Podcast Transcript

Speaker 1:

Takin’ A Walk.

Glen Matlock:

It just becomes more and more corporate all the time. I played at Glastonbury with Blondie on the main stage this summer. We were second on the bill. Elton John was top of the bill. I thought I’d go and watch Elton John from the side of the stage. They wouldn’t let me on the stage. I didn’t have the right pass. They’re supposed to be like the free spirited festival and it is like you might as well be trying to clock in at work at IBM.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Takin’ A Walk podcast, the show with storytelling from musicians and insiders and their love of music, hosted by Buzz Knight. On this episode, Buzz is joined by musician Glen Matlock. You know Glen’s work from the legendary Sex Pistols and Blondie. Glen leads the band The Maestros, featuring Clem Burke of Blondie fame, Gilby Clarke, known for his work with Guns N’ Roses, and Steve Fishman, from The Stranglers and The Damned. Let’s join Buzz Knight and Glen Matlock on Takin’ A Walk.

Buzz Knight:

Glen Matlock, it’s so great to have you on a virtual edition of the Takin’ A Walk podcast. I wish we could be walking somewhere in the streets of your town in England, but nevertheless we’ll accept the virtual.

Glen Matlock:

All right, well that’s fine. I wouldn’t mind being in Boston actually, but I was there earlier this year with Blondie. So yeah, I can visualize where you are, kind of, a little bit. Yeah, I know where to get a replacement Apple USB charger, that’s quite handy in life. The modern world we live in. Yeah, in Boston. So, there you go.

Buzz Knight:

Well, welcome and congratulations on your newest album call Consequences Coming. Can you talk to me about the creative process behind Consequences Coming?

Glen Matlock:

Okay, creative… Well, there was one, I started writing the songs. I know that you probably know that we had this thing over here called Brexit and a lot of us aren’t very happy about it. We think it’s the most stupid thing this country has ever done. What is also done is enabled the far right government. They are a bunch of nitwits and I don’t think they know what they’re doing basically, but they’re doing it anyway. Some of the songs are railing against that. All around the world, there’s a lurch to the right, which I think ultimately is untenable. I started writing the songs just before that all happened. I started recording, I hadn’t completed all the songs, but then lockdown happened. So I had to put it all on hold a little bit and I thought I’d missed my moment.

But I was in New York earlier this year doing some stuff with Clem for this TV program that’s being made called Bowery Boy with Ivan Julian and Richard Lloyd and Clem Burke. We did a session and I had to go up to Midtown to go and do some press. But I couldn’t get a cab that morning and I was going to go and promote my Consequences coming record, but I couldn’t get a cab because all the roads were blocked off because coming down from Central Park to be arraigned was Donald Trump. So I thought maybe I haven’t missed my moment at all. So, there you go.

I don’t know what your politics are, but he is certainly not mine. So, there you go. So it’s a general heads up that we shouldn’t be taken for Charlie’s basically. But there’s some good rock and roll trends on the record as well. I’ve got some great players on it, thumbs on a couple of tracks. Earl Slick is all over it. I’ve got a Japanese guy called Hotei who is like the Jeff Beck of Japan plays on a song. Norman Watt Roy is on a lot of the bass. I play rhythm guitar on it and sing. So yeah, I’m quite pleased with the way it’s come out.

Buzz Knight:

Well, going back to your moment in New York City, I would’ve been shivering as well. I want to ask you though, as the co-creator with the Sex Pistols of Anarchy in the UK, how relevant is that now? I have to think. It’s extremely relevant, don’t you?

Glen Matlock:

Well it is, it’s just maybe the guy who actually wrote the lyrics. That one’s my melody and tune and song structure and John’s lyrics. I don’t know if John totally believes it now, I’ll probably believe in it more than him. It all depends on what your definition of anarchy is. If it’s self-determination, we certainly haven’t got that. If everything’s a complete mess, well then we have got that. I do like the line in the song, “The future dream is a shopping scheme and that seems to be the way the world has Evolved. I don’t know if that’s necessarily for the better really, but there you go. I make myself sound quite cold faced, but I’m not. But I think you’ve got to have an ear to the ground of what’s going on with certain things and take the mickey out of it a little bit when you can.

Buzz Knight:

So, I want to promote January shows that’ll be coming up. You’re doing a West Coast swing, San Diego and Long Beach. You’re playing the legendary Troubadour in January on the 21st, you got a Vegas hop, and San Francisco. How excited are you about that West Coast swing?

