X England Managers tune: Manchester singer aims boot at ‘always rubbish’ World Cup songs

The England World Cup song has become a national tradition since Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley in 1966 to the sounds of World Cup Willie.

With New Order’s World In Motion earning a place in the public’s consciousness as the soundtrack to Gazza’s tears at Italia ‘90 and Baddiel and Skinner’s Three Lions bemoaning more failure at Euro ‘96 and France ’98, football songs are a huge part of the sport’s top global show.

And, of course, everyone remembers Embrace’s 2006 effort World At Your Feet, right?

Now, Manchester ensemble X England Managers are looking to score with Brazil or Bust ahead of the 2014 tournament which kicks off next week.

And frontman Leon Maya believes their tune would not need penalties to come out on top in a song shootout with this year’s competition.

“As always, they’re rubbish.  There’s no messing about with that,” Leon told MM.

“I’ve supported Manchester City and Barcelona all my life, I love football. But as far as England football songs are concerned, the only good one in my eyes was the New Order one. The rest I can take or leave.

“A few people like Three Lions and it’s alright but apart from that I think they’re all very boring and there’s nothing funny or humorous about them, except maybe (Fat Les’) Vindaloo.

“So I think this one has got a far better sense of humour and I think It’s well up there.”

Pointing fun at the likes of former England bosses Fabio Capello, Graham Taylor and ‘brolly wally’ Steve McClaren, the idea came from Leon’s Edgeley screenwriter pal Jason Brierley who wrote the song while the singer added the music and production.

With Gary Barlow’s Greatest Day getting the boot from the FA and the usual unofficial rabble following in its wake, Leon reckons Brazil or Bust has potential to strike a chord with football fans as well as those who will have their gaze fixed elsewhere for the next few weeks.

“What’s important about this tune is that I know people who don’t even like football and they like it because they understand what it’s about and it makes them laugh,” said Leon.

“So if you’ve got a song when people don’t even like the sport, but they still like it then I think you’re on to a winner.”

And by including those who don’t know their Boris Johnsons from their Glen Johnsons or their Geordie Shore from Luke Shaw, Leon insists that the song has the Samba skills to be man of the match.

“People are liking it and it’s great.  If it got the right exposure and the right justice then it’d go massive. I’m confident of that,” said Leon.

“But we’re just taking it a day at a time and seeing how it develops. It’s got everything right about it to be a smash.”

With a father hailing from Barcelona, half-Spanish Leon could even have produced a song for the World Cup holders ahead of the tournament – but he insists he is ‘completely’ more English than Spanish in his broad Manchester twang.

And the singer-cum-guitarist already has plenty of other projects on his plate – not least with Heald Green Britpop band Northern Uproar.

Leon is working on a new Uproar album via crowd-funding label Pledge Music after they launched their funding page on June 2. 

The new record will be their third with the label, and fifth overall, and has already reached ten percent of its funding target.

And Leon has promised to mix it up this time around, continuing to show the group’s versatility that they demonstrated in last year’s All That Was Has Gone.

“I’ve been doing the Northern Uproar thing for 25 years. The sound on this album is going to be the biggest change we’ve ever done because it has gone away from loud guitars to a whole different feel – even to the point where I thought ‘we might have to change the name of the group here’,” said Leon.

“But no, it’s fine, because it all works and the ideas come from me. It’s going to teach people something else and they’re going to be introduced to a different sound. The Northern Uproar name always works.”

Leon was among the founders of the band that rode the Britpop wave in the mid-90s, grabbing a number 17 hit in the UK charts with split-single From A Window/This Morning back in January 1996.

Despite a hiatus or two, the band is back in the studio and Leon believes fans are set for a treat with the new sonic shift.

“It still has elements of what I’ve done because we were never just a loud guitar band – we always had other ideas and the fans understand that. And no one’s said a bad word yet,” said Leon.

“There won’t be a problem. Look at The Beatles. They started off as a skiffley-based band and became a studio-based with a whole different sound.

“You just have to approach it in a slow way. This album’s a little bit funkier.”

Northern Uproar is just one of Leon’s audio ventures and he also manages to squeeze in Latin-style covers-band Break Latino and even the odd wedding into his increasingly packed schedule.

He is now ‘busier than ever’ and enthusiastically embraces the opportunity to play with a variety of performers and styles.

“We go out between three to five times-a-week. I play with different musicians (including the likes of Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher) as well, flirting around between different bands as the main singer,” said Leon.

“The great thing about how we’re doing music now is that I like the variation. I’ve been in bands since I was 11 years old, I’ve been in originals band for years and years and it can get boring. Just as much as if you do covers all the time and that can get boring.

“If you put it all together and do a few other things then that can get spicy. You open your eyes and it’s fucking good.”

After having to turn his hand to hairdressing at one point in the past to make ends meet, the chance to make a living from music is one that Leon is keen to grab with both hands.

But there can be no doubt that, as well as variation, creativity and the chance to keep his creative juices flowing is what drives Leon on to keep writing and performing.

“I just enjoy the creative side of it and we can get a nice quality of life from it. We appreciate that and maybe one day things might really go somewhere else – but until that moment, we’re happy,” said Leon.

“A footballer would play the same whether they were on a hundred grand-a-week or a tenner because he still loves what he’s doing and it’s the same principle for what I do.

“You need to be creative otherwise you’ll just be lost.”

Main image courtesy of X England Managers via YouTube, with thanks.

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