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  • Writer's pictureMaximilian Sam

Soundtrack Of My Life - Do Not Scratch Your Eyes

We're moving away from authors a little here to include some great friends who devised and run a podcast about all things Watford Football Club. I'm regularly asked about podcasts by authors, so we thought we'd contact Peter, Justin, and Carl to give us some insight from running the DNSYE podcast. Justin also has a regular radio show and other podcasts. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all, as it happens, we didn't even get sidetracked by turtles.

The boys are doing a live podcast recording on 3 August to help raise funds for the Pump House Theatre in Watford. There are still tickets left for "The Big Night Out", so grab them whilst you can by clicking the image below guaranteeing fun in the name of a good cause.

The Big Night Out flyer

What's the secret to a successful podcast?

Peter: Wow that could bring a myriad of answers. Firstly, no two podcasts are the same and in some ways one “secret” to a successful podcast is not to simply copy another – the challenge is to make your own unique dynamic and content connect with an audience.

For me or for us, I feel that you need to build structure into podcasts but there is a difference between structure and rigidity. The structure of what you do should not stop you from improvisation or “going off script”. We never use a script but do understand what things we might want to cover and then we trust the dynamic between us as hosts and ensure that if we have a guest, that they are put at ease and understand that it is a friendly environment – we are not looking to catch anyone out.

Finally, as a top three (otherwise I could go on for hours) I think many podcasts underestimate the power of editing. There are many platforms that go out live but the fact that so much of what we do is spontaneous means that if we are to respect our listener’s time and trust in listening to us, then we need to do everything we can to make the content as (in our case) taut as we can and ensure any guest content is interesting (so that helps with point 2 also). We do a live phone in podcast and whilst that is slightly different, I still edit out the dead air and the instructions about how to come on air which can be repeated 20 times a show.

Actually finally – take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously – podcasting is the ultimate in democratised broadcasting so it should be enjoyable to make otherwise it will be less enjoyable to listen to.

Justin: Absolutely no idea. I trialled a solo podcast born out of what I was doing on Hospital Radio. I always wanted to include the listeners as I realised one person rambling was about as interesting as counting rice. I would ask a question every week and then read out the answers the week after. This built a small following but as there was never any kind of theme to the podcast I stopped doing it after a few episodes. When Carl and I started DNSYE I was keen to keep an element of that in. So even by episode two we were reading out questions from listeners like ‘what’s your favourite chant’ or ‘what’s your best ever kit’. By episode four we had our first ex-player interview (Tony Coton). Again it was important for listeners to be able to quiz the guests so we created a ‘punters questions’ section. I think that listeners hearing their name and their question being put to the guest made it special for them. This has organically spread into the post match spaces when we started doing those. Now listeners have a weekly platform to air their views about Watford. 

I also think keeping an authentic voice is important. Be yourself. Don’t try and copy anyone. Drop any aspects of your output that you feel aren’t working. Keep in stuff people tell you they like. Don’t overthink anything. If you consider a topic is something you’d like listening to then the chances are someone else will want to.

Personality balance is also important I think. There is a twelve year age gap between the eldest and youngest hosts of DNSYE. We all have different strengths as to how we serve the podcast and its output, and we all have different opinions on Watford F.C. If we all had the same views it would be boring to listen to. 

We have never done a great deal of preparation for any podcast before pressing the record button. The one exception being the aforementioned Tony Coton interview where I tried to use an idea I had seen elsewhere with a ‘Wikipedia Fact or Fiction’ section. This wasn’t used again as I felt it didn’t serve the episode well. Obviously we use pre-made contributions from others on opposition view episodes but only Peter knows the content. Myself and Carl haven’t seen these prior to recording. I usually haven’t even prepared the disappointing local attraction item until I remember about it halfway through the episode recording. 

We made everything ourselves from the opening/closing titles, the jingles, the graphics etc. We have never used an outside agency to design anything that we use. The name of the podcast came relatively easily and wasn’t something that was agonised about. There were other names mooted between us but it was all ‘hornets’ this or ‘yellows’ that. Taking something that everybody recognises but they don’t know why like ‘Do Not Scratch Your Eyes’ gives you an immediate talking point - ‘oh where does that come from?’ 

