Categories
Interviews

Orbital Interview: “We’re trailblazers for the next generation”

Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll talks to Banjo.  And talks. And then talks some more.

Categories
Interviews

John Lydon Interview: “I was quite a shy kid, but what better way to get rid of your shyness than standing onstage in front of 500 people who hate you?”

Banjo speaks to John Lydon about Manchester, advertising butter and his plans for the future.

Categories
Features

The Clash play Liverpool Eric’s: “That day everything changed… nothing in Liverpool was ever the same again”

Clash were undoubtedly Liverpool’s favourite punk band. While the Sex Pistols’ debut gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall has been acknowledged as the starting point of that city’s punk scene, The Clash’s first gig at Eric’s performed a similar magic for Liverpool.

The gig was witnessed by Jayne CaseyJulian Cope and Ian McCulloch, who went on to form Big in JapanThe Teardrop Explodes and Echo & The Bunnymen respectively, amongst other bands.

Also in attendance was one Pete Wylie of Wah! fame who, legend has it, approached The Clash’s Mick Jones after the gig to tell him how he had been inspired him to form a band.

The story goes that Jones handed Wylie his guitar with the words “Pay me back when you’re famous.” Wylie later stated “That day everything changed… nothing in Liverpool was ever the same again

It wasn’t that Liverpool didn’t love Sex Pistols, but that, apparently, they just weren’t that good when they played Eric’s, for what would be the only gig the band ever played in the city.

Also, this was only the 3rd gig at Eric’s, so both band and venue were still unknown quantities, which meant that only around 50 people were present.

Of course, over the years the number of people who have since claimed they were there is probably over 100 times the number that actually attended, such is the impact punk has made on history.

By the time The Clash played on May 5 1977, things had changed. Punk was exploding all over the country, attracting the outcasts, the curious and those in search of something to match how they felt and to give voice to the noises in their heads.

Liverpool at the time was not in a particularly good place; financially in the trough of an economic slump following the decline of its docks and shipping industries and culturally still looking for a way out of the shadow cast by The Beatles’ unprecedented success.

Musically, Liverpool had yet to find a post-Beatles identity, although The Real Thing had kept the city’s flame burning in the charts.

When Roger Eagle and Ken Testi decided to open Eric’s, Roger, perhaps sensing that change was in the air, asked those members of his club he took under his wing not to listen to The Beatles, for fear that the past would infiltrate the new present.

Jayne Casey, One of those who were so instructed, remembered “A couple of years ago we’d been to a funeral and we were all sat round a table. There was me, Ian McCulloch and Pete Wylie. Ian looked at me and said, “Have you listened yet?” And I said, “No, have you?” And he said, “No” and we both looked at Wylie and said, “Have you?” And he said, “No” and we both in the same second said, “Yes you have! We know you have!” And he was like “I haven’t, I haven’t” but we were like “We can tell from your composition that you’ve listened to them for years!” So we’re convinced that he listened, he pretends he didn’t but he did.

But the music that was being made by the new generation paid no heed to the likes of The Beatles. The Clash themselves penned a song called 1977 that famously claimed “No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones in 1977”.

The Clash (Copyright: Chalkie Davies)
The Clash (Copyright: Chalkie Davies)

The Clash were everything a band should have been at that particular point and place in music. Young, good looking, well dressed, confused and even contradictory.

Their songs combined political thrust with killer riffs, signing about hate, war, being bored and riots. Live they were described as being like “three James Deans coming at you”, as the front line of Mick Jones, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon charged and attacked, backed up by the mighty Topper Headon.

That gig revitalized the city’s music scene. People met there and were jointly inspired to do something.

What nobody could have predicted at the time was how much they could go on to do. There are times in life when the stars just seem to line up and things work out right, a one in a billion meeting of minds and talents, and this seems to have been one of those occasions.

