JOE Carnall – singer of The Book Club – was as surprised as anybody when the Sheffield band’s name popped up on Sky Sports News.
It came during transfer deadline day and courtesy of Newcastle want-away player Joey Barton.
Now at QPR, it seems bad boy Barton had been Tweeting about the band, who have just released their début album.
“I’ve know him for ages, through all his notorious bits, he used to come to Milburn gigs and then came and watched us in Newcastle with the Book Club,” explains Joe, who even previously stayed at the striker’s home.
“I’m not gonna sit here and defend him one minute, but sporadically, maybe once every six months, he’ll text me or I’ll bump into him.
“So I texted him and said we’d just done an album ‘if you want to have a listen I’ll send you one up’. So he sent me his address and I thought nothing more of it.
“Little did I know he’s got half a million Twitter followers – I’ve never had an account or followed anyone – but Sky Sports News were covering the transfers and Joey’s quoting our lyrics from The Cautious Cavalier to signify what he is feeling.
“I didn’t know until my mates were texting. Word got round within minutes. So that was good for us. I don’t want to ride on the coat tails of a footballer with a bad reputation, to be honest with you, but it’s a story.
“Joey’s not stupid, he’s let himself down, but he’s got a baby on the way and he’s always been really nice to me and been interested.”
And no doubt he’ll be enjoying the contents of Death In The Afternoon, the entertaining and intelligent first full offering from The Book Club.
It is a ‘compilation’ of the best bits of the band so far, taken from their two EPs, plus new songs, all remixed into a classy 10-track package.
“We were only going to sell 200 as a souvenir, put it on iTunes. They sold out within a week, which was quite flattering, so I’ve ordered 250 more albums.”
It follows the band’s successful Leadmill gig for Tramlines, during which time Joe also unveiled Midnight In Moscow, his acoustic side project with fellow former Milburner Tom Rowley, at Sheffield Cathedral.
While it’s uncertain where they’ll take that The Book Club play Queen’s Social Club a week tomorrow.
Beyond that the agenda seems to be one of enjoying the journey when band members have time. With a doctor in their ranks, someone else running a T-shirt design business and doing a graphic design degree, time isn’t abundant.
Joe, meanwhile, has just completed a history degree and is starting a masters in Modern History. He may be unclear what he wants to do after that but it’s certainly a subject that informs his songwriting.
Then this is a lad who turned down an Oxbridge place to pursue previous band Milburn.
“Sometimes I think ‘why did I do that’, other times ‘I went to Japan twice, that’s why I did it’. We had an adventure.
“I like history and I think it’ll make me a better writer in a few ways. Also it buys me more time to keep cracking with this. If someone says ‘do you want to do another album’, of course I do.
“If something did come along then I would grab it. But you’ve got to invest a lot of time and effort. You’ve got to really work it. You’ve also got to get on with your life. I’ve never seen the point of going to Hartlepool and doing a gig in front of eight people. It just drives the band into the ground. I’d rather do gigs with some purpose.”
Either way, it could be argued The Book Club are Sheffield’s brainiest band. Joe doesn’t shrink at the suggestion, after all he did his dissertation on the Spanish Civil War and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, set in the mountains north of Madrid – the album’s title song is based on Hemingway’s book about bull fighting.
“The song’s about all the unbelievable intense violence, which not a lot of people know about.
“I thought I’d rather do that than write about shagging someone you’ve met in a club or some sort of Vaccines song. It’s what makes us a bit different, subject matter.
“I want to write about things I find interesting. You’re always going to get your odd love song. Billy Bragg did a tune with Milburn and once said you’ve got to have a good love song because that’s what gets people in, and when they’re in you can give them whatever makes them think.
“I feel I’m writing better stuff now; the last four or five tunes are the best I’ve written by a distance, lyrically, melodically, but it’s hard to get that across to people who just see you for Well, Well, Well because that was the time in their lives.”