We caught up with singer songwriter John Stammers to discuss his passion for all things Manchester City. A Mancunian Nick Drake, John has been making music sweeter than a David Silva through-ball for many years and recently released a debut album to considerable acclaim
By Alex Dunn - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsaldunn. Last Updated: July 28, 2012 4:27pm
John Stammers: A die-in-the-wool City fan
As a Manchester City fan, you must be having quite the summer of it?
Absolutely, I'm a massive Blue. It's been an amazing year, I'll tell you that for nothing. I love it, there are so many twitchy Reds around our way it's fantastic. A lot of them are giving it that they're 'joint champions' because we finished on the same points but that just makes it all the more hilarious. I just smirk because the record books aren't going to put 'hard luck' in brackets next to Manchester United's name in second. They'll just say Manchester City - champions. My default setting is smug. That lot haven't shut up for years so it's lovely to see them bite every time you cast out.
Were you always going to be a City fan?
All my family are Blue, so I was always only going to go one way. My grandfather played for the club a few times back in the day before injury ended his career so it all stems from that really. We've no sneaky Reds. The other side of my family are Rangers, so it's a bit grim for that lot.
Do you keep yourself to fellow Blues, or have you mates who are United fans?
Hundreds of them, too many probably. Chorlton is definitely more red than blue. When you go and watch the game in the pub you can always spot the City fans. We all know each other. I sometimes watch the game with Damon (Badly Drawn Boy) when City are away as he's got a season ticket. I don't get to go to the game as often as I used to because of the band commitments and having to practise on the weekend. But I still get to go four or five times a season. If I go to the game it takes a full day out of the equation, whereas if I nip to the pub I can watch it and then go back to practise. In the season just gone though I saw every City game, by hook or by crook.
You're not tired of 'bought the league' accusations yet then?
I've heard it all before - it's nonsense. Ferguson has broken transfer records numerous times throughout his career and now the boot is on the other foot all you hear is sanctimonious chat about financial fair-play. Chelsea won the league by spending absolute fortunes. That's just modern football. The teams with the most spending power, who buy the best players, invariably come out on top. If you can't beat them, join them. Now it's our turn.
How did you enjoy the final day of the season?
I watched it in the legendary Trevor Arms. It was pretty much a 50/50 split, as it tends to be in there. I had a miserable time for most of the afternoon, being baited by Reds. A lot of my mates got excited when Dzeko got it back to 2-2 but as a seasoned City fan I'd been drained of hope by that point. Then when Sergio Aguero took that extra touch and lashed in a wonder goal the roof went off. White noise and pandemonium ensued.
Aguero's goal will go down in Trevor Arms folklore
You don't hanker after the days when City were the neutrals' favourites and didn't take themselves too seriously?
Are you mad? No, I've had those years thanks very much. I'm happy with where we are right now. That said, if it all goes belly up I did enjoy those up and down years more than being a mediocre Premier League outfit, which we were for a good few years. Shaun Wright-Phillips scoring a brace in the derby shouldn't be the highlight of your season but that's what it was like too often. Every season was about the derby, whereas the yo-yo years are etched in great memories. Nicky Weaver against Gillingham doing his Sylvester Stallone impersonation at Wembley to secure our Escape to Victory, getting beat by Macclesfield etc...I'd rather be crap and have a laugh about it than be mediocre and bored.
It looks like City and United are duking it out for Robin van Persie. Do you need him?
I don't think we do, no. I think he'll go to United to be honest, that's what I've heard. He didn't look too bright at the Euros but he's obviously a class act for whoever gets him. If Tevez or Dzeko went then maybe it'd be a bit different.
Talking of Tevez...what did you make of his behaviour last season?
I thought Roberto Mancini handled it really well. When Tevez had his strop in Munich he came out and said 'sling your hook - you're finished under me'. It was strong management and, rightly so, the City fans got behind the manager. The club dealt with it as best they could by fining him to the high heavens, while he improved his goal handicap and swigged Mojitos by the pool. Given the rules are slated firmly in favour of the player there's not much they could have been done when he returned to Manchester with his tail between his legs. There's no point in cutting off your nose to spite your face and, ultimately, with that moment of magic against Chelsea when he played in Samir Nasri he got our title tilt back on track. When he's got his head on, you want him in the team. I think he'll play out of his skin next season and if he doesn't, Mancini will show him the door.
