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Q & A with the Tartan Specials

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Over a quiet beer in the Scratcher in the autumn of 2003, Kenny McIntosh, formerly of the Kazakhstan Tartan Army, told Kenny McColl that he’d written a song that might go down well on the upcoming trip to Glasgow and Amsterdam.

The excitement of two games against the Dutch brought back memories of ‘78 and Kenny was rightly proud of having managed to include the phrase ‘Archie Gemmill’s Goal’ into the chorus. As the beer fl owed, the idea of recording
this song grew and grew and so the Tartan Specials were formed.

At this point, the trip was about a week away and Kenny was to spend most of that time in Argentina, so we were on a tight schedule. Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls, was finally completed at 2am, the day we left for Glasgow. They put the track on the Tartan Army NYC web site, posted a few messages on various Tartan Army lists and message boards, and then left for Glasgow.

It then took on a life of its own. The track was downloaded about 1000 times, was mentioned in the Daily Telegraph and had links posted to it on various other football message boards. And then, on arriving in Amsterdam, they twice heard the song being played in bars as they walked in!

Originally, all the music was done by Kenny McIntosh and Kenny McColl with lyrics contributed from the ‘Silent Specials’- Norman Wilson, Malky Boyd and Colin Reid. But recently they have been gearing up to do some live shows so they have added Graeme McIntosh and Steve Suttie. The ‘Silent Specials’ still help with the lyrics from time to time, although they’re not so silent if you meet them in the pub mind you. And while they formed in New York, the band is now split between NYC and Scotland, which makes recording and rehearsing pretty tricky.

So it all started with Sex & Drugs & Sausage Rolls and when they travelled to Amsterdam for that fateful play-off they heard the song being played in just about every pub the guys went in. So despite the match being the worst failure imaginable, they came back thinking that this music thing might have legs more legs than Berti’s prospects that was for sure.

Caught up in the excitement of hearing folk singing along to their CD in the pubs, the band recorded a quick version of ‘We’ll Be Coming’ which caught on pretty quickly and allowed them to achieve a lifelong ambition to have something played at Hampden.

More songs have followed, each getting downloaded more than the previous track. But the website really took off when they put together a couple of cartoons for the tracks. The first cartoon for ‘We’ll Be Coming’ was really just a bit of fun, but it’s been pretty popular and their site is getting near to 1 million hits now. The site gets a lot of visitors from around the world, particularly Germany and the Scandinavian countries. So I think we can expect to hear, ‘We’ll Be Coming’ sung in various languages by away fans at some point in the future.

The most recent track released was ‘Sean Connery for President’, a mischievously irreverent independence themed track that managed to get played at a Christmas party at the Scottish Parliament, Jack McConnell was not amused seemingly.

It’s been a while since ‘Sean Connery for President’ was released, but they have not been totally idle. They are in the process of turning themselves from a virtual internet band to a real band. The bands line up has been expanded and they will be performing live in 2007, so look out for some announcements around the time of Scotland’s home games. They are also planning on releasing their first proper single for the Euro 2008 campaign and follow that up with a full album, with lots of new tracks, later in the year.

Tartan Specials Q & A

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Q. What was it like to hear one of your songs being sang at Hampden Park?

TS: Incredible…. like a fantasy really and a great honour. We’ve both been into football and music our whole lives and this really was a life-long ambition for us.

The first time ‘We’ll Be Coming’ was played at Hampden was against Moldova and annoyingly, we were both stuck in NYC. It was played at half-time and we started getting hundreds of text messages from all the lads at the game, but the satellite coverage we were watching in the pub had no half-time sound so we missed out on hearing it. We’re also very proud that the team had been struggling to break down the Moldavian’s in the fi rst half, but came out inspired in the second half and we won 2-0. We heard it for ourselves at the next home game and it’s no exaggeration to say it was a spine-tingling experience.

It’s also been a real honour (as well as being totally surreal) to hear the Tartan Army singing along to our tunes in packed bars around the world.

Q. What did you think of the appointment of Berti Vogts as the Scotland manager and then when he was replaced by Walter Smith?

KMcC: To be fair to Berti, I think at the time it was a bold move and most people were supportive, but it became pretty clear very quickly that it wasn’t going to work and he should have got his jotters much sooner. How he managed to get another high-profile job after this we’ll never know (although he only let in 4 goals on his debut with Nigeria).

KMcI: It was clear as soon as he opened his mouth it was going to be a disaster – he couldnae speak English.

Q. Walter Smith and Ally Mc Coist have now left the Scotland setup to return to Glasgow Rangers- what do you think of this?

