Known for masterminding independent labels Creation Records and Poptones, Alan McGee’s name has perhaps secured greater household prominence above the controversy of his various credentials.
The households of which we speak are far removed from the nuclear or even reconstituted archetypes – but rather that of the bohemians, the alternatives, the students and the unemployed. And the controversy he has been attached to is that raised by rowdy seniors Oasis, and their beneficiaries the Libertines. So what has this pioneer got to say about the state of our music industry, current and past? We tried to find out for you:
L4e: How important was your long-term friendship with Bobby Gillespie in making Creation a success in the early years?
Alan: Gillespie was key to Creation. Without him I wouldn’t have had Primal Scream, who really are the flagship Creation band, and he told me about Jesus and Mary Chain and the Fanclub. I found Oasis, My Bloody Valentine and Ride.
You’ve said in the past that by 1993 Creation probably needed Oasis as much as Oasis needed Creation. But did you think that night in Glasgow you’d found the band which would effectively solve all the label’s problems?
Alan: No, I just thought they were a great band. I signed them really at the end of the day on ‘…Walrus’ as it was a great version, but who was to ever think they would become that massive?
There’s plenty of classics to choose from, but is there one album released on the Creation label you hold closest to your heart?
Alan: Probably the first Oasis album or Trashmonk – ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’ which I love.
The Libertines burst on to the scene with the unusual mix of outrage and intimacy. Do you feel that there’s a surge of music about to come from somewhere else?
Alan: I know fuck all about new bands to be honest. I am more interested in the occult and ‘majick’.
Or perhaps all the danger, controversy and individuality has come and gone because the shock factor has been worn out. With the sea once again settled, do you believe that another hurricane can come and rock the boat?
Alan: I don’t care to be honest. I’m 50 – I don’t like music anymore. To be honest, it bores the shit out of me – people in bands bore me.
So what of Oasis’ break up? It certainly seems to have reinvigorated Liam, and there’s lots expected from Noel’s album. Do you think by 2009 a split had become the best thing for the brothers?
Alan: Yeah, they needed to go do their own thing which they are doing.
Not long after they split you expected a reunion within five years. Do you still hold that opinion?
Alan: Let’s see. I still think it’s unfinished business.
Did you get the same buzz from listening to some of Noel’s new material as you did when hearing tracks from ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘…Morning Glory’ all those years ago?
Alan: Well his new songs are the best thing I have heard since the Glasvegas demos. To be honest, it’s only the Gallaghers and Glasvegas I like in modern music, other than that it’s still The Beatles for me.
You could almost call Beady Eye a Creation band since former label mates Gem Archer and Andy Bell are still involved. People should be well aware of Andy Bell’s career before Oasis, but what of Gem Archer? Do you feel Heavy Stereo were a band with unfulfilled potential?
Alan: They were really good. Ride were amazing. Good luck to Liam – he’s very warm hearted and very like-able is Mr G.
Talking of unfulfilled potential, are you hopeful the recent Libertines reunion might lead to some long overdue new material?
Alan: No contact with them bar Gary. I live in Wales and can’t stand London so no idea what they are up to.
Is there a band you turned down at some point in your career that you now wished you’d have signed?
Alan: Stone Roses – we should have got, we didn’t, and maybe Pulp. I think we were offered them 23 times.
…and if you could’ve have any band from history on Creation who would you have picked?
Who is the best band you feel you have worked with – your favourite?
Alan: Teenage Fanclub, everyone a gent.
‘What You Do To Me’ – Teenage Fanclub
The next venture after Creation, Poptones, was shorter lived, but you still signed some great bands and unleashed The Hives on the UK around the time when music was starting to find its legs again. Is that a period you look back on with fondness?
Alan: It was what it was. I am still very friendly with Pelle and I love that band.
Another band you had on Poptones was The Boxer Rebellion. They’re a band who’s progress we’ve followed closely on Live4ever. Are you proud of the success they’ve managed to achieve off their own backs since leaving the label?
Alan: Yeah good on them. We had a deal with Universal and they got shafted by Universal but the good will out.
Who currently have you got your eyes on for success?
Alan: I am reading a book called ‘Love, Sex, Fear, Death – The Inside Story of The Process Church of The Final Judgement’, by Timothy Wylie. As I say I find music boring at 50.
Do you have any advise for bands trying to make it?
Alan: Become a hairdresser…
Can you see your potential feature film on Creation Records becoming a bit of a 24 Hour Party People mark two? Or would you steer it away from that?
Alan: Me and Tim Abbot want to write our drug tales ’88-’94 and are going to do that this year. We have the stories and I love the Abbot’s Tim and Chris
‘Indie music’ has become a genre – even for bands signed to major labels. Do you feel that this takes something away from the uniquity of actual indie bands? Would it make it harder or easier for them to gain recognition?
Alan: It’s just a term.
Before managing bands, you have previously played in them. Would you ever take a more hands on approach in a musical group again?
And finally, What do you feel is missing from awareness in music? What can fill that gap?
Alan: Have some kids! People that don’t have kids are freaks.