Glen Matlock, founder member of The Sex Pistols and Rich Kids chats with Kevin Cooper about his acquaintance with Midge Ure, being in The Sex Pistols, his love for bespoke suits and the Rich Kids forthcoming one off gig at the O2 Islington Academy.
Glen Matlock is an English musician best known for being the bass guitarist in the original line-up of the punk rock band The Sex Pistols. He is credited as a co-author on ten of the twelve songs on Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, although he had left the band by the time the album was released.
Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious, and he went on to form Rich Kids; a new wave power pop band, with himself as bass guitarist, singer Midge Ure (guitarist, singer and keyboard player), Steve New (guitarist and singer) and Rusty Egan (drummer).
In January 2010, Matlock reformed the Rich Kids for a one-off benefit concert in aid of Steve New. He was joined on stage by original members Rusty Egan and Midge Ure, as well as Mick Jones of The Clash and Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet. New died of cancer on 24 May 2010.
In late 2011, Matlock joined Clem Burke, James Stevenson and Gary Twinn as part of a group known as The International Swingers. The band, based in Los Angeles, toured Australia and also the US West Coast on numerous occasions
On February 2016, it was announced that Rich Kids will reform for a joint headline show with The Professionals at the O2 Islington Academy on 23rd June.
Whilst preparing for the show, he took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Glen good afternoon how are you today?
Hi Kevin I’m good thanks mate, you just fire away (laughter).
Firstly let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
And just how is life treating Glen Matlock today?
Things are not so bad to be honest. I have recently got back from doing a show in Estonia; I have been gigging in Italy and I am also producing a Japanese band. Plus I will be touring Australia and America later this year so it’s great to get a little time off to be honest with you.
So as usual you are keeping yourself fairly busy?
If I am being honest with you, there are not enough hours in the fucking day (laughter). Hang on a minute, we’ve met before haven’t we?
Yes that’s right, we have. We first met a few years ago backstage at Butlins in Minehead.
Fucking hell you weren’t a blue coat were you (laughter).
You cheeky twat (laughter). No I was doing some backstage PR for The Blockheads.
The Blockheads, well let me tell you they are a right bunch of cheeky cunts.
Really, tell me more.
At the end of my gig I finished with the old Faces number All Or Nothing, and I could hear all of these voices singing backing vocals. I looked round and there were The Blockheads on stage behind me singing away. I was quite chuffed about that as I hadn’t asked them, they had just got up there. I thought that they were fucking cheeky to be honest (laughter).
On Thursday 23rd June you and Midge (Ure) are getting Rich Kids back together to play at the O2 Islington Academy along with The Professionals. Are you looking forward to the gig?
Yes Kevin, very much so. The only thing is that we have got to rehearse now in order to be able to revisit all of those songs. Doing gigs is fine but the rehearsing is a right pain in the arse. I suppose that it’s a bit like being a footballer, and all of the training that they have to do (laughter). Having said that if you don’t rehearse then you come unstuck.
For you will it be a time for celebration or reflection?
Whilst I don’t want to be maudlin about it in any way, we will play our songs and rock out as much as we possibly can. It is a great chance for all of us to revisit those songs. Whenever I am playing around the world I always put a couple of Rich Kids numbers into my set list simply because I am proud of them as they are very good. They always go down just as well as Pretty Vacant, God Save The Queen or the new songs that I am playing now.
All of us who will be playing that night have strived to be working musicians and that is what we do. These days you have to do that in all different shapes and forms but that doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in what it is that you are doing. I think that when you get up on stage everybody gives their all. If you don’t then people can tell that you are fake and were not, so on 19th May we will be the Rich Kids.
Will it definitely be a one-off or will we see a tour?
Well it’s a one-off at the moment and other than that we don’t know yet; we are just going to see what happens. We will see how it goes. But to be honest how I feel at the moment it will most probably be a one-off. It’s a funny old time for bands; everybody I know who has ever done anything of consequence, is trying to tread a new path playing newer stuff but people just seem to be interested in the brand name.