Editing is vital. Keeping it tight and taking out long gaps, mistakes and passages that are repetitive or irrelevant is key. Again it comes down to ‘would I want to listen to this?’ If the answer is ‘no’ then assume nobody else would want to either. 

There’s no shortcut to building a listenership. There isn’t one waiting for you to come along, especially if you’re trying to break into a market already saturated with fan made content. Consistent episode release and quality control will help. We only started seeing what I would describe as truly unbelievable listening figures during year three. 

Carl: I guess the 1st point of contact has to be compelling content. We try to focus on creating engaging, valuable, and unique content that resonates with our target audience. Consistency in quality is key. Moving on from that, I would say clear concept and target audience, we wanted to define our podcast's niche and target audience. A clear concept helps attract and retain listeners who are interested in Watford and the content we deliver. A big drive of Peters is consistent schedule. We try to stick to a consistent publishing schedule to keep the audience engaged and build anticipation whenever possible, but let’s not lie, it is Watford FC and that’s always going to be a tough ask. It would also be amiss of me not to talk about equipment, thanks to our patrons we have been able to invest in decent audio equipment and have Peter on hand to do some incredible editing to ensure we have clear sound. It’s my belief that listeners appreciate good production quality. I would say that something we stand proud to is our engagement quality and that would a big part of my list when asked what we do well. We try to Interact with our listeners through social media, email, and now live events. Building a community around our podcast has made such a difference and has just enhanced its success. I think the last one and in some ways, the most important one, is never stand still, always try to improve and be better, we always ask for feedback from listeners and analyse metrics to understand what works and what doesn't, then adapt accordingly. I think that’s way we always keep it fresh.

I believe combining these elements with a pinch of passion and a large spoonful of dedication, you'll increase your chances of running a successful podcast. I make it sound so simple.

How does one become a guest on a podcast?

Justin: On DNSYE we invite on guests that we think will be interesting for the listener. Obviously there is going to be a fair amount of ex-Watford players interviews as we are fans of the club. However we also talk to other notable people associated with the town which in the past has included local authors, the mayor, a rapper, celebrities, comedians and radio presenters. We might also be approached by charitable fundraisers looking for help raising their profile which were are happy to do.

Peter: Our podcast has a number of different programs and getting on will vary. Our phone in people simply have to request via X/Twitter Spaces and then we bring them on. On other podcasts we typically reach out to people or if they have an idea, they might reach out to us. We are big on helping promote any charitable events or causes that might be going on in the football club’s supporter community so we get a few requests for those but often we will think about who might be a guest that listeners might be interested in and then invite them in.

We have the excuse of being brought up living above our mother's clothes shop in St. Albans Road. We even remember watching the legend, Luther Blissett, score a hat-trick on match of the day when we beat Harlow Town 4-3 in the FA Cup. We were destined to suffer the trials and tribulations of being a Hornet from a young age. Where did your story start with the Golden Boys?

Justin: For me it was growing up around the area. I was born next to the ground and lived in Watford Fields until I was 3. We spent the next seven years in Pinner then moved to Rickmansworth and I wanted to start going to Vicarage Road after watching them play in the 1984 Cup Final on TV. My dad was a Manchester United fan but going to Old Trafford week in week out was never going to be practical so he saw the sense in going to watch football locally. I’ve been going since August 1985 just before my 11th birthday. 

Peter: My first game was in 1978 and it was a birthday party of a friend of mine, and I was hooked. I still love the feeling of walking through a vomitory and seeing a stadium or arena open up in front of me and that was the first time I had experienced it. It was the game when Graham Taylor’s team lifted the 4th Division (now League 2) trophy, and I didn’t realise that I was at the start of a rollercoaster ride that would last a lifetime.

I always say that Watford FC can concertina in any fans life, depending on circumstances, finance or other commitments, it can increase and decrease depending on the amount of time available but it is always an old friend for all supporters to come back and enjoy – even if some need to have some kind of reconciliation with whoever owns it at the time.

So here's the soundtracks, as always the playlist is available on Spotify by clicking the link:

Carl's Playlist:

Hurt by Johnny Cash

Just love the words. Such a simple song but it packs a punch. I recommend the acoustic version.

