(Best known for being bass guitarist in the original line up of the punk rock band Sex Pistols)
Secrets of a locked down rebel
By Val Weedon
Another week, another dollar, or in my case another lockdown interview. This time I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to English musician Glen Matlock.
This is my second Zoom interview, but fortunately for me, Glen had used Zoom before, so we were ready to go.
Glen joined me around 11am the day after doing his first online gig called “Me and Him” with his mate Earl Slick, who’s staying with him during lockdown.
I ask Glen where Slick is this morning and he says he’s working on his book.
“But we’ve been quite industrious this morning” he goes onto explain “We did a photoshoot on the doorstep for ‘Vive Le Rock’ magazine called ‘Lockdown Rockstars’”
I point out that it seems to be the trend at the moment with journalists asking well known people what they’ve been up to during lockdown. To which Glen replied smiling “I think people should mind their own business!”
I continued my questioning in the hope I was exempt. How come Earl Slick is staying with you, I ask curiously.
“We’d been on tour just prior to lockdown and Slick had some gigs on the Continent, so I said he could stay at my place. So, he’s stayed on as things are really bad in the States.
What are Glen’s thoughts on the lockdown?
“During the tour we had noticed things were starting to get a bit serious. We had played in Paisley, just outside Glasgow, then the 100 Club in London. In Paisley, fans wanted to meet us at the merch stand, but with what I could see coming along I didn’t want to take any chances so they were disappointed not to shake our hands.”
Looking back now being cautious was probably the right thing to do.
Glen went on to explain how things unfolded for him over the next few weeks.
“I had a couple of days off, then was supposed to do six shows with Dropkick Murphy in the US, then some solo shows in Canada. I was also hoping to sit in on mixing our album in New York that we’d made over Christmas. Then the news was getting worse and the Dropkick gig got pulled. That was a 10,000-seater so a bit of a blow. I did consider doing the other shows, but things got even worse, so I had to pull out completely.”
Glen explained that after the Dropkick gig got pulled he had considered doing some solo gigs in New York. All annoying, especially as Glen had secured his three-year work permit which runs out later this year.
“They are hard to come by and expensive, so I won’t be getting my money’s worth out of it. But I’d rather be at home”
Glen is fortunate enough to live in a nice part of central London.
“I’ve been out quite a bit really, in a responsible way, going for walks, which is allowed. It’s quite leafy where I live in London and we have the canal.”
I ask if he has a garden?
“I do, but I also have a noisy neighbour who wakes me up at 7.30 in the morning with her really loud voice – one of those like in adverts that booms and shatters glass.”
Fortunately, he’s treated himself to a push bike that allows him to get out. It’s one of those electrically powered ones that give you some assistance up hills.
“Been out and about a lot on that.” he said
“For the same time you walk out and about round around here, I can cycle to Tower Bridge and back. In the middle of town there is nobody around.”
He explains the first time he got the bike and went to Regents Park, but said it felt like Tour de France in there, with cyclists whizzing along on the outer circle all sweating. Glen felt that wasn’t for him. So, he cycled south and ended up in Soho, but there was nothing happening.
“I thought maybe there would be a coffee shop or something open, but there was nothing and no one around.”
On his way back he passed through Cheapside and noticed the church St Mary Le Bow.
“I saw two City of London coppers and said, excuse me gentlemen, is that the famous cockney Bow bell church? Yes, they replied and asked me where I was from? I told them Paddington, so they said you should know that then! Well, thanks to buying a bike, I do now. They saluted me and replied ‘don’t fall off’”
I ask Glen what his daily routine has been and what he plans to do with this time.
“Before lockdown I bought 2 litres of emulsion paint, which I haven’t touched yet. But there is always tomorrow” he smiles.
“I jet-washed the back patio.” Pointing out that it annoys the woman who annoys him!
“Then I noticed I missed some bits, so had to do it again.”
On another day he decided to sort out a load of boxes with all his merchandise intended for sale during the tour that got cancelled.
“I put a word out on Facebook which resulted in hundreds of orders. So, then I spent a long time filling out envelopes to mail out. Bit like having a job in the school holidays” he laughs.
“Then I chatted up the local post mistress around the corner. Instead of me standing there filling out forms, I took a big bag in when it wasn’t so busy. I’d go off to buy her a take-away coffee. Normally there is a coffee shop you can sit outside, but you can’t at the moment. There’s a bench a bit further along so I sat there. Then I’d get a text to say the mailing has been done, so grab another coffee and take that back to her. I also got her some Leonidas, expensive chocolates, which pleased her.”
So, how is Glen coping with shopping? Is he ordering online?
