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GLASTO WARM UP: Ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock

19 June 2004

Virtual Festivals catches up with former Pistol Glen Matlock before his set to talk about old punk, new punk, and why he prefers playing in front of 20,000 rather than 20


What brings you down here tonight?
I got involved in the whole Left Field Stage set up through my mates, Mike Peters, from the Alarm, and Mick Jones. Weíll all be playing on the Friday night at Glastonbury and the idea is that Mike will do a bit, then me, and then weíll do a bit together.

Youíre currently in two bands, Dead Men Walking and The Philistines, as well as doing your own solo appearances. Why the huge work load?
I just love playing. I really donít see myself as a proper, serious musician, rather just a songwriter and performer. Iím really into these acoustic gigs because they really put hairs on your chest. I get more nervous doing small intimate appearances, like this, than playing in front of 20,000 people, where youíve got the noise and equipment to hide behind. Doing an acoustic set is one down from being a comedian. But the great thing is I donít have to pay a drummer!

This yearís Glastonbury line-up makes for very good reading and promises to be one of the very best. How do you rate the current crop of talent?
I donít have my finger on the pulse of whatís going on now, but then I havenít really since 1973 and thatís something Iím perfectly happy about. The rock scene does seem livelier than it has been for ages though, especially with the emergence of bands like the White Stripes. Dance music took over for a while but that was all about Ataris, a temporary blip, a counter culture I suppose. Iím still feeling the whole punk thing. Itís the same old shit, just different trousers. Actually Iím probably still wearing the same trousers!

What do you think of the latest bunch of neo-punk bands attempting to emulate the likes of the Pistols today?
Put it this way, I didnít have any time for teddy boys in the seventies, let alone now. T
But theyíre better than Boyzone though, I suppose. One thing Iíve learnt is that if you try to copy another bandís sound, by the time you get a record together itís a year later and the sceneís moved on. You just have to do your own thing. In the Sex Pistols, we just tried to represent what was going on in London. If weíd have copied the bands of the time we would probably have ended up as a jazz funk pub band.

Youíve recorded and played with some of the very best (Iggy Pop, Primal Scream, Sex Pistols, Frank Black). How does what youíre doing now compare?
Your mates are your mates and Iíd say some of the guys I play with now are among the best (Mike Peters, Mick Jones). I have never really been into the whole big name thing. If I bumped into Iggy here in Brixton tonight, Iím sure weíd have a good chat, but weíre not what Iíd call mates. I never actually met Frank Black. I worked with him on a record, but we recorded our bits separately from other sides of the Atlantic. He rang me recently though and ask if I wanted to come and see the Pixies play one of their Brixton dates. Unfortunately I was on holiday but hopefully Iíll see them someday. Heís got a great voice. When I saw Bowie at the Isle of Wight Festival he was really excited about the Pixies getting back together.

How was the Isle of Wight Festival?
The headliners were good but I didnít have much time for the rest. The old stalwarts,  David Bowie and The Who, made it for me.

Excited about Glastonbury?
Yeh, Iím really looking forward to it as it will be my first real festival experience. I went to Reading in 1973 with some school mates. We were only going to go for one day but ended up getting hammered on scrumpy and stayed the night. I ended up sharing a laundry bag with a mate as a sleeping bag and the whole experience put me off festivals for life. Iíll play Glastonbury by ear, but I will definitely take more than a laundry bag this time. I have no idea whoís playing. Iím just going for the whole outdoor experience.         


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Article by: Ross Purdie

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