Stiff Little Fingers' Jake Burns on being a fan of Newcastle United and the Chicago Cubs

Stiff Little Fingers / Photo courtesy of Chip Ruggieri
Stiff Little Fingers / Photo courtesy of Chip Ruggieri

As founded in the late 1970s, Stiff Little Fingers came onto the punk scene around the same time that The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash did. While Stiff Little Fingers took a break for a good chunk of the 1980s, the band has been active for the last three decades and is still doing very well; its 2014 album No Going Back made it to the number one spot of the Official BBC Rock Album Chart in the UK.

A very influential band, a lot of key punk artists have covered Stiff Little Fingers tunes over the years. In turn, the list of famous fans of Stiff Little Fingers -- which is comprised of original singer/guitarist Jake Burns, rhythm guitarist Ian McCallum, bassist Ali McMordie, and drummer Steve Grantley -- includes members of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, Bad Religion, Rancid, Therapy and U2.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jake Burns by phone on behalf of, and during that phone chat I inquired about Burns' history as a sports fan. More on Stiff Little Fingers -- who are currently on a tour of Canada -- can be found online at


You're known to be a big supporter of Newcastle United. When did that start?

Jake Burns: My first wife lived in Newcastle, so I moved up there from London and I lived in Newcastle for 15, 16 years... That's kind of when they got under my skin. I've often said, "It would've been a lot easier if she'd lived in Manchester or somewhere they actually had a football team that was going to win something." But for better or worse, you know they're there. They're part of the fabric of my life, I'm stuck with them.

Are there any other teams that you feel that way about that? That you feel that passionate about?

Jake Burns: No, not really. I've lived in Chicago for the last 14 years. Simply because we live close to Wrigley Park, I became a default Chicago Cubs fan. I was beginning to think that I had managed to transfer the curse of Newcastle across to Chicago so much that it looked like that for the first 12 years I lived there. The Cubs were never ever going to win the World Series. And then blow the feathers, being the Cubs they have to find the most difficult way on Earth they will actually win it and still did.

What was it that made you move to Chicago in the first place?

Jake Burns: Probably the best reason is I fell in love with a woman... my wife is an American girl. She actually considered moving to the UK, but she had just been given a job offer in Chicago. I said to her, "Well look, you know I can do what I do, I can be anywhere as well as I'm close to a major airport." They don't get much more major than O'Hare [International Airport]...

Well, you managed to move to one of the places that's much colder than Northern Ireland...

Jake Burns: If anything, it's probably prepared me for the month up here [in Canada]. People here have been warning me this is going to be cold. Well, I lived in Newcastle, which was really cold. When I first moved to Chicago that was my attitude... The first time we had a snowfall and I literally couldn't see the car. The car was buried. It's like, "OK, this will be colder than England."

In terms of being up here for the next month, people say the cold is going to be so bad. I'm probably being cocky, I'll be brought down to size, but by the time we get to Calgary or something. But at the moment I'm going, "I live in Chicago, how cold can it be?" (laughs)


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Edited by Nishant Jayaram
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