The Klaxons keyboardist and vocalist tells Ian Woodcock of his love for all things Tottenham Hotspur…
You're from Stratford-upon-Avon, so why Spurs?
Well its basically my mum’s doing. She’s originally from London, so I don’t think I had a choice in the matter. She took me to my first game away at Coventry, back when we had Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne. I was totally hooked after that.
So you were never tempted to support Coventry or Villa then?
Nah, not really. You can’t change your club can you? I was a Spurs fan from birth, - even if I had wanted to support someone else I couldn’t. Anyway, all my mates supporting those other teams just kind of spurred me on to stick with it.
How much does being in a band get in the way of being a Tottenham fan?
Well, obviously it means I can’t really go to games at White Hart Lane. You know, I’m always either away on tour or in the studio recording so it is difficult. We spent a lot of time last season away recording in America. But it actually worked out pretty well. There’s always loads of English bars in the USA showing the matches, so I probably ended up seeing more stuff than if I’d been here.
By and large being from the Midlands means I’m used to not been able to go to many games, when I was younger I only used to make about two a season. A couple of seasons ago, when Harry Redknapp took over from Juande Ramos I saw about 12 games, which was great. But then last season I didn’t see a single game.
This season I’ve had a word with our agent, because if we manage to stay in the Champions League then I’d love to go to an away game. So I’ve had a word to see if it could be arranged for us (Klaxons) to be where Spurs are, but we’ll have to see.
Do results ever impact on your own performance in a gig?
Get back to me after next Wednesday [the night of Spurs' Champions League play-off second leg against Young Boys]! The band are playing in London and it’s my birthday! So yeah, that day could either be fantastic or a bit of disaster. We don’t go on stage until half nine so hopefully it’ll be sorted before we go on. Either way I’ve said I’m gonna watch the game, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Ever found yourself pre-occupied during a performance because of a Spurs game?
If Wednesday goes to extra time then I think I will be. But generally because of where we tour and things I’ve never really been on stage while Spurs have been playing. Last season was a bit tense in terms of being so close to the top four all season. It never really got in the way of recording or anything.
When I’m on stage I never really think about the football. You really have to focus. If you suddenly start thinking about Jermain Defoe missing a chance or whatever then you’ll forget the words to the song.
Who do the other guys in the band support? Is there any rivalry?
To be honest the others aren’t really that into it. Jamie is a bit of a Manchester United fan, but not major. In my experience there aren’t that many people in bands who are that into football. It’s a shame really because it’d be great to have some people to watch games with backstage.
You used to be on the books of Leicester City. What happened there? What kind of player were you?
I was an attacking midfielder. I liked to get on the ball and pass, create chances for other people. I kind of tried to mould my game on Gazza or Glenn Hoddle, although sadly I never really threatened to scale those kind of heights.
I left at 15. It was a self-realisation as much as anything else, I knew I wasn’t going to be good enough to make it. It was a hard decision, you know, it was my dream. The thing is that no-one from my team went on to play professionally, I don’t think, which says a lot about how difficult �it is to make the grade.
I think for me it just became too much pressure. You play football for the joy of it, but by the end I just felt under loads of pressure every game. That’s just no good.
The good thing about it was that I’d already started to play in some local bands while I was still playing football, so I just kind of shifted my focus on to that. I think its worked out really well.
What football anthem do you wish you’d written? Is there any you’d consider covering?
Nah, not really. I think they’re just so easy to do badly and then it’s just no good to anyone. So I’d never consider covering any or even writing one to be perfectly honest.
As for my own favourites, it’s hard to look past World in Motion - which is just a great record full stop, regardless of the John Barnes rap and the fact it’s a football song; or Three Lions, which I just don’t see getting bettered. It’s another fantastic record. It picked up the mood of the time. It can’t be topped as far as I’m concerned. I heard recently that Germany fans sing it now as well - that says it all really doesn’t it?
What are your hopes for Spurs this season?
First and foremost I just want us to make the group stages of the Champions League. It was weird to hear the Champions League anthem before the game the other day. It was just a shame, like the pitch wasn’t great and we kind of looked awestruck for that first half an hour. It was good to see Harry show some courage and change it before half-time because it could have got bad. Harry’s great like that though. He’s a quality manager.
In terms of the league, it would be fantastic to get fourth again. It’s gonna be really hard though - Liverpool are stronger, I think, and Manchester City are obviously going to be stronger too.
But this season in general should be fantastic. Anything could happen. In all honesty, I could see us finishing anywhere between like first or sixth. It wouldn’t surprise me if we won it. That’d be great though!
Which double would you prefer: a number one album and the Mercury Music Prize for Klaxons, or a Premier League title and FA Cup for Spurs?
(Pause) I just… I can’t answer that. Both would be great. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice one for the other.
The whole of last season was just brilliant, but it would have to be when we beat Arsenal 5-1 in the Carling Cup semi a couple of years ago. We were on fire. Afterwards I was buzzing for days. I don’t generally buy into the rivalry that much but that was fantastic. I went to the final as well [which Spurs won 2-1 against Chelsea], obviously that was terrific too. To see Spurs win a cup. Great.
Can’t really pick out one individual moment. It was grim going through that period where we just kept constantly changing manager. I mean like Gross, Santini people like that. They were just disasters. Confusing times.
Stand up if you hate…
I don’t really hate anyone. You know, - I’m not a hater.
I’d have to say Gazza. He was phenomenal. Really special, I love that way of playing. He took the game to the opposition. He ran at players. I’d say at the moment Gareth Bale is my favourite player. He’s really stepped up. I remember for ages he was like the scapegoat, we kept losing when he played! But he’s really changed, he’s so much more confident now.
Ilie Dumitrescu. He looked amazing at the World Cup in 1994. When I heard we’d signed him I was delighted. I thought “this guy is great, he is going to turn us into title winners.”
I mean. He wasn’t terrible but he just didn’t come close to �living up to expectations. Well not mine anyway!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Luis Fabiano. I was excited when we were linked with Fabiano. It would be great if that came off. Obviously I’d love Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but its just not gonna happen is it? Its not unfathomable that we could get Ibrahimovic. I know that sounds weird but I could see it. He’d fit in at Spurs.
Interview: August 2010. Klaxons' new album 'Surfing the Void' is out now.