As one of my favourite blogs would suggest, football and music are intrinsically linked and have been since, probably, the early 60s. From Best-era coolness, World Cup songs of the 70s, the FA Cup final songs of the 80s, the footballer-can-sing (eek) acts throughout those years, the goal celebration music of Sky era nonsense (pffrt) to the magpie-ing of R&B/Hip Hop culture, you can’t get away from it.
Shoot & Match player Q&A’s used to tell us that the average pro footballer thought Luther and Phil Collins were the bees knees, these days the zeitgeist (yay, weekly use of ‘zeitgeist’) appears to be the bling of Hip Hop and R&B that floats the boat of the average football. Changing times. But that’s just youth, isn’t it? What do the real music fans in football think, what does music mean to them?
So, I’m going to ask a few and see what they say. First up, Gillingham’s former Grays, Fulham, Wycombe, Millwall and Palace stalwart Matty Lawrence. We knew Matty liked his choons just by reading his Tweets and he didn’t disappoint, especially as we found ourselves nodding our head at the responses.
Matty’s been fairly fortunate in finding clubs in the South East in his 15 year, post-University football career but it still means travel, endless travel.
“For the past 15 years I’ve spent two hours a day travelling to and from training and I rarely do anything but listen to my own music. A bad cliche, I know, but music is my religion and I’d be lost without it! The first thing I do when I get into the car in the morning is cue up the ipod and get the speakers blaring!!”
We Know It’s Difficult But Top 5 Albums?
“Far too difficult to choose!! Primal Scream – ‘Scream-a-delica’, Arctic Monkeys – ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, The Strokes – ‘Is This It?’, The Stone Roses – ‘The Stone Roses’, Oasis – ‘Definitely Maybe'”
All pretty new, if you’re over 35 like us.
“Just stuck with the modern era. ‘Beggars Banquet’ or ‘Let It Bleed’ by The Stones could be in there. The Doors debut album, or anything by The Jam, or ‘London Calling’ by The Clash. I could go on, but don’t want to bore you!!”
You wouldn’t Matt, we’re there too, not sure about the Doors though … I’m slightly damaged by tuneless Uni sing alongs by people who couldn’t play guitar. Or sing.
“I found music really late on in my life, I was probably 15 or 16, but from that moment on any spare cash got spent on vinyl, now CD’s or iTunes. Used to be paper round money and now it’s any spare money after the bills have been paid. I read NME religiously every week and I go to as many gigs as I can.”
“Primal Scream at the Irish Centre in Northampton. ’90 or ’91 – the ‘Higher Than The Sun’ tour. I currently have tickets to see The Vaccines, Edwyn Collins and Primal Scream doing their Scream-a-delica tour all coming up in the next few weeks.”
Oh yes, we’re off to Scream too, can’t wait – What About Best Gig?
“Oasis at the Elephant and Castle Coronet on the night Liverpool beat Milan in the Champ Final. Oasis let the crowd watch the game and then came on to ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ Brilliant atmosphere and a small venue for Oasis. Can’t stand stadium tours!!” Not always so joy filled though, eh? “[I] was backstage at a The View gig and was watching from the side of the stage with a few mates, somehow ended up in the middle of a scuffle and got picked up and thrown down a flight of stairs by a bouncer. That was interesting!! Luckily, I bounced!! Think it was at the Astoria, or Koko.”
Must have been like a Iwan Roberts challenge.
“I Am Kloot at the Komedia in Brighton a week or two ago.”
So, does this love of music extend to getting involved? You know, plugging in that guitar? Switching on that amp?
“I don’t play an instrument or sing – except on the shower, or for my supper!! I am artistically inept!!”
Not even a bit of Karaoke?
“I’d have to go for a safe-ish option, something like Wonderwall or Slide Away by Oasis”.
There’s a bit of a ‘Brit Pop’ (yeah, yeah, I know but what else do I call it) theme emerging here and these bands are very much ‘live’ bands. So, how has football helped you feed the music addiction?
