andywilsonLast month, I put together an article for Bandcamp on the Euros and music, which was a whole lot of fun, and is due to run in another week or so. For that article, I interviewed ten different acts from all around Europe on their take on football, the story behind their songs and a few other things about France 2016. One particular interview stood out, so rather than take just the best few lines from it and leave things at that, I thought I’d throw it up here. Here’s Andy Wilson and the Longshots talking about Ireland and ‘Summer of ’16’

Tell me a little bit about ‘Summer of ’16’

I wrote the song immediately after we qualified. We qualified on the Monday night after the Paris attacks, so I suppose emotions were running high. By Tuesday night, I had most of it written and finished it within the week. I had loads more verses, for example the topical easter verse‘ In the easter of ’16, we rebelled against the queen, well actually it was a king, but that doesn’t rhyme with green’. But I managed to shape it into what it is now. It comes from my love of the songs that were around in the early 90s. Liam Harrison’s give it a lash Jack. Joxer goes to Stuttgart by Christy Moore. It’s not the same now, the game has changed, Ireland has changed. There hasn’t been a decent one for a while. ill Thraps were good in 2012 with ‘We All Get Nil Together’. Shows how optimistic we were then. There’s a slightly stronger sense of optimism this year. I thought I’d at least have a go. I was laughing out loud while writing it.

I sat on it for months though, wondering what to do with it. Almost forgot about it really. I sang it for a friend, Chris, before Christmas, who absolutely loved it and kept asking me when I was gonna record it. By March he was really starting to get on my case. He gave me a ticket to the opening Cork City game of the season and we went as neutrals (he’s from Wexford, me a UCD fan from Dublin). After the game, we’d had a few pints and there was the opportunity to play a song in the pub (the beer garden in Turner’s cross, where I very rarely have a pint). After 4 or 5 pints I find it difficult to not seize such an opportunity. It steadies me! So I told Chris I’d play it, got up, and did it. The reaction was fairly shocking. Everyone loved it.

I’d watched the draw in my local, Coughlan’s, where I’d watched us qualify and where we made the video. It’s more of a rugby pub than a soccer pub, so there wasn’t a huge interest in the draw. As i sat at the bar I felt like the only one who cared, until in came Ray and Geraldine Barron, husband and wife, professional musicians and very nice people. While we sat at the bar watching a difficult draw transpire, I lightened the mood by reciting the verses I could remember from my song and it helped us settle the nerves. I’d done a little recording with Ray before and really enjoyed working with him, so, months after sharing those nervous moments in Coughlan’s, filled with confidence that the song was worth putting down, I called Ray and asked if he’d help me out.

So, i went out to their home studio and Ray’s son Robbie (of The Saker Hymn / John Blek and the Rats) set about recording me. We were all quite busy at the time, so I didn’t spend a lot of time with them, so Ray and Robbie deserve credit for what you hear on the final version. They enlisted Aaron Dillon to sing with Robbie and I, and Dave Jones did a great drum track. Geraldine’s accordion can be heard in there as well as of course Ray on Mandolin. Robbie played the bass and all the guitars. It was quite cool to have a guy on the board, juggling what quickly became quite a large, constantly evolving project to work with, who you could hum an idea too and he’d just grab a guitar and do it.

Then we had a recording. I was buzzing at this stage. Lynda Cullen had offered me a gig on paddy’s day in Latitude 51, a cafe wine bar, that used to be the old Lobby Bar, best folk house the city had ever known. Given that it was Paddy’s day and there was a buzz about it and that I was myself reeling from the disappointment of Man U being dumped out of Europe by Liverpool as I was going on, I decided to play the football song. Emmet O’Brien was there and said ‘man you had me interested in football for 4 minutes, let’s do a video’ and so Deep Red got involved and did amazing work in a short space of time and now we have a fantastic video to show for it and people like you are contacting me which is nice! We are all early in our careers so any bit of a leg up is nice. I am aware that people may see me as football song guy but I don’t really mind. I might open some doors for myself and I can do whatever I want really.

Here’s the song and video in question:
 
 
Let’s talk about a more normal song for you, then. I assume it’s not all football?
I wouldn’t normally write about football, I don’t know what I write about. Whatever is bothering me maybe? Something I’m particularly happy about?
The night of the first leg play off on that Foggy night in Bosnia, people were getting butchered at a rock concert in Paris, and barring excellent security work, more were likely to have been killed at the match in Stade de France.

That bothered me. And what also bothered me was that when I went to meet a friend in a late bar after the game, the party continued. I understand that people have their daily/weekly grind, but it scares me how apathetic people were that night. It wasn’t the case everywhere. I left that place quickly and called into Coughlan’s on the way home. There everyone was just gazing up at the rolling news in the bar.

