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After being announced last year to appear on Blondie’s new album – the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Pollinator‘ – the punk veteran has also been playing with the art-pop icons for recent world tour commitments, performing to a huge Pyramid Stage on the closing day of Glastonbury on Sunday (June 24).
Before he took to the stage, NME asked the bass legend if he could recall the first time he met the band.
“I can’t remember exactly because I was probably really drunk and out of it, but I think I met them first when I did a for-one-night-only gig with Sid Vicious at the Electric Ballroom in ‘78 or ‘79,” he replied. “Blondie turned up as a band, and I think that’s when I met Clem [Burke] and Debbie [Harry] for the first time.
“What I thought was quite sweet about them was that when bands go on tour and have a night off, everyone tends to filter off somewhere – but they always seemed to be out and about as a band. I thought that was good.”
Matlock also revealed how their collaboration came about “just over a year ago”, when he received a phone call from drummer Clem Burke while in the middle of cooking his dinner.
“I was in the middle of doing my risotto, it was nearly ready, then the phone rang, I had a mate round so stirred it for me,” said Matlock. “I told Clem, ‘My risotto is nearly ready and you’re spoiling it, so get on with it’.
“He said, ‘We need a bass player’, I said, ‘I thought you got one’, he said, ‘It’s not working out, can you come over?’ I thought he meant in a couple of months but he said, ‘No, next week’. I said, ‘Ah, let me think’. I did overnight and I knew I should. I’ve worked with Clem on loads of things over the years – some alright, some a bit hair-brained – but we play well together and I love Blondie’s material. They’ve got a great body of work and they always seem to push the envelope somehow, slightly. They also have good basslines.”
Asked what he could tell us about the new Blondie album, Matlock replied: “I can’t, because I’ve done the backing tracks but haven’t heard the finished thing yet. I stuck a few ideas in, but how they come out, I don’t know.”
Despite being “only ever a phone call away from going to do a session or this or that”, Matlock recently released his acclaimed seventh solo ‘Consequences Coming‘.
“I’m quite pleased about it, because I think that consequences have come for quite a few of our more self-centred nitwit politicians,” he said of the album’s themes. “I wrote the songs a few years back.”
He continued: “It’s not only Brexit, per se. It’s what it has led to and the enablement of it all. I can believe that so many people in this country are willing to have the wool pulled over their eyes by a right bunch of wrongun’s. I always thought that as an Englishman, one of the major pluses is that you can spot a wrongun’ from a mile off – but now I think I’m wrong. People can’t.
“The problem is that I think the Tories will rescind [Brexit] before the Labour Party get round to it and we’ll be stuck with the Tories again. I think it’s untenable.”
Speaking of the devastating impact that Brexit has been having on touring acts from the UK, Matlock said: “New bands are suffering, as are more established artists like me who are high up the bill with Blondie. We’re not Guns N’ Roses, although I saw them on the telly last night…”
After he exhaled heavily, NME asked Matlock what he meant – is that good or bad?
“You can just write ‘He pulled a face’,” he replied. “Nice blokes, though.”
While the past five years seeing the UK enjoy somewhat of a punk revival led by the likes of IDLES and Shame, Matlock said that he hadn’t been particularly in tune with it – nor had he noticed too much of the Sex Pistols’ influence on modern guitar music.
“Well, everybody wears straight trousers these days,” he joked. “Before us, everyone wore flares. That’s a major plus, although flares hang on your shoes a little bit better. If you’re going to wear tight trousers you need to wear Chelsea boots really.
“Yeah, I like him. My son showed me a video of him. I was telling Debbie [Harry] last night that I quite fancy seeing him.”
Matlock didn’t want to speak again of his “disappointment” in recent Sex Pistol Disney biopic series Pistol, but instead look to the future with his solo work and other various projects. In that spirit, is there anyone that he has never worked with but would love to?
“I’d like to have done something with Bryan Ferry in his prime,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind doing something with Iggy again, actually. I saw him in the States and it was great. I’m looking forward to seeing him on Saturday.”
Matlock as part of Blondie will play with Iggy Pop at Dog Day Afternoon in London’s Crystal Palace Park this Saturday (July 1). Visit here for tickets and more information. They’ll also be playing shows at the Lytham Festival and Malahide Castle in Dublin this week, which you can find tickets for here.
He also has solo shows coming up in Belfast and Dublin in August, which you can find tickets for here.
See NME‘s most magical moments from Glastonbury 2023 here, with all our news, reviews, interviews, photos and more here. You can also relive all the action as it happened from our Glastonbury’s liveblogs for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.