Mr. Forgettable by David Kushner

A beautiful song about dementia, again the words just sit with me. My mum was diagnosed five years ago. And the song sits with me or that reason.

Alive by Pearl Jam

It’s Peal Jam, not sure there is much more to it.

Cumberland Gap by David Rawlings

This is a song I first heard from the Guy Ritchie film The Gentlemen, it’s just one of those songs that stays in my head. If I get out the car and it’s on, it’s in my head all day.

Maybe Tomorrow by Stereophonics

A song that just reminds me of my wife, and to live every day if it’s your last. Again the acoustic version is a must.

Like A Stone by Chris Cornell

This one takes me to a place where I remember the ones that I’ve lost, or people that I would love to see and speak to again. I’m not a big believer in the afterlife, but this song and its words, makes me think.

Wicked Game by Stone Sour

What a Jam!!!! Just love this one. Full pelt, this is the song I would sing (if I could) and if I was in a band, thankfully for the rest of you, I’m not.

Monsters by James Blunt

Came out a few days after my Dad passed away. It’s fair to say I do tear up at this one. Anyone who’s had a good relationship with their dad or a father figure, this song and its words just hit a nerve.

Take Me To Church by Hozier

So underrated, again the words are beautiful and for the 3rd time, acoustic version is a must.

Hotel California by The Eagles

Just reminds me of good and fun times. Turn it up and let it play.

Justin's Playlist:

Time To Pretend by MGMT

Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ updated for a cynical naughties audience. The simple chord structure underpins a complicated arrangement that catches you out for the first few listens. The lyrics start with the youthful optimism and dreams of becoming famous musicians; each group member’s respective drug habits and trappings of fame already mapped out before them: 

“I’ll move to Paris 

Shoot some heroin and fuck with the stars 

You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars” 

Before doubling down with: 

“This is our decision 

To live fast and die young 

We’ve got the vision 

Now let’s have some fun”

The songs ends with the grim realities of the music business playing out in their lives: 

“We’ll choke on our vomit 

And that will be the end 

We were fated to pretend” 

As close to music perfection as it gets. 

Astral Weeks by Van Morrison

I bought the album ‘Astral Weeks’ when I was about 20 after reading about it in a magazine. Some 30 years on whenever I put it on it’s like listening to it for the first time all over again. I notice little things I haven’t heard before in the music. I can’t think of any other album that I have this experience with. The opening lines of the song/album are: 

“If I ventured in the slipstream 

Between the viaducts of your dream” 

deep or what?

The song itself has just two alternating chords all the way through. Just brilliant 

Bullingdon Club by Lux Lisbon

A sideways satirical swipe about the ruling classes told through a tuneful critique of an all-male dining club at Oxford University famous for riotous events where members smash hosting venues up when the evening concludes (before paying in cash for repairs). Members are only selected if they come from extremely wealthy backgrounds and show a willingness to take part in the violent activities: recent members have included George Osbourne, Boris Johnson and David Cameron. 

The song ends with what I think are amongst the best lyrics ever written: 

“Because everybody wants to change the world 

But nobody ever wants to change so 

Let’s all dance to the sound of loneliness 

Close our eyes and scream until it’s over!” 


The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get by Morrissey

The Smiths and Morrissey’s solo output has never fallen out of my music listening rotation. As a guitarist I have given up trying to play anything that Johnny Marr has written. It’s beyond complicated. His beautifully constructed melodies are complimented by Morrissey’s  lyrics that focus heavily on rarely used topics such as unrequited love, unemployment, inadequacy, social anxiety, long boring school  holidays and thoughts of previously wanting to strangle a partner who’s currently in a coma. 

You either get or you don’t get Morrissey. Those that do foster a loyalty to him that is rarely if ever seen in any other artist. 

Bitter experience has proven to me that there is no point trying to convert a naysayer. Conversely meeting a fellow fan is always highly rewarding. You can guarantee that any venue Morrissey plays will have tickets sold out within seconds. He’s the artist I have seen live in concert more than any other. 

