It's fair to say that unless the bomb of mandy your mate mischievously dropped in your pint is triggering some sort of nostalgia based trip, you don't usually expect to glance at the decks in a Dalston night club to see a legendary 1980s former Scottish international footballer dropping rewinds on indie classics.
It was just the other day someone forwarded me a Facebook event page for a clubnight called Scared to Dance at The Moustache Bar in East London, with the headliner quite clearly stated as DJ Pat Nevin. In an era of Chet Faker's, Com Truise's and Joy Orbison's, I was pretty sure it was an unsubtle gag by some absolute joker. I had horrible flashbacks to remembering King Krule’s brief stint as DJ JD Sports and an unnamed VICE staffer doing the rounds as DJ Lee Dixon. Gripped by terror, it only took a few clicks to discover that no, it was the real Pat Nevin - the 51 year old former Chelsea and Everton player, sometime Match of the Day pundit, and BBC correspondent - and this was by no means his first set.
I got in touch with Pat as he was prepping for a Newsnight interview and a feature on The One Show but he kindly agreed to find time for me, obliging with the level of charm and chat you'd associate with the Glaswegian uncle you only get to see on Boxing Day.
It turns out that Pat Nevin is basically the original “hipster footballer”, and this is what he told me.
Noisey: Pat, I’ve watched you on Match of the Day, I’ve listened to you on 5 Live, and my dad used to wax lyrical about you playing for Chelsea and being an absolute wizard. Since when were you also a hyped East London indie DJ?
Pat: Oh, I’ve been DJing for years and years. Forever really. I come from Glasgow, and before I left it was a hotbed of music. The whole Postcard Records thing was blowing up, and things were really happening. I had been listening to John Peel since I was 14, every night lying on my bed with headphones on. I was just a muso, that’s all I was. Eventually I started DJing. Even when I was playing football for Chelsea I was doing it. Although, when you are playing football you can’t be spinning tunes until 3am in the morning, because you have to take care of yourself a wee bit. I’m asked loads now, and can only accept about 1 in 5 of the offers I get.
Where the hell do you find the time?
That’s the daft thing. I’m probably going to be on Newsnight tonight, and tomorrow morning I’m building a piece for The One Show, then on the weekend I’m doing a speech in London. So I need to then change my clothes, get into something that doesn’t look bad in a night club, and then DJ in Dalston until 3. Then the next day I’ll be commentating on the Capital One Cup Final, so if I sound rough, you’ll know why. It is totally and utterly mental. None of it fits together. I’m knackered.
Have you always managed to keep your indie selectah and football life separate? I can’t imagine Frank Lampard getting much peace if he was seen spinning “Blue Monday” on the 1s and 2s at The Moustache Bar on a Saturday night.
It was totally different back when I was a footballer. It was all about how you decided to live. Okay, so I was Chelsea player, but I could walk down the street. If you were doing normal things, like going to gigs and going to the movies, living a normal quiet life, then people kind of notice you but not bother you. Whereas if you are a bit flashy, you are going to get hassled. It would be much harder for the lads now to have a normal life. I feel a bit sorry for them.
Pat drops a cheeky indie rock reference during a football interview.
I’m sure I read that you became good mates with John Peel back then?
Yeah, funnily enough it was probably the only time I used my “name” to meet somebody. I had a music column in the Chelsea club newspaper, and I wrote to John and asked for an interview. I said my team Chelsea are playing your team Liverpool in a couple of weeks so I would need to meet you before then. We became great mates. I used to sit in on his show quite a bit, making production notes.
You were a production assistant on John Peel’s show whilst playing for Chelsea?
Aye, but they never really mentioned that I was hanging about. You’d think people would comment on there being a famous footballer there but nobody knew, and that was the way I liked it.
Is it true you once asked to be taken off early during a football match so that you could go to a Joy Division gig that night?
Yes, but wasn’t Joy Division, it was Cocteau Twins. I was pre-season at Chelsea and I said, I will sign your contract if you take me off at half time next Friday night because they’re playing Festival Hall. I was quite adamant, and the manager agreed to it. “You’re off your head, but fine.” We weren’t flashy back then, but we did train near Heathrow so sometimes I would hit a gig on a weeknight - get a last minute ticket and fly off somewhere. So it might be a gig in France, Berlin, Scotland. I would stay in a crap hotel, fly back the next day for training. Nobody was any the wiser.
Our mother website VICE did a piece about hipster footballers last year. It concluded that Daniel Sturridge was the closest to being one, but essentially there aren’t many. You, on the other hand, once had a spread in the NME and were kinda considered a post-punk 80s icon for footy crowds. Do you know many others like that?
They are around, definitely. Back then, we thought we were the normal ones and that the rest of them were weird. In my day there was Barry Horne, who was captain of Wales and captained Everton. He had an absolutely flawless knowledge of indie-pop. A group of us were like that. Not many I grant you. Yeah, a lot of the players would be playing George Michael in the changing room, but I’d be playing The Fall.
How do you keep up to date with your tunes these days? Magazines? Radio? Noisey.com?
Spotify and friends mostly. I found about two dozen new tracks today actually, because I do analysis for BBC Scotland, and one of the technicians up there is a big music fan. So we sit there making these complicated looking football graphics while talking about the best Dum Dum Girls track to play out in the clubs.
Brilliant. Go on then Pat, what’s your big indie bangers to drop on a Saturday night in Dalston?
I like this band Tuff Love, who have a good track called “Slammer”. Honeyblood are great. Have you come across Ex Hex? They’ve got a great tune called “Don’t Wanna Lose”. And there are two tracks on the new Belle and Sebastian album, that are really brilliant. Most often though, I will turn up on a Saturday night and have no idea what I am going to play. But I put a lot of stuff on, and after that I will look to see what kind of angle is going down well. The best nights are when you put a load of stuff on and you look out and see, okay, they are just going for it.
Amazing! Finally, how do you deal with requests?
I always ask for requests. I usually have a bit of paper and a pen so that people can ask me. Doesn’t mean I’m going to play them! Quite often, when I get the paper back at the end of the night, I will go away and look up all the stuff I didn’t have. That’s a good trick.
You sneaky bastard. Thanks for chatting, and keep doing everything.
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