Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Alan McGee

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled muso on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: Creation records founder and the man who discovered Oasis, Alan McGee

1
In the Great Britpop Chart Battle of 1995, how many more copies did Blur’s ‘Country House’ sell over Oasis’ ‘Roll with It’?

“No idea! Blur had an extra format, which is why they won.”

WRONG. Blur outsold Oasis by 58,000 copies.

“Losing it probably did us a favour because it created Oasis as the underdog. Oasis were utterly sincere about hating Blur; that’s what’s been lost in translation. Blur thought it was comedy and a joke, but when Oasis were saying they wanted to kill them, they meant it. But I’d see Damon Albarn around all the time then and got on alright with him. I like him.”

Noel Gallagher recently revealed he’s set to record lost Oasis songs without Liam. Will it work?

“I don’t know. I don’t even know what songs he’s talking about to be honest with you!”

2
When you managed The Libertines, what unusual method did you once use to transport frontman Pete Doherty into a bus at the beginning of a tour?

“(Laughs) There’s been a few! Are you talking about the rolled-up carpet?”

CORRECT.

“He was unconscious and we couldn’t wake him up, so two bouncers wrapped him in a carpet and took him on the bus. The Libertines was the maddest tour I’ve ever been on. We didn’t know if there would even be a band the next day or if somebody would die. I was supposed to be the responsible one – which shows there was no adults in the room! When they stayed at my house, Pete was stealing my first-edition novels and Carl Barât was following them around taking them out of his bag and giving me them back! (Laughs) At that point, I’d only been their manager for two days!”

You once said: ‘My failure to get the best out of Pete Doherty is one of the things I truly regret’…

“Yeah. He’s a real talent, it’s just I didn’t work with long enough to get the best, and that’s a shame. The truth is, he’s made some great songs. The Libertines’ first and second albums are great and Babyshambles’ ‘Fuck Forever’ is amazing. Even if that’s all he ever does, that’s enough.”

Pete once asked Noel Gallagher to produce a Libs record. Would they have worked well together?

“I don’t know! (Laughs) But I would have liked to have seen a documentary of that!”

 

3
In your upcoming biopic Creation Stories, Game of Thrones actor Thomas Turgoose plays Creation co-founder Dick Green. But in which indie band’s video does he play their biggest fan?

“Is it one of my bands? No? Arctic Monkeys? I know Thomas really well and he only ever talks to me about The Sherlocks. I think he wants me to work with them. Is it them?”

WRONG. He stars in Maxïmo Park’s ‘Hips and Lips’ video’.

“Nearly! Thomas nails Dick Green in that film, and the mad thing is he based his whole performance on a ‘90s BBC Creation documentary that Dick’s only in for minutes. Irvine Welsh is one of my heroes so when he wanted to write Creation Stories, I couldn’t say no. I’ve sent it to Primal Scream and [My Bloody Valentine’s] Kevin Shields who both like it. I don’t know if Liam and Noel have seen it yet, but there’s only a couple of scenes with Oasis in. It’s more my story – about a working class guy going to London, being homeless, then eventually selling loads of records before being spat out by the record industry.”

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4
In a famous insult, who did you once suggest that EMI should have signed instead of “bedwetters” Coldplay?

“I’m ashamed of that Coldplay statement, because I thought that was as bad as it got in 2001 and then it got a lot worse! I’ve got zero beef with them. Compared to what followed, they’re fucking Joy Division! I don’t know what would have come out of my mouth back then because it was full of prescription drugs!”

WRONG. You said: “EMI should’ve signed [‘90s BBC children’s TV puppet] Otis the Aardvark instead. At least he only sucks his thumb rather than corporate cock.”

“(Laughs) I was on loads of antidepressants and Valium for 20 years and was a cunt. I apologise to them. They’re probably very nice people.”

 

5
Which artist’s album cover did you post around accident blackspots in the UK?

Kevin Rowland.”

CORRECT. You had 10,000 posters of the cover of his 1999 then-widely-mocked , Creation-released album, ‘My Beauty’, which featured him in lingerie, a ballgown and stockings

(Laughs) “That’s what happens when you take a lot of prescription drugs! You think things like that are a good idea. The funny thing about that record is all those journalists who were at Reading festival laughing and throwing pints at Kevin Rowland are the same ones who are now writing reviews of the re-issue claiming the record was ahead of its time. 20 years ago, a guy dressed like that was confrontational, whereas now that gender-blurring is Christine and the Queens and Harry Styles. I liked the sleeve, but if Kevin had worn a suit, we’d have sold a million records.”

6
Which of the acts that you manage did Russell Brand once describe as “the Queen Mother of Junkies”?

“(Laughs) Presumably Shaun Ryder?”

CORRECT.

