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Sex Pistols reunion would be ‘like riding a bike’ says bassist Glen Matlock

Glen Matlock says getting back on stage with John Lydon, Steve Jones and Paul Cook would feel natural... despite years of rancour

Glen Matlock with the Sex Pistols in 1976

Glen Matlock with the Sex Pistols in 1976: A press conference with fellow Sex Pistols John Lydon, Steve Jones and Paul Cook, the day after the Bill Grundy Show. Image: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

It’s almost 50 years since the Sex Pistols exploded as part of the punk scene of 70s London, and almost 15 years since they’ve played live – but original bassist Glen Matlock says getting back on stage with John Lydon, Steve Jones and Paul Cook would feel natural.

“If the Sex Pistols ever play together again, which looks very unlikely, it will be like riding a bike,” he told The Big Issue, as part of an exclusive interview for the Letter To My Younger Self series.

“We all like playing with each other. We keep in contact. I saw Steve in LA when I was there with Blondie, Paul invited me to do a few numbers with The Professionals before Christmas. And I did like when John said: ‘While we may not be the best of friends, we are certainly not the worst of enemies.’ Now, whether that is still the case… but I like to think so.”

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Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, is currently busy preparing for his bid to represent Ireland in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with his post-Pistols band Public Image Ltd (the Irish representative being set to be decided on February 3) and Matlock is busy with his own album. But a Sex Pistols reunion faces problems beyond scheduling.

Matlock and Lydon have long had a fractious relationship. In 1977, just before the release of the band’s debut album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, the acrimony between the pair led to Matlock being replaced by Sid Vicious.

“I was only 20 when I left the Pistols. Maybe I should have stood my ground more, but I was young and I’d already been approached by record companies saying we’d be interested in what you come up with. So I formed Rich Kids with Steve New, a fantastic guitarist who’s sadly no longer around, and Rusty Egan, who was a great drummer,” said Matlock.

Rich Kids had a UK hit with the single Rich Kids in 1978, and Matlock went on to play with artists including Blondie, Iggy Pop, The Damned and The Faces. He’s also released his own music and his latest album Consequences Coming is out on April 23.

The Sex Pistols have never quite left him, though. He’s previously reunited with the band for the 1996 Filthy Lucre Tour, the 2002 concert to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II, their 2003 North American Piss Off Tour, and their 2007–08 UK and Europe Combine Harvester Tour.

That’s not to say relations have mellowed through the years. As recently as last year, Lydon called the rest of the band “dead wood”, telling The Sun, “None of these fucks would have a career but for me.”

But Matlock says Lydon would never have had the band’s signature rallying cries – Anarchy In The UK and God Save The Queen – without him.  

“I get fed up with talk of who did what in the Sex Pistols. But Anarchy In The UK is my musical contribution and John’s lyric – I just wish he still stood by the words. Same with God Save The Queen. My role in life has been as a tunesmith. I enabled John to say what he wanted by having a catchy tune,” he said.

“Now I’ve got a bit to say myself on my new record. The first single is called Head on a Stick. And that’s what I’d like to see, metaphorically, for the people who’ve led us up the garden path so openly and brazenly – Gove, Johnson, Sunak, Iain Duncan Smith. Personally, I think a lot of people should be done for treason. People are furious and quite rightly so. I have been for a while.”

Read more from Glen Matlock in the full Letter To My Younger Self interview, in The Big Issue from Monday, January 30.

Glen Matlock’s new album Consequences Coming is out on April 23. The single Head on a Stick is out now. He plays at Nell’s in London on February 17. glenmatlock.co.uk

The Big Issue magazine exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work, buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available from the App Store or Google Play.

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