Picture this. An 11-year-old boy finishes a week long course at the Bobby Charlton Soccer School in Manchester and the parting shot is “you’re a good footballer lad, but you’ll never be as good as your uncle Frank”.
“It was like an epiphany,” admits Joss Worthington who is now 37, a father himself, and a singer/songwriter/music producer (with a Masters Degree in film) and doing rather well it turns out as the man behind the band Postcards From Jeff.
The uncle of course was the former England and too many domestic clubs to mention (Huddersfield, Bolton, Leicester, Leeds and Halifax will suffice) star Frank Worthington - one third of a local footballing dynasty that also included brothers Dave and Joss’s dad Bob who played for Halifax, Middleborough, Notts County and Southend.
Oh and added to which is their dad Eric who played pre Second World War for Manchester United’s youth team and cousin Gary (who also played for the Red Devils youth team, Huddersfield and Halifax among others) and who is now chief scout for Manchester City .
“To be honest I had started to get into music at that stage and I don’t think I would have been good enough to do what they did,” he said. “Nevertheless it was a jolt for an 11-yearold.”
Apart from two spells working with his dad and brother Rob, Joss has carved out a life for himself, wife Elizabeth and son Leo, 16 months, from the music industry both as a performer and a producer - he lives in Ripponden and owns Distant City Studios which has a growing reputation.
Recently Postcards From Jeff (the name came about because of the numerous occasions people got his name wrong and called him Jeff - even his nephews and neices call him uncle Jeff) released a first album Modern Language which has been well received and is doing well both at home, on American college radio and for some inexplicable reason in Indonesia and Korea where he is building quite a fan base.
Joss’s influences are many fold from the 80s big production records his dad played in the car to heavy rock, classical, pop and grunge. And he is the ultimate all-rounder conceiving ideas, writing both music and lyrics, playing each instrumental part and then mixing and mastering the final version.
A more recent collaboration with award-winning film-maker Steve Glashier has allowed Joss to create even greater layers to his music with a cinematic backdrop giving each track a life of its own. In bigger venues like Brudenell Social Club in Leeds where he played earlier this year they were able to project the video footage for each song through the band as they played.
But it’s not all been straight forward. He learned huge lessons in 2002 when playing under the name Western Suburbs he released an EP from which a track called The Road caught the ear of luminaries like John Peel and Steve Lamacq.
“Of course everyone wanted to know when the album was out and I had to fob them off because I hadn’t got the material,” he said.
“This time I have stacks of material under my belt and I’ll be looking to release another album later next year or early in 2017,” he added.
His reputation as a producer and sound engineer has helped garner several influential collaborations. Last year he produced and recorded a concept album Dark Energy/Dark Matter for John Robb, figurehead of the Blackpool four piece band The Membranes who were prolific on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1980s.
And by association he’s since formed a working partnership with leading industry figure, American Steve Albini. Albini worked with The Membranes earlier in their career and Joss met him as a tutor on a music production course he attended earlier this year in France.
“As part of the course I played some of the music I made with Robb. It was all quite surreal, but Steve liked it,” says Joss.
For now his Ripponden studios are going through an upgrade but interest in using them and his talents is escalating and next year looks like being his busiest yet.
“I also want to do more live gigs and I’m already thinking of the new album,” he added.
Joss has always had great support from his family and even though he chose a different route it hasn’t diminished his love of soccer.
And while he makes music he never grows tired of showing friends Uncle Frank’s career-defining wonder goal for Bolton against Ipswich in 1979 - a symphony in itself to soccer fans.
“Steve Albini is into baseball but when I showed him that he was awestruck.”
lListen to both Modern Language by Postcards From Jeff and The Road by Western Suburbs on You Tube.