“I have local shops so no online needed. With my pushbike I invested in a basket that clips on the front. I cycle around to see where the shortest queues are.” He leans forward and in a quiet voice he says;
“Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve found one with no queues. I was the only one there, so I parked my bike up, put on my mask and gloves, unclip the basket and take it with me. I put things in the basket and fill it up with what I need, tip out at checkout, put back in the basket and carry back to bike, clipping it back on and cycle back home. The beauty is you don’t need to touch anything, and you don’t buy more than fits into the basket. That’s about a week’s worth.” Glen looks pleased with himself.
I ask if he’s been doing any baking, or drinking and eating more than he should, like many of us!
“No, I haven’t been baking, but I do like to cook. And there is a decent baker around the corner. I don’t drink these days. It helps having Slick here and I have an elderly friend that’s been struggling, so been doing some shopping for her.”
Has Glen been doing any song writing during this time?
“I tend to write most of my songs walking down the street when the ideas just come into my head. When they don’t go away that’s the time to pick up my guitar. Sometimes it may not go anywhere, whereas other times I’ll have reams of paper and the song may go in a completely different direction to where I started.!”
I am curious to know if the content of his songs has changed from those early punk rock days.
“Well I was thinking of calling my next album SOS, same old song.” He laughs
“I’m not really a rebel. I like the Small Faces, Ray Davies and Tamla Motown stuff. ‘Grooving’ by the Young Rascals is my favourite song of all time. Plus, Road Runner, Tracks Of My Tears. I try to write positive upbeat songs.”
About 8 years ago I read this quote from Abraham Lincoln ‘Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.’
“It changed my attitude a bit. It was around the time of the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. I remember there was a big punk festival in Blackpool, and I thought how I can wind up the punks. So, we opened with “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and the audience looked confused at first thinking what’s this? But soon they were singing along, and l could see they liked it really.”
So, what is Glen looking forward to after lockdown?
“I’ve made a new album, which I think sounds pretty cool actually, so that’s going to be ready to go. When lockdown lifts, I don’t have to start from scratch and then have it come out too late. I was talking to Paul Weller, who lives around the corner to me, about song writing during this time and we agreed nobody will want to hear about isolation and lockdown after it’s done. I’ve already written the songs before this.”
What has Glen liked about the lockdown? He doesn’t hesitate in answering:
“Not running around like a headless chicken all the time!” he says firmly.
“It’s a chance to take stock as I’ve been pretty busy the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed doing it. I know I’m not a Rolling Stone and just been doing my thing, but I’m 64 this year so this has allowed me to take stock a bit.”
Even though he could fill his time, for example he has lots of books he wanted to read, but hasn’t bothered yet, so the lockdown has allowed him to do other things he may not otherwise get the chance to do, like online concerts.
“We had 12,000 views of the gig last night on Facebook” he reflects “And I was just glad we managed to make the thing work. My son phoned from Ireland and remarked on some of the lovely comments and how the gig cheered people up.”
It went so well they are planning more.
I check with Glen to see what he’ll be up to for the rest of today.
“I’ll probably go out on my bike. Although the laundry needs doing.” Glen goes on to explain his dilemma.
“I do like my sheets to be ironed,” he confesses and goes on to point out that the launderette that normally wash and iron for him was closed briefly following lockdown.
“It’s just re-opened, but I had washed some sheets when they closed, but they are waiting to be ironed. Now I have the latest ones that need doing. But if I take both pairs to the launderette, I won’t have any sheets!”
I suggest maybe ironing getting some non-iron sheets online, but Glen quickly points out:
“But they don’t feel the same. It’s the thread you see.”
Can’t believe I’m discussing laundry matters with a punk rock musician, so it’s all becoming a bit surreal. But I am also very sympathetic, so suggest perhaps he could consider tumble drying the sheets, which I find softens them, perhaps this may help with his dilemma? He leans forward to reveal a secret.
“I only have a small dryer and tend to cram it all in. Maybe if I had one of those industrial ones.”
Despite the revelation that Glen is an over-loader, I tell him I am impressed that he appears to be domesticated and organised. His facial expression says otherwise.
“My old man used to say to me ‘You’ll never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. He also said, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’”
Time to let Glen go and sort out his laundry.
P.S. Got a phone call from Glen a few days after our interview to inform me sheets were all sorted.
Turns out ironing itself isn’t a problem, it’s the folding of the sheets properly first before ironing them that’s the hard part!
Nice one Glen, treat yourself to some of those expensive chocolates!
Don’t forget to tune into “Me and Him” Glen and Slick on Facebook
You can also donate a small amount for these concerts at: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=CE344J7BP9AUY