Glen Matlock:

I’m looking forward to it. What happened was in between the Blondie shows and the summer, we did a one-off show at the Whiskey, I think it was, was it Whiskey or the Roxy? I can’t remember. The band clicked. It is Clem Burke on drums, he’s helping me out, got Gilby Clarke on guitar and Steve Fishman. When we did that show in LA, quite a few people got up with us. Kathy Valentine and Slim Jim Phantom and Kevin Preston, who is the second guitarist in Green Day now, and Fred Armisen as well. Now whether I’ll be able to attract all those to some of those gigs, I don’t know, but we’ll see. But it clicked. It’s a good Anglo-American rock and roll band really. I don’t pretend to be the piper at the gates of the new music world, but I write some pretty catchy songs, I think. I present them pretty good. It’s fun. So, come on down.

Buzz Knight:

How did you sync up with these guys, with the members of the band? Had you known all of them?

Glen Matlock:

I’ve known Clem for a long, long time. I met him when he first came over to London with Blondie in the late seventies. In fact, I think I met him, I did a one-off gig with Sid Vicious at a place called the Electric Ballroom. It’s quite a legendary one-off gig. Blondie came down to check us out and I think I met him then. That’s probably in about 1978. We kept in touch and we’ve done loads of different projects with each other, some good, some a bit hair-brained. But for every thing that comes out you see a musician do, there’s probably about 10 times as many ideas where they would just get together and try something out and see what comes with it. Then this has come up.

Clem suggested Gilby, although I’ve met Gilby before. The guy who’s playing bass is a guy called Steve Fishman, American guy, but he used to live in London. He used to be the bass player on a big TV show over here with a guy called Jonathan Ross. So, he was around. So we’re friends, but it’s good playing with them, they all play good. When American guys play good, they play really good, and these guys do. In fact, I’ve dubbed the band The Maestros because they are all maestros to a man.

Buzz Knight:

I love that. So Glen, tell me what an average day that is joyful is like for you?

Glen Matlock:

Joyful. Having enough sleep in the mornings. I’ve been really busy. I’ve just come off a tour when I’ve been all around the UK just doing some solo shows, which is what I’m doing tonight. It revolves around having enough coffee basically, sitting outside my local coffee bar, watching the world go by. But I’m quite chuffed at where I live and I’ve lived for many a years, but it’s like a Stella Street. There’s a TV program called, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. There’s a really funny program called Stella Street, where the premise of the program is that Keith Richard and Mick Jagger run the corner shop. Then there’s people like… Who’s the guy in Alfie? Michael Kane’s in it. Then Al Pacino’s supposed to be there.

They’re all impressionists and they all live in the street like they’re neighbors rubbing shoulders. But where I live, I always see Paul Weller and Lulu and Chrissie Hynde, and we all just bump into each other all the time. So, it’s quite fun really. “Where are you gigging?” “Oh, well I’m here. I’ve just come back from America. Where are you gigging?” “I’m going up to Paris tomorrow,” and all that. So it’s a good way of catching up. So I’m quite happy being there. So yeah, if I have enough time to do that, I’m happy.

Buzz Knight:

That’s a great description of joy, just running on to all those tremendous folks. My God, I love it.

Glen Matlock:

Yeah. Then normally we talk about each other behind… I was doing something about the best thing I’ve ever did, I played with a version of the Faces. Rod Stewart never did it, but Ronnie Wood and Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan did it. We was rehearsing and I went out to dinner with Ronnie and Ian McLagan, the keyboard player, and I got up and he said, “Where are you going?” I said, “Well, I’m going to the loo.” He said, “You don’t want to leave.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “Well, we’ll only talk about you behind your back.” That’s what happened.

Buzz Knight:

Now, when everybody gets together just for a cup of coffee at the shop. you guys talk current events and everything don’t you?

Glen Matlock:

A little bit. But if I see [inaudible 00:10:42] it’s normally, “Where’d you get those jeans from?” “Well, I’ve got this place down in Chiltern Street now. They sell Levi Sta-Prest.” “They’re really hard to get. Can you get them in Air Force blue?” “Yeah, I think we got some. You should come down and check out.” It’s pretty mundane really. But we don’t talk shop too much. You have enough of that the rest of the time. Yes, there are lots of current events going on at the moment and we’re living in pretty straightened times. I dare not turn on the news half the time. It’s just too depressing, really.

Buzz Knight:

I hear you.

Speaker 1:

We’ll be right back with more of the Takin’ A Walk podcast.

Welcome back to the Takin’ A Walk podcast.

Buzz Knight:

So tell me how you first became a musician.

