Space’s third, ultimately unreleased album was called Love You More Than Football, but chances are they were lying. Discussing their beloved Liverpool FC over a few drinks in Shenanigans, a small, Sky Sports News-broadcasting Irish pub near the city’s centre, it’s hard to envisage what they could possibly love more.
These delightfully divisive heroes of odd-pop recently announced their reunion – tragically shorn of original drummer Andy Parle, who passed away in 2009 – as well as a comeback gig at Liverpool’s 02 Academy on December 22nd (click here to buy tickets for this). A brand new studio album (proposed title: Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab) and full tour lie in wait for 2012 and, for one, Football Burp can’t wait to see how they’ll follow up upon the bizarre-yet-classic singles of their late-‘90s heyday: think “Female of the Species”, “Me and You Versus the World”, “Neighbourhood”, “Avenging Angels” and “The Ballad of Tom Jones”.
We sat down with co-singer/songwriters Tommy Scott and Jamie Murphy, keyboardist/techno wizard Franny Griffiths and new drummer Allan Jones for a ruddy good natter about recent goings-on pertaining to their beloved Reds, at a time when Kenny Dalglish looks to be restoring pride amongst the Anfield faithful…
Do you think last weekend’s win at Chelsea said more about Liverpool’s progress or Chelsea’s current failings?
Jamie: Let’s talk about Chelsea’s failings!
Tommy: We were amazing for the first half, the way Bellamy linked with Suarez and stuff like that. But I think Terry is slightly…like…
Tommy: Is it? Or is it just because of what’s going on in his life? I don’t know. He’s a great player though.
Allan: David Luiz went dead quiet after he got booked.
Jamie: We’re level on points with Chelsea now, aren’t we? Even though we’re 7th or something.
Tommy: That’s because Tottenham keep winning.
They’re playing some great stuff at the moment.
Jamie: They can’t seem to replicate it away from home though. They’re just not the same team away from home, and there’s that many chances going against them that other teams are missing that it’s only a matter of time before they start getting beat. Touch wood we go on a run when they start getting beat.
Tommy: We still draw too many games against the smaller teams.
Jamie: When we were only two points away from winning the league a couple of years ago, how many draws did we have that season? That’s got to be nipped in the bud.
For some reason it’s gone down in folklore that Liverpool fell apart after Rafael Benitez’s “fact” outburst midway through that season; but, in fact, they went on to win ten of their last eleven games and drew the other one.
Tommy: I thought Rafa was great. I loved him to bits.
Allan: He went a bit defensive towards the end though. It was counterattacking football. When he first came, it was attack, attack, attack. That’s how we won the Champions League.
They had quite a few 1-0 wins in that particular campaign though, didn’t they?
Allan: Our defence was solid: Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia…
Jamie: We just haven’t been able to replace Hyypia. Agger’s alright but he’s no Sami Hyypia. Not by a long shot. Once we get a defensive pairing, a pair of centre-halfs that’s going to be in every single game without having to think about it, I think that’s when we’ll start moving on.
So you’re not convinced by the pairing of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel?
Jamie: Nope. Not at all.
Tommy: I like it. They’re like Vikings.
Jamie: For me, Agger’s like Ferdinand: he’s great on the ball but he’s not the greatest defender in the world. He’s not the worst but he’s certainly not the best. Sami’s been hard to replace, and Henchoz too.
Tommy: And Kyrgiakos. (Laughs)
Jamie: I think he was a good player, man!
He seemed to be your biggest goal threat for a while at the start of last season.
Tommy: And the biggest goal threat against us!
Jamie: No-one’s scored more own goals than Jamie Carragher. I know that’s because he tries to get in the way and block them and all that but…
Tommy: That’s part of his game, though.
Apparently, Jamie Carragher has in his career scored more goals for Tottenham than Liverpool.
Tommy: (Laughs) You won’t get me slagging Carragher off though.
Jamie: You won’t get me slagging him off but you won’t get me praising him either.
Tommy: But he’s the best player we’ve ever had!
Jamie: Better than Gerrard? Better than Fowler?
Tommy: …no. But it’s a different thing. He’s the best defender we’ve ever had. Well…apart from Hansen and that.
Jamie: I think he’s sound, Alan Hansen! Lovely fella.