“But he’s not a junkie anymore – he’s clean. Shaun and Bez are the nicest people in rock‘n’roll. There’s a solo Shaun Ryder coming in July/August that he did with producer  [Quincy Jones’ grandson] Sunny Levine before lockdown. It’s really good. I’ve sent it to Noel Gallagher and he loves it.”

Apparently Noel asked Shaun to write some tracks with him. Will we hear those soon?

“I can’t possibly comment!”

How about the material Shaun’s reportedly written with Robbie Williams?

“I can’t possibly comment! But well-played you!”

7
Creation released the Sugar album ‘File Under: Easy Listening’ in 1994. The retro designs that made up its packaging were originally created for a clothing line for which actor?

“I’ve got no fucking idea! Sorry!”

WRONG. It’s River Phoenix. You worked a lot with his brother, actor Joaquin Phoenix on music, who once called you “the most insane person in the room” when he was having a competition with Carl Barât over who was crazier, which involved Joaquin kung-fu kicking Carl’s guitar…

“That’s the cleaned-up version of that story (laughs) – I can never reveal what the real version is! Joaquin’s a good guy. He was writing songs with Antony Langdon from Spacehog, and he got me involved. It was a bit of a shock as to how much of a Britpop fan he was.”

Any other surprising Creation fans? Prince Charles once invited you to supper – do you think he wanted to talk about The Boo Radleys?

“(Laughs) No! It was because I was on the government’s Creative Industries taskforce at the time. After I’d been to 10 Downing Street, which I still don’t regret because Labour are my party, three months later Prince Charles invited me to supper. I turned him down a couple of times because… well, I fucking hate [the Royal Family]! I’m 60 now, and I regret not going. If you don’t go, you don’t know!”

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8
Last year, you released the single ‘Can I Speak To A Manager?’ by The Clockworks. What woman’s name is associated with the phrase ‘Can I Speak To A Manager’?

“I’ve got no idea!”

WRONG. It’s Karen.

“Oh right! I know what a Karen is. I’m putting out albums by some great artists on my It’s Creation Baby label like Charlie Clark and CAT SFX. The Clockworks have got the power of a Fontaines D.C. but they’re poppier. They’re great live and have the songs to make them big. When they first sent me an Instagram message, they described themselves as a punk-rock version of The Streets. They’re hustlers – they’ve proved themselves on tour with Happy Mondays in Australia, and now the major labels are circling. I can’t see them failing.”

9
You once bought a tank for the Super Furry Animals. Which musician did they eventually sell it to?

“I can’t remember.”

WRONG. It was Eagles’ Don Henley – a collector. 

“The budget for promoting the single [‘If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You’] was £8,000, and they said instead of adverts, why don’t you just give us the money and we’ll buy a tank and we’ll go down to Radio 1 and we’ll threaten then? (Laughs) They’re amazing I think they should put the band back together and do a tour. They’re loved and missed.”

10
Can you guess the following Creation releases from their catalogue numbers? Half a point for each one you correctly identify:  

CRE 003?

“Easy – Biff Bang Pow’s single ’Fifty Years of Fun’.

CORRECT. Which was your band…

“We were never a serious band. We did it so we could go on tour. When Creation got serious in 1988 because we’d put out The House of Love and were selling records, we stopped touring.”

 

CRE041?

“Primal Scream?”

WRONG. It’s your girl group Baby Amphetamine’s single ‘Chernobyl Baby’, who graced the cover of NME in 1987…

“We liked the idea of finding girls in a shop and putting them in a band. It’s not a great record – but it’s fun.”

CRE 039?

“Meat Whiplash?”

WRONG. It’s ‘The King of Joy’ by a pre-KLF Bill Drummond.

“I love that record! After his solo album, Bill phoned me up and said he was in a new band The JAMs [The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu] and was sampling Abba and Beatles records and did I want to put them out? I declined, and they became the KLF. Maybe in some small way we greased The KLF’s wheels.”

CRE 048?

“The Weather Prophets?”

WRONG. It’s Felt ‘The Final Resting of the Ark’. Do you have a favourite story about pop genius Lawrence?

“When he lost the plot in the ‘90s and I was paying for his shrink and meds, and he was my flatmate, he wanted to pay me back by working for me. And I went: ‘OK, you can answer the phone’. Thing was, Oasis had a record out so he was answering the phone constantly for 10 hours straight. After two days, he had to go home and recuperate! (Laughs). But he’s brilliant.”

HALF A POINT OVERALL. 

The verdict: 3.5/10

“That’s three more than I thought I’d get!”

– The Clockworks’ new single, ‘Feels So Real’ is released on March 19. CAT SFX’s latest track ‘Reunite‘ and Charlie Clark’s single ‘Don’t Have A Cow Man’ are both available now via Alan’s new label It’s Creation Baby

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