Glen Matlock:

Well, from a very young age I always wanted to be. I’ve said this quite a few times, but when I was about 10, I used to listen to the pirate radio stations over here where bands like The Kinks and The Who and The Yardbirds and The Stones came through. Then we had the best TV show ever called Ready Steady Go! where those bands would play live on. There was a woman singing on it called Dusty Springfield and she discovered Tamla Motown and then they would have Smokey Robinson on and Dion Warwick and The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas all playing live. That’s what got me going.

But there was another band that was on there a lot called The Small Faces, which metamorphosed into the Faces and I just dug them. They were all young kids, mogs as we call them over there, played great. Steve Marriott was a great singer. It just got me going, really. That’s when I got a guitar for Christmas and started having a go at learning it. I wasn’t very good back then, but if you stick with something long enough, just by a process of osmosis, you pick things up.

Buzz Knight:

So, first record album you ever bought and first concert you ever went to, what was it?

Glen Matlock:

Well, the first record album, maybe not album, but I’ve got two, I can’t remember what I bought first. Singles, I didn’t have enough money for albums. But I got You Really Got Me by the Kinks. In fact I can see it over the other side of the room is The Twist and Shout EP by the Beatles. Got that. What was the first album I bought? I think the first album I got was Sgt Pepper for Christmas. I dug it out the other day. I rarely play it, but it’s still got the cardboard thing in it with the medal that you can cut out and badges you’re supposed to pin on and the cardboard mustache. But I never cut it out because I thought it would probably look a bit stupid on a 10-year-old kid. So, it’s still pristine.

The first gig I ever went to see, I got some really cheap tickets from the girl I was going out with when I was at school and we went to see a band at the Royal Albert Hall called Pentangle and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them, they’re like folk-

Buzz Knight:

Yes.

Glen Matlock:

… rock. We went because there was a TV show called Take Three Girls and they’d done the theme music for it. But I was really pleased I went to that. It was Dave Maddox and John Renbourn and Jacqui McShee and Danny Thompson on bass. So, I saw those guys in their prime. I was quite pleased about that.

But then I started getting into more hard rock stuff. I was a big fan of a band called The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. I don’t think they did a lot in America, but they were like a proto punk band. The Faces I went to see a good few times. In fact I saw them at Wembley when they were supported by the New York Dolls, which was the very original band where Billy Murcia was still playing drums not long before he died. So I’ve been there at some of the right moments in musical history. I was a bit annoyed I could have possibly gone to see The Stones in Hyde Park with Mick Taylor, but I had a job on a Saturday and I had to deliver Mrs. Ground’s groceries. I couldn’t go. But I skived off a month or so later to go and see Humble Pie Support and Grand Funk Railroad. That was good.

Buzz Knight:

So, would there be a particular musician or artist that you really dig that would surprise our listeners of the podcast about Glen Matlock?

Glen Matlock:

I don’t know if it will surprise them too much, and it’s not been any secret, but I was always a big fan of Ronnie Lane. That’s why I got a bass. He was the bass player in The Small Faces and then the bass player in The Faces. That’s why I’m so chuffed to get to play with The Faces, because I could play all his bass parts. In fact, Ian McLagan said, “Look, Glen, looks like you’ve got the gig. Are you sure you’re up for this?” I said, “Mac,” and that’s his nickname. I said, “I can play these songs backwards.” He went, “Oh, great.” I said, “It’s just forwards I struggle with.” He laughed and it sealed the gig. But I like Ronnie Lane because he had a real tender side as well. He had a great band after The Faces called Slim Chants and it is very heartfelt songs.

In fact, I was talking to Kenny Jones, The Faces drummer, and I said, “What happened with Ronnie Lane? Why did he leave?” He said, “Think about it Glen.” He said, “He wrote all these fantastic songs and every night he was going on stage with one of the best rock soul singers ever, Rod Stewart, he’d never have a chance to sing any of his songs live. So, no wonder he blinking left.” So yeah, that makes some sense. But I like all kinds of music. I’ve got very eclectic taste. I like Anthony Newley, I like big show tunes. I like Jacques Brel, I like bebop jazz, big fan of Mose Allison. Who else? I like krautrock, like Can and Kraftwerk and stuff like that. I think the only ask in music is how well executed it is and how much heart goes into it. It doesn’t really matter about the idiom too much.

Buzz Knight:

You mentioned Mose Allison, what was that song, he said your mind is going crazy and your mouth is working overtime. Do I have that one right?

