Monday, February 26, 2024

Interview with Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Slim Jim Phantom (Bowie) and Earl Slickhave (Stray Cats)

Photo by: Debra Raffles Trizzini

As I was sitting down trying to think of an introduction, a friend of mine sat down next to me and said something that struck me. “It’s just hitting me who we’ve got here tonight. It’s surreal to see these kind of people walking around here”. Surreal indeed. Hertford is an idyllic place, but it doesn’t exactly scream “Rock ‘n’ Roll”. I mean, when there’s a rumour that the local council shut down a McDonalds because they believed it was causing too much trouble, you know you are in a strangely sedate place. Yet, this is the exactly the kind of place that needs Rock ‘n’ Roll. We need it to add some colour to the forever unchanging surroundings. Who better to deliver this than a Stray Cat, an ex-Pistol, and David Bowie’s go-to guitarist? What would they even make of a place like this?

But just before we get into that, let me explain what in the world is going on here – 3 Rock legends, including Glen Matlock, Slim Jim Phantom and Earl Slickhave embarked on a tour of the UK begining in Hertfordshire. ‘Supergroups’ come and go. Some succeed, and some fail. But this latest collaboration offers a pedigree that is rarely seen. Between them, the band has collaborated with The Sex Pistols, John Lennon, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and The Stray Cats. It’s safe to say that with that kind of pedigree, Matlock, Phantom and Slick promises to be something truly special.

RAMzine: How are you finding Hertford?

Earl: “It’s quaint.”

Glen: “It’s a very American expression, quaint. I remember years ago we’d lent our Sex Pistols rehearsal place to the Flaming Groovies. It was a little rehearsal space no bigger than this room, and they said “that’s great guys, but we’ve got 7 Fender George Sherman big cabinet things, and it’s kinda ‘quaint’ in here”. And I thought, you cunts, you got no money and we’re trying to help you out! Anyway, that was the first time I heard an American use the word quaint.”

Earl: “Quaint is like… Jim?”

Slim: “England is general is quaint… quaint is like a cute grandma… are we fucking the shit out your interview?”

RAMzine: No, no, this is good stuff. How did this project come together?

Glen: “Well, we’ve all known each other individually and worked together a little bit over the more recent years. Slim Jim and I have known each other for ages, and we did a project in 2007 called Slinky Vagabond. I was in New York and I had some songs, and I said “would you be up for playing on it, and maybe you could ask Earl?”. We did it, and it sounded good, and here we are!””

Earl: “It was 2 months ago, and Glen called me up and said “would you like to record some songs for free?” and I said “sure”.”

Slim: “We have a hundred year combined friendship. I mean, me and Glen have known each other 35 years.”

RAMzine: You all have very distinct sounds. How is it all going to work together?Glen Matlock, Slim Jim Phantom, Earl Slick, Clubhouse, Rhinebeck

Glen: “I think we’ve all got a symbiotic relationship.”

Slim: “I think we’ve got a “quaint” sound.”

Earl: “There are certain things that might not stand alone and you might not think that they’ll be good together on paper, but if you spread them all together on a piece of bread, they make a good sandwich.”

Glen: “If you really want to know, I’ve been doing a lot of acoustic shows, and I wanted to find a way to step it up into a full band kind of thing. I’ve known Slim for a while, and he doesn’t do a full on drum kit thing, and I like that rockabilly, skiffley kind of thing. I thought, “that’ll do it!”.”

Slim Jim: “I think The Sex Pistols swing more than you’d imagine until you sit down and listen to it, and I think The Stray Cats are more hard-rocking until you sit down and listen to it, and Earl Slick sits right in the middle of those 2 things.”

Glen: “I just get fed up with some fifty year old, older bloke going (imitates heavy rock riff) DUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUN. It’s boring. In my writing I’ve discovered the swing beat, and that’s what Jim’s ideal for. That’s about it really, can we go now?”