How did the gig come about?
I bumped into Midge just before Christmas and he leaned over to me and asked me who we could get to replace Steve (New) who sadly passed away several years ago now. I was shocked when he said that because I didn’t really think that Midge was particularly interested in doing a reunion type of thing. Perhaps he wasn’t but I took it that he was. Round about the same time I went off and saw my old mate from our Sex Pistols days, Paul Cook’s band The Professionals who were playing at The 100 Club in London and I really enjoyed them. Unfortunately Steve Jones isn’t playing with them anymore but still, I really did enjoy seeing them playing live.
At that moment I thought why don’t we put the two bands together and play a double-header, so I suggested it to everybody and there you go. And that is basically the reason behind why we are doing it.
Are you proud of your musical heritage?
Yes very much so, I am proud of The Sex Pistols and I am proud of Rich Kids. I think that Rich Kids were perhaps a little ahead of their time and didn’t get the recognition that I personally feel that they deserved. So there you go (laughter).
So am I to take it that you and Midge are good mates?
I think that we are good acquaintances as opposed to good mates. Midge has lived his life and I have lived mine. Whenever a band breaks up it is always everybody else’s fault; it is never your own. There are always four or five sides to every argument depending upon which member of the band you actually get to speak to. However as you get older you finally see things differently. I personally had a lot of baggage after all of the things that were said about me leaving The Sex Pistols which probably didn’t help, plus I was drinking a hell of a lot back then, but let me tell you I don’t now. We are all now a little more grown-up and appreciate other people’s qualities. I always thought that Midge was a fantastic singer, so much so that he makes me sick (laughter).
How will you replace Steve New?
When we played the reunion show back in January 2010 at The O2 Academy in Islington, Steve (New) played even though at that time he was very ill which was very brave of him. He was in a lot of pain when he played and he died a few months later on 24th May 2010. It was a great night and lots of people came out of the woodwork to support us and to support Steve. He was in a hell of a lot of pain when he did the gig but he still did it. It would be a shame to just do that the once which is another part of the reason for the forthcoming show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Sadly Steve is not going to be there and we still haven’t got our heads around just how we are going to replace him if at all. But saying that, there is enough experience and quality between us all to make it work.
Do you ever look back and regret Rich Kids splitting up when they did?
No not at all. I try not to dwell on the past. When Rich Kids split Midge went off to play with Thin Lizzy and I went to play with Iggy Pop (laughter). I never actually got to see Midge playing back then with Thin Lizzy because we were on opposite sides of the Atlantic at the same time. If I am being honest with you then I have to say that, in my opinion, Midge is a great guitarist. About eighteen months ago Midge was playing at a festival which I too was playing at and I managed to catch some of his set. He played Fleetwood Mac’s Man Of The World and it was fantastic. I think that Midge is great; he’s really cool. He has had his fair share of problems to deal with in his life which all add up and give him something to bring to the table.
With Rich Kids I just tried to do something a bit more that was to do with music, which is why I joined the band in the first place, rather than trying to be the latest anarchist in town which has its merits as well but I actually do like pop music that has got some bollocks.
It is the 40th Anniversary of the birth of Punk Rock here in the UK. Do you think that it achieved what it set out to achieve?
Oh man what a question to ask me, I don’t bleeding know. On top of that I didn’t really see Rich Kids as a punk band. In fact I never really saw The Sex Pistols as a punk band. Rich Kids certainly weren’t a punk band. I always thought of Rich Kids as being one of the first New Wave bands and it wasn’t even forty years ago so don’t ask me that one matey (laughter). I do remember playing with Rich Kids in Barbarella’s in Birmingham and half of Duran Duran were in the front row. So I personally think that Rich Kids were quite influential in some ways. When we played the Steve New benefit gig Gary Kemp got on stage and played with us which was really good. He didn’t have to but it was good of him and it helped to bring a few more people through the doors. Gary is more of a mate of Midges’ although I do know him.
