He is the gangster rapping, dance off dancing, straight faced all round funny guy at Soccer AM. Interviewing Hollywood’s and the Premier League’s finest are weekly occurrences for the recently crowned tenth coolest man in Britain 2013, voted ahead of the likes of Noel Gallagher, Robbie Williams and Plan B.
Tubes, who got his nickname from the band Peter and the Test Tube Babies, has gone from production runner to rapper at Sky Sports after starting at the age of sixteen. The assistant producer on the highly popular Saturday morning football show likes to spark more unique answers from interviewees with his particular styles of interviewing. I recently got a behind the scenes insight into the show whilst also discussing rapping, football and how it feels to be alongside David Beckham in the top ten coolest men in Britain. Thankfully he didn’t restrict me to one question only.
Tell me a bit about what goes into the show during the week and what your role involves?
“In my role, I look after the football side of it. I have to book the football guest each week, which means a lot of phone calls. I’ve never used a phone so much in my life but yeah it’s fun. Obviously when you get people like Adebayo Akinfenwa who we’ve got tomorrow (Saturday 11th May) it’s a good one for the hardest man in football, which is cool and then I also interview footballers as well. This week I did Mark Schwarzer and I like to find out different things, not just your bog standard questions. Like this week, for example, I found out he (Schwarzer) has had the same pair of shin pads since he was 19 years old which is interesting.
“On the other side of that I do the rap stuff, which is fun, especially when it’s someone like Denzel Washington who basically tells you to do one but mucking around. So that’s my role and I enjoy it, I’m not the sharpest knife but I love football, so I’m pretty lucky.”
You were recently named the tenth coolest man in Britain as part of a poll in Zoo magazine, how did you feel when you found out?
“Rocket mentioned early on I was third in some poll in Zoo which I thought was mad. He encouraged people to vote for me, I had nothing to do with it. I ended up finishing tenth which was amazing and I was just happy to finish above Noel Gallagher because he’s the coolest guy in the world.”
How did you become such an integral part of the rap game and where did it all begin?
“I used to be a character called Peter the Test Tube Baby which was years and years ago (on the show). One afternoon (Tim) Lovejoy called me up. I was working as a runner for the sports library, just doing every Saturday for free since, I was sixteen at the time. Lovejoy said, ‘Come upstairs, that little bugger Rocket’s gone on holiday skiing, I like you, we like you, so we want to make you a character.’ I went ‘Oh here we go’, and he said ‘There used to be a band called Peter and the Test Tube Babies‘. I’d never heard of them, and he went, ‘So you’re Peter the Test Tube Baby.’ I went, ‘Right, what’s that?’ So he said ‘Basically you’ve got to come out with a can of beer and bring the balls out.’ I thought that sounds all right but, ‘You’re in a nappy.’ It was November at the time, so I nearly caught pneumonia.
“I did that for three years and then Lovejoy went, ‘I’m bored of that’, and so was I. Also I nearly died from the cold and I had frosted nipples, and couldn’t walk properly but it was fun, so Lovejoy said, ‘Look you’ve got one question, one question only, do what you want with it but you’ve only got three chances, if it’s not good enough you’re out.’ First question was the worst question ever, I walked up there, so nervous, shaking, and the question was to Frank Worthington. I literally just walked on the stage, Lovejoy said, ‘Alright Tubes who’s your question for?’ I said ‘It’s for Frank. Hi Frank, did you score more on or off the pitch?’ Frank Worthington just looked at me and went, ‘On.’ and I just walked off. Everyone thought, ‘What was that?’ Lovejoy just went you’ve got two more chances.
“So I used to go to school in Surrey, which is quite a nice part of the world, but you get these people who think they’re really streetwise but actually they live in a four million pound house or whatever and they all used to say, ‘You alright bruv, what you saying’, and all that. I’d be like, ‘I know your Mum’s got a Lamborghini, I don’t understand why you’re talking like you come from the ghetto’, but it made me laugh. So I thought I’m going to incorporate that nonsense speech into the question. I think I said, ‘Rough it up rude boy you’re coming on fresh you nahh’, and everyone just creased up laughing, so that’s how it started. Then I’ve carried on doing it ever since.”