People formed bands before they knew what kind of musicians they would turn out to be, taken by The Clash’s messianic call. We can thank the gods of chance, or perhaps some other agent of destiny, that this crowd included the extraordinary voices of Ian MCCulloch, Pete Burns, Pete Wylie and Holly Johnson, along with the mercurial talents of guitarist Will Sergeant, drummer extraordinaire Budgie and art prankster/cultural terrorist Bill Drummond.

It may be the case that this astonishing pool of talent would have come together regardless of this particular gig, but the point remains that The Clash lit the touch paper and the firework duly went into the higher atmosphere and exploded.

The Clash were one of the first bands this writer saw at Eric’s, a few months on from their debut appearance,  on their Tommy Gun tour.

As confession is alleged to be good for the soul, I will hold my hand up and say that I was never a massive fan after their initial run of singles, nailing my colours to the Pistols’ mast instead.

That said, this was without question one of the most thrilling gigs I have ever seen, The Clash were undoubtedly at their best live, unmarred by the poor production of their first album and the American sheen of their second.

To this day I can remember the energy of the gig, along with the heat, the packed crowd and the feeling that, somehow, this was a gig that would stay with you long after we had left the venue.

I had never seen Eric’s so crowded, perhaps the fullest I ever saw it, with the possible exception of Iggy Pop. The size of the crowd was such that people had spilled out from stage front through to the bar area, making even a glimpse of the stage tricky.

The Specials were supporting them on this tour and, although I tell people I saw them it is probably more honest to say that I glimpsed them, through a doorway and over people’s heads. The crowd looked hot and we didn’t fancy getting caught up in the heat and mess of it, just for a support band.

If I had the chance I would tell my teenage self to get in there and catch one of our era’s most important bands while they were still unknown. I was amazed at how popular they seemed to be despite few people in my social circle having heard of them.

As The Specials left the stage and people headed to the bar, we saw our chance and pushed our way in. Thankfully we got to within a few people of the front of the stage and The Clash burst forth and blew our teenage minds!

Playing their first album and early singles, they already had a run of songs to make most new bands weep with envy.

With the Sex Pistols banned from almost everywhere and soon to split up, The Clash were head of the punk pack at this point, and made a nonsense of the myth that punk bands couldn’t play their instruments.

The people inspired by their first Liverpool, gig have achieved much in the years since and have doubtless inspired other people in their turn.

Perhaps this is the ultimate compliment for a gig, or even a band – that they create these ripples in a pond to such extent that they are still being felt all these years later.

Liverpool, and indeed the whole world, would be so much worse without them.

Banjo

Categories
Features

Eric’s – a personal journey through Liverpool’s original punk club

Punk has become many things in the 40 years since it went overground.

It has become acceptable, stripped by time and familiarity of the ability to shock.  It has become common place – punk fashion and influence can be seen pretty much everywhere.  It has become an exercise in nostalgia; punk bands still play gigs to the same crowds who saw them decades ago, cosy gigs reliving a collective youth.

And it has become commodified, a trend that in truth started worryingly early.  These days, Ramones and Joy Division t-shirts can be snapped up in Primark, extravagantly dyed hair, ripped jeans and multiple earrings are mainstream and raise not a single eyebrow.

But it was not always like this.  Oh no – once upon a time, Punk was a dangerous, exciting thing to be involved with. Questions were asked about it in the Houses of Parliament and just looking like a punk could get you chased, beaten and worse.

In those far off days, this shocking new phenomenon was news!  Music papers particularly couldn’t get enough of it, devoting almost whole issues to its rise. But, John Peel aside, it was almost impossible for young teens to actually hear the music itself.

Thank God then for Roger Eagle being, not for the first time in his life, in the right place at the right time. And, more importantly, with the right attitude.

Following on from creating successful and influential nights at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester and the Stadium in Liverpool, Roger, along with Pete Fulwell and Ken Testi, opened Eric’s in 1976, just in time for punk to spread out from London to Manchester and then to the provinces.

