It’s an unavoidable fact that any reference to Glen Matlock usually has the words “legend,” “icon” or “pioneer” attached to it. And while the original Sex Pistol doesn’t shy away from his past as a punk luminary, he isn’t living in it, either.
“I say, ‘F**k that, listen to the new record,’” said Matlock. “That’s what I’m more interested in. The past is the past. It was so long ago I can barely remember it, apart from the fact that people ask you about it. I don’t even think about it. I don’t get up in the morning thinking, ‘Oh, you used to be in the Sex Pistols.’ It’s not like that. I’m more interested in writing a new song. That’s what I find interesting is the sense of achievement somehow and how can I get from A to B. It’s a battle. I think basically my quest is to get people to think about what I’m doing now so I don’t have to live in the past all the time.”
The past isn’t so bad for the 62-year-old Londoner, but unlike many of his peers, the present and future are just as bright. At the moment, Matlock is about to start a three-gig tour in the U.S. with a stop at Joe’s Pub in New York City on Tuesday, June 11. And if all goes well, Matlock, who is supporting his 2018 album Good To Go, hopes to return Stateside in September following a July visit to Japan.
“I’m a busy boy — it’s fitting it all in,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to coming. The last time I was in the States was about a year and a half ago. We did two or three shows in New York and then we went over to the West Coast and played. It was the 40th anniversary of the Heartbreakers’ L.A.M.F. album. We all shared the singing and I enjoyed it.”
It’s the life of a working musician, a vocation not many can claim to have in a music business a lot different than it was in Matlock’s formative years. Given that reality, Matlock doesn’t blame bands and artists for not being as active as they used to be.
“I don’t think it’s the bands’ fault; it’s just the way it is,” he said. “A lot of clubs now, instead of having real bands on, it’s cover bands. It’s tough out there and the scene in England, you’ve never really been able to make a living from just gigging like you used to be being a bar band in the States. Maybe it’s changed over there, and that’s why you have to tour different countries to play. That’s a good thing and it’s good for your loyalty status on whatever airline you fly with and you get to see the world, but you have to be all over the place and you have to have a bit of a name to be invited to different places. So it’s hard for those bands. I’m sure they’d gig more if they could.”
Thankfully, Matlock has that name from his time in the Sex Pistols, but instead of living off that name, he instead parlayed it into an impressive career as a solo artist as well as with Rich Kids and The Faces and as a member of Iggy Pop’s band. And with Good To Go, Matlock’s songwriting chops are as strong as ever, but more importantly, there’s an energy to the record that is great to listen to after all these years.
“I had what I thought was a good bunch of songs, and through my friendships and mutual admiration, I found myself in the studio with Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats, who’s pretty good and a bit younger than me. I’m in the studio with Earl Slick, who’s fantastic and me and him have got this great relationship — I’m Jack Lemmon, he’s Walter Matthau and that’s quite funny in itself. And he suggested that we use the engineer that he really likes, Mario McNulty, who he worked with on Bowie’s last album. And I got my mate to play bass on it, Jim Lowe, who produces a band that have been very successful, the Stereophonics. All high-caliber people in a nice studio. Why on Earth would you not be excited? And that’s what happened really. I got a chance to make a record again. And I’m kind of proud and pleased that I’ve still got a bit of spirit and the people I get to work with still have that spirit in their attitude and the way they play. It’s exciting. It don’t mean we’re Top of the Pops everywhere, but I think we should be and I think records like this should get a bit more of the time of day, but it’s not like that and you just keep battling. That’s the last song on the album, ‘Keep on Pushing,’ and that’s what you’ve got to do, really.”
Matlock should not be this well-adjusted and humble at this point in his career. It’s appreciated, but most with his resume might be a little bit, let’s say, high on themselves. But according to Matlock, there’s no secret. And to illustrate the point, he refers back to his time in The Faces, when he got to be a fan again.
“One of the biggest things I ever did was play with my all-time favorite band,” he said. “We didn’t do that many shows, but I got to play in The Faces. I used to stand in front of the mirror pretending I was playing lead guitar along to ‘Stay with Me,’ and I actually played with them. And you meet those guys and you meet somebody like Ronnie Wood, who’s become a bit of a friend and he’s actually a neighbor, and he’s one of the most easygoing, enthusiastic, helpful, considerate people I’ve ever met. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but people like that who are sure of themselves, they’re the ones who are all right. It’s the people who have attitudes who struggle, and they’re the ones who are really assholes, and I just don’t want to be like that.”
It also helps being able to still have moments like those to remind him just why he gravitated to music in the first place. And he’s not the only one appreciating those moments.
“When I was playing with The Faces, two of the guys in the band — Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones — it occurred to everybody that they hadn’t played any Small Faces songs live since 1968,” Matlock said. “So we learned two songs — ‘All or Nothing,’ which is easy to learn, and ‘Tin Soldier,’ which is quite complicated, and we didn’t have much rehearsal for them. But we played them and we pulled them off. And as we’re walking off stage, Ronnie Wood turned to me and said, “Glen, how ‘bout that? Me and you, we played two Small Faces songs and got them right with two of the original Small Faces.’ He was so excited. And that’s Ronnie Wood. I want to be like that. I don’t want to be like some cocky, miserable c**t.”
Sounds like this working musician gig isn’t bad at all.
“They’re the moments that make life kind of sweet, really,” he said. “Keep ’em coming. It doesn’t happen every day of the week. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get to that moment, but it’s well worth it in the end.”
Glen Matlock plays Joe’s Pub in NYC on Tuesday, June 11. For more information, click here
For more information on Glen Matlock, click here