Tommy: What did he say to you in London?
Jamie: (Having set the scene of him once walking up to a table at which sat Hansen, Jimmy Hill and Des Lynam) “Come and sit down with me, wee man! Come and have a drink!” No, he never. Didn’t even give me the courtesy of telling me to f*** off. He just went: “Go and sit down, wee man.” I was devastated, man.
Who’s impressed you out of the summer signings so far?
Jamie: Enrique. All the way. And Bellamy: you can’t knock him.
Tommy: I love that kind of player. I love Joey Barton. He’s a character.
Jamie: He’s one of my good mates, Joey. He’s hilarious as well.
Allan: He’s brilliant on Twitter.
Jamie: He’s hilarious as well. When you meet him, he’s not like what we’ve all seen on the pitch. He’s one of the nicest lads you’ll ever meet, I’m telling you. Dead clever as well. He’s from Huyton. When he comes home, we go for a bevvie and that.
Allan: I was on Facebook the other week and some girl was slagging him off. I just said, listen, I follow him on Twitter and he just says things straight, how they should be. There’s no bullshit with him.
Jamie: Do you remember that game against Wolves last year when he got kicked up and down the pitch? He shook Mick McCarthy’s hand after the game, laughing. I saw him after and asked him what he said to Mick McCarthy. He was like: “your boys gave me a kicking there, didn’t they?”
Wasn’t that mostly Karl Henry?
Jamie: Yeah. He’s lucky he never put him out for good, some of the tackles he made. To give Joey his due, he just got up and got on with it. He’s changed an awful lot since he left City. I know City are a big club but being at a massive club like Newcastle and getting the armband and all that, it definitely changed the kind of character he was on the pitch. I can’t understand why he doesn’t get picked for England. Well, actually, I know why he doesn’t get picked: the FA won’t have him there.
He’s mouthed off about England once or twice in the past.
Jamie: Yeah, he has. The bigwigs at the top won’t have him.
Allan: He’s only said what he’s been feeling, though.
Franny: This is an interview? I thought we were just going out for a bevvie.
We’re just having a little chat about Liverpool.
Franny: Okay, that should only take an hour.
Going back to the summer signings, Charlie Adam had a good game against Chelsea.
Jamie: I think he’s great.
Tommy: I think the summer signings are all great. It’s just that some of them need more time than others. Did you see Henderson when he came on?
Jamie: Henderson was amazing for Sunderland last season. He just needs time to settle in. I’m telling you, I think he’ll be the next Steven Gerrard. Don’t forget, he’s come from Sunderland to a huge club like Liverpool, and he’s only a kid. Him and Enrique will probably end up being the best signings.
Were you glad to see Maxi Rodriguez back in the side?
Allan: Yeah, after his form at the end of last season. But he’s off to Brazil or Argentina at the end of the season.
Jamie: I’m not a massive fan of Rodriguez.
Franny: How can you not be a massive fan when he’s scored eight goals in his last four games?
Jamie: I’m just not a massive fan of the way he plays.
He’s like the new Yossi Benayoun: the occasional hat-trick here and there.
Jamie: I’d have Benayoun back.
Franny: When he came, he was always on the right. When they put him in the middle, that’s when he came to life.
Tommy: Sometimes I get the feeling that, when he gets a chance, he’s showcasing himself to other teams.
Allan: Well, he’s going to Brazil or Argentina at the end of the season.
Franny: I know it sounds mad but I thought they might keep him because he’s such good mates with Suarez and Lucas, the South American contingent. Keep them happy and you’re keeping everyone happy.
Tommy: Lucas even did a little Brazilian move in the last game, didn’t he?
Franny: Did you see Kevin-Prince Boateng’s goal for AC Milan goal last night?
(Conversation trickles off into various observations on the previous night’s Champions League matches until Tommy, model professional that he is, draws attention to the fact that there’s an interview going on. Jamie laughs but then immediately gets distracted by an irritatingly intrusive bluebottle fly.)
So, do you think Kenny Dalglish is in it for the long haul or do you fear him suffering a breakdown again before long?
Franny: I don’t think he’s not going to break down again. His life is here.
Jamie: A big part of the reason he broke down last time was because of Hillsborough. He took a lot on his shoulders and he was in a terrible state.
