Nizlopi talks about Ed Sheeran requesting an internship and then consuming all of their beer during the making of “JCB Song.”

Nizlopi talks about Ed Sheeran requesting an internship and then consuming all of their beer during the making of “JCB Song.”

Luke Concannon, singer

When we were 13, John and I began collaborating on songwriting. After completing our university studies, we both returned to our parents’ homes in the Midlands and started working on an album. One day, I went downstairs and found my dad cooking. I asked him, “What should I write a song about?” He replied, “I don’t know. Diggers.” My dad operated a Massey Ferguson digger for his father’s groundworks company and would often pick me up from school in it after a job. There was a student a couple of years older than me who would frequently bully me, but being around my dad always made me feel loved and safe. It was a stark contrast between the two worlds. I went back upstairs and within 90 minutes, the song was written and recorded as it is today.

I had been employed at youth centers in London and would travel from Leamington Spa twice a week. The popular garage sound had influenced me and I found myself constantly tapping to its rhythm. It was during this time that I came up with the idea for a track called “I’m Luke, I’m five and my dad’s Bruce Lee,” drawing from my love for this music and the iconic martial artist. The fusion of these two elements sparked something special for me.

The unusual nature of the lyrics may catch people off guard, resulting in some laughter at the line “The engine rattles my bum like berserk.” As the song progresses, the audience will likely continue to laugh and even dance along. We included the song on our first album and began creating a hand-drawn music video in early 2005. The process was meticulous and time-consuming, so we released the video online in 30-second segments as the artist completed each section. HMV reached out to us, expressing interest in purchasing the song and asking for its release date.

In December 2005, it held the top spot. Towards the end of January, we performed to a sold-out audience at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. To our surprise, Ed Sheeran was in attendance. At the time, Ed would have been approximately 14 years old. He continuously reached out to us, asking for the opportunity to gain work experience with our group. He had a strong passion and drive, always challenging us to rap battle due to the recent release of Eminem’s film, 8 Mile. Ed had a clear vision and natural talent for becoming a pop star, although at that point in time, it was not aligned with my own goals.

We had been performing for 200 people every night with a specific vision, mission, and purpose. Then, out of nowhere, one song became a hit and we found ourselves playing at Hyde Park for 20,000 people. This sudden growth was harmful to the integrity of our band as it caused ruptures, stress, and conflicts, ultimately leading to our breakup. It’s like a child growing at a steady pace and then suddenly growing 300 feet in just six months – it would surely cause pain and possibly even harm the child.

John Parker is a musician who plays the bass guitar.

I take responsibility for teaching Luke how to play guitar. When he first played the song for me, I was hesitant and confused about the lyrics referencing JCBs. However, after practicing and making some musical changes, I still found it unimpressive. It wasn’t until we performed it live that I finally understood and appreciated the song.

At that moment, large, muscular men who played rugby would approach, tears in their eyes, saying things like “I long for my father” or “I love my dad but I’ve never said it.” Luke was skilled at getting the audience to join in like a choir. The song is comical because it’s about Luke’s childhood with his father, but it’s surprising how many fathers are builders or work in construction and let their sons play in their construction vehicles.

In the past, we used to offer work experience opportunities to young people. They would spend a week in the studio and a week traveling with us. Out of all the kids, Ed Sheeran stood out. I remember him being extremely enthusiastic and always curious, asking lots of questions. I do recall that during a show in Bristol, he ended up drinking all of our complimentary drinks. As a performer, I was exhausted and really wanted a cold beer, but it was all gone. I turned to my colleague, Luke, and said that we couldn’t have Ed on tour with us. However, in 2006, he opened a show for us in Norwich, which was close to his hometown, and he had the entire audience captivated. That’s when I realized that we had created a superstar.

We didn’t realize we had a successful hit until we began appearing on shows like Richard and Judy. As a creative individual, you often have to justify your career choice to family members. But when you reach the top of the charts and have a number one hit, they tend to ease up for a bit.

The JCB Song and Nizlopi have grown apart. Luke and I always dreamed of achieving the same level of success as U2, but when we started making progress towards that goal, we each had different responses. This led to added pressure. We temporarily forgot that the band was built on our friendship and that we were musicians who happened to be friends, not the other way around.