David James – ‘There’s Always Been A Link Between Football And Music’

Ahead of the big World Cup kick-off, we chatted to England goalkeeper David James about festivals, his teammates’ taste in music, and being mates with Muse

What do you listen to?
I’m very eclectic. I listen to a lot of classic music, a lot of hip hop. I recently went down to Black Market records and picked up some house, no breakbeat this time, but some house music. I like most genres of music. Given my mood state at any given moment I need a plethora of musical tastes to accompany that [laughs].

How much do you use music to prepare for a game?
Lots, without a doubt. I use a lot of background music for the mental and imagery work that I do. A good example, a while ago we played at home and to get in the zone I sat in the car for 20 minutes with the Scratch Perverts blasting and that go me there. On another day it might be ‘Carnival Of The Animals’. Sometimes you want to be pumped up or calmed down and music plays a big part.

When the England squad gets together is there a battle for the dominance of the stereo?
That’s all changed under the current management. There used be a boom box, for want of a better term, and anyone who put their iPod on subjected the rest to that music. Most of the time it was acceptable, although there were a few exceptions. Mr Capello has changed that, we don’t have a communal source. If you want music, you listen on your headphones, so the issue of taste doesn’t come into the equation any more.

It did used to be a problem before, if you got someone with a bad iPod it can be more counter-productive then it is conducive to a good performance. There were some obscure UK Garage groups which were an acquired taste, let us say.

What’s the training camp like, can you play music there?
When you at the training camp having the right music is vital, otherwise you go a bit stir crazy.

So what sort of stuff would you be likely to hear?
As we’re getting ready, showering, some of the lads have speaker attachments so you can hear all these tunes coming in through the window. It’s quite nice when you’ve got so many different styles because you can imagine the lad in the room next to you, be it Ashley Cole, be it Stevie G, whatever, they’ve got their own preferences and you can imagine them getting ready, psyching themselves up. If you walk down the corridor half an hour before we leave for the ground as the final preparations are going on, it’s a cacophony of sound.

What did you make of Kasabian getting to wear the England away kit before you?
It was at a concert? Why not? There’s always been a link between music and football. Rod Stewart has got a football pitch in his garden, we trained there once when I was at Liverpool, and I imagine a lot of your readers wouldn’t have been around when Rod Stewart was strutting his stuff in his skin tight leather pants, or whatever. So the connection is very historic. For Kasabian to wear the kit, why not?

You know people watch England matches at festivals?
Do they really? I’ve been to a couple of festivals but obviously not during the season, so that’s something to look forward to in the future I’m sure.

Well England are playing while Glastonbury is on, so remember while you’re at the match there will be loads of people watching in jester hats and wellies.
[laughs] Well let’s make it entertaining! That’s an image I will take into the match I’m sure!

So how come you’re friends with Muse?
I have to confess I didn’t know who Muse were! My musical taste is very eclectic within hip-hop and more so in dance music, but if you ask me about a band I haven’t got a Scooby Doo. There was a couple of guys who’d mentioned Muse in the couple of years I’ve lived in Devon and I said, ‘Ok fine, whatever’. Then Chris (Wolstenholme, bass) was invited to a Halloween party a few years ago and we got chatting.

We get on with each other. They had the concert in Teignmouth last summer and I was invited down because I was injured, so we watched England play Slovenia round at his house and then jumped in a car and went down to the concert which was really fantastic. But all of a sudden I was hearing these songs thinking, ‘Hang on, I recognise this one!’, then I realised who they were!

Are you happy not having an official world cup song? No cheesy video…
Well it’s fair to say since ‘Three Lions’ there really hasn’t been anything to challenge that and that was 14 years ago. The song comes out every tournament so, and I say this with all due respect, there’s a question mark over the standard of the wannabe international tournament songs.

My favourite, I have to say, is the one from 1982, ‘This Time (We’ll Get It Right)’ absolutely fantastic. I think I was more of a football fan then, when you’re part of it, as much as I love the game, you’re less of a fan, it’s work. That song was great and they had a great kit at the time as well. I downloaded that again a little while ago, and every time it comes on shuffle I start singing it loudly, which gets me all passionate.

Could it be the unofficial song for the squad?
Yeah, I’m sure there will be an unofficial song. Interestingly enough at the last world cup we had a playlist that featured every player’s favourite song and then that was played before matches so everyone got to hear their favourite song. That was good, until your song never came up on shuffle [laughs].

Are you and the England players any good at singing?
Rubbish! Absolutely rubbish, but Wayne Rooney is the best dancer. Say no more.