I could be wrong but I seem to remember him citing stress as a factor when he left Newcastle, quite soon after leading them to 2nd in the league if memory serves.
Jamie: As Franny just said, though, his whole life is Liverpool. He is Liverpool, the epitome of what Liverpool should be. So I hope he’s here for the long term but only time will tell, I suppose. I even had a little tear in my eye for his first game back against Manchester United, when he came out on the touchline and he was wearing one of those big old coats like he used to wear, with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face. Unbelievable.
You guys were friends with Robbie Fowler, weren’t you?
Tommy: Yeah, he used to go to our gigs. Him and Steve McManaman came onstage with us at the Royal Court and everyone started singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. It mustn’t have been very good for the Everton fans in the audience, like.
Jamie: I played footy with them about six months ago at the Echo Arena, the ‘legends’ thing where they had all these celebrities or whatever you want to call it. I was on McManaman’s team. I tell you what, playing with them, never mind getting a kick: you don’t even see where the ball is, they’re that good. Vladimir Smicer and Georges Hagi were there too. At the after-show party, Robbie still knew everything about the band. He asked about Andy.
Was Andy a Red as well?
What do you think of Andy Carroll?
Jamie: He’s like Marmite, splits Liverpool fans straight down the middle: you either love him or you just don’t think he’s going to do it. Me, I don’t think he’s going to do it.
Tommy: I think he’s going to be dead important. There are certain games where you might have to change and go long-ball. He might not even like that himself but I think he’s going to win us a lot of games.
Franny: If Liverpool are going to have him in the team from the start then they’re going to have to change the way they play. But the way Suarez and Bellamy are playing now, I think they’re reluctant to change.
Allan: That’s the thing with having all three of them though: you need different options for different games.
Franny: It’s down to whether he wants to sit on the bench every single game. To be honest, I’ve been surprised so far because I know he’s supposed to be a bit of a bad boy, but he hasn’t been kicking up a fuss. He’s just been sitting there and taking it. Maybe he’ll take his chance when he gets it, although he does seem to get a goal every time he plays.
Tommy: He’s probably one of those players who could help us break down the smaller teams.
Jamie: We need to get Rory Delap and we’ll be alright!
Allan: That’s what Dalglish is there for. He’s a good man-manager.
Jamie: They all love Dalglish, don’t they? And you never, ever hear him slag a player off. No matter what he’s done. Even over the whole Suarez debacle. Whether he’s guilty or not, at least Dalglish has made sure that the club’s stood by him.
Allan: But is that a good thing or a bad thing? You can’t stand by a racist.
Jamie: You don’t know what happened. Probably the only two people who know what happened are Suarez and Evra. It’s a big thing to stand by someone who’s getting accused of racism, so hats off to Dalglish and the club for doing that.
It’s claimed that Suarez called Evra “negrito”, which is supposedly not meant to be derogatory.
Franny: It means “little black man” but it’s used as a term of endearment in South America. Chicharito used that word in an interview when he was in Mexico.
Jamie: Did he? Someone should get that on YouTube.
Franny: It’s all over the net if you know where to look. It’s in an interview from when he was coming through at Chivas, and he referred to someone by that name in it. But it’s the norm, like. The only thing is that Suarez has apparently said it ten or eleven times. Do you think it’s a term of endearment when he’s playing against Man United?
Tommy: Let’s just hope to god he hasn’t done it, because I despise racism with all me heart.
Franny: Even the Uruguayan FA have said they’ll come in, and the Uruguayan government have said they’ll back him to the hilt.
Jamie: Sorry to butt in but a lot of this will be to do with Ferguson and his f***ing mind games. Anything he can do to get one over Liverpool, he’ll do it.
Franny: To be honest, there was nothing said at the game. He never went off to the referee.
Jamie: He said we’ve been drip-feeding the press.
Franny: I think straight after the game, Ferguson’s gone up to him and said, “This is what we’re going to do.” You can see the way he’s manipulating the whole situation. We’re supposed to be drip-feeding little bits and bobs but it’s actually Ferguson who’s on the TV. I don’t see Kenny Dalglish on the telly talking about it. It’s funny the way he twists things.
He wields too much power.