The first band to appear at Eric’s were The Stranglers, followed a week later by The Runaways and then The Sex Pistols. Eric’s had clearly tapped into a rich vein of exciting new music with punk beginning to explode. Not that it was ever a punk club per se, also featuring gigs from such diverse artists as Steve Hillage, Van der Graaf Generator, B.B. King and many reggae artists such as Prince Far I and Inner Circle.

The first run of gigs at Eric's
The first run of gigs at Eric’s

Roger Eagle was one of the rare breed of people who were more interested in the art of what they were doing rather than the finances, so the more popular gigs by the likes of The Clash and The Damned funded gigs by artists less likely to pull in a large number of paying guests, but Roger would rather spend time and money showcasing wonderful music for a smaller audience than have it ignored.

His legendary enthusiasm for music and for turning other people on to bands he loved was undoubtedly one of Eric’s best assets.

This writer’s own calling to Eric’s came whilst still a fresh-out-of -school 16 year old, starting what would be my final summer holiday, marooned between the childish world of school and the more grown-up world of college. 

Towards the end of my school life, a schoolmate had moved away, only about 5 miles down the road, but enough at that age to make it difficult to maintain a friendship where seeing each other every day was normal and effort free.

We have, in fact, remained friends to this day. We got into punk together that year, neither of us knowing the full seismic effect this would have on the rest of our lives.

On the second week of this summer break, this friend phoned with an invitation to join him and some others in going to a punk club in Liverpool to see Magazine play a matinee show. To my eternal regret, after hearing all the shock horror stories in the press, I bottled out and stayed at home, wracked with jealousy.

When I found out the day had passed without major incident, we plans to go the following week to see Rich Kids, the band  Glen Matlock formed after leaving The Sex Pistols. So when the next Saturday came around, I pocketed my £2.50 pocket money and headed off to a brave new world.

Graffiti was quite big with punks at the time, not the arty tags or Banksy murals we see now, but crude Magic Marker scrawlings of band names and slogans. We all set pen to the train shelter while waiting for the train into town.

Terrible really, and the kind of thing I hate to see these days, but it seemed to be somehow important then; part of the Destroy culture that punk embodied, a lack of respect for your elders and surroundings. We thought we had a point to prove; to go against the grain, be disruptive, sign your contempt for the world and your surroundings as boldly as you can.

There was an interview with John Lydon’s wife Nora, many years later, where she recalled in 1976 being advised not to have these punks in her house, not because they would steal or break anything but because they were likely to write on her walls in paint and pen.

Arriving at Eric’s, we found we had to first become members before being allowed entry (something about it being a members only club gave it extra freedoms within the law, such as staying open late).

At first this extra expense was dismaying, taking my last 50p as it did, but looking back, 50p for a year’s membership of Eric’s must be classed as something of a bargain.

I paid this and the £1.00 entry fee and went down the Eric’s staircase for the first time. Memories of this portentous event are scarce, but it was like nothing we’d seen before.

Previous experiences of music played at anything above front room levels of volume had been local discos, and Eric’s was nothing like that. Dark, damp and with dirty red walls, walking down those stairs was walking into another world.

Proper bands played here, proper punks came here and we were entering their world. This was a big deal, although how big a deal was not immediately apparent.

As this was a matinee gig for under 18s the bar served only soft drinks, so we bought Cokes. This was a masterstroke of Eric’s – adding a matinee show meant that bands could be booked for two shows in Liverpool and then another night at Manchester’s Factory venue which in turn, made it more financially viable for bands  to make the trip North.

Away from those practical considerations, it meant that a generation of kids, ideally aged in 1977 for the shockwaves and upheaval of punk, could be part of things in a way that otherwise would have been beyond our means, schemes and wildest dreams.

It is impossible to overemphasise the impact this had on a bunch of 16 year olds from the sticks. Being a punk in a small town was to be in a small minority and made walking its streets and corridors a dangerous prospect, but Eric’s gave young outsiders a place to belong, maybe for the first time.

