Any Liverpool fan worth their salt will have followed Jamie Webster’s meteoric rise over the past few years – that in many ways – has mirrored the club’s.
The Scouser gained notoriety for his ability on the guitar and the brilliant Liverpool chants/tunes he belted out at various BOSS Nights – but like Jurgen Klopp’s Reds – he has no plans to rest on his laurels.
Webster, signed to independent record label Modern Sky UK, reached no.6 in the album charts with his debut effort ‘We Get By’– that steps away from catchy terrace rhymes to more thought provoking songs about community, place and – although this seems a fairly broad summation: life.
“The music industry is even harder at the top than the Premier League is,” Webster told me on the phone this morning, before a long day of promotion and song-writing.
“The album is still growing now. I’m still getting messages every day from people about it – and to be honest – I’m absolutely blown away.”
Webster understands that the reputation he built by providing the backing track to Liverpool’s past three seasons has been the primary builder of his early success.
After all, Peter Crouch was recently named Tottenham’s greatest ever striker after a poll was jumped on by loyal Reds!
We look after our own.
“Obviously it’s done so well because of the mass of Liverpool fans who’ve supported it. They got the pre-sales up, they pushed it and I couldn’t have done it without them. So thank you to everyone who might read this who’s helped with me my own music – but also the Liverpool stuff as well!”
Webster made his name due to his ability in front of a manic, tightly-packed audience, who quickly became fans. The Covid-19 pandemic has curtailed this, which has annoyingly meant a proper live tour worthy of an album that hit no.6 (the same number of European Cups Liverpool have won, Webster reminded me) will have to wait.
Like you can hear in his album, Webster pulls no punches when it comes to his politics regarding the situation and the clownish mistakes made by the government.
“Im not saying Kier Starmer would have every answer in the book. But the way they’ve handled this whole thing, from start to finish, is absolutely shambolic. That Dominic Cummings, he fucked everything up when he went out and done what he did. After that, everyone is thinking, if he’s not going to abide by the rules, why should I?”
The hypocrisy Webster points out is obvious. Liverpool fans were slammed for celebrating the title, but there was far less said about the thousands of beach-goers during the July heatwave.
So for the time being, while there are some smaller gigs observing social distancing practices which, while necessary, are the antithesis of the message of unison his music preaches, the 26-year-old is penning his difficult second – without the pressure of the comedown from the first.
“It’s not the same at the moment – it’s really not. It’s not an ideal situation, but I’m being positive and using this time to do other things. But playing live is where it’s at. When people come with me and they look out at that stage, and they see what I see every time – it’s something else. When I get my friends to come stand with me. There’s nothing like it,” he says.
Festivals and music events were almost all cancelled this summer, and with the potential for a second lockdown on the horizon, there’s no exact word when fans, of both music and football, will be back in serious number.
We can imagine that with the famous Scouse pilgrimage made from Merseyside to Glastonbury every year, Webster will eventually be strumming his stuff on Michael Eavis’s farm.
“Glastonbury is my little blowout every year… Believe it or not, I’m not much of a drinker – but I let my hair down at Glastonbury for a few days. If I played there I’d wanna play on a Friday so I can be with my mates on Saturday and Sunday. I’d play on a bail of hay at Glastonbury – I wouldn’t care – that’s the dream.”
Webster though is as much a Liverpool fan as he is a musician – and he speaks just as passionately – if not more so – about Jurgen Klopp’s Reds. The title win last season was brilliant, but the fact it occurred in an empty stadium slightly negated the euphoria for some. Not Jamie, though.
“Normally in the stadium, you’re not with your mates. You’re wherever you can get a ticket. But the difference was, there was so many family and friends stood together watching that moment. To be stood with 50 of my friends in a pub, watching Jordan Henderson lift that league, after following Liverpool up and down the country for ten years, it was a special feeling. Some close friends don’t get the opportunity to go week in week out – but we were stood with them as well…” he says.
Despite Liverpool winning the Champions League and the Premier League in successive seasons, there’s been an odd feeling of negativity (primarily online, it has to be said) surrounding the lack of transfer business this summer.
When Sheffield United can spend £18m on a new goalkeeper and the best side in the country won’t drop the £27m it requires to secure Thiago, questions have been asked – but Webster, who has been about as close to Klopp’s Liverpool side as any supporter over the past few years, is adamant we’re in as good a position as ever.
“The other day, with my mates – I wrote down the names of eleven outfield Liverpool players I’m looking forward to seeing this season – and none of them get in our starting XI,’ he began, pointing out that we have much better strength in depth than is widely suggested.
“Let’s take the front-three. Who d’you sign who’s better than them at what they do? You can’t. Then who can you sign who’s nearly as good but will be happy to sit on the bench? You can’t. The only way you can do that is by paying £300k/week – and Liverpool’s wage structure won’t allow that – because Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah are rightly the highest paid players. At best you’ll get someone who’s a bit better than Origi – but let’s not forget we got Minamino who can play in the front-three. Then Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott, who’s so good at 17 he’s knocking on the door.
“You could say we needed a right-back, but Neco Williams is just as good as Trent was when he first got in the side… He’s not as good as Trent now, obviously – but he’s as good as he was when he was 18.
“I can understand the frustration at us not signing players, but I bet that frustration goes away after we win the first five games. Who knows best, us or Jurgen Klopp? We didn’t exactly strengthen last year, and we walked the league. Every other team in the league spent money – but we had the best season of our lives. Had it not been for Adrian and a couple of dodgy errors against Atletico, we might’ve won the Champions League as well. Big signings come with big egos and big personalities.
“If this season doesn’t go right, then we can ask questions. But before that happens, if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s Liverpool Football Club.
“I’m someone who’s been behind the scenes more than most fans, much closer, and I know that there really is a sense of togetherness and brotherhood amongst the players. As cringey as that sounds, it’s true. They’re a family. The last thing Klopp wants is a big name on big wages to come in and upset the apple cart. Look at Mario Balotelli – Klopp brings out the best in players, but he didnt even entertain the idea of Balotelli. ‘Go. You’re not even training with me mate. You’re not in my plans’. One of my favourite defenders was Mamadou Sakho – but when you start taking the piss out the manager on a pre-season tour, he didn’t take any messing there, Klopp, did he?”
Klopp’s ruthless side is hidden by his brilliant media persona, his laughter, his sense of humour and the rest that comes with Brand Jurgen. But anyone who watches his interviews in the odd match we’ve lost in 2020 will know there’s obviously a different side to the much-loved manager.
“Of course he’s ruthless,” Webster continued. “I’m not gonna say who, but I’ve been on pre-season tours and I’ve seen him talking to players in no uncertain terms. He doesn’t do it to the cameras, but it’s there. I’ve got mates who are groundsman, and they’ve got in his way, and he’s told them! He’ll fully tell them in no uncertain terms. Then two hours later, big smile, ‘we’re alright now’, ya know? Because it’s business. Klopp understands all that.
“Klopp won’t have players with attitude in the squad. Look what happened with Coutinho. ‘You feel you can do no more? Sound. here’s the door. If you don’t want to play for my football club, off you go mate'”.
“We are very, very lucky. He’s got four years, but the only two teams I can see him managing are Bayern and Germany.”
It’s fair to say that any of my very small doubts surrounding whether Liverpool could go again with the squad at Klopp’s disposal were washed away within 15 minutes…
The Reds face Leeds on Saturday in the Premier League opener, while Webster’s album remains in the top 100, with another one in the oven.
Let’s hope that by next summer, both are at the very top.