By Adriana Rubio
Photographs: Courtesy of Mat Sargent

Mat Sargent is a well known musician-bass player for the London-based punk band Chelsea.  Mat Sargent joined Chelsea in 1991 and went on to play for legendary punk band Sham 69’ in 1995 also becoming the resident bass player for Splodgenessabounds. He is currently completing the writing process of his autobiography.

The ‘Sex Drugs & HIV’ Project started in 1995 when Mat Sargent wanted to give something back to the charities that helped him on his life journey.  He came up with the idea of recording an album with different musicians on each track.  

For the first 10 years Mat recorded at Dave Goodman’s home studio in Gipsy Hill.  Known for his work with the Sex Pistols as their sound man, Goodman also produced the Spunk album & The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle.

Mat knew Dave Goodman from the Chelsea years as Dave produced two of the band’s albums that Mat played on: “The Alternative” & “Traitors Gate”. Dave Goodman also produced 2 albums for ‘Splodge’: “I Don’t Know” & “Artful Splodger”. Mat & Dave got on very well becoming close friends and a working relation started. Dave Goodman believed in Mat’s HIV album project and they produced most of the songs together.  


Mat Sargent booked Dave Goodman's studio for a month with a very well organized schedule for all the instruments and musicians. Mat got all the drummers scheduled for the first week, all the guitarists & bass players were called to record on the second & third week and all the vocalists did their singing contribution on the last week.

It all worked out as professional as possible even with the craziness of people coming in & out of the studio all day and night.  Up to seven different musicians a day were required to play and record.  The album was like a huge jigsaw, filling in spaces with various musicians from many different styles including rock, pop, ska, punk, reggae, rockabilly, heavy metal, funk, R&B, new age, country. The ‘Sex Drugs & HIV’ album can be described as a vivid musical collage!

Six months after the first recording sessions, Mat booked Dave Goodman’s studio for another month to record more songs with an additional group of musicians.  Originally only supposed to be 1 album, the HIV project attracted many musicians and the charities that Sargent chose to support encouraged more people to join the project which is now a double CD of 40 songs. 


One of the highlights on the HIV project has to be Max Splodge on the song '667 The Neighbour Of The Beast' where he plays a trombone solo. The thing was Max had never played a trombone before but insisted the track needed a trombone solo! Max also played trombone on the title track for the album Sex Drugs & HIV, written by Darrell Bath (UK Subs / Dogs D'amour / Crybabys) and Honest John Plain (The Boys / Crybabys).

Mat Sargent wrote the songs on the Sex Drugs & HIV album, collaborating with musicians on some of the tracks, including: Brian Robertson (Thin Lizzy / Motorhead), Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), Dick Lukas (Citizen Fish / Subhumans), Paul Fenech (Meteors), Micky Fitz (The Business), Frankie Stubbs (Leatherface), Roly Wynne (Ozric Tentacles), Poly Styrene (X Ray Spex), Darren White (The Blood Divine), Chris Bowsher (RDF), Jennie Matthias (The Belle Stars), Jimmy Pursey (Sham 69), Mark E Smith (The Fall), Lee Thompson (Madness), Judge Dread, Angie Bowie, and Afrika Bambaataa.


The entire project was filmed by Mat Sunderland & Dublin Joe who filmed the first half, and Mat’s son, Alex Sargent, filmed the final sessions. Included in the limited Sex Drugs & HIV box sets (which will later be released) will be 3 memory sticks with 30 one hour documentaries showing the musicians at work, the making of the album, storytelling, different meetings with musicians at the studio and more.

Through 15 years of making the album with over 200 guests, Mat Sargent went through a transfer period where everything that had been recorded on analogue had to be transferred to digital, not only for each instrument on each song but also all the hours of video tape.

Back and forth to Germany for the past 10 years, Mat has been trawling through the hours of footage (over 150 hours) with his good friend Manni Kusters, who taught him how to use the editing, machines. It really was a learning process for Sargent as he became a perfectionist on all the tasks.


Dave Goodman died in 2005 so Sargent spent the next 5 years finishing the project at Panther Studios which was owned by Dick Crippen, former bass player for bands; Tenpole Tudor and King Kurt. Ten years had passed since Dick had played bass on one of the tracks for the HIV Project; ironically it was the same track that Dave Goodman had played on (Cigarette In The Ashtray).

Dick Crippen helped Mat Sargent to finish off the jigsaw and additionally, a number of new tracks were recorded to complete the 40 songs for the double album CD.  On May 16th, 2011, Sargent finished all the recordings and mastered the albums at Abbey Road in October of the same year.


Mat Sargent has worked on the Sex Drugs & HIV project for 15 years which is now ready to present to everyone and start generating funds for the beneficiary charities.  The songs from the Sex Drugs & HIV album have been available to download since January 1st, 2012 and a CD/DVD release is planned for 1st December (World AIDS Day).

The HIV Project band ROCK 'n' ROLL GYPSIES will also play shows to promote the album release and raise awareness for the charities: - Rape Crisis, Release (drugs), Terrence Higgins Trust (HIV+AIDS) & Cancer Research after Mat Sargent’s recent fight with cancer. A few musicians on the project have since died of cancer;- Kelly Johnson (Girlschool), Paul Samson (Samson), Jez Bird (The Lambrettas), Paul Fox (The Ruts), Chris Townson (John's Children / Jet / Radio Stars), Poly Styrene (X Ray Spex) - also not forgetting; John McGeoch (Magazine / P.I.L), Wurzel (Motorhead), Min (Splodgenessabounds), Roly Wynne (Ozric Tentacles), Wally Nightingale (Sex Pistols / Swankers), Judge Dread and Dave Goodman who have also passed.

Fund-raising shows are organized to finance the pressing of the Sex Drugs & HIV album. Also a big show is planned with Rock'n'Roll Gypsies to perform a live version of the album with many guests from the album appearing with the band.



The Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies

Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies  (1998 - 2001)
Vocals & guitar - Mat Sargent 
Lead guitar - Wurzel  (Motorhead)
Keys - Seaweed (Ozric Tentacles)
Bass - Leo Smee  (Cathedral)
Drums - Stuart Soulsby  (Chelsea)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies  (2002 - 2007)
Vocals & guitar - Mat Sargent
Vocals - Monique Maasen (B Bang Cider) 
Lead guitar – Johnny Chunders  (Splodge)
Bass - Tracey Lamb  (Girlschool)
Drums - Smeg  (Juicy Lucy)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies  (2010 - 2012) 
Vocals & guitar - Mat Sargent
Vocals - Monique Maasen (B Bang Cider) 
Lead guitar – Johnny Chunders  (Splodge)
Guitar - Ronny Rocka  (Angelic Upstarts)
Bass - Noel Hendrick  (Streatham Hillbillys)
Drums - Robin Guy  (Faith No More)


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