With Happy Mondays and Black Grape, Shaun Ryder is the king of rowdy party music. That’s reflected in ‘We Are England’, Black Grape’s new football song with Happy Mondays producer Paul Oakenfold and veteran noise terrorist Goldie under the band name Four Lions. Ryder tells NME why making a football song doesn’t mean he’s any kind of football expert…
“I don’t know how I’ve ended up making a football song, really. Paul Oakenfold, who produced Happy Mondays’ album ‘Pills ‘N Thrills And Bellyaches’, e-mailed asking if I’d help him do a song for Euro 2016 and I thought ‘Well, I don’t fucking know. Why don’t you get in touch with Noel Gallagher instead of me?’
Oaky said he didn’t want the song to be too football-y, as he wanted it to be about the real heroes of this country – the working people. But he didn’t want it to be political or religious either. So I sat there thinking about it for a while and thought ‘Nope, I still don’t know why you’ve asked me.’
I’d last about 60 seconds talking football in the pub. I’m not the biggest football know-all by any means. But Kermit from Black Grape is a proper geezer who can talk about football for three hours. So we took what Oaky wanted and said we’d also make it a bit politically incorrect. We’re not in the PC brigade, us. We wanted ‘We Are England’ to be a laugh.
It’s a song to put everyone in a happy mood. We want it to blasted out of the boozer or at people’s England parties. ‘Three Lions’ is a proper football song – ours is for a goodtime party when we’ve just won a game.
There isn’t an official England song for the Euros, but ours is sort of official. Hublot are the official timekeepers for the tournament, and they’ve given us the money to make the video. So it’s an official Euros song. Sort of.
We filmed the video in Manchester. Oaky asked if we’d fly him over from LA. I had to tell him ‘Fucking hell, Paul, the music industry can’t do that anymore. We can’t afford to even fly you cattle class to get you over here for two minutes in a video. This ain’t the 90s now, mate.’
Irvine Welsh dances in the video, which is good going as he’s so Scottish he’s like king of the Jocks. It wasn’t a big deal – he happened to be having lunch with my manager, Alan McGee, who’s also Scottish. Irvine dances about in the video, but I doubt he’ll be worried about any comebacks from other Jocks. There isn’t a lot that frightens Irvine Welsh.
‘We Are England’ is the second football song I’ve done. Black Grape did ‘England’s Irie’ for Euro 96 with Joe Strummer from The Clash and Keith Allen. I think ‘We Are England’ tops ‘England’s Irie’, but it’d be nice to have Keith and Joe back. Sadly, Joe is no longer with us and Keith is probably dressed up as King Arthur somewhere.
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I remember fuck all about making ‘England’s Irie’. To be honest, I only know we made it because I’ve seen footage of it from Top Of The Pops.
Because I’m King Chav, people expect me to be a hooligan, a geezer who knows all about football. People always ask me about it and that does give me a buzz, but there’s nothing more fucking boring than football talk. So if I don’t want to talk football, I’ll just say ‘Fuck off’.
The only Euro games I’ll be watching the England and Ireland games. I do know England have got the youngest team at the tournament, and that’s good. The naivety of youth is fantastic, and our players have been scoring goals since they were eight. So they won’t be fazed by it, but if they were older the nerves might have kicked in. You’ve got bigger balls when you’re young, so I think England might do well. But I don’t know fuck all about football, so don’t take my word for it.”