This is an accessible solo Morrissey song that even non-fans know and un-admittedly sing along to in their cars when nobody is looking. 

Last Caress/Green Hell by Metallica (originally recorded by The Misfits)

Since their very early days Metallica have been known for their cover versions as much as for their own compositions. These covers have opened up new audiences for bands such as Diamond Head, Anti-Nowhere League, Discharge and The Misfits. 

After the death of original bass player Cliff Burton in 1986 ‘Garage Days Re-revisited’ was released between the albums Master Of Puppets and And Justice For All as a way to introduce new bass player Jason Newstead to fans. 

The highlight of this EP of cover versions is final track ‘Last Caress/Green Hell’ a medley of two Misfits songs. Played at a blistering place and clocking in at 3 1/2 minutes it showcases perfectly how Metallica can take songs and make them their own. 

Hearing this for the first time started a curiosity followed by a lifelong love of The Misfits - a band that fused b-movie horror themes with straightforward underproduced punk. Totally unique. 

Bodies by The Sex Pistols

I can only imagine how it must have been to hear this song for the first time when it was released in 1977 amongst the disco and turgid progressive rock that was stinking  out the airwaves at the time. It was eleven years later in 1988 when I was 14 that I bought ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ and the shock of ‘Bodies’ in particular was just as jarring against the Stock, Aitken and Waterman and house music dross my peers were listening to. 

I still get the goosebumps when that opening riff in E Major starts churning away at the start of the track. When I was 17 I started a covers band at school and we used to give this a go, deliberately keeping in the ‘fuck this and fuck that’ refrain before the final chorus. 

Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit

I saw them perform this at The Sonisphere Festival in 2011. It felt like there was an earthquake erupting underneath the crowd as they jumped up and down. 

It’s also the only rap that I can do all the way through without faltering. 

It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry by Glasvegas 

Glasvegas’ first album is one of those rare records where I don’t skip any tracks when I listen to it. 

Track three ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’ is a first person account of a serial cheat that continually finds himself in broken down relationships destroyed by his own insecurities and controlling jealousy. His actions find him lamenting ‘it’s funny how me fucking her about have got me in this fucking mess’ as another relationship ends messily. 

There really isn’t another song like this anywhere. 

Caffeine Bomb by The Wildhearts

A tongue twistingly fast-paced blast of pop punk dealing with the misery of full blown hangovers. 

The lyrics centre around the need for someone else, anyone, to make a bloody big coffee in order to get the day started as the narrator is incapacitated on the toilet physically incapable of doing it himself - ‘baby can’t you see I’m shitting brown water?’ 

This song was played on Top Of The Pops. I can still remember Simon Mayo introducing it followed by me writing down the title down when it had finished so I could buy it the following day.

Blimey I’ve just looked it up on YouTube and the TOTP performance is there! 

Aneurysm by Nirvana

Having been of age when grunge broke is a quirk of nature I will always be thankful for. That the city of Seattle could produce the likes of Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, The Melvins, Tad, Soundgarden and Mudhoney all at the same time is nothing short of phenomenal. Having these available to me at the age of seventeen meant I bought into it lock stock and barrel. 

Nirvana’s quiet, loud, quiet, verse, chorus, verse schtick was especially appealing. As someone trying to get into bands at the time their music was an instant talent leveller during thousands of  rehearsals for burgeoning young rock stars as their superbly crafted songs were often easy enough for beginners to play. 

Aneurysm isn’t a particularly well known Nirvana song, but it embodies everything about their spirit, song structure and melody writing in one brief but perfect blast of nineties alternative rock. 

Peter's Playlist:

Going Underground by The Jam

This was like “a road to Damascus experience” for me. In March 1980 on Saturday morning there was a kids show called “Multi-coloured Swap Shop” hosted by Noel Edmonds. They would introduce bands and they played the video of “Going Underground” and I was dumbstruck, it finished and I remember turning to ITV and they almost instantly played the same music video and by the end of it, I was singing along. I instantly cracked open my piggy bank (I had just turned 10 and piggy banks were a thing then) took out my cash and walked into Watford, went into “Our Price Records” close to the pond at the top of the High Street and purchased my first stored bought record. It started a lifelong love affair with the Jam and when I started playing in bands a few short years later I never wanted anything more than to be Paul Weller in that moment.