How do you prepare for, and write your raps?
“I just literally write them on the day; it’s not a whole week of prep. I haven’t got a lyrics book, I just roll up and think what rhymes with that and what can I do to make it hopefully amusing, that’s it.”
Have you always done it that way?
“I’ve never written a rap down on a piece of paper, I’ve always done it the night before or in the morning. You’ve got to keep the lyrics fresh in your mind. Know what I mean?”
My favourite ‘Tubes Question’ was when you interviewed 50 Cent the first time. What was that like to interview such a world famous fellow lyricist?
“It was brilliant, I wasn’t nervous but I was just intrigued to see what he’d be like. You hear all these stories like he’s been shot like 54 times and survived. So I got to a hotel and I’ve never seen bigger men than his people. They were like the size of this edit suite, standing outside the door and I’m like, ‘I’m here to see 50 Cent’. I walked in and he was nice as pie, he didn’t really get what was going on but then the second time I went back to see him, he was like ‘Heyyy, how you doing?’ I was like I’m chilling with 50 Cent, have some of that. So that was interesting.”
Who’s been your favourite person to interview and given the best reaction so far?
“The best reaction was from Denzel Washington. I turned up basically and when you arrive at these junkets, you turn up to a nice hotel which is heavily overpriced. I’m basically wearing jeans and trainers with everyone else all suited and booted sat around this waiting room talking like they know Denzel Washington. They were like ‘Yeah, me and Denz, we met at Cannes last year.’ I sit in the corner with my Asda black shirt on and they all look at me and said ‘Are you actually doing Denzel Washington today?’ So I said ‘Yeah, I’ve not just come to sit around a hotel.’ So they said ‘He’s hard work, he will not like you.’ Oh well that sounds like quite good fun then so as I walked in they were all saying ‘Good luck.’
“He basically plays along brilliantly and at the end of the interview, the door opens and he’s got me in a headlock saying ‘Don’t mess with me Toobes’, but mucking around and laughing saying ‘You’re the man’, and all that. All these people in suits were shocked and astounded so I said ‘He wasn’t that bad’, so that’s probably my favourite.”
How are your raps and unique interview technique received from celebrities – do you think they enjoy something different?
“I’ve seen Bruce Willis say I’m hungry and four grown people literally poo themselves and run to try get some food. It’s not them but they’re so heavily protected and looked after and when someone like myself goes in there and asks them something completely random, they like it because they’re bored of answering the same questions from different interviewers all day. So I suppose it is what the shows about and I think the celebrities do quite like it sometimes because they are bored.”
You started interviewing footballers in a more sit-down interview format recently. Who has been the best footballer you’ve interviewed so far?
“I love doing the sit-down interviews with players and, as I say, I did Mark Schwarzer yesterday, and I did Gareth Bale last week – the day after he won all those awards – he was nice. Michael Owen was a lovely bloke, well funny as well – dry sense of humour. Joey Cole was great, Kevin Keegan – I thought he wasn’t going to like me but we were spraying perfume on each other by the end of it – it was well fun. Kyle Walker as well was great.”
Have you interviewed any Chelsea players and with you being a fan, does it have more significance when you do?
“Not done many interviews with Chelsea players, no. I want to get (Frank) Lampard though. I do have to admit it does ‘Juan Mata’ a bit more for me.”
As this season’s end approaches, it’s been another successful campaign for Soccer AM in its 18th year. The football show has been an enormous part of Sky Sports since it first aired in 1995.
The substantial ‘Tubes Question’ remains an entertaining, comical addition to the show. The Surrey-born rapper recently added another element to his game with a more formal sit down style of interviewing and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a lean more towards one approach in the future. The Chelsea fan, along with the rest of the show’s crew, will soon enjoy the summer off and prepare to come back stronger than ever next season.
Disclaimer: Image and video copyrighted to their respective owners.