Mat Whitecross speaks to NME in new interview
Oasis doc, Supersonic, has been a massive hit since making its way to the big screen in October. Following the Britpop band’s story from the very beginning right up to their famous Knebworth gigs in 1996, it’s whetted everyone’s appetite for an Oasis reunion and reminded everyone why they were so huge in the first place.
With Supersonic now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download, NME recently spoke to director Mat Whitecross about his plans for what comes next, including the possibility of working with the Gallagher brothers again.
Are there any bands you’d like to make a film about in the future?
“Yeah, god there’s so many! People keep dying this year, it’s the year from hell. As far as people I grew up admiring, I love bands like The Smiths. I love the Arctic Monkeys, Tom Waits. Leonard Cohen was a huge figure in my life growing up, and the fact that he died. There’s endless possibilities.
“The problem is there’s so much material, their lives are so rich, how do you focus on one specific moment to talk about. I think with someone like Joni Mitchell you can make 10, 20 films about her and similarly with Prince or Bowie or Leonard Cohen. Where do you begin, where do you end? I don’t know but I’m open to suggestions, if anyone wants me to make a film about them I’m around.”
You’re close to Coldplay, how about them?
“I went to university with Coldplay and we lived together. I approached them and said ‘Look, you’re only just being signed, so we don’t really know what the future holds but how would you feel if we made a documentary?’, which was basically just nonsense. We’d be making the band’s history, it was like I was creating a story around your life and we can kind of play to that. They raised an eyebrow but they weren’t really up for it, unfortunately.”
After convincing the Gallagher brothers, do you think you could convince Morrissey and Johnny Marr to work with you on a documentary?
“I think that might be the fight that would kill me… If they’re up for doing a film then yeah. We know Johnny’s manager, he’s a good friend of ours so maybe I’ll try and get on the phone with him one day and see how it goes.”
You mentioned Arctic Monkeys, what other current bands are deserving of their own film?
“It’s a tricky one because by the nature of it they’ve not had the chance to live their lives yet, properly… Maybe MIA, she’s a fascinating character and there’s so many sides to her personality. She’s more exciting than anyone else out there. She has a political dimension to her and a philosophical dimension to her music and lyrics. I think there’s so many interesting things to talk about.”
Have you talked about a Supersonic sequel yet?
“It’s just something that Liam said off the cuff. I remember when he came in for the interviews, he said, ‘why we stopping here? I’m enjoying it lets keep going!’ If they were up for it I would love that. Something I found challenging and engaging about trying to do just two and a half years was even then we felt we’d bitten off more then we can chew. In some ways, I guess the danger is that as a band becomes bigger, the stories become better known. As a lifelong fan though, I feel there’s definitely another film in there.”
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If an Oasis reunion did happen, would you be keen on a making a documentary about that, following them behind the scenes?
“That would be a dream of mine. I assumed that was what it was about when I was approached to make the film. My heart started racing, I was thinking ‘maybe they’re getting back together, maybe they want to go on tour’. I would love that, I know they’ve worked with other people in the past and I think they’d be a long line of directors who would want to be involved in that, if it ever happened. But if they wanted me in any project I’d be there in a heartbeat.”
Why did Noel take a step back from the project upon its release?
“I haven’t spoken to him, I haven’t seen him since [making the film], but a few people I know have. With my conversations with him, he was over the moon about the film, so it wasn’t to do with him feeling weird I hope. I can only guess, I imagine appearing and sticking your neck out in public when there’s a danger you’re going to bump into your brother, you might get the wrong kind of attention. This is his project that he asked us to be involved in. He gave us, so generously, his contacts, his connections, his life really. I couldn’t ask for anything more really. A friend of ours watched it with him and said he still loves it, you’d have to ask him. I think we all know there’s a lot of friction between them both so I can understand if he didn’t want to be around on the same night with Liam there. It’s kind of what the films about so.”
Do you feel Supersonic is responsible for stirring rumours of a reunion? Do you think they’ll ever get back together?
“My guess is as good as anyone else’s. The one thing people started to say when we began making the film was ‘does this mean they’re getting back together? Maybe this will kindle something?’ It definitely felt like there was something there, they were both quietly touched seeing the early footage. There was a part of me thinking ‘well maybe, I’ll push it in some small way’ but actually I think it’s made things harder.
“Maybe in the future. Liam and Noel have both got their albums [coming out], and they’re going to be busy with that for about a year and half. I think if anything we’ve thrown a hand grenade into a vent, which was certainly the intention. As much as everyone else, I’d love to see them back on stage, and having spent time with their family and friends, even just on a personal level, if they went for a pint and just hang out you know. It’s like their mum says in the film, you just have to let them get on with it.”
Have you heard any of Liam’s solo album?
“Well, I’ve got to say that one of those bucket list moments in my life was when we got a helicopter to go the [Supersonic] premiere and Liam just turns to me and goes ‘shall we listen to the new album then?’ then he pulls out speakers and blasted it out as we were approaching Manchester. It was epic, it just blew me away. I think everyone’s in for a treat. It’s fantastic.”
How would you compare it to Oasis material?
“I probably shouldn’t talk about it too much because it’s not my place to say, and it was demos that I listened too, he hasn’t finished it yet. It was very stripped down, very raw. Reminded me of like the Velvet Underground or somebody. I know it’s very fashionable to put people down in the public eye, but I think Liam’s as passionate about music now as he ever has been. If people gave the new album a fair and proper listen, they’re in for a treat.”
Favourite Gallagher? Noel, Liam, or Peggy?
“It’s not about the one brother, it’s the two of them together. I don’t think I could make that decision. You didn’t even ask me about Paul, Paul should’ve been in there too! I really wouldn’t like to say. We were lucky that we didn’t have to choose.”