winner I ran out of the house and into the street and all the other kids had done the same – it was amazing. Actually, that match was a pivotal moment for me. I remember it was the first time I swore and my mum didn’t get angry at me for it.
When it comes to playing football, who’s the best in the band?
Well, I still play on Saturdays whenever I’m not on tour. In my youth I was a centre-forward, a six-yard-box poacher. But gradually I’ve lost any pace I ever had and my fitness levels are atrocious. Now I’m a centre-half. But I like to think I’ve taken the knowledge I gained from playing up front and can apply it to stopping strikers these days. I try and intimidate my opposite number as much as possible. We always take a ball with us on tour and play whenever possible. In America we have a padded ball so we can play inside and not break anything. That’s important.
You’ve played at some of the biggest music festivals in the world. Would you swap it all to run out at Old Trafford?
Absolutely! I think we’d quite happily say we have the second best job in the world. I love playing music but I would swap it for just one season playing football – you don’t even have to let me play for United at Old Trafford. Football was my first love. One of the things I think about most is what I’d do if I had to choose between football and music. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m marginally better at music than I am at football then it would be football every time. Football has this strange pull – you can sit through an awful football match and yet you’ll still come back the next weekend. But if you listen to an awful record you’re not going to keep putting yourself through it again and again. If a band you love releases a few bad records then it’s okay to give up on them. In football you’re with it for life.
On your website you claim football is an influence on the new album, Romance Is Boring…
There’s one track called ‘Plan A’, which is basically an imagined scenario I used to talk about a lot with my mates. We’d be so desperate to play football that we thought we’d move to a really small country like Malta, live there for five years, claim citizenship and train every day so we were good enough to break into the national team. There’s one track on the record where that scenario unfolds and I become a national hero. I think there’s still time! Maybe if this record flops I’ll head for Malta.
It won’t be the first time you’ve slipped a football reference