The fact that a 22 year old could write lyrics and a tune about the subject matter disassociation with a society in light of defence spending out stripping welfare in terms of finance and government policy was simply stunning!

“You've made your bed, you better lie in it. You choose your leaders and place your trust, As their lies wash you down and their promises rust, You'll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns, And the public wants what the public gets, But I don't get what this society wants”

Hanging on the Telephone by Blondie

Like many kids with older siblings my first introductions to music was through my brother. In approximately 1979 the “Parallel Lines” album came into our house and I was transfixed at first by the album cover. The Black and White lined back drop and band wearing black and white suits was quite regulation in tone and approach but served to emphasise the impact of the stunning Debbie Harry being front and centre. Like a punk Marilyn Monroe and exuding attitude and unapologetic sexuality this 9 year old “heterosexual” burned into me in that moment! 

Parallel Lines had better known more commercially successful songs but “Hanging on the Telephone” hit me from the ringtone intro straight into a rip roaring vocal with the rest of the band almost catching up with Harry as she berates the songs antagonist with questions in the manner of a spurned ex-girlfriend going on the offensive in an obsessive style featuring innocuous lyrics were it not for the delivery and performance

“It's good to hear your voice, you know it's been so longIf I don't get your calls, then everything goes wrongI want to tell you something you've known all alongDon't leave me hanging on the telephone” 

My World by Secret Affair

Bought as an after thought along with “Going Underground” (the piggy bank took a hell of a beating that day) this confirmed my position as a “Mod”, even thought the Mod revival had been a year or so earlier.

A classic Mod anthem trying to capture the essence of Modernism of good living in difficult circumstances.

“I can feel that taste for life slipping away, And striking the lost chord I find nothing new to say, Someone told me all dressed with nowhere to go, I should have that sinking feeling, my head hung low, But this is my world today, My world your living in every day”

The Night Before by The Beatles

Having fallen for the Jam in their heyday there were lots of references to the Beatles but for nine months or so I had not been exposed to them and then I recall we had a radio in the kitchen and as everyone was preparing to go school and work, I was finishing breakfast with everyone else out of the room and Terry Wogan (we were a Radio 2 family) announced that John Lennon had been shot and killed in New York. I remember telling my mum and it was only from her reaction that I realised what a seismic event this was and what a vital individual John Lennon had been.

That night the BBC played the film “Help” and by the end of it and the news programs detailing I was once again raiding the piggy bank and within days had purchased the “Help” album. I remember a disastrous driving holiday being made bearable by having a tape recorder on which I had recorded the Album and any other music – mostly the Jam. I could have chosen almost any track from Help but sometimes a track just chooses you – and this was the case here. 

Down in the Park by Tubeway Army

Friends often become more influential than siblings or parents and a friend of mine was a massive Gary Numan fan. In the late 70’s as the possibilities of Electronic music were being pioneered Numan’s Tubeway Army released a seminal album including the track “Are Friends Electric”. Numan was one of my first gigs and was massively impressive despite his limited vocal range his dystopian lyrics and images coupled with imaginative stage sets were enthralling. My preferred track was “Down in the Park” with incredibly dark lyric inspired by 1984/Brave New World dystopian society where life is cheap and machinery is a danger in and of itself. The bass synthesizer replaced power chords in a way that was powerful and eery.

Kid Gloves by Rush

I was introduced to Rush during what for many was their bad period musically – I didn’t notice. The Canadian 3 piece were playing with synthesizers having been previously a progessive rock trio but the time signatures and complexity appealed to me as I was starting to make music myself and this stuff felt inspirational both in terms of musical and lyrical content describing what I thought at the time was teenage anxiety and tension but as you get older you realise you don’t stop learning at any age and anxiety and tension are constant companions through life.

