Interview/review: Glen Matlock, Foremans
You’re playing the 45 capacity Foremans bar, and nine years ago you played my local (the now sadly defunct Town Mill in Mansfield.) What is it about small venues that you like?
Well, you have more fun – but you get paid more at big ones, so its pro rata. I prefer the small ones for acoustic gigs like this one, its more interrelated. I find that doing smaller venues can be scarier, more nerve wracking – but that’s a reason to DO them, not to NOT do them.
After all that tight management and hierarchy of the Sex Pistols, what was it like being in control with the Rich Kids?
Well, it was a breath of relief! I didn’t want total control, I was just happy I’d managed to find people who were on the same page as me – it’s a thin line, people almost have too much control sometimes nowadays, when they go off and make these videos and upload them. It’s a thin line to tread.
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Situationism was obviously becoming a part of music and pop culture in 1976, but did this really impact on the bands themselves, or was it just management?
If you asked any of the Sex Pistols about Situationism we wouldn’t have a clue. We did what we did and (Malcolm) McLaren tried to pitch things a certain way. Even he couldn’t have been a proper Situationist as he was too young, he was just aware of it. When we were in Paris he took us for a walk down the South Bank where all the French intellectuals used to be; we were so naïve that when we saw the Situationist slogans on the wall we said “oh look, there are our lyrics!” Perhaps I should actually read up a bit more on this Situationism… (laughs)
Do you think the Pistols were responsible for the wider interest in Situationism that then appeared?
Why, was there a wider interest?
I would say so. I have met a lot of people who know about it not through education, but through punk…
Oh, well in that case, my answer is yes…(laughing) yes, we did, is that the right answer to give? No, but seriously there’s people like Jon Savage responsible for that…I remember reading “England's Dreaming”, thinking it was good but a bit English O-Level, he barely mentions the Pistols for three chapters because he’s talking about Situationism, and I said this when I reviewed it for The Word… or was it Mojo? Anyway, everyone started saying I’d given it a glowing review, turns out they hadn’t printed the whole thing, cut it short because there wasn’t enough room.
Anyway, enough banging on about your past, what’s coming up this year for you?
I’m quite busy! I’ve got twenty dates in the USA, the International Swingers have been in the studio writing and recording. I’ve started doing a lot more writing and recording again. I like to do a bit of this, a bit of that… I’ve written a lot of songs that haven’t necessarily had an airing. It's all part of life's rich pattern.
The rich pattern of songs that have coloured Matlock’s life and career certainly get a full airing at tonight’s gig. Unsurprisingly packed to capacity, Foremans has a distinctly starstruck feel to it. It's undeniable that Matlock’s icon status is linked to the Sex Pistols – what should be a less-than-a-minute walk from the restaurant where our interview took place to the venue, across the road, sees him repeatedly stopped by fans brandishing Pistols memorabilia for him to sign – but this is perhaps doing the broad range of his talents something of a disservice. He promises that tonight's set will bring “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blues,” and that he certainly delivers. The blues style that he is adopted for much of his solo material is timeless stuff, showing respect to the original form. Respect is something that colours Matlock’s nods to his musical loves; the covers of bri1liant songs such as the Small Faces “All or Nothing” and the Kinks' “Dead End Street” are communicated with all the love and vigour of someone who clearly still acknowledges why they became a musician in the first place. But of course, we are all really here to hear him perform his own creations. As an avid power-popper and thus huge Rich Kids fan it's an utter thrill for me to hear him perform “Ghosts of Princes in Towers” practically to my face, whilst the crowd absolutely revels in an almost primitive “no fuuuutuuuuuure,” like some sort of nihilistic East Midlands choir.
Closing with “Pretty Vacant,” (which he wryly describes as “one he made earlier,”) Matlock has done a great job of giving the crowd exactly what they want, whilst proving his virtuosity and variation as a musician. Some unfortunate frequent breakages with guitar strings occur with what must be frustrating regularity for him, but Matlock sails through to deliver a flawless set. He may have told me that small venues make him feel more nervous, but I have to say, Glen, it doesn’t show at all. Another great night.