In return, the Eric’s owners, movers and shakers seemed genuinely fond of the young crowd and what they brought to the club.  Big in Japan dedicated their only proper release to “the Eric’s matinee crowd” and their singer, Jayne Casey, still tells the tale of when Iggy Pop played Eric’s on his birthday.

The matinee crowd, myself included, burst into a spontaneous version of Happy Birthday to You in a way that a grown-up crowd would most definitely not have done. Not expecting this reaction, Iggy grinned from ear to ear, his rock star persona punctured by this young gesture.

Iggy Pop at Liverpool Eric’s: Shock was part of the currency of the early punks and, in Iggy, they had inspiration of sorts

Memory is not perhaps 100% reliable here, but there were a plethora soon-to-be famous faces working on the bar or on the door.  Ian Broudie certainly used to be on the door a fair bit, and there are blurry recollections of Mac, Julian Cope and Pete Wylie’s talents being employed in some capacity or other.

I seem to remember Pete Burns DJing occasionally. I always strongly suspected that he brought records down from his day job at Probe Records, played them in the club and then took them back and sold them, along with a nice crackly coating of sweat and beer.

The bar area was the first room you walked in to as you came down the stairs, with a dark seated area with the legendary Eric’s jukebox to the right and the stage area through a doorway in front.

After collecting our Cokes, we took our place stage left, me marvelling at the fact that I was in a punk club for the first time in my life.

Everyone looked punkier than us, so mental notes were made to make a few changes to wardrobe in future. The long hair had already gone, chopped off a few days after hearing God Save The Queen for the first time.

After standing around for a while, the support band came on. I had no idea who they were and had never heard them before; few people had then. The lead singer walked to the mic and said, “Hello. we’re Joy Division.”

So the first live punk band we saw at Eric’s turned out to be Joy Division!  Sometimes fate just seems to treat you well. Obviously this gig was now a long time ago and we had no idea just how immense Joy Division would turn out to be, but I can clearly remember the bass lines of Transmission and She’s Lost Control and can recall them playing Ice Age and They Walked in Line.

We were instantly hooked. From now on Joy Division were our band and we saw them every time they played a matinee show, as well as gigs in Preston and Leeds. We saw them go from support band to headline act, although the first headline show I saw them play was to less than 20 people.

After they finished their set, we waited for Rich Kids to take to the stage. We were about to see a Sex Pistol and were beside ourselves with excitement. Again, time has dimmed my memory of the gig somewhat, but loud punk music (or Power Pop as the Rich Kids were briefly classed) had well and truly got us and this was without question the most exciting day of our young lives.

Following the gig, the band came out of the dressing room and hung around the bar, chatting and signing autographs.

At the tender age of 16 and in one single afternoon, we had been to a punk club, seen Joy Division and got an autograph from a Sex Pistol. How could we not fall in love with this wonderful place?!

My second trip to Eric’s was to see The Clash on their Tommy Gun tour, ably supported by The Specials, in one of the best and most overcrowded gigs we ever attended. Eric’s had delivered again and our fate had been sealed.

For the next two years or so we would be back every Saturday. I even once, through a special mixture of sulking and badgering,  forced my poor suffering parents to cut a holiday in London short so I could be back in my beloved Eric’s to watch Joy Division again.

It doesn’t happen often in life that we are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, but when it happened  I am eternally glad that I made the most of it and have so many memories of my time at this legendary club.

Banjo

Categories
Interviews

Glen Matlock Interview: “When you’re an older bloke you take what comes along and as long as you approach it with a good heart, it all comes out alright in the end”

Punk rock progenitor and one-quarter of arguably the greatest ever punk band, The Sex Pistols in conversation with Sun 13’s Banjo

Like a lot of people, Glen Matlock looms large in my cultural background.  As one quarter of Sex Pistols, he was directly responsible for the total upheaval of my teenage world.  He was the band’s main musician and was the closest we were likely to get to a Sex Pistol you could take home to meet your mum.