I’ve since written about that. I’ve written about being unhappy in my job. About homophobia (my brother chose the night of the Paris attacks to tell me he was going full-time transgender… I felt terrible, I was more interested in the game and then afterwards we were all just in shock, I didn’t really get to give him the proper thumbs up that night!). I’ll make a short serious record soon after this buzz dies down. I’ve never released anything apart from chucking around demos, so it’s about time and

I’ll make a short serious record soon after this buzz dies down. I’ve never released anything apart from chucking around demos, so it’s about time and I have some material I want to get out. The way that this song has caught the imagination of, more people than any of my serious stuff has ever done makes me wonder if I should stick to general themes though! Maybe I’ll start working on a Christmas song and in the meantime if anyone needs a song for an occasion get in touch!

andywilson2

Will you be heading out to France?

Unfortunately no. I had hoped I might be able to bus/train/fly/hitch hike my way up from Barcelona. But the budget isn’t gonna stretch and I haven’t quit my job like I wanted to. I’d love to be over there, ticketless, sharing in the atmos. I’m mainly concerned about being off when Ireland are playing. Hopefully, if we have a buzz going maybe we can do a gig or two around games. We thought we’d been booked for a pretty big telly gig but they changed their minds! Perhaps we can have a bit of craic. It’d be nice if enough people downloaded the song that I could pay the people who volunteered all their work to make it happen! That’s unlikely, though. If it goes to number one I’ll go to France!

But you watch quite a bit of football generally?

I used to be a die-hard UCD fan and we were so small in number, like 5 or 6 travelling to Cork, but we’d have a couple of beers and get vocal. We could see the team lifting when they heard us get behind them at times. It doesn’t take that many people to make yourself loud if the home fans are being very quiet.

I used to love going to Lansdowne though. When I was 19 or 20 and working in Dublin, a gang of us went to see Ireland V Liverpool. I think it was Tony Cascarino’s testimonial for Ireland, but for us, it’s forever going to be the Phil Babb testimonial. He was on the bench for Ireland, and we were in the old south terrace. There was a bit of space in front of it as it’s a rugby pitch and that’s where the players used warm up. Babb came over after about 20 mins and as the game was a walk in the park, end of season friendly, no one wanting to work too hard, we had to find some way to amuse ourselves. I started singing ‘There’s only one Phil Babb’ and it caught on. He was a bit of a joke to us at this stage. The spice boy who promised so much and delivered not so much. Everyone’s best memory is of him splitting his nuts on the goal post against Chelsea, and he’d recently enough been detained for dancing on a car on Harcourt Street that turned out to belong to a Garda. He’d also just been transferred to Sporting Lisbon, so this was to be his last game in front of what was essentially a stadium 3/4 full of Liverpool fans.

The game continued to be boring as, and we got the song going again. McCarthy must have heard us, because he put him on. Every touch he got was cheered. I think they wanted him to try and score late on. He seemed to be playing out of position on the left side of an attacking setup. Robbie Keane appeared to be in central defence. Babb was getting a lot of the ball and he nearly scored. It was great entertainment. I remember seeing him throw his shirt into the crowd.

We had a game against Scotland the following Wednesday, the testimonial having been on Sunday. He started, and played awful. The sarcastic cheers continued but by now the joke was quite obvious. I hope I didn’t push it too much. But on the Friday, the evening herald had a 2 page spread with a headline about Babb being a joke on the Irish terraces. If you’re reading this, I’m sorry Phil.
I’ve got loads of other stories probably. But This one is probably most relevant to music/the song.  ‘Donal’s out in Bratislava, and he’s playing the GAA’ is a line about Donal Greene, former Dundalk keeper now living and working in Bratislava, coaching soccer on the side and playing GAA. He had half the Bratislava and Vienna GAA teams show up at the Pasienky stadium last year when UCD played in Europe for the first time in 20 years. They made it a magic occasion for the tiny number of us that made it and it was wonderful to see Irish men from different national league clubs and different counties stand together behind us. A couple were from Wales/England as well. We were all UCD fans for 90 minutes, then we went off, every single one of us, and hung out for the night in the same bar. I’m still in touch with a few of the lads and I can’t wait to go back for a jar at Uisce Beatha in the old town some evening when I make it back that way again.
 
What are you expectations for the tournament?
Austria are my dark horses. I wouldn’t write off England if things happen for them but you can also see them being schooled. We could be in trouble. We are in a difficult group. There is no buzz about Italy but they just ripped Scotland to shreds so can’t be taken lightly. There are some great sides there but it’s cup competition. It’d be great if we could get past the 1st round. There are a lot of Croats in Ireland at the moment, so I think it’d be fantastic if we could get to play them, by all accounts Ireland/Croatia was the best night of Euro 2012 in Poland for our fans. Perhaps no coincidence that they are coming to Ireland in numbers 4 years later. The power of football? The power of mass orgies more like.



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