Glen Matlock:

Your mind is on vacation but your mouth is working overtime. Yeah, he did that one. [inaudible 00:17:32]. What’s the other one? I’m Not Talking, that The Yardbirds covered. “I’m not talking. Don’t ask me what I got to say. If I said things are splendid, someone would be offended. If I said things were awful, it might just be unlawful. I ain’t talking it just don’t pay.” Yeah, cool. I actually saw him play at some jazz place maybe about 15 years ago. That was cool.

Buzz Knight:

That’s awesome.

Glen Matlock:

I’ve always thought this, I always thought my generation sounded a bit Mose Allison-ish. I did see some interview where Pete Townsend owns up to that, because they did Young Man Blues, which is one of his songs. But the whole groove of my generation, it’s almost like a Polka, which is like a two beat and let’s cover Mose Allison groove. I’m also a big fan of a guy called Georgie Fame. He totally ripped off Mose Allison with his voice. He did that song, Yeh Yeh. “Oh pretty baby, [inaudible 00:18:39].”

Buzz Knight:

He played with Van, right? Van Morrison.

Glen Matlock:

Yeah. All those people, they’re all mates with each other. I like that. People accuse me sometimes of playing with too many different people, but all the people I like, they’d always crop up on different albums and things. I think it’s good. The whole family Motown thing, everybody played on everybody else’s record. That’s cool.

Buzz Knight:

When you’re in a studio, can you describe what your creative process is like?

Glen Matlock:

Well, normally I have the way the song goes, set of chords and a tune and he’s hopefully decided on the key before you get there. We just throw it around with the guys. There might be an important riff, as long as the lead guitarist plays the important riff, he can come up with what he likes. In fact, Earl Slick was in the studio with me, he said, “I don’t know what solos to do on this one.” I said, “Earl, I suggest you do a good one because it’s going to have your name on a record. If it’s a bad one, people are going to think you are the nitwit and not me.” Except I used slightly stronger words and he went, “Okay, I get it Matlock.”

Buzz Knight:

I love it.

Glen Matlock:

Really have a laugh. Nick Lowe, you’ve probably heard of, produced all the Elvis Costello stuff and all that. But he is adage for a record production is slap it down and tart it up. That’s quite a good maxim I think, really.

Buzz Knight:

I love it. So what in your opinion is the current state of the music business?

Glen Matlock:

Oh, I don’t know. More I know about the music business the less I know. It just keeps changing. I hate all the auto-tuned five or six songwriters on a song and it all sounds the same. I think it’s become a bit soulless, but there’s always people having a go at doing things. But it’s always been like that. It’s just the way the world goes. It just becomes more and more corporate all the time.

I played at Glastonbury with Blondie on the main stage this summer. We were second on the bill. Elton John was top of the bill. I thought I’d go and watch Elton John from the side of the stage. They wouldn’t let me on the stage because I didn’t have the right pass. It’s ridiculous. Then my son came and he couldn’t get in because I’d given him a pass, but it wasn’t the right pass to get in the catering bit. So I snuck out the back way, went round. Even though I was about to play, the security bloke said I haven’t got the right pass. I said, “Well, I’ve just come out of there.” “No.” It’s crazy. It’s supposed to be the free spirited festival and it is like you might as well be trying to clock in at work at IBM.

Buzz Knight:

Well, in closing, what advice would you give to musicians that are starting up who are listening to this podcast?

Glen Matlock:

Go for it really, and take the rough with the smooth. I think if you get distracted by a day job or something like that, you have to suffer for your art a little bit and take it on the chimp if it don’t work. But a bit of perseverance, using your noodle, using your head, and don’t keep making the same mistakes twice is good. If something’s not working, you’re not going to get a different result by doing the same thing.

But I’ve been fortunate. It’s a bit up and down, but I do know that I’ll probably get a phone call once in a blue moon to come and do something. The whole Blondie thing came out of nowhere. I know everybody’s not in that position, but I think the thing is you’ve got to be cool with the right people. There’s loads of people who think they’re getting big and they start getting arsy with people. You never know when you’re going to slide down the greasy pole. So be good to people on the way up because you never know when you’ll be coming back down again. But no, just be reasonable.

Buzz Knight:

Good advice. Well, Glen Matlock, congratulations on the latest album, Consequences Coming. Have fun on the West Coast swing there in January. San Diego starting on the 19th and right through up until the 24th in San Francisco. So Glen Matlock, thank you so much and honored to talk to you.

Glen Matlock:

Thanks for having us.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Takin’ A Walk podcast. Share this and other episodes with your friends and follow us so you never miss an episode. Takin’ A Walk is available on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.

 

About The Author

Buzz Knight

Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.

After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.