing a new Sex Pistols studio album. 
Glen: During the 1996 tour Me, Steve and Paul did a few things, We had some good ideas.  But John wasn’t interested. I can see his point though. What the Sex Pistols did was etched in stone and if we didn’t come up to speed, it would work against us. I see things like that as a challenge and more of a reason to do it. 

Madhouse: What do you think would have happened if you never left the band?
Glen: I would imagine that we could have been like The Who and had quite a good career. But you can’t really argue that way because what happened is what happened. It was meant to be and here we are talking about it 40 years later. 

Madhouse: Do you have any new music coming out?
Glen: We have a new Album coming out with Earl Slick and Slim Jim Phantom in 2017. 

Madhouse: Of all the things you have done in your career, what was your favorite?
Glen: When I got to tour with the Faces. They were my favorite band growing up and I was like falling off a log. I didn’t really have to do that much rehearsing, since I learned all these songs as a kid.  It was a privilege doing that. We headlined the Fuji festival in front of 50,000 people. 

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