Does it bother you the biggest clubs always look to buy over promoting from within?
I'd love to see more English lads, like Micah Richards break through, of course, but if we have to win without them then I'll deal with it. Mancini has told the club to spend a fortune on the Academy system so hopefully in the next few years that'll start to bear some fruit. I'd like to see Adam Johnson given more of a chance too, he's only showed in bits and pieces what he can do but given an extended run he could tear the Premier League apart. I've a lot of time for AJ.
Can you ever see either Manchester club having a spine of local lads in their team, like United did in the mid-nineties?
What happened at United when Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, Butt and the Nevilles all came through at the same time will never happen again. That was just a freak occurrence. In the mid-nineties that lot were like the Beatles - untouchables. Sickening really.
Do you see United as your main rivals again next season?
I think Chelsea have bought pretty astutely and on paper could be our biggest threat. People have said they've paid over the odds for Hazard but he's a cracking player and it doesn't really matter what his price-tag is if he delivers on the pitch. But Ferguson has just got something else, hasn't he? His current team doesn't look like the best he's ever had, but he ekes out the most from his players. They'd play for ever, occasionally they do, to get the right result. Last minute goals aren't about luck but grafting to the end. Time after time last season they got results without playing particularly well and given they were just a goal off winning it again, there's probably not too much wrong. No doubt they'll be near the top again come the end of the season but I do fancy Chelsea though, behind City.Away from the football, your debut album came out to critical acclaim this year. You must have been pleased with its reception?
I was pleased to see how it came out in the end. I did it exactly how I wanted to do it - straight to vinyl with the analogue sound, cut from tape to lathe. We kept everything in-house; my girlfriend screen printed all the sleeves. When it came out we sold all the vinyl and got some decent radio play. Radio 6 in particular got behind it, Radio 2 as well. It's a case of so on and so forth now with the new one. We're set to record the next album in October and it'll likely be out after Christmas in March/April time the following year.
You've had some decent names get behind the record...
Radio 6 have been great in championing and getting behind it. Mark Riley has been supportive - I've been on his show a couple of times. Cerys Matthews really likes what we do and has played tracks off it a couple of times, Guy Garvey tweeted for everyone to buy it so there's been a nice little group behind me. The guy from The Kooks played it on his radio show as well.
What can we expect from the new album?
It'll be a different record to the last one certainly - a little simpler, a little more poppy, a little more straightforward. We've pulled the band back to a three-piece as on the last album it just become too difficult to get everyone in the same room, at the same time. There used to be six or seven of us who played together but some of the musicians had other commitments and solo projects so that's fair enough. It's all good.
It must be tough combining your music with a day job?
I'm a decorator as well. It can be hard work when you get home from work and are totally knackered and you've got to pull together a load of musicians but once you start playing it's all worth it. Of course the dream is to do it full-time, but it's such a niche style in terms of shifting units. When you're shattered from work it's difficult but I can't complain. I play with two great lads and they're so enthusiastic, so I look forward to when they come round. It's all very social. Having a job gives you time to think and when you do get down to your music, you appreciate how precious it is.
John's eponymously named debut album is out now
You released your debut on Wonderfulsound. It must have been nice to work with an Independent with a similar mind-set?
I was at Warner/Chappell for a while but didn't quite find the label who fully understood my vision. I've known Miles Copeland at Wonderfulsound for a long time now and so when we came together it was a godsend to be honest. He's always been into my sound and I love his group The Superimposers so when he suggested putting the record out on his label, it seemed like the perfect fit. I wanted it be recorded straight from analogue tape to vinyl and that costs a bit of money, which mainstream labels are often loath to dish out. We cut it at the legendary John Dents' LOUD Mastering studio in Somerset. He worked with Nick Drake, so it was great to meet him. I listen to all sorts of music though, in terms of what influences me. Brazilian music interests me a lot - I'm more interested in sounds and how they're put together. An average song can sound great recorded in analogue, while the opposite is probably true of a lot of digital recording - in my opinion.
Last question - given the choice, would you prefer to retain the Premier League or win the Champions League?
Definitely retain the Premier League. The Champions League will look after itself in good time but I'd like to see us win the domestic league five on the spin, then worry about Europe. That'd do for starters.