'Consequences Coming? Not half!' Glen Matlock on his politically charged new album

Glen Matlock, artist, original Sex Pistol and in-demand musician for hire, is set to release his politically charged new album Consequences Coming on April 28. Headliner caught up with him for a chat about the state of the world, being one of the busiest people in the business, and dreams about Donald Trump and Sly Stone…

You can listen to this interview here or continue reading below.

“The other day I was in New York doing press for the new album at Sirius Radio and guess what was happening the same day,” a smiling Glen Matlock teases as he joins us from Los Angeles via Zoom. “Donald Trump was going downtown to be arraigned,” he fills us in, “and there were all these helicopters flying around… I thought, Consequences Coming? Not half, mate!”

Currently on the road as a member of Blondie’s touring band, Matlock is in high spirits when Headliner catches up with him during a rare spot of down time. On April 28 he releases his new solo album, aptly titled Consequences Coming. It’s a record of which he is rightly proud; a taut, marauding collection of predominantly protest songs that take clear aim at their targets and leave little room for ambiguity, as exemplified by its title track and lead single Head On A Stick.

While its lyrics may deal with Matlock’s ire at Brexit and political turmoil the world over, Consequences Comingis not an album that feels weighed down by its subject matter. It zips along at pace with the same swagger and purpose that makes the man himself such an engaging presence.

Though perhaps best known as the original bassist and songwriter in the Sex Pistols, he has spent the past 40-plus years as something of a troubadour. When not writing and releasing his own material, he is often onstage or in the studio lending his talents to a variety of friends and collaborators. Among them, Iggy Pop, Primal Scream, Faces, and, of course, Blondie.

“It’s been good, I’ve been doing it about a year now,” he says of being on tour with the iconic New York band. “They have a great body of work; Debbie still sings like a bird. They’re interesting. When the punk thing happened, I thought of them more as an artsy pop band in the same way Talking Heads were - pop music with an interesting twist. They’re cool. And in the meantime, for my sins, I’ve made a record that I’m pretty happy with. I’ve been a busy boy.”

All you can do is keep sniping away at them until they can’t take it anymore! Glen Matlock

In conversation he’s good company – entertaining, charming, and occasionally intense, with a distinct directness in that familiar voice. These qualities often combine, particularly when talking about the motivation behind his new album.

“It’s a small bit of seething resentment on top of another small bit of seething resentment, and soon you get this mountain building up,” he says. “And what can you do about it? You can go on a march, you can sound off on Twitter, which I do, but I have an outlet as a songwriter, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to put songs out. It’s almost like a psychiatrist’s couch I’m sitting on.

“Hopefully a song coming out and people liking it is a bit like being a standard bearer in an army, something for people to rally around. And a lot of people seem to be picking up on what I’m saying. All you can do is keep sniping away at them like gnats or mosquitos until they run off screaming that they can’t take it anymore!”

As we begin to pose the question of whether or not he’d expect more artists to be tackling these issues in such a head-on fashion, he quickly interjects: “I haven’t heard it yet, but a couple of people told me Shakin’ Stevens, of all people, has released a song called All You Need Is Greed! That shows you how peeved people are getting. I’m sure there’s loads of people doing it.

“The whole Brexit thing is terrible for musicians and everyone. It’s stupid and unsustainable. It won’t last. It’s just a waste of time, money, and effort. Think of all the things that could’ve been done if the energy that has gone into Brexit had been put to something more important. But not all the songs on the album are about politics. It’s a pop rock record; there are some boy girl songs and things like that.”

There are indeed a few romantic numbers thrown into the mix on Consequences Coming, as well as an unlikely reworking of the K.D. Lang classic Constant Craving.

“I’ve always liked that song, and I always like to throw in a curveball,” explains Matlock. “On my last album I did a pretty cracking cover of Montague Terrace (In Blue) by Scott Walker. He did it as a massive, big ballad with a huge orchestra and I did it with Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats. Sometimes, if you’re a limited musician… I like a simple thing done well. And you sometimes try to play a song and there’s all these chord changes and you go ‘bugger that’, and you find a way of simplifying it. So, I was just in the studio, one of the guys broke the snare skin or something, and I was just strumming away and one of them goes, ‘what’s that’? I go ‘Constant Craving’, and they go, ‘that sounds good, let’s have a go at it'. Also, as well as it being a romantic song, it fits in with the theme of the album. It’s a song about yearning and craving for something better.”

The most fantastic thing in my life was freedom of movement and that’s been wrenched away. Glen Matlock

With that theme in mind, does he believe that something better could be on the horizon?

“I think things are beginning to come to a head,” he suggests. “As for what’s going to happen next, I don’t know. But what I’d like to see is this horrible pernicious brand of Tories be decimated at the next election. But I should also say I’m not Keir Starmer’s biggest supporter. I think his biggest mistake was not spelling out to everyone what nonsense Brexit is. The most fantastic thing in my life was freedom of movement and that’s been wrenched away.”

As we prepare to finish up and inquire as to what Matlock has lined up for his next project, he throws us a curveball of our own.

“You know what, I had the weirdest dream last night,” he says out of nowhere. “I watched a snip online of Sly and the Family Stone doing that song Thank You. It’s just one groove, one chord all the way through. This was just before I went to bed, and I probably had a bit of cheese as well. And I had this dream where I was in the middle of Trump’s arraignment in a big courthouse and there were all these people coming out of the woodwork to see what was going on, but they had this music playing. And I thought, where’s that coming from? And you know where the sound desk is in the middle of a venue? Well, there was a little tent like that in the courthouse, so I stuck my head in and who was the bloke doing the sound? It was Sly Stone. I said hello, I’m Glenn. And he goes, I know who you are. I’m just here playing the music, and he was playing that song,” he laughs. “There’s something in the water over here!”

Almost out of time and with a hectic schedule ahead of him, we do find a moment to reflect on the career that Matlock has carved out over the past four decades. For an artist still so affiliated with a very particular era, the scope of what he has achieved is truly something to behold. From his own material to the countless artists he’s collaborated with, he’s amassed a towering body of work.

“When I think about my career, I see my art as being a songwriter and presenting those songs, and my craft is being a bass player,” he says. “And I’m not bad on the bass, so the phone rings. And it gets you in to all kinds of scrapes. Mostly good ones!”

Consequences Coming by Glen Matlock is out on April 28

Photos: Tina K