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Velocity boys... Alan: you start off doing it yourself, no one sees you coming and you’ve got people investing millions in your business

LONDON - We're celebrating the release of a new film about Creation Records with a massive special on the label. 'Label'? More like 'rock n roll training camp for lunatics'. We speak to Alan McGee, Bobby G, Noel G, G Rhys and all the rest about the rise and fall of the label that put out 'Screamadelica', 'Definitely Maybe', and that Kevin Rowlands one where he's in a dress on the cover...

This is not from Nme:
British pop history is littered with strange people who’ve spent their lives punching above their weight. These are the characters who exploit the pressure-cooker music-biz landscape to turn the temperature knob up to whatever the temperature of widespread hysteria is. Just past his 50th birthday, it’s about time Alan McGee was allowed to nuzzle up to svengalis such as Brian Epstein, Malcolm McLaren and Tony Wilson in the nation’s affections; men who—like him—seem possessed of an innate ability to twist Britain’s pop zeitgeist around their little fingers.
Ten years ago, as a full-time “rock writer” at the Nme, I would spend hours on the phone with both McGee and Wilson, gleefully writing down the hilarious derogatory things they’d say about each other.
This month sees the release of a film called Upside Down which documents McGee’s time as the daddy of Creation Records’ “fucked-up family” of bands including My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Oasis. His PR girl got in touch to see if we could plug the film, and so I did this interview, hoping it would bring back memories of those glorious Nme days.

Hi Alan, what’s up?

Hi, I’m okay. Japan just had another earthquake, though.

Yeah, I saw. A 7.4.

I think that’s as big as it’s been.

The last one was 9.2, I guess.

Yeah, but these are the aftershocks. They’re different, I think. I was in an earthquake before. It was back in ’94, January. It was 6.6 and absolutely fucking mental, you know what I mean? It was the equivalent of being in a room and it’s cardboard and a big giant is kicking the fuck out of the room.

Who were you with?

I had been up for three days doing gear.

Are you sure it was a 6.6 earthquake?

Hahaha. I woke up at about four in the morning and I was bouncing up and down on the bed like a fucking rag doll. I didn’t know what was going on, and then suddenly I realised—“Fuck, it’s an earthquake!”

[about the film] What I thought was a good point was when Noel [Gallagher of Oasis] talks about the end of Creation Records. I remember talking to people who worked for the label the day you shut it down and it seemed almost everybody, aside from you, was like, “What the fuck are they doing? This is so unnecessary!” Do you ever look back and think, “Shit, maybe I should have kept it going”?

Not at all. See, the last ten years have been really interesting for me. There’s no way I’d have ended up doing what I’m doing now if I’d have kept Creation going. You don’t learn anything unless you go down a different path. You could look at that decade and go, “Well, he managed the Libertines, signed the Hives, signed Glasvegas and sold millions more records”—you could go on about all that shite, but I’ve learned a lot more about life in the last decade than I did in the one before it.
I think you learn more from getting stuff wrong than getting stuff right, too. Between 1990 and 1994 we really got it right artistically, and from ’94 onwards we really got it right commercially. We could have just rolled on if we were only in it for the money. We could have hired a staff of six or seven people and loads more bands, but you know what? Creation was an idea that Joe Foster and I had in 1983, and by ’96 we had achieved that idea, but back then my ego was too big to let it go, so I continued to ’99. It got to a point where it was just really drudgey—like we’re all sat around off our faces, waiting for the next Oasis album so we can be number one again, waiting for the next Primal Scream album so we can be number two again, you know what I mean? It was time to get out.

You had the big drug heart attack on the plane and then gave up partying during the time that Oasis were going bananas with the second record. Did you ever go to NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings?

I went once or twice, but I think I went to the wrong places. I went to the Peckham one and I remember people talking about shooting people. So it was never that appealing. I just did it one-on-one, sort of. And it’s okay now. I see people like Gillespie and the guys who are probably slightly damaged goods now because we all did a lot of drugs, but it’s all okay.

Gillespie is straight-edge now, right?

Yeah, yeah. And we’re probably a little bit damaged—but anybody that is 50 and did a lot of drugs is going to be a bit damaged. You’re probably going to be a bit damaged when you’re 50, you know what I mean?

Errr… haha.

Haha, you fucking are!

I have a theory that there has been a massive rise in cocaine use in this country...

It’s probably got a lot worse quality…

And I have a theory that people like yourself and Noel Gallagher are personally responsible for that rise. What do you think about that? 

Haha. I think it’s an interesting theory.

All of a sudden, after Definitely Maybe, it seemed that everybody in the country was suddenly doing more cocaine. There was never really a band on the radio all the time that promoted cocaine use as much as Oasis. And I am being serious, too. 

Well, I think I am being serious back. I think drugs are endemic in society. People think drugs are rock’n’roll, but everyone does drugs. Not to do drugs is probably more rock’n’roll. Literally, the guy that comes and fixes my cupboard in my house, he probably goes out on a Friday and comes back on a Sunday. You know what I mean? I think there was a point in the 90s when Noel said “drugs are like having a cup of tea” in the toilets at some party somewhere. It took us six months to get over that one, off-the-cuff remark.

Not that we’re just going to sit around talking about drugs all day, but it was a big thing, and some would say a driving force in Creation, right?

Being honest, I probably lost interest in the music business when I came off drugs. I don’t mean I lost interest in music, I still love the Beatles, but I lost interest in the music business in 1994. But I still went on and sold 60 million records and fucking made a load of cash. They don’t necessarily meet up: having a good time and making a load of money. As for me having a good time, from about ’88 to ’94 I was out of my mind and had a great time.

How much a day?

It was mainly ecstasy to be honest. Then ecstasy got shit and we started doing loads of coke.