The Pistols and punk appeared quite suddenly in my life.  I have a crystal clear memory of a day in my last year at school when I was told of a band who had appeared on TV the day before and swore ‘like troopers’. 

Again like a lot of people, this was the first time I had heard about Sex Pistols.  It was not to be the last.

I lived hundreds of miles away from where the program was broadcast and nobody in my school had seen it, but its shock waves had made it to my neck of the woods the very next morning, so we can see the effect this program had on spreading punk across the country.

But, and this is an important point to Matlock, there is more to him than his past.  To the point that it is easy to imagine him coming across this article and feeling immediately dispirited that yet another interview with him starts off with that band and that interview. 

He has played with Iggy Pop, The Damned and The Faces, but the shadow of the Sex Pistols looms large over him to this day.

Glen has a new album, Good to Go, released this Friday, 21st September.  Recorded with Earl Slick and Slim Jim Phantom, it is an album of unashamed, unadorned rock n roll.  To promote Good to Go, he has been keeping himself busy, playing gigs in such far-flung corners of the globe as Korea’s demilitarised zone and the banks of the river Ganges in India.

When I spoke to him he was in the middle of an intensive couple of days of back to back interviews, and sounding fairly worn out and weary with the whole thing, as anyone would be spending that much time answering the same questions and giving out the same details.

Sorry’ he tells us at one point as he struggles to answer a question, ‘I’m a bit interviewed out today, I’ve done about 9 or 10 interviews so far.’  Yeah, I saw your schedule I tell him, I’m amazed you’re still going.

Back on a roll, he continues.  ‘I’ll tell you what I did do earlier’ he says, ‘I did The Wright Stuff tv program, then I did some Russian tv thing.  But it’s all part of life’s rich pageant.  I think my maxim to life these days is just say yes to most things that come your way.’

There’s a mate of mine who’s in the fashion business, and when we ask what we’re up to, we always quote Newton’s Law of Motion at each other – a body at rest stays at rest, a body in motion stays in motion, unless an exterior or equal force acts on it, or something like that.  

But if you say I’m just waiting for the phone to ring it invariably doesn’t, and one thing begets other things.’

Iggy Pop at Liverpool Eric’s: Shock was part of the currency of the early punks and, in Iggy, they had inspiration of sorts

Glen Matlock also still sounds like someone who is passionate about the music he is making and is very keen that it gets listened to.

Tell us about the tour and these far flung dates you’ve been playing.

Well it’s not really a tour, but I’ve been playing selected dates.  I’ve just got back from Korea, I’ve had something in India, just a one-off thing, and I’ve had a five night residency in a place in Canary Wharf, I’m going over to Dubai for a gig with Chris Spedding and then in September I’m going to Scandinavia for some shows, just me and my acoustic, which is kind of one down from being a comedian I think. 

It all sounds a long way from Monday nights in the 100 Club. 

Yeah, but that’s alright too.  When you’re an older bloke you take what comes along and as long as you approach it with a good heart, it all comes out alright in the end.  The main reason I’m doing this is for the new album, which I’ve got to get people to dig somehow.’

So tell us about your new album?

‘It’s a bunch of songs I’ve been writing over the last four years.  I wanted to so something a bit different, not the same old punk kinda thing, which is fine, but not when you’re not playing to the people who did it with the first time around. 

And I saw Bob Dylan play, maybe three or four years ago and I can appreciate Bob Dylan.  I’m not his biggest fan, but the band he had were fantastic.  He had Charlie Sexton on guitar and the bass player was Tony Matthews, who plays stand up bass.  And the drummer was fantastic and spent most of the set playing with brushes, and I thought that’s really cool, you can get the songs to come through, how can I do something similar? 

And I thought ‘I know, I’ll call Slim Jim Phantom, he only uses half a drum kit, I’ll ask him if he’s up for doing it.’  And he suggested using Earl Slick on guitar, who I’d worked with before.  Chris Spedding plays guitar on a track which I’m quite pleased with, with him being a member of The Wombles! 