“Through football I have been lucky enough to meet some great guys involved in the music industry. They regularly get me into gigs.” Not at all jealous, so who are these guys? “[I] met James Endeacott of Libertines/Strokes/The View fame as he sponsored my kit at Palace through his 1965 Record label. He’s a Palace fanatic and we’ve become good friends. Through James I met Tim Vigon who co-owns Coalition Management. They manage bands like The Streets, The Zutons, Phoenix, Fionn Regan, The Music and many others. Through Tim I’ve become friends with Rob Harvey – lead singer of The Music.”
Hmmm … so I should have been a footballer to feed my own music addiction …
“I’ve also been lucky enough to become friends with Felix White of The Maccabees. Met him backstage at a gig in Brighton. He’s a Fulham season ticket-holder and told me he had pictures of me on his wall when he was a kid, from my time at Fulham. Yep, that made me feel old.” (Heh, old or not Matty, that is rather cool) Love The Maccabees and watch them as often as I can. Seen them well over 10 times and at the last gig I even ended up helping out on their merch’ stand!!”
You footballers do really live a charmed life!! If you were a rock star, who would you be and why?
“Paul Weller – The Jam, Style Council, great solo back catalogue……longevity, style, credibility and a great haircut!!!”
Can’t really argue with that and the only other person apart from me and … errrr … no one else who would have stuck ‘Style Council’ in that sentence.
World in Motion, Three Lions, or maybe Cicciolina by Pop Will Eat Itself?
“World In Motion – New Order and a great video!!”
No, sorry, Cicciolina is clearly the greatest football song ever.
Like we said, R&B and Hip Hop pervades modern footballers so what goes on in the Gills dressing room? We have to broach it the thorny issue.
“No idea what is played at Gills – all I know is it’s crap and it’s a bit dancey/poppy. Was much better at Palace – Arctics, Kings and a bit of Oasis thrown in……then a big singalong to The Proclaimers ‘500 miles’!!”
If the Gills got to the FA Cup final (you never know, it could happen!), who would you rope in to write the Cup Final tune?
“We’d have to get Oasis to reform, or I’d have a word with Felix and see if The Maccabees would do the honours.”
What song would you have played at your funeral?
“‘Movin’ On Up’ by Primal Scream.”
First ‘Pop’ Crush?
“First one was Danni Minogue. When I was a bit older I always had posters of bands like Suede, Primal Scream and early Oasis on my wall.
Let’s get to the crux of this, aside from the vibrant soundscape built up already, what does music mean to Matt Lawrence?
“I would rather go to a gig than watch a game of football and music has accompanied me through all periods of my life. I love it when I first hear great music – I vividly remember the first time I moved the needle onto the Supersonic 12″ by Oasis, or the first time I heard The Strokes when they released their first 3 song EP The Modern Age, or the time I first heard ‘Higher Than The Sun’ by the Primals. Very little beats that feeling when you know you’ve discovered a band you can hold dear to your heart.”
To top and tail this little thing, what song best sums up or represents Matt Lawrence the footballer?
“I’ll keep thinking, not sure right now”.
I don’t reckon anyone will answer that one, I couldn’t but then I’m not a footballer. OK, recommend us some recent albums.
“I like the new-ish Steve Mason album. Wild Beasts – ‘Two Dancers’, Edwyn Collins – ‘Losing Sleep’ and I Am Kloot – ‘Sky At Night.'”
MANY THANKS TO MATT LAWRENCE. If you’re at a gig and there’s a guitar or two present, you might bump into him. Don’t throw him down any stairs though, he’s got a game to play.
Matt Lawrence’s Super Group:
Drums – Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys)
Keyboards – Martin Duffy (Primal Scream)
Bass – Jared Followill (Kings Of Leon)
Guitar – Johnny Marr (Legend)
Singer – Jim Morrison (Dead Bloke)
‘Screamadelica’ artwork courtesy Creation Records and Matt Lawrence photo courtesy Gillingham FC