How many a day? 

We would buy six or seven grammes but we would share them. I don’t know how much anyone would do a day, definitely a few grammes a day, you know what I mean? We were out of our fucking minds. We used to fly to Brazil at the weekend and go mental.
Dick Green [Creation co-founder] is right in that film when he says that it all ended when I got sober. Even though I was sober and even though I helped facilitate things for Oasis to go and sell a lot of records, if you talk about me personally enjoying that, being at Creation and enjoying that, it probably ended about 1994.

It was when you “became a part of the establishment”?

Well, I sold a lot of records and I would have been an idiot to walk away from that. We were having it, you know.

Of all the groups, which one was your favourite?

Probably Oasis. I still absolutely, totally love them, but I don’t think personally they were the flagship band—the Scream were the band that made people want to sign for Creation. The Scream are still amazing. I met Gillespie in the street the other day and he was like, “We’re on fire, we’re better than we’ve ever been.” And he was beyond serious.

Do you think you helped Coldplay’s career at all with those comments you made about them being “music for bedwetters”?

I don’t know. But this is a good example of satire done well being the greatest form of cruelty. I’ve never actually met them! I’ve never met the guy.

If a band like Happy Mondays came along right now, not a single record company would touch them. Not with a barge pole. 

Well, the thing is the record business changed because it’s not about the bands now, it’s about the record companies. I think really the context has changed. Rock’n’roll bands are not really signed to major record companies, and that is really a massive difference to the period between the 60s and the 90s. There were loads of bands on majors, I mean even Nirvana were on a fucking major. Liam’s new band, Beady Eye — I think he’s putting that out himself around the world on indie labels. He was saying, “I am thinking about going DIY,” and I think that’s brilliant. It’s like what you did with the magazine: you start off DIY, no one sees you coming, and now you’ve got people investing millions in your business. It’s like, Creation, nobody saw that coming, and those are the kinds of things that work.
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Oasisblues copyright © 1994 - 2017

Beady Eye gigography and next tour dates

2000

30 May - Forum, Milan, Italy (the first "Noeless" gig since 1991 when he didn't join Oasis yet)

summer tour without Noel

2003

16 November - Andy Bell unplugged - Debaser, Stockholm, Sweden (bootleg)

2011


3rd & 4th March - Barrowland, Glasgow, Scotland +here and here + bootleg
6th & 7th March - O2 Apollo, Manchester +bootleg 1 +bootleg 2
9th & 10th March - Troxy, London +bootleg 1
13 March - Casino de Paris, Paris, france
14 March - E-Werk, Koln, Germany
16 March - Alcatraz, Milan, Italy +dvd bootleg
18 March - La Riviera, Madrid, Spain +bootleg
19 March - Bikini, Toulouse, france
21 March - Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland (bootleg)
22 March - Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium (bootleg)
14 & 15 April - The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland here a bootleg image
17 April - Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland
20 April - O2 Academy, Newcastle (a photo here)
23 April - Centre, Newport (photo and bootleg)
30 May - Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg, Germany
+a photo here + win tickets here
8 June - Saschall, Firenze, Italy +my story here +bootleg here +win tickets here
11th June - Papillons de Nuit Festival, Saint Lo, france
12 June - Isle of Wight festival +story here and here +interview here +videos here +interview and bootleg here
25th June - Theater of Living Art, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
30 June - Rock Werchter, Belgium (bootleg)
1 July - Main Square Festival, Arras, france +a photo here
7 July - BBK Live Festival, Bilbao, Spain
9 July - Oxegen Festival, Naas, Ireland
26 August - Reading Festival (win tickets) +videos here +review&video here +bootleg here
3 September - AX Hall, Seoul, South Korea
14 September - Twinkle Rock Festival, Taipei, Taiwan
7 October - Atlantico, Rome, Italy +main bootleg here +another bootleg here
+win the concert here
11 October - Volkshaus, Zurich, Switzerland (postponed)
13 October - Gasometer, Vienna, Austria (postponed)
31 October - Theater Caupolican, Santiago, Chile
2 November - Teatro de Verano Ramon Collazo, Montevideo, Uruguay
3 November - Teatro Colegiales, Buenos Aires, Argentina
4 November - Personal Festival, Buenos Aires, Argentina
5 November - Planeta Terra festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil
12 November - O2 Academy, Sheffield
14 November - O2 Academy, Birmingham
17 November - O2 Academy Brixton, London
2 December - The Warfield, San Francisco, U.S.A.
3 December - Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, U.S.A. +another complete review here +win tickets here and here
5 December - First Avenue, Minneapolis, U.S.A.
6 December - The Rave Ballroon, Milwaukee, U.S.A.
9 December - Terminal 5, New York, U.S.A.
10 December - House of Blues, Boston, U.S.A.

2012

new tour

2013

3 June - Abbey Road, London (acoustic) +bootleg here
7 June - McClusky's, Kingston (album launch acoustic gig)



8 November - Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland

2014

Noel Gallagher solo gigography, and Low Lying Turds tour dates

(although his blinded fans say he's a "new solo artist", it's 20 years he's around and already played "solo" gigs previously (the first one in 1994), with the help of other people of course, as the Unplugged 1996, the gig for Tibet, the tour in 2006-2007, London, Milan, Manchester, Moscow, Los Angeles, Toronto, Paris, Australia, etc.)

2010


25 March - Royal Albert Hall - London

2011


28 November - Alcatraz - Milan, Italy + review here +video bootleg here +audio and video bootleg here

2012


lost interest... even Noel got bored of himself

10 April - Auditorio Banamex - Monterrey, Mexico (cancelled)

END OF THE HIGH FLYING BIRDS

2013

fans leave the gig again and ask for Liam again
..... € 10 = £ 8
 

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