With this lockdown in place, many of us have been whiling away the hours by thumbing through our vinyl collections and reliving our misspent youth. So, we thought it would be nice to do a music feature in ALS. Giles Mooney caught up with The Sunderland Echo’s Phil Smith to talk music in a structure not linked in any way to Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs show…
What’s the first song you remember listening to?
My Mam listened to a lot of music in the house and when we were on the way to and from school. I think Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac is the one that stands out most. There was a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and all sorts of Motown too but that song really stands out for me. When I was at University and vinyl came back into fashion, I raided her albums and Rumours was one of the first ones I grabbed. It took me from Hill View all the way to University.
How about music you found away from the house?
The Editors was my first discovery and that led to Interpol, White Lies and then Bombay Bicycle Club. That was the sort of thing I listened to when I was a teenager.
And what were you up to when you weren’t listening to music?
I was a season ticket holder at Sunderland and obviously love football, but my great love is cricket. I played for Ashbrooke, still do, and love being down there for games or socially, and then, I also spent a lot of time watching the County. Yeah, cricket took up a lot of my time.
Who were your Sunderland heroes back then?
Tommy. Tommy Sorensen was my first hero, I just loved the goalkeepers, the kits, everything about them really. Then, later, I liked Marcus Stewart and I was a big fan of Bolo Zenden. He scored some amazing goals and stood out in that team.
But not a great dancer.
No, but better than me!
What music gets you dancing?
I think my favourite song is the one that would get me on the dance floor, This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads. It’s my absolute favourite song. But then, as I say, Motown, Soul, Northern Soul would keep me up there.
And if we could let you out of the house for one night at the moment, is that where you’d go?
Dancing? No. Well I might end up in 7even but, if I had one night out, I’d start in Angelo’s in Sunniside and then The Dun Cow. Both places I really enjoy going to. Look forward to going there again.
How about gigs, which track do you think of from concerts you’ve been to?
I went to Leeds Festival one year and Pulp and, I think The Strokes, played but The National played before them. They played England and, to be honest, that started a ten-year obsession with them. I’ve been to see them a lot since, we went to Copenhagen to see them recently. Amazing band.
Any other great gigs?
New Order at Latitude. You never know what to expect from a group who’ve been around that long but, they were brilliant. And Beirut, I’d recommend people see them live. Amazing. But their style and the brass and everything lends themselves to big live sound. Definitely recommend them.
So, on a match day, do you have any music you always listen to?
Match day is always a bit of a blur. From starting through to the final whistle and then the interviews and deadlines, it’s 100% all day so I tend to listen to quite chilled stuff in the mornings, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and then if it’s an away game I might listen to Bill Callahan, I absolutely love his music. Folky, chilled, what I need before a Sunderland match.
Your work debut with Sunderland was the 2nd January 2017. Rockabye was number 1. What do you remember about the day?
I remember it was 2-2 against Liverpool, Defoe got two penalties. It was the middle of the Moyes season and we’d had a half decent Christmas period and after that Liverpool game I thought we might be turning the corner. But, obviously, we weren’t!
Was that the day it hit home that you were working in professional football?
No, that had come working down at Cardiff. I was there when Neil Warnock came and I was working with him almost every day. He’s a huge character and, to be fair, he was always polite and courteous with me, but you knew he had another side. I never saw it luckily.
And last question, what’s the best walk out music at a football stadium you’ve heard?
That’s the easiest question. Liquidator by Harry J Allstars. At Stamford Bridge, it’s brilliant. And it’s a great ground. Very atmospheric and quite old fashioned. Which is weird for the club they’ve become. But you’re right over the pitch in the stands and that plays and it’s like, you know it’s time for a game. Anything but the Prodigy! I really don’t like that. I’m quite traditional when it comes to Sunderland, I’m glad they brought back Paint Your Wagon. A lot of happy memories leaving the ground to that over the years.
Many more to come hopefully! Thanks a lot.