In my opinion the three major explosions in modern music have been Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Sex Pistols and then since then nothing. Would you agree with that?
Oh I don’t know about that, try telling that to someone who loves Nirvana. Try telling that to the people who like N.W.A. or Eminem or the whole Acid House Generation. It all depends upon where you come from and where you are at.
So just what is going to be the next big thing?
I keep being told about Grime but to be honest, I don’t know. If you are in a band then the next big thing is the kiss of death because people are fickle. As soon as they have seen the next big thing then they move onto the next big thing after that. Rich Kids were touted as being the next big thing but it didn’t give us time to breathe or move. It’s great to have your boat race (face) in the papers but if it is on that kind of ticket then it’s not such a good thing.
Just how far do you think that The Sex Pistols could have gone?
I think that when I was in the band originally, we were akin to the early Who; the Pistols were a band designed for the kids of the day. When I fell out with them and they bought in Sid (Vicious) together with the orchestrated shambles on the Bill Grundy Show, the band became Malcolm McLaren’s puppets which I didn’t like at all. To me it had all stopped being real but then again I was nineteen going on twenty and I simply couldn’t see the wood for the trees. If all of that hadn’t happened then I don’t think that you would be asking me this question now. I certainly don’t think that we would have ended up doing our rock opera although I did have a good idea for one. It was called Sidney’s (laughter). The Sex Pistols were very much of the time and it was what it was. Anyway, there you go.
Times were not always good once you left The Sex Pistols were they?
Let me just say that that is an absolutely fucking understatement. I found myself living in a squat with the tax people after me who thought that I was part of that Pistols multi-millionaire of the year thing. So it really was ironic for me.
I have heard that you don’t mind splashing the cash on a good bespoke suit. Is that right?
That’s right I do like a good well-made whistle. The good thing about wearing a suit is that you don’t have to worry about matching anything. If they match they match, if they don’t well (laughter). It’s an easy choice for me. Plus a good suit will cobber up a dirty neck (laughter).
Who would you say has musically influenced you?
This is the one thing that me and Midge appear to have in common although he is a bit older than me. We were both bought up on the whole pirate radio thing from the early to the mid-sixties. I would listen to bands such as The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds and The Rolling Stones. A massive influence upon me has to be The Small Faces. One of the greatest pleasures in my life was getting to play with half of The Small Faces and then The Faces in more recent years. That really was a big buzz. I was into The Small Faces firstly because they always looked cool; they knew that they were great and secondly they socked it to The Merseybeat Sound which I think had something to do with me being a Londoner. However the absolute Governor has to be David Bowie. I would always be playing his Heroes and Low albums.
If you had to pick just one moment, what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
There have been a few things, playing with Iggy Pop was a highlight. Performing with Iggy at The Palladium in New York for the very first time was a highlight. It was Halloween and The Cramps supported us. Everyone in the audience was dressed in Halloween garb and Debbie Harry was backstage dressed as a witch and she gave me a peck on the cheek so that was pretty cool (laughter). Playing Finsbury Park back in 1996 with The Sex Pistols especially when you consider that they hadn’t had a record out for twenty years or done any shows. That was pretty good. Looking back I have done some quite cool things really.
Is there anything left for you to achieve?
Yes, I have always got a song on the go and whilst I love the old songs I also have to concentrate on the new ones too. I feel that I am on a quest to show people that I don’t really live in the past all of the time although it is good sometimes to have a foot in the past but not both feet.
If you had your time again would you do everything the same or would you make any changes?
I would do the same things but I would have a better lawyer, and you can read into that whatever you like Kevin.
Is the glass half empty or half full?
Most definitely half full.
What was the last song that made you cry?
On that note Glen let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me and good luck for the show.
Ok thanks Kevin. If you get the time do come over and say hello.