Paul Carlin is a Radio Producer based in Glasgow. A talented musician and avid Celtic fan, he can be found supporting the hoops from an array of Southside bars or performing with his current band Jutland Songs. Paul is a former member of the highly successful Glasgow outfit Dananananakroyd and he spoke to The Cynical’s Chris Gallagher about Celtic, music, being a gay football fan and having heroes of cool.
As I sit and wait for Paul Carlin in the Koelschip Yard on the Southside of Glasgow, my eyes are drawn away from the list of different ales and stouts and inevitably turn to social media. Twitter is where I first came across the talented drummer and Celtic fan, with his love of Pavement and Paul McStay registering highly on my radar.
When Paul arrives the first thing I’m keen to find out, other than what he’s drinking, is how his band Jutland Songs did in their recent support slot for seminal rockers Hot Snakes.
“It was really good, it was a dream to meet the guys and the band itself is in my all-time top 5”.
That’s quite the stamp of approval from a man that has an interesting and eclectic taste in music.Paul showed real commitment to the opportunity, pulling himself out of his sickbed to play;
“I was at the peak of my illness but I knew we couldn’t not play, so I pulled it together and played the show. We were great.”
How did Jutland Songs get the support slot? Using the direct approach of course. Paul contacted the promoters and asked for the opportunity to support Hot Snakes, their reply?
“They came back a day later and said, ‘they’ve actually asked for you, it’s yours’ that was quite nice.”
Drum Meister General
Quite nice indeed but then again Paul Carlin is no stranger to musical success. As part of the popular Dananananakroyd, he spent his time touring and playing drums almost every night.
“I was always a good drummer growing up but then I joined the band (Dananananakroyd) and we toured and were playing every single night and you can only become good. It’s like football, if you do keepy-uppies every night, you’re only going to improve.”
Growing up in Ayrshire, Paul was exposed to music from a young age with his parents part of a folk band called Page One, which performed locally around Ardrossan. What was the first album to really grab him?
“The first album I really listened to was Kick by INXS, which I played recently and is still great. It’s a great pop album.”
As a youngster Paul taught himself to play guitar and took piano lessons but it was his love of the drums that really took hold. Playing in bands throughout school, with terrific names like The Joy Farmers, set Paul on his way to musical excellence. Always one for a football/music metaphor, he compares the relationship between the drummer in a band and the base player, to that of a goalkeeper and centre-half;
“You spend most of the gig looking at this person and it’s all about the nuances. It’s a beautiful intrinsic unwritten relationship.”
Paul joined Dananananakroyd in 2008, knowing Duncan Robertson from the Glasgow music scene, having been in the band Single Point of Light with prominent author Rodge Glass.
“I got an email from Duncan saying their drummer had quit and to see if I wanted to try out for them. I knew all the guys from all the different bands we’d been in and that was that for the next 5 years.”
The band recorded two albums, the first in New Jersey and the second in LA. They toured Australia and played the festival scene, including slots at Leeds and Reading. It was a full time job.
“We were touring for weeks and weeks at a time, all over Europe and different places, and it was brilliant.”
Paul then met his partner Frankie and after five years in the band, and a great deal of success, he decided to call it quits.
“I was desperate to live a normal life. It was the right time and there was no problems with the guys.”
The Heart of the Matter
Uncle Tommy was the man that took Paul to his first Celtic game. When we start discussing it and go further into the details of that momentous event, Paul stops,
“Oh man, I don’t know if I want to tell you this. My first Celtic game wasn’t my first football match, my first football match was Hearts…I was a Hearts supporter.”
I was stunned. It’s something most of his close friends and family know but not something Paul is overly proud of.
“I was a really subversive kid and it was Celtic, Celtic, Celtic from the start but I was one of those kids that if you told me do something, I’d do the opposite but I’d do it in a more interesting way. Instead of saying, fuck it I support Rangers, I chose Hearts instead”
The punk sensibility was something Paul would cultivate early on. It all came about during the glorious 1985/86 when Celtic piped Hearts to the title on goal difference in one of the most nerve wracking ends to a season on record. Paul would watch Sportscene on the last day of the season, when highlights lasted 20 to 30 minutes per match, as he points out.
“I remember watching Celtic v St Mirren and Hearts v Dundee and seeing the drama unfold and then the cup final the next week.”
It was a time when no one team was guaranteed to win the title and Hearts had finished seventh the season before, so why did he chose the men in maroon?
