Dave Woodhall talks with legendary music business mogul Alan McGee.
Alan McGee has lived enough for a dozen lives. He founded the iconic record label Creation and launched the careers of Ride, Primal Scream, Jesus & Mary Chain and Mancunian pop group Oasis. He lived through a traumatic childhood, an extensive drugs habit and a breakdown, going on to help Tony Blair get into Downing Street. He survived all that and he’s going to be talking about it at the Glee Club on November 4th. And before that he talked to us about what’s in store on the night.
“It’s about my journey through music. Because I’ve been around forever, 35 years in music, I’ve got the stories. It’ll be fun. I’ll be interviewed for an hour then the audience can ask the questions and go on as long as they like.”
Saying you’ve got the stories is, I suspect, a bit of an understatement.
“If you’ve read my book Creation Stories you’ll know what it’s going to be about.”
I have, and I also read the book about Creation, My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize by David Cavanagh, which came out in 2000. How close to the truth did that one get?
“Some of it’s quite true. I think the thing about the Cavanagh book was it was a loaded gun really. Here’s a brilliant journalist but he sort of wanted to give it to me. Some of it, he talks like he knows what I’m thinking and he obviously doesn’t. One of the reasons I wrote Creation Stories was that I had to put it right because he wrote in a way that he thought he knew what I was like and I’m not like that at all.
“He was tying to start a career and I was the fall guy. It’s a brilliant book but he doesn’t get me as a person. He done me a favour though, because he wrote that book I had to write one to show how I really am. He tried to show me as a bitter guy and I’m actually not that bitter, because I love music. Most of the stuff in it is factual but it’s a bit skewed because he tried to take the piss out of me and I’m not like that. I think I’m a good guy.
“But what he never got was that I had a terrible childhood, and he thought I was bitter about bands and people and some shit. But because I was always getting battered by my father I was always trying to prove to him that I could do it. He totally got that bit wrong.”
It’s certainly one of the biggest books I’ve ever read.
“It’s just a book. The truth is, who reads books now? if people want information they’ll listen to me. This show, it’s like a live podcast, the book in an hour and a half session.”
Podcasts have certainly caught on, and I also remember you predicted the growth of downloads and streaming, when the music business was trying to pretend they didn’t exist.
“I don’t know if I predicted it but I did say that it was going to change music. I was calling it but it’s like anything – sometimes you’re on it and sometimes you’re way off. “
You’ve had some astounding highs and some equally crashing lows.
“Is that not the same with everybody? Most people have highs and lows; the truth is I’m 59 years old old and healthy, still doing music. I don’t think I’m that different to anybody else. I’m still doing it, I’m still in the game. If it was just about the money I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Do you ever get pissed off hearing the words ‘King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, 1993’?
“No, I don’t get pissed off because that’s what defined a lot of my musical life, people know me for that and it’s not a bad thing. There’s more to me than Oasis, but if anyone thinks of me as just Oasis, I don’t dwell on it because people who know, they know. Half the people who come to these shows are Oasis fans and the other half are just real indie fans.”
Has there ever been a time when you wish you’d stayed in that night?
“Thank fuck I didn’t. Music saved my arse, I was factory fodder, I was absolutely nowhere and music took me from that. It saved me.”
That’s one thing that comes out of your book loud and clear.
“Aye. I think Cavanagh was trying to take the piss, to be Nick Hornby and it didn’t work for him. There’s a film coming out about my book and I think it must have got to him because he committed suicide not long ago. If he hadn’t tried to stitch me up I wouldn’t have let that book be filmed but he tried to misrepresent me as a person. I’m not a bitter guy, I’m not that at all.
“It did seem to revel in the downfall, if you like, of Creation, but life’s too short for grudges. I’m probably better off than most people would think but I don’t define myself with money.”
You can see how Alan McGee defines himself at the Glee Club on Monday 4th November. Tickets