And I wanted to make the album a little more Americana-ish.  I don’t think I’m ever going to get on Radio 1 these days, but I know that Radio 2 and Radio 6 are playing music like that, so I thought maybe I should change the tune, production wise.’

Would you want your stuff to be played on Radio 1 these days?  Did you ever want your stuff to be played on Radio 1?

I think anyone who writes a song wants as many people as possible to hear it and then be able to decide whether they like it or not.  If you write something that’s catchy and people hear it a couple of times they might think it’s really catchy. 

Music is about communication, so the more avenues there are to get it out there the better really.’

Where do you look to for your influences these days?

Just what’s going on in my life really, and how I’m dealing with it and how you’re rising or not rising to the occasion or dealing with the pitfalls of it all.  I’m not on some heavy political bent, because we all know what’s wrong with the world and you end up preaching to the converted and can come across as a bit Billy Bragg, which I don’t want to be.

You write in songs what you can’t necessarily express on a piece of paper and it brings out some emotional thing.  Or that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.’

Has the way you write music changed over the years?

Nah, it’s the same old shit basically.  Most songs I write, I’m walking down the street and an idea comes into my head, and if that idea doesn’t go away it’s time to pick up the guitar and work out the chords that go with it. 

Every songwriter’s got a mental bag of half ideas that they can use and reference, but the whole thing is about trying to get across what’s on your mind.  It doesn’t always have to be of the most fantastic consequence, but I think it’s got to be as succinct and direct as possible.

I try to write songs as if I’m having a conversation with somebody.  I do like to think there’s a bit of humour in my songs, I think we can all be a bit tongue in cheek about things sometimes.’

Well it must all work for you.  You’ve written some of the best songs ever recorded and it’s taken you all over the world and last over 40 years.   You must be doing something right.

I suppose I must be.  I don’t know what yet.  [laughs]’

One thing I noticed recently, looking at the calendar, is that a few weeks ago it was the 40th Anniversary of the first time I went to Eric’s in Liverpool, and it was to see you in Rich Kids.

Were we any good?’ 

You were great, Rich Kids were a brilliant group.

I’ll tell you what I do remember about Eric’s, it used to whiff a lot because they had a problem with the drains, but also I do remember playing there with Iggy Pop, must have been in ’79, and I’m pretty sure we did a matinee performance for the underage people. 

And instead of having the usual intro music to come on to, we played the theme tune from A Fistful of Dollars and Iggy would come on.

But by the time he’d come on, in that Iggy Pop style he has, there was all these kids dressed as scouts down the front. 

And they started singing Happy Birthday, and for a split second he was dumbfounded and then he turned to the band and said ‘well fuck you’ and we went straight into Kill City.

Jah Wobble Interview: “Joining the Pistols would have been a huge mistake”

I met some really cool people there, in fact we played there with the Pistols really early on.  We played upstairs and there weren’t that many people there, but I skived out of packing the van and when I went downstairs there was this whole thing going on. 

Yachts were playing and I was stood there having a drink and everyone was waiting for me.  I got in the doghouse with everyone over that, but I met Clive Langer, Maybe Ian Broudie and Jayne from Pink Military. 

It was good to realise that there was this thing outside of London.  In our capital city ways, we may have been too high minded to think there possibly could have been.

But also likewise I remember going down to Newport or Bridgend in Wales, we did a series of gigs there and I met Steve Strange for the first time and got chatting to him. 

And they were the same, they looked like punks before punk had been invented.  And he asked where we were playing next, and it was a gig in Burton on Trent. 

We stayed in Wales and by the time we got up, he was already in the car park waiting for us.  He actually helped us carry the gear in, which I doubt he ever did since [laughs].’

Were you aware at the time, when you were playing these gigs, of the effect you were having on people and the outburst of creativity that you left in your wake?

You know what, I don’t want to sound big-headed, but yeah I think so. We knew we were polarizing people somehow. 