[Verse 1] A world of difference, A world so out of touch, Overwhelmed by everything, But wanting more so much, Call it blind frustration, Call it blind man's bluff, Call each other namesY, our voices rudeYour voices rough, Then you learn the lesson, That it's cool to be so tough

[Chorus 1] Handle with kid gloves, Handle with kid gloves, Then you learn the lessons, Taught in school won't be enough, Put on your kid gloves, Put on your kid gloves, Then you learn the lesson, That it's cool to be so tough

[Verse 2] A world of indifference, Heads and hearts too full, Careless of the consequence, Of constant push and pull, Anger got bare knuckles, Anger play the fool, Anger wear a crown of thorns, Reverse the golden rule, Then you learn the lesson, That it's tough to be so cool

Fall At Your Feet by Crowded House

Pretty much anything from the Neil or Tim Finn stable could make it on to a top ten soundtrack for me. This is from Woodface which saw the Finn brothers both play and write some classic tunes but this is one that again plays with musical conformity. The middle eight is transcendent in a way that Neil Finn achieves with astonishing regularity and the lyrics hit a melancholic chime of love and dependency living along the fear of failure. Its just beautiful.

The finger of blame has turned upon itself, And I'm more than willing to offer myself, Do you want my presence or need my help? Who knows where that might leadI fall, Whenever I fall at your feet, Won't you let your tears rain down on me? Whenever I touch your slow turning pain, Whenever I fall (at your feet) Whenever I fall

Same Old Scene by Roxy Music

Roxy Music were like Bowie in that I caught their later era’s before discovering back catalogues that were imaginative, creative and polished in its production. This is the definitive tune that captures that memory of being young with a first car which represented the first opportunities for real freedom accompanied by a car stereo worth about 3 times what the car was worth (the ate 80’s saw rubbish in car stereos and therefore a market sprung up for quality replacements). This still feels like driving through various parts of southern England in the summer with the window down. And of course Bryan Ferry was effortlessly cool and had a distinctive voice and delivery.

In our lighter moments, Precious few, It's all that heavy weather, We're going through, When I turn the corner, I can't believe, It's still the same old movie, That's haunting me, Young loving baby, Oh, so mean, Trying to revive, The same old scene, Young loving baby, So extreme, Maybe we should try, The same old scene

I Feel So Good by Richard Thompson

A great guitarist with Fairport Convention and folk artist in his own right, his “Rumour and Sigh” album is simply brilliant. In his 50’s by then the composition articulates the same frustration seen in “Kid Gloves” but with the feeling of indestructibility that youth can provide, but there is an irony in the song as you realise it is being delivered by the singer who knows from experience that there is no such thing as indestructibility.

I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight, I feel so good I'm going to take someone apart tonight, They put me in jail for my deviant ways, Two years seven months and sixteen days, Now I'm back on the street in a purple haze, And I feel so good, and I feel so good, Well I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight

Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie

I wasn’t the biggest Bowie fan as a youngster, I was too in the thrall of the Jam, but Bowie’s chameleon like images and refusal to stand still or be pin holed always stood out for me. To be honest so many tracks could have made it in including life on Mars as or several years we would go on holiday to Ibiza at the start of summer and to the Norfolk broads – so the lyrics alone would have been biographical. Instead I think Ashes to Ashes is, for me, the definitive Bowie song. It came with an accompanying video which was at the time the most expensive ever made, but was just another example of Bowie “pushing the envelope”. The lyrics recapturing the character “Major Tom” from his original hit “Space Oddity” now literally “spaced out” was masterful.

They got a message from the Action Man

"I'm happy. Hope you're happy, too."

I've loved. All I've needed: love.

Sordid details following.

"The shrieking of nothing is killing me

Just pictures of Jap girls in synthesis

And I ain't got no money and I ain't got no hair

But I'm hoping to kick but the planet is glowing

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky

We know Major Tom's a junkie

Strung out in heaven's high

Hitting an all-time low 

You can find out more about Do Not Scratch Your Eyes, or listen to the podcasts, by clicking the image below.

DNSYE podcast

Or you can find details of Justin's radio show and TalkSport podcast by following him on Twitter (or X, or whatever it's called today)

You can also still grab one of the few remaining tickets for The Big Night Out raising funds for The Pump House Theatre by clicking below.

The Big Night Out flyer

Until next time, TTFN

MaxS and The Stray Army

PS. Don't forget to have a look round our website for books, merchandise and downloads.


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