“Me and my pal had just decided we were going to be Hearts fans that year and our first match was Hearts against Hamilton at the old Douglas Park. My dad and my best pals dad took us which I think is amazing and such a selfless thing to do.”
Following Hearts wouldn’t last and Paul eventually saw the light. Well, Uncle Tommy at least certainly made sure of it.
“He took me to my first game in…1987. I better get that right or he’ll kill me. He’s a Celtic fanatic.”
After thinking back, he recalls it was an 8-3 victory against Hamilton on the 3rd of January 1987. It was quite the game to get immersed in the Hoops in the era of McStay, McClair and McGrain, and Paul recalls it was also Anton Rogans full debut, or as Paul calls him; ‘the left back time forgot’.
With Celtic having so many classic, talented players, the subject of heros arises and without skipping a beat Paul pipes up, “Paul McStay was my hero because he was just the classiest and such an exciting player.”
He elaborates that he still loves Hearts legend John Robertson and another more left field Celtic choice in Derek Whyte,
“I think it was because he was the Lustig of that Celtic team. So cool”
The Modern Game
The 2016/17 was of course phenomenal for Celtic and Paul doesn’t hide his delight in discussing it.
“Last season beggared belief. I was at the Hearts game (last game of the season) and I just felt gratitude and I don’t think we’ll see anything like that again. I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it.”
Paul lives with his partner Frankie and although he comes from a Rangers supporting family, Paul is doing his best to convert him, “He’s going to his first Celtic game in a few weeks. It’s the St Johnstone game at Celtic Park. We watched the cup final in our flat last season, I was in tears at the end of the game and Tommy Rogic…what a hero!”
As we continue to discuss footballing heroes my bringing up of Brian Clough is greeted with less enthusiasm than expected,
“Fuck that guy, look how he treated Justin Fashanu.”
Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to cost a million pounds and also the first player to admit he was gay. On finding out his sexual orientation, Clough banned Fashanu from training with the rest of the squad and was later quoted as saying; ‘I paid a million quid for him. He couldn’t score goals and he was a bit dodgy off the field’
Clough later admitted that he regretted his reaction to Fashanu’s revelation about his sexuality but the damage was already done and the support network within football for Justin never materialised,
“I understand Brian Clough as this revered football mastermind but like everyone else in the world he had flaws and he didn’t come out well from the Fashanu situation.”
Homophobia in football is still a big problem and other than a few footballers coming out after retirement, an openly gay top-level professional footballer in the modern game still seems unlikely,
“See the whole gay footballer thing? It’s 2018 and there are NO gay footballers…?”
Being an openly gay Celtic fan, how does it feel among the home support?
“In all the years of going to Celtic Park, I’ve never heard anything homophobic. It may happen elsewhere in the stadium but wherever I’ve sat I’ve never heard it and that to me is a little bit why I love Celtic so much”
The recent images of The Green Brigade marching while flying the Pride flag as well as the Pride banner being rolled out at an away game is a welcome symbol of inclusion amongst the Celtic support.
“That was a really nice thing to do and it makes all the younger gay fans feel part of something. The inclusivity of Celtic makes it easier to love them.”
The subject of Seville comes up, as it always tends to do with mid to late 30s Celtic fans, and watching the final at Uncle Tommy’s house in Dublin. Paul chuckles at the memory.
“My dad suggested we go over to watch the final AND that I come out to my uncle Tommy. So we went over and I had to tell him, as Uncle Tommy was the last to know. He’s a man’s man, a right good football man. I was nervous but he was so touched that I’d gone over to tell him.”
Both Uncle Tommy and Auntie Ann were, of course, deeply supportive of Paul but unfortunately there was nothing they could do about the final itself.
“The Seville era was excellent but I remember the centenary season too, that was a special time for me….Roy Aitken went to my school.”
Music and Football go hand in hand for Paul Carlin, as they do for most of us, and with massive changes in both in recent years, does he see a correlation between them?
“Do you remember when Dundee United put Cammy Bell up for sale on Twitter? That’s going on and at the same time you’ve got a band tweeting a link to their EP with a bankcard link. It’s utterly bizarre.”
The rise of social media, especially Twitter, has changed how we support our football clubs with an array of opinions, blogs and podcasts giving different perspectives on club goings on,
“It’s funny, supporting Celtic now is different from supporting Celtic 10 or even 5 years ago.”
Football has changed over the years but one thing is for sure, with a guy like Paul Carlin in the support Celtic will always been on the right side of hip.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @thepaulcarlin
Follow Jutland Songs on Twitter: @jutlandsongs