We had this self-confidence, maybe not so much on my part personally, but Steve was the biggest ne’er do well in London.  He was the spirit of the Sex Pistols, John put it all in words, I came up with the tunes and Paul provided the backbeat and kind of went along with what Steve said. 

They were a double act and to me, they were always like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, which was fine by me as I liked Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.’

How do you feel about the way the Sex Pistols and punk turned out over the years to now, where we can still feel the ripples from what you did?

Good I suppose.  I don’t really know any different.  I remember reading some interview with Keith Richards and the interviewer asked him about the price of milk, and he replied ‘Don’t ask me mate, I’ve been a rock star all my life, what would I know’

And I don’t know any different, I’ve always been saddled with the Pistols thing.  I’m proud of it, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword because here we are talking about that rather than what I’m doing now. 

And I kind of hate it for that sometimes.  A little bit.’

Well back to your new album then.  There’s quite an old school rock n roll feel running through it.

Maybe so, I like all that kind of stuff.  I’ve tried to do something slightly different within the confines of what I like and do and the people I’m playing with and get the songs across.  My favourite song on the album is Speak Too Soon, which is kind of earthy and quite up.’

My favourite is Wanderlust at the moment, although that could change – there are some catchy riffs on there.

That’s a bit of an older one that I’d never really recorded before, that’s kind of my hats off to Roadrunner, but not by Jonathan Richman, but by Junior Walker and the All Stars.  I do like the bluesy kind of stuff sometimes.

I’m chums with Pete Wylie, although I haven’t seen him in a long while. But I’m a big admirer of his, and he called one of his album Songs of Strength and Heartbreak and that’s what I subscribe to lyrically, finding a way through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

Pete Wylie does the most fantastic version of a Gilbert O’Sullivan song, Alone Again Naturally, just him and an acoustic guitar. It’s heart-rending.’

Matlock has a huge library of tales he can tell about his time in music, with every mention of a band of a city inspiring more anecdotes of a life well lived.  And more tales are doubtless being generated as he continues to tour and make music.

Do you still keep up with new music?

I do, my kid’s in a band and they play me new stuff and it sounds alright, rocky kind of stuff.  One of the bands I played with in Canada were really good, and the name is fantastic too.  They were called Ringo Deathstar.  And Ringo went to see them. [laughs]

I met him, I was helping out his son Zac, and his dad actually plays pretty good guitar.  We did a showcase gig for the record we were making at Raymond’s Review Bar we were telling Zac we needed to go on stage.  And he was saying ‘no, no I’ve got to wait for my dad’ and I thought ‘wait for your dad?’  before remembering who his dad was! ‘

Well according to your schedule Glen, you’re late for a radio interview now.

Have I?  oh blimey, I didn’t know that.  I’d better go then’

And with that Glen Matlock says his goodbyes and heads straight into another interview, no doubt adding further to his fatigue and world weariness.  It says something of the man that he is still prepared to put himself through such a punishing schedule to promote his work. He is obviously still proud of his work if a little frustrated that it is not naturally finding a wider audience.

Reflecting on our conversation later, I think to myself that one of the common threads that runs through the lives of people who were caught up in shaping the early days of punk is that of the huge difficulty dealing with the huge void that followed when their part in it all seemingly came to an end. 

Steve Jones and many others turned to heroin to fill their days, The Slits’ Ari Up retreated to Borneo, living with a tribe almost completely cut off from civilisation while others abandoned music completely, turning to other careers.  Others were not so lucky and didn’t manage to make old bones at all.

Matlock’s approach to all this has been to keep his head down and keep making music.  There is a certain dignity to this calm and steady approach, one that shows that Matlock has managed to avoid the pitfalls of his profession with ease. 

We wish him well in his quest to carry on doing what he does, especially when what he does is release top drawer rock n roll in this manner.

Glen Matlock has left his past behind him and has, as always it seems, still got an eye on the future and a place in his heart for rock n roll.

Banjo