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# We're moving round and round
# Can't hear a single sound
# And when I hit the ground
# I heard a ringing sound
# Uh-huh-huh I heard a ringing sound
# And my head hit the ground
# Inside I'm upside down... #
It was like a spy thriller, he was going, "Go to Piccadilly station.
"There'll be train tickets waiting under your name."
So I kind of went to the ticket desk and went,
"Do you have any train tickets to London for Noel Gallagher?"
"Yes, here they are, already paid for, off you go in the posh seats."
I was like "fucking hell, this is all right."
Got to London.
Got in a cab, gave this guy the address,
and he looked at the address and went "fucking heck."
And he put the thing on, and off we went.
And I'd never been to Hackney before, it took hours to get there.
He dropped us off outside this, er...
Well it was like this nondescript, disused shop.
A green door, it had.
I had the address, I'm thinking, "This can't be the place."
Cos like Primal Scream were on,
and Ride, they were selling a shit-load of records then.
"This is not what I thought it was going to be."
There's this chap in Glasgow, a young fellow called Bobby Gillespie,
and he wanted to go and see Thin Lizzy playing Glasgow Apollo.
But he was too young, so he went and knocked on the door of Alan McGee,
who was a bit older, so he could go with him.
And that was the beginning of the whole boogaloo, really.
And that seeded something that changed British music for ever.
The relationship between Alan and Bobby was fundamental.
They were two sort of old-school Glasgow punk rockers
who were best mates.
They had this kind of joint vision.
Bobby as the artist, and Alan as the enabler.
-I couldn't have done it without Gillespie.
-We were co-conspirators.
A lot of the bands were my best mates.
Outsiders, chancers, lunatics.
A random collection of misfits, drug addicts and sociopaths.
I do seem to attract, and am attracted to, nut-jobs.
It was definitely about having a party.
It went from our delusion,
and it eventually became the mainstream sound of a generation.
I was a loner really at school, which was good
because it meant you were invisible.
Nobody really picked on me.
Gillespie was actually one of the lads.
He always ran with the boys. He was a weirdo as well,
he just hadn't realised he was a weirdo. I always knew I was a weirdo.
I didn't have too much of a relationship
with other people, really.
I was maybe 15, Bobby was 14.
I think I took him to see a Thin Lizzy concert.
He was a really innocent kid. He was still Gillespie,
still loving things like the shininess of Phil Lynott's bass.
I started getting into punk music,
I started noticing how stupid a lot of people were.
It's like, "I ain't anything like these fuckers."
That's how I met McGee.
Because he was the only other guy in the area
who was going to see The Clash.
We kind of joined over music.
I remember going to buy God Save The Queen,
and I actually thought "I am now part of the revolution."
And I actually thought that it was like that important.
So I got a bass, and I joined a group.
And it was like me, Innes, and his next-door neighbour.
Gillespie was always like our mate.
He became the singer in this band that never played a gig.
Which used to involve me and Innes getting drunk,
and Gillespie rolling about to Sham 69 songs in Innes' bedroom.
That was the beginning of us getting into the music business.
NEWSREADER: At the end of the war it was only a small village of 2,000 people.
It became Scotland's first new town.
It was developed into the most successful experiment of its kind in Britain.
This is a place where people choose to live and raise a family.
A place to grow up in.
A place where people can make a good life and enjoy themselves.
We were three freaks
in a horrible new town
where people literally shout at us in the street.
The reason I met Jim, it was my first year in secondary school.
The kid that sat next to me noticed that on all my books
I had written the names of the Velvet Underground, and The Stooges,
and he said "I go to karate with a guy who likes all those weird groups."
That was Jim.
When the band first started, Douglas looked about eight.
My dad thought I was a child molester,
this seemingly eight-year-old kid going "is Jim coming out?"
William Reid would always answer,
would always shout upstairs to Jim, "Todd's here."
And I was always thinking, "What's he calling me fucking Todd for?"
I soon realised that Todd was short for toddler.
I was working in a factory in East Kilbride.
Everything we were, and everything we had, we got from rock 'n' roll,
and it was totally heartfelt.
We used to listen to, back-to-back, stuff like Einsturzende Neubaten
and The Shangri-Las.
We'd go from one extreme to the other.
We had a kind of blueprint for Psychocandy
long before we'd even written any of the songs.
We were just existing in this utter void,
quite healthy in a way,
cos it gave us a gang mentality in a weird way,
you know, just utterly underground.
At this point, I got this British Rail job.
What I really liked about that was, you could blag it,
you could really not do very much.
Cos all my life I've really never wanted to have a real job.
I'm 18, 19, I've got a girlfriend, I've finally lost my virginity,
and Innes gave me an ultimatum - I'd get thrown out of my group unless I come to London.
You've got to understand, I'd no ambition to ever come to London,
but I didn't want to get thrown out of the band.
London's a make-or-break situation for anyone coming when you're young.
You either love it or you hate it.
After about a month, I realised I loved it.
And for the next year, 1980,
I had an absolute blast. No money or anything,
but being Scottish, with Innes,
trying to get a band together, it was just good fun, you know?
My best friend joined Alan's band The Laughing Apple, as the drummer.
Weekend, I tagged along to their rehearsals and gigs.
What did do I think of him? He was mad.
Already a totally overpowering presence.
I used to go to a venue in Victoria,
and every Tuesday night, they used to have indie night,
and there was this band called TV Personalities.
MUSIC: "Part Time Punks" by TV Personalities
It was the first thing since The Clash in '77
that absolutely knocked me for six and changed it for me.
And I couldn't believe that people were this mental.
There was no idea there was going to be 16, 17 people on stage.
It was just a free-for-all.
# The part-time punks... #
And then in the middle of it all,
who I believe is Joe Foster,
..and got a saw,
and cut a Rickenbacker in half.
I think Ed Ball was on bass, but I'm not sure.
It was just insane.
# But they're not pressed in red So they buy The Lurkers instead... #
The next day, I went to Rough Trade and stole all their records,
and from then on I became completely influenced by the TV Personalities,
and I was like, "My God, maybe I can do that."
And that was it. That was the moment Creation Records became a reality
and I decided to do it. Without Dan there'd be no Creation Records.
Without the TV Personalities there'd be no Creation Records.
I started promoting shows when I was about 21.
There was a page 3 news story in the NME, saying that Alan McGee,
who no-one knew, was starting a club up in London called The Living Room.
Nobody could get or wanted gigs at places like The Rock Garden,
so there were places in pubs,
the function room, so it was either strippers or bands.
We put on The Nightingales for 50 quid.
200 people showed up, and it was insane.
It went on like that for about a year.
It became a very...instant scene,
then very quickly it became your every weekend.
You would go even if you weren't playing.
It became THE place to go and hang out.
at the same place, same time,
The Nightingales are playing, so I hope you'll all be here.
What makes us start the label is Protestant guilt.
The Protestant work ethic, a lot of West-of-Scotland people have this.
I was making about £600, £700 a week,
which me and Joe Foster and Dick Green were drinking,
but after being pissed for about three months solid,
I got guilty about it, and thought
we should do something with this money. So we started