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‘Chelsea Dagger’ bassist prefers soccer over Blackhawks
Here’s the thing about Baz Fratelli: He’s not much for hockey.
Doesn’t hate it, but it’s merely fifth on his list of favorite sports. First comes soccer, followed by boxing, martial arts and tennis. Then hockey.
And here’s the amusing irony: Since 2008, the Chicago Blackhawks have blasted the rowdy chorus to “Chelsea Dagger” — a single from the 2006 debut album “Costello Music,” by the Scottish band The Fratellis — to pump up thousands of fans at the United Center after goals and wins.
But don’t get him wrong: Fratelli is immensely pleased that the tune, which was written by lead singer Jon Fratelli and has sold better outside America than in it, has gotten so much stateside exposure the past few years, thanks largely to Chicago’s 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup victories.
“To find out it had branched out overseas was fantastic, really,” says Fratelli, the band’s bassist. “And it seems to just be going absolutely insane now. So it’s all good; we’re pleased to be a part of it.”
Other sports teams — including Fratelli’s hometown soccer crew from Glasgow, the Celtic Football Club — use the upbeat anthem as well.
“It’s always a surprise to me when anybody shows an interest and adopts something of yours for something of that sort of magnitude.”
As a bonus, the Hawks’ latest Cup coup comes at an ideal time.
“It certainly sets things up nicely for us to get back out there and start touring again,” Fratelli says of his group, which formed in 2005, broke up in the spring of 2010 (not long before the Hawks began competing in the Stanley Cup semifinals) and reassembled around this time last year.
Since the band hasn’t gigged together in America since the Blackhawks adopted “Chelsea,” Fratelli and his mates have yet to experience a live, local reaction to it. Jon Fratelli got a solo taste when he played the song at Metro in June 2010.
“It’ll be interesting to come back now that the song’s had that much exposure. It’ll also be interesting to go to some other cities and see if they actually hate us,” Fratelli says with a laugh.
He discovered hockey around age 10 through relatives in America, “ironically enough, from the Boston area. I don’t think they’ll be talking to me much.”
“And obviously, being Scotsmen, we were attracted to the guys fighting.”
Despite the song’s popularity, Fratelli and his mates haven’t cleaned up financially. Far from it. Royalties can take many months to roll in, he explains, and so far there’s not much rolling. In another year, he allows, things might be different.
Beyond its surprising status in the sports world and its money-generating potential, what does Fratelli think of “Chelsea” on a purely musical level?
“It took on a life of its own very early on, so I guess when a song does that, you simply don’t own it anymore; you don’t think of it as your song,” he says. “That song, particularly. People will chant it while they wait for us to come on [stage] sometimes, or between each song. Sometimes it’s the only track that people want to hear, but that depends where you are.
“But out of my personal favorites that the band [does], it’s probably not in the top five.”