He was a teenage Sex Pistol, wrote the bulk of one of the greatest albums ever made and played with a ton of great drummers down the years. We got on the phone to Glen Matlock to talk about how he linked up with drummer Martin Chambers for his latest project and just what it's like to work with Paul Cook, Kenney Jones and more.
Your latest project, King Mob, sees you join up with Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers
"We've done this King Mob project and it's sounding really good. I've really enjoyed playing with Martin. I've known Martin for more than 30 years but never actually played with him until this. It all kind of clicked. Sometimes you play with people and it just works."
"I was recently doing some stuff with the Faces and playing with Kenney Jones was fantastic, nobody drums like Kenney Jones."
Martin has spoken about the two of you being on the same page musically
"We're cut from the same cloth musically somehow. We're a similar age group with a similar set of influences. I thought the whole thing with Martin's playing is just getting a groove, which lots of drummers not necessarily do. He still puts a few tasty little fills in. Some drummers want to play through everything all the time, always, 'Here I am, I'm the big loud drummer', that's alright in its place, Keith Moon wouldn't have been much cop if he hadn't have been like that but Martin just likes to lay it down and keep it simple. That's what I like about Martin's playing – the simplicity and the directness."
Are they features you admire in fellow Sex Pistol Paul Cook's playing as well?
"Paul's a different kind of drummer. He's quite cerebral with his drumming believe it or not for a punk rock drummer. Paul's drumming has hooks to the songs in it. Like in 'God Save The Queen' he does this little thing on each beat in the verses. He plays parts more than just a general rhythm. obviously he keeps the rhythm together but like his fills in 'Anarchy in the UK' are very distinctive and it all adds to the catchiness of the song. It's not just drumming, he's playing a part more than just the drums."
Do you see Paul as an underrated drummer?
"He's not [underrated] by me. It's different with Paul because we learnt to play together. I've played with loads and loads of drummers, I've been quite privileged with who I've got to play with. I've got my own project the Philistines, we play every now and then and we've got Javier [Weyler] out of Stereophonics playing drums and he's a fantastic drummer. He's got some good groove doing and he's got the tasty little bits, and he's a smiley kind of bloke. He worked on the last album we did about a year and a half ago and we go do some gigs every now and then."
Coming back to Martin, he's a drummer with a distinct style, isn't he?
"You know it's him. There's lots of drummers that are generic but I've been fortunate to play with people who have got a lot more character. I was recently doing some stuff with the Faces and playing with Kenney Jones was fantastic, nobody drums like Kenney Jones. For somebody that's even older than me to be keeping it going and do a drum solo as well. I've never been a big fan of the drum solo but I like Kenney's because you can dance to it."
Martin mentioned that the King Mob album was laid down within a few days
"It was pretty darn quick. We did rehearse it but not a lot. They're quite simple songs. We were pretty much on the same page with wondering what to do. I can do complicate bass parts but sometimes you just want to make sure the song as room to breathe. I always approach my bass playing as a songwriter more than anything else. The song is king, that's what it's all about. I'm certainly not from the Jaco Pastorius school of bass playing which I think is a load of wank."
"Some drummers want to play through everything all the time, always, 'Here I am, I'm the big loud drummer'...Martin likes to lay it down and keep it simple."
Are there plans to tour the album?
"We'll have to see how it's received. You put things out there and hopefully people dig it and pick up in it. I don't think anyone will bang their head against a brick wall if it doesn't go down well but hopefully it will go down well, we've had some good feedback so far. Everybody in the band does other things, Martin still does the Pretenders stuff, I'm off with the Philistines and their might be some more Faces stuff, we've all got projects to do. For me music is about communicating with people. It's a pretty good feeling when you get in a room and click with people and the idea is to make the total ten times more than the sum of the parts. When you get that it's good, when everybody's arguing because it's not clicking it's not much fun and I'm too old for it now. But the King Mob thing is clicking."
Martin, Kenney, Javier, Paul Cook – any other projects involving great drummers you want to tell us about?
"I'm going to Australia with Clem Burke, which is cool. Another great drummer. It was funny we did a festival with the Faces and Clem was in town and came down. We were waiting to go on and Javier came down and Martin was there was well. It was me surrounded by Kenney Jones, Javier, Clem and Martin and Slim Jim Phantom called me and asked what I was doing and he said, 'Perhaps you could form a band,' and I said, 'The trouble is mate, nobody knows any chords!'"
How did the gig with Clem come about?
"It's a fun thing called International Swingers. It's with a friend of mine called Gary twin who had a few hits with a band called Astronaut in Australia and we're just going to do some stuff, a bit of rock 'n' roll, a bit of fun, maybe Christmas on Bonzai Beach."
And how about the Faces – is there any more movement there?
"We did three shows last year, we did five this year so hopefully next year we'll get into double figures. I hope so because it sounds great. I'm really proud to be playing with my all-time favourite band. The only downside is Rod Stewart isn't doing it. I don't know why, I'm not really party to that. But Mick Hucknall's doing it, Mick Hucknall has a fantastic voice. It's a real privilege to be playing with Ron Wood. Ronnie's the principle guitarist and I think he really comes to the fore. I don't think his personality gets to shine through like it does with the faces. Musically, life's been pretty good. And it wouldn't be the Faces without Kenney. I think the different between older bands and the modern bands is older bands I picked up on always had real character players, Now I think bands are kind of faceless. You get the frontman with red hair or something outlandish but I remember when you'd know all the names of the band and they were individuals and personalities. Maybe younger kids would dispute that but that's the way I see it."
Finally, how about the Pistols?
"Well its 35 years since Never Mind The Bollocks next year so who knows. I haven't heard anything, but that doesn't mean to say no. There's enough going on in my life to not have to worry about it."
For more on King Mob pick up the latest issue of Rhythm which features an interview with Martin Chambers.