Famous Fan: Primal Scream, Aston Villa

The band's keyboardist discusses the club's season so far and why Christian Benteke is one of the best players to have played at Villa Park
Goal caught up with Primal Scream's keyboardist Martin Duffy to talk Aston Villa, Christian Benteke's form and why Arsenal are his pick to win the Premier League.

Hey, Martin. How are you?

Yeah, I’m good, just about [sounds unconvincing]. We did a gig in Brixton last night and I’ve just about recovered.

It’s quite a hectic schedule you’ve got, isn’t it?

The last few weeks have been pretty busy. We were in California, Japan and we were in Europe for about three weeks and that was the straw that nearly broke the camel’s back. A lot of long drives. But it was good fun.

Let’s talk Villa, how did you end up supporting them?

It was my dad, really. He came from a big family and they were all ‘Bluenose’ [Birmingham City fans] but he saw the light, or the light saw him, and he was a Villa fan.

And how are you rating their season so far?

Well, I went to seem them at Fulham and it wasn’t very good watching, to tell you the truth. But we’re mid-table which is better than being above the relegation zone.

I’d be quite happy to end anywhere mid-table, I mean it’s terrible you have to say you’d be happy with mid-table, but the last couple of seasons we’ve just about scraped our way out of being relegated.

But we’ve beaten Manchester City, we’ve beaten Arsenal and we’re in a transition at the moment.

Benteke was such a saviour last year, but when he got injured [earlier this season] I think he’s still coming back from it. We relied on Benteke last year, I don’t know, maybe teams have sussed him out this year and they realise they need to watch out for him. He was a bit of a surprise character last year and he managed to score a lot of goals.

But it’s Villa, it’s inconsistent, we’re okay one week, get a great result, then the next week, like the Fulham game, it’s…yeah.

It’s surprising how they can go from beating Southampton away to then losing badly at Fulham.

Yeah, I know. Their manager brought in some of the younger players and they wanted to win more than we did.

And we’ve actually got a better away record than a home record, normally we do pretty well away from home. But this time we looked pretty predictable.

My 10-year-old son is a big Villa fan and we were right behind the goal, so we were probably on the telly, but, yeah, it wasn’t a good watch.

Are you backing Benteke to come good?

This season was always going to be difficult for Benteke. Last season, people didn’t quite know him that well and he was on such a roll.

The first game [this season] he scored twice against Arsenal and I though he’ll carry on from where he left off but he got the injury and I don’t think he’s quite come back from the injury yet.

But we’re relying on [Libor] Kozak and [Andreas] Weimann, people like that, to fill in, but hopefully he’ll come good.

Last year he was incredible. For such a big guy, he was strong on the ball, he was a pleasure to watch. I hope he starts playing again. But you get injuries and there’s more pressure on him.

In an interview earlier this year you said Benteke was one of the best players you’ve ever seen for Villa, still standing by that?

From just watching him last year, yeah. He’s so strong, so physical and he had so much skill. From last season, he was one of the best players I’ve seen.

Maybe I was getting a bit carried away but I’m going to stick with him. Hopefully, once he finds his mojo again, he’ll start scoring regularly.

And if he has a good World Cup, would you like to keep him or do you think he’ll leave?

Well, on the strength of the Fulham game, we’ll have a problem selling him.

He’s signed a contract but that doesn’t mean anything does it? I’m hoping, for him and us, that he has a good season.

The kind of club Villa are now, you don’t expect to hold onto players. It’s the way football is these days. We had someone like Ashley Young and wanted to go to Manchester United, and you look at that and you think we probably did a good thing.

We’ve had to get rid of some great players over the last five or six years because they wanted to go to United or Manchester City.

It’s tough. Paul Lambert’s having to spend his money wisely.

And do you think Lambert is spending wisely?

Yeah. I think clubs have had to rein it in a bit. Villa have had to spend money wisely. We’ve always managed to bring in players. People like Dwight Yorke, over the years, they get itchy feet, want to play in the Champions League, and they tend to just go. We’ve got used to it at Villa.

Benteke was a shock when he agreed to stay. I’m hoping he comes good, again.

Are you happy with the way Lambert is running things?

It’s such a young squad. Last season, at one point, Alex McLeish had a better record than him. It’s a transition. This season, even though people are expecting more, is another year [for transition].

But you can only have so many years of it. You’ve got to be pretty quick with getting it right.

Are you confident of steering clear of relegation?

I tell you, these last two seasons, I’m a piano player and I hardly had any fingers left. It was awful.

It was the penultimate game [last season] we were just safe. But I don’t think I can go through that again.

I think this year we’ll improve, I don’t like that feeling of being fourth from bottom with three or two games to go.

And a remix of your song ‘Come Together’ is the intro for BT Sport’s live football coverage…

Yeah, the first game of the season they asked us to go on [the show]. And we did a live bit.

We got to meet Gordon Strachan and we ended up watching the Celtic game in the green room. Hanging out with him was lovely. So, yeah, we got to meet Gordon Strachan.

But it was the week where England had just beaten Scotland in that friendly. And I thought they were pretty unlucky. With Primal Scream being Scottish, you know, I do have Scottish inclinations. But it’s good to meet footballers and Strachan was lovely, he was a real gentleman.

Did some of your bandmates have much to say since the 6-1 defeat at Barcelona?

Well, no. They were pretty quiet.

They are Celtic through and through. Whenever we’ve played in Glasgow, and it’s coincided, we’ve been to some great games at Celtic.

I think they didn’t expect that [the heavy defeat] but it was only last year that Celtic beat them. Rod Stewart’s tears.

But the state of the Scottish game, though, they haven’t even got Rangers to play now on a regular basis.

It wasn’t an easy result, but it’s Barcelona isn’t it?

How about Villa in Europe in a couple of seasons?

Well, I remember them winning the European Cup. I would have been about 12 or 13 years old, and at the time, Liverpool had won it two or three times and Nottingham Forest had won it, and it was like another English team wins the European Cup and it wasn’t that big a deal.

But, yeah, it would be nice for us to get into Europe. Even if it’s the Europa League.

Realistically though, mid-table I’d be very happy. It’s a sorry state of affairs to say that but that’s the way it is at the moment.

So top ten is the aim?

Top ten would be great. But you’ve got teams like Swansea. In the old days, you’d expect to win or expect to lose but every team is difficult now.

It's unpredictable in that way. This season, Manchester United are losing games, Chelsea are losing games. Okay, Arsenal, are playing like they normally play but the other clubs seem to be dropping a lot of points.

Who’s your pick for the title?

It’s open isn’t it. I don’t know. Liverpool are looking quite impressive, aren’t they? I can’t see Manchester United winning the title. Chelsea they are still strong. Manchester City, even though they have been dropping points and getting beaten…I don’t know.

If I had to pick one I’d rather see Arsenal win it for a change than the normal suspects. But they could implode as well. But I think Arsenal might have that consistency there with Arsene Wenger. I’m going to say Arsenal.

And will Villa finish above West Brom?

Again, that is another difficult one. West Brom have been, I hate to say it, the best club in the Midlands in the last two seasons. We managed to get a draw against them this season but I think we’ll just about finish above them. I’ve got to say that.

Do you still play football at all?

No, not any more. I’ve got a 10-year-old son, Louie, he plays for West Hove Dynamos. They were in the quarter finals but they got knocked out of the cup, they play in the Sussex league, but I go to see him play.

Occasionally they have a dad’s knock-around but I’m bit match unfit. It’s exhausting just watching Louie play.

Primal Scream's critically acclaimed new album ‘More Light’ is out now http://www.primalscream.net/