Interview with Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols
By Ronnie

It's hard to live in the shadow of a so-called legend. Especially if that "legend" was as incompetent as Sid Vicious was to the Sex Pistols. Hell, Sid couldn't even play his own bass. And, Sid didn't write ANY of the band's best songs. But, original Sex Pistols bassist, Glen Matlock did both. Unfortunately, the Pistols management decided to go the route of image over substance and you can see the result once Sid joined the band.

I interviewed Glen via trans-Atlantic phone (since EAR CANDY has NO budget, Glen graciously called US!) and we discussed the past, present and future of punk and if his perspective had changed. And Glen addressed those recent rumours...

E.C.: In your 1990 book, "I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol" you said that the Sex Pistols was your "albatross". Do you still feel that way today?

Glen: No, it’s a double-edged sword, really. Its good to be famous for something, I suppose (laughs)… for something 25 years ago. Yeah…it is a bit of an albatross because people expect just one kind of thing from you, when you’ve got lots of kinds of music in you. I think that held for everybody in the band really. While we all think it was great at the time and we’re proud of the music we did, we’d like to move on really. Because the whole things with ‘bands’ is chemistry, all the people being right, the way you play together regardless of whether we get on or not. The original Pistols had that. It’s a drag that when your writing a certain way that you haven’t got the same people playing on it – but, it can’t always work out that way, you know?

E.C.: How did the FILTHY LUCRE tour come about?

Glen: I was in the states with a friend of mine and I hadn’t spoken to Steve Jones for like 15 years at that stage. And I thought, ‘we’ll, I’ll check him out”. So, I called him up and he said, “yeah, lets get together and let’s go and see John”. I hadn’t seen John for years and I thought we’d end up having a fight, but we didn’t in the end. It was kind of just…I was the missing link in getting the band together again. And Steve said, “well lets call up Paul”. Everybody was keen for doing something, but well at that stage we didn’t know.

E.C.: Did you enjoy the tour, or did it ring hollow?

Glen: Most bands, if they have any degree of success, the gig for twenty years and sort of knock the stuff about on the tour…and everybody gets fed up. But, we’d never done that…we hadn’t played those songs for twenty years. We came back and I thought they were pretty fresh, you know?

Right: The Sex Pistols in the '70s

E.C.: Well, the Sex Pistols never got to do a full-blown tour?

Glen: We’d never done a full-blown tour, never had a decent P.A., never played in front of A LOT of people…so, for all those reasons, it was GOOD. Its never gonna be the same…but we finally had a chance to play the MUSIC as opposed to all the rest that went with it. So, yes, I enjoyed it for that. And its always pretty good flying around the world first class (laughs).

E.C.: I find it ironic that the Sex Pistols were considered so dangerous in the '70s, yet they never cursed on their actual records. Today, you have bands that TRY to get that warning label on their record to get the attention. Do you think it was just the "attitude" of the Sex Pistols that people considered so dangerous?

Glen: There was a lot of stuff going down in England at the time. We didn’t set out to be deliberately outrageous; we were just pretty forthright. These days…it’s just outrage for outrage. Just before the Pistols, or just after, there was the band the Plasmatics came out, blowing everything up on stage and chainsaws. But they didn’t have anything to say – that was what was hollow. We were totally different from that. People don’t talk about you twenty fives years on if you hadn’t done something right the first time around.

E.C.: What do you think of all these so-called "punk" bands today? The one's that spike their hair and wear Sex Pistols & Dead Kennedy’s t-shirts?

Glen: Well, when the Sex Pistols were going off, we had this thing called the ‘teddy boys’, which were people dressed up like they were in the ‘50s. Did you have ‘teddy boys’ in the States?

E.C.: We had greasers…

Glen: Teddy boys are a bit different from greasers. Greasers are kinda like ‘bikers’ in leather jackets and stuff. In the ‘70s, it was kinda like looking back…and I see the punks of today doing that sort of stuff. But, you know, everything goes around in cycles.

E.C.: What did you think of "The Filth and the Fury" film?

Glen: Ummm…not a lot. It’s supposed to be the true story of the Sex Pistols and its not. It’s Johnny Rotten’s story of the Sex Pistols. It’s not the definitive documentary as far as I’m concerned.

E.C.: I mean, it is infinitely better than Malcolmn's "Rock & Roll Swindle" film!

Glen: Oh, it was a bit better, yeah. But Malcolmn’s was funnier…

E.C.: I recently talked to Mike Peters and was made aware of the Dead Men Walking project of yours. How did that come about and will we ever see any records resulting?

Glen: We’ve actually got a live album out called WEMBLEY TV. We’ve been sort selling that through our web site and gigs. We’re talking about doing a studio album. Basically, we’ve been mates for years and it was quite a casual kind of thing.

E.C.: Will Dead Men Walking ever tour the States?

Glen: Well, if someone makes us a nice sort of offer, we’d be on that airplane!

Right: The re-formed Sex Pistols in 1996

E.C.: I saw Mike Peter’s show in Atlanta recently…

Glen: Was it the band or was it just him?

E.C.: It was billed “the Alarm” although he’s the only original member.

Glen: Well, he was the lead singer and he can do that, you see? I couldn’t really go out as ‘the Sex Pistols’ now could I (laughs)?

E.C.: In your opinion, what is the song that you have written that you are most proud of?

Glen: ‘Pretty Vacant’s not bad…there’s a song called, “Ambition”…and there’s some good stuff on my last album.

E.C.: Listening to your recent work with the Philistines, I hear a lot of pre-punk influences, such as Faces-type rock 'n roll. Are you still influenced by that type of music?

Glen: Yeah, it was what I was listening to when I started out. When I was a young lad, they had this thing called pirate radio in England - cause national radio was such crap at the time. All these stations on boats offshore, just outside the government’s jurisdiction. It was all bands like the Kinks, the Who, the Small Faces, the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones. We were kind of beginning to think about picking up the guitar and what kind of trousers to wear and your hair and “My Generation” and “You Really Got Me”. As I got older, one of my favorite bands was the Faces. That was the common ground between me, Steve and Paul. They were into the Faces and so was I.

E.C.: When will there be a new album by the Philistines?

Glen: In 2002, I’m starting to work on it now.

E.C.: Will we ever see a tour of Glen Matlock & the Philistines in the States?

Glen: Again, that kind of something I’m working on.

E.C.: If you had a crystal ball, what would you see in the musical future of Glen Matlock?

Glen: (Deadpans) More Money…

E.C.: Recently there have been rumours which read, “Twenty-five years after making their mark as the official scourge of royalty, the legendary British punk band the Sex Pistols may regroup to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee, a tour promoter said…” What can you tell me?

Glen: There's a good James Bond film title - ' Never Say Never Again'...But whoever really knows what goes through Johnny Rotten's mind?

Click here to visit the Glen Matlock web site
Click here to visit the Dead Men Walking web site