Jamie: Yeah, over the media.
Allan: Don’t get me f***ing started on the c***.
Back to matters on the pitch, there are quite a few interesting selection dilemmas at the moment. How would you like to see Dalglish set the side up ideally?
Jamie: The centre-backs is a hard one.
Allan: Carragher and either Skrtel or Agger.
Franny: Well, normally it’s Carragher but after the Chelsea game, all you’ve read on the forums and that is how good Skrtel and Agger look together. Carragher’s actually fit now and ready to play but he didn’t play against Chelsea, and I always think he has a cracking game against Drogba. I think Skrtel had the best game he’s ever had for Liverpool. He was immense.
Jamie: I prefer Skrtel over Agger. Don’t get me wrong, Agger’s a Liverpool player so I love him, but…
Franny: I always thought that Agger and Skrtel would be the future for Liverpool, and for years I thought, “This is going to be the centre-back pairing here,” but it never materialised, but the last couple of games they’ve been there together and it looks really good. (Gets distracted) See that shop outside? I used to get me pigeons from there. Just a little sidestep, I know!
Tommy: Nick them, like?
Franny: No, buy them; they actually sold pigeons!
Tommy: How northern is that?
Are you a pigeon racer?
Franny: I used to be when I was a kid, yeah. From an early age, about 7.
Jamie: (Revelling in the correct terminology) He was a pigeon fancier.
Franny: I had the biggest pigeon loft in our estate and everyone used to come round. It was absolutely huge. I collected them ‘til I was about 15 and then we moved house, and my mum said, “No more.” I used to go to the docks and all that and get them.
Does it confuse the pigeons when their owner moves house?
Franny: No, they get it straight away. If you feed them and keep them warm, they don’t want to go anywhere. That’s why they’re called homing pigeons. They know they’re getting fed, they know they’re warm and they know they’re away from rats and all that crap. That’s why they stay there.
(Wants to hear more about the pigeons but feels professionally duty-bound to gently nudge the conversation back towards football.) So…if you each had to pick a five-a-side team comprised of Liverpool players that you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you go for?
Jamie: Come on, what’s yours Tommy?
Tommy: Nah, I’m useless mate. I’d just pick all forwards.
Jamie: What’s yours, Fran?
Franny: I remember watching Dean Saunders in the five-a-side with Jan Molby years ago and the two of them ripped every single team apart.
Tommy: Peter Beardsley as well.
Franny: Peter Beardsley’s a really good shout actually, ‘cause we played footy with him years ago. There were loads of ex-footballers there and he just stood out.
Jamie: You still haven’t picked your team, though.
Franny: Okay, Beardsley’s one of them. Jan Molby. Dean Saunders. Er…Joey Jones.
I think this is the first of these answers we’ve had that’s been reasoned based on actual five-a-side ability, so brownie points for that.
Franny: I’ll have to say Pepe ‘cause, out of all the goalkeepers Liverpool have had, he’s the most agile. He mightn’t be the best, but he’s the most agile and you probably need that more for five-a-side football.
Jamie: Grobbelaar. Molby. Fowler and Rush up front.
Franny: I’ve seen McManaman and Fowler play five-a-side together and it wasn’t that good, actually.
Jamie: That’s ‘cause I wasn’t in the hole for ‘em! Who’s your pick, Al?
Allan: I’ll have Grobbelaar. Alan Hansen. Steve McMahon. John Barnes. John Aldridge.
Franny: That’s not a five-a-side team, that’s just your best five!
Jamie: I can’t believe Dalglish hasn’t got a game yet. He’s got to be the manager, hasn’t he?
How about the worst player you’ve seen play for Liverpool?
Jamie: Ah man, Paul Stewart! What was Graeme Souness thinking?
Franny: Really? There were lots of players worse than him.
Allan: El Hadj Diouf.
Franny: Sean Dundee.
Jamie: It was Houllier that bought him, wasn’t it?
Alan: Torben Piechnik.
Franny: Erik Meijer. The fans absolutely loved him, but he was absolutely s**t.
Tommy: I’ve got one in me mind but I can’t remember what his name is.
Franny: There was that Kvarme, wasn’t there?
Tommy: That’s it!
Space, thank you.
For more from Space, check out their interview with Rocksucker.