KMcC: Walter leaving has definitely been a disappointment… and I think deep down everybody knew that this was always a possibility but we’d been in denial.

KMcI: I don’t know how he can look his big red whisky hooter in the mirror! What’s more, he was about to be immortalized in a new Tartan Specials song so no he’s lost his chance forever … now we need some more rhymes for “ginger”.

KMcC: His loss anyway, Scotland will survive and prosper.

KMcI: And Ally was really just helping out so no hard feelings there.

KMcC: Aye, good luck to the boy.

KMcI: And good luck to Big Eck.

Q. If you were Scotland manager and had the choice to pick a team from all the players past and present who have played for Scotland, who would you select?

TS: We spent hours arguing in the pub about this one so here’s a mix of all our teams. Ask us again next week and it would no doubt be totally different.

Gordon, McGrain, Miller, McLeish, McNeill, Johnstone, Bremner, Souness, Jim Baxter, Dalglish, Law.

We know that’s 3 Centre Half’s, but they’d figure it out. We’d have to have a huge subs bench though as we’ve left too many legends out.

Q. Who is your Greatest Scotland Player of all time?

GM: King Kenny – he had the rhythm.

KMcI: Typical drummer thing to say.

KMcC: I would have to go for Law but never saw him play in person.

SS: King Kenny for me. How anyone could be that great a player with an arse that big is beyond me.

KMcI: The Law Man from what I’ve seen on telly. King Kenny, during my football watching time, Although Mojo (Mo Johnston) was amazing when we qualified for Italy.

Q. What is your Best moment of being a Scotland fan?

KMcC: It has to be John Collins’ penalty. I remember vividly seeing him smile as soon as he hit it and I just knew it was going in. That whole day was amazing even though I didn’t make it into the stadium. Our briefs never arrived due to the whole ticketing fiasco, and we ended up watching the game on the big screen in the field next to the stadium with 5000 other Scots and a handful of Brazilians.

When JC scored I remember one foot soldier getting a wee bit carried away and he started climbing up the scaffolding next to the screen, followed closely behind by a local gendarme. The gendarme gave up, mind you, as soon as the fellow
started throwing all his clothes (including his kilt) into the crowd. It wasn’t all good that day though – in addition to losing a stupid own goal, I also met Kenny for the first time!

KMcI: Genoa 1990 vs. Sweden. The team and the TA were in top form. The Swedes and Italians were in top form too.

SS: Sitting amongst all the Czech fans being 2 nil up v Czech Republic, Euro 2000 qualifier in Prague.

Q. What is your Worst moment of being a Scotland fan?

SS: Sitting amongst all the Czech fans being 3-2 down v Czech Republic, Euro 2000 qualifier in Prague.

KMcI: Very many! Brazil in Turin immediately following the Sweden game, the England game when we missed a penalty, and the Uruguay game in Mexico when Stevie Nicol missed a sitter to qualify.

KMcC: The away draw in Moldova was probably rock bottom for me – it was just utter despair. The mood wasn’t helped by the fact that our “90 minute” bus journey from Odessa took 11 hours. And we were stone cold sober and freezing our arses off (Chisinau somehow being about 20 degrees colder than Odessa despite being only “90 minutes” away). Having said that, there have been a few other moments of total misery: Amsterdam in 03, St Etienne in 98 (Morocco) and Wembley in 96.

Q. Do you think that Scotland will ever qualify for the knock out stages of a major competition?

KMcC: Absolutely.

KMcI: Yes. Euro 2008.

SS: Please, just once – in my lifetime!!!!!!!!

GM: We have a dream, and dreams come true.

Q. If each of the band members could play for Scotland, what position would you play and why?

KMcI: Striker…. it’s all about being in the right place at the right time: defend with heart, attack with vigour, and gie the baw to me a yard out with a simple tap-in to win the game in the 90th minute. Football is a simple game.

GM: Central midfield – the engine room.

SS: Anywhere but striker – couldnae finish a fish supper!

KMcC: Most definitely Left Back (in the changing room) – utter pish all round unfortunately. Wouldn’t stop me trying mind you.

Q. Do you think the Home Internationals should be revived to replace a lot of meaningless friendlies?

SS: Aye! “We’re the famous tartan army and we’re goin’ to Wembley!!”

KMcI: Maybe probably perhaps.

KMcC: Don’t know really… Wembley’s always an adventure but I think once every few years would probably be enough.

Band Members:
Kenny McIntosh – Vocals & Guitar
Kenny McColl – Bass
Steve Suttie – Guitar
Graeme McIntosh – Drums

For more information on the Tartan Specials and to download their songs go to their website at www.tartanspecials.com

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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