InterviewJamie Webster: Performing on the Anfield pitch would be a dream... and very scary!
It’s the morning after Liverpool’s 4-0 win at AFC Bournemouth and Jamie Webster is in a hotel room in Southampton ahead of a gig on his current tour.
The Scouse singer-songwriter, who was at Vitality Stadium the day before, is about to release his third album – 10 For The People – and at half-time today will make an appearance on the Anfield pitch.
“I just honestly feel like the luckiest lad in the world when I wake up,” he says. “I worked on a building site as an electrician for nine years. Now it’s Monday morning, I’m stood in a hotel looking out onto a golf course talking to the official Liverpool FC matchday programme – sometimes I just think, ‘What has happened here?’ It’s insane.
“Seven years ago I would have been five hours into a working day with my hands absolutely frozen off and that’s why I don’t take it for granted. It’s helped me because I’ve done the daily grind, I’ve done the nine-to-five, I’ve done the £4-an-hour apprentice wage. I understand the things that I write about.
“It’s not like I’m writing through a looking glass. I’ve been there, I’ve lived it, I’ve worn the shoes and I think that helps with how my music is received as it is real. It’s not an artist’s perception or perspective, it’s a real person’s perspective from real life.”
Partly recorded at Rockfield Studios – where Oasis recorded (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? – with his band, and produced by Dave Eringa on the Modern Sky UK record label, 10 For The People is a much-anticipated follow-up to We Get By and Moments and is brimming with stories, lessons, injustices and calls for action.
Webster, aka ‘the people’s poet’, backs up his words with actions – all of his earnings from the anti-war protest single How Do You Sleep At Night? are being donated to the British Red Cross – and the Reds have also influenced the album.
“I suppose being a Red has subconsciously influenced my writing a lot because Jürgen Klopp has given us the confidence to dream as football fans,” he says.
“This season we’re dreaming about a lot of things. To get into that escapist mindset makes you feel on top of the world, puts a spring in your step and I suppose you can see it in songs like Looking Good.
“It’s a song about enjoying the simple things and it’s a very simple message – do what makes you happy and do it with a smile on your face.
“I think that’s synonymous with Liverpool’s style of play alongside a work ethic and you always see the players smiling off the pitch. Liverpool are so good at the content they put out off the pitch and we as fans align ourselves with the players as people because of that. Instead of being stars on a pedestal, we see them having a coffee and a laugh with each other.
“When I’m touring I can have a crew of 16 to 20 people with me and I look at how Jürgen has bred a family environment and try to do that in my day-to-day, with my music or when I’m recording.”
Jamie’s life as a match-going Red has undoubtedly shaped his career. As a teenager he played in Liverpool pubs, and after a group of lads from one of the away coaches attended one of his gigs, he was invited to play at a BOSS Night session.
From there everything snowballed to the point where he was playing in front of thousands of Reds in fan parks before Champions League finals in Kyiv, Madrid and Paris, and had the platform to showcase his own music, not least Weekend In Paradise. And it all started from going the match.
“A good thing about being a Liverpool fan is that I’ve travelled the world, both playing music for Liverpool FC and also as a fan of Liverpool FC,” he says.
“I’ve been so lucky to see the world for what it is and meet people from all different walks of life. I’ve seen good and bad and I’ve put those details and characters into my songs. I would never have had this outlook and perspective on life if I’d not travelled the world since the age of 17 to now following Liverpool Football Club.
“As soon as I got a job all my money was spent on away games, away tickets, away coaches and European aways. Wherever they were, I was there. I’d go as far as to say I went five or six years without missing a game.
“That was under [Roy] Hodgson, Kenny [Dalglish] and [Brendan] Rodgers and I’ve been everywhere right through the Klopp era. The things that I’ve been fortunate enough to see have really, really shown in my music. I wouldn’t have gained that insight had I not had this relationship with the club and to have loved Liverpool Football Club for as long as I have.”
So, having played fan songs in the Sir Kenny Dalglish Stand at LFC Foundation’s legends game versus Celtic last year, how would it feel to play his own music on the Anfield pitch someday?
“It would be a dream come true and probably very scary as well,” he laughs. “It’s something that I’d love the opportunity to do because Anfield was my church, it was my school, it was my playground growing up.
“I’d go the matches and even when I was about 14 I used to knock around down Utting Avenue with a load of mates and hang around on the Rec on Cherry Lane and play football sometimes there on a weekend.
“Having the career I’ve had with Liverpool, I’ve been involved in numerous charity events around Anfield and in the community and my songs are very much about the sense of community – that if we all stick together things could be better.
“I had that exact chat about the Liverpool songs with Jürgen in New York. We had a little pint together a few years ago [on a tour] and he actually said to me, ‘If we all move in the right direction – fans, players and staff – it’s not a guarantee, but a formula that means success is more likely.’
“I think that has shown since he has been manager and my songs breathe the Scouse socialist spirit that the club was founded on under Bill Shankly, who built the Liverpool that we now know it as.
“I like to think some of my songs are Scouse folk songs so to be able to share that at the number one place in Scouse folklore would be crazy. Sometimes I just pinch myself and think, ‘Is all this really happening?’”
10 For The People is released on Friday and is available to pre-order from jamiewebstermusic.com now.
This article has been reproduced from today's official matchday programme - get your copy at Anfield or order online here.