RAMzine: I’ve just got a few more questions I want to ask you. You’ve all been part of bands that have had a massive influence of music and popular culture. What is it like knowing that you have been part of something that has had such an impact on the world?

Earl: “You know what? You don’t notice. It’s like, I’ve got arms full of tattoos, and Slim does too, but you don’t really notice it and other people do. They’re on me, but I don’t see them. It’s the same thing. I don’t really see it how you would see it how you or the public would see it, it’s just what I’ve been doing my whole life. I mean, I know what I’ve done, and I know what I accomplished, but what the impact of all that is… I don’t know.”

Glen: “We’re all too busy about thinking about what we’re going to do next. Moving forward, that’s the important thing.”

Slim: “That and the resentment over not being wealthier!”

RAMzine: Have there been any new bands that have caught your attention recently?

Earl: “There’s been a couple of bad ones!”

Slim: “Have you heard of a British band called The Ceazers? Excellent rockabilly, surf, punk rock, new wave kind of thing.”

Glen: “There’s a record every now and then that I like, but I won’t go slavishly collecting everything that they’ve ever done and join their fan site. I like Happy by Pharrell Williams, believe it or not!”

Earl: “Off the top of my head, I don’t know. I’ve been sitting around listening to Hank Williams.”

*support act Brandy Row walks in*

Earl: “Brandy Row is my new favourite!”

Glen: “Let’s hear it for Brandy!”

*All three cheer* RAMzine: You’ve worked with some incredibly reactionary bands and artists, such as The Sex Pistols and John Lennon. When you consider the political climate today, are you surprised that there aren’t more bands reacting to what’s going on around them?

Earl: “I’m not surprised at all, because they’re all fucking brain-dead! Nobody has an opinion about anything because the access to information is so overwhelming that they can’t put 2 and 2 together. They’ve got information coming from too many directions on the internet, so how can they really make a decision about what they really believe in? They don’t sing about anything because they don’t have opinions about anything. I’m baffled, I sort of know why it’s happening, but I’m still baffled.”

RAMzine: While we’re on the subject of John Lennon, what was he like as a person?

Earl: “He was just a guy, you know? We were just guys, in the band, that was it. Don’t get me wrong, he was very successful! The respect was there, but he wasn’t all “rock star”. We were mainly driven to make music. We had fun. I mean, what he accomplished in his lifetime was amazing, but on a day to day basis, he was just another guy playing rock n roll.”

RAMzine: Combined, you guys have worked with just about every big name in the industry. Is there anyone that you would still like to collaborate with?

Earl: “Bob Dylan.”

Slim: “Bob Dylan. I would be more nervous now if I had done it 10 years ago!”

Glen: “I saw Bob Dylan a while back at The Royal Albert Hall and I noticed he doesn’t strum the acoustic guitar anymore, because he’s got arthritis or something. I strum the acoustic guitar, so I thought “I could do that!”.”

RAMzine: What’s next for you guys after you’re done with this tour?

Glen: “Dunno yet. I mean, we’re just doing this for fun. If it gets us somewhere, great! If it don’t, it don’t! We’ll do other individual things too.”

Slim: “Waiting for being a pop cultural icon to pay off!”

RAMzine’s Sean Lewis: The pay off, for me at least, was seeing Matlock, Phantom and Slick perform. It turns out, if you need your faith in music restored, all you need is to be in a room with Earl Slick, a guitar, and a single Marshal amplifier. Is there a wider significance to all this rock ‘n’ roll nonsense? To echo the sentiments of Earl Slick, “I don’t know”. When it sounds this good, who cares? Playing rock music may not always be the best way to pay the bills, but its impact on the world is unfathomably good, as evidenced by the smiling punters exiting the venue, to go back to their lives in a town no one notices with a story to tell. Although by their own admission, they don’t see their own iconic status, but a room full of people did tonight.

Sean Lewis
Sean Lewis
General noise enthusiast and second-rate Lester Bangs wannabe.

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  1. Crap photo, should’ve got a proper photographer to take some press shots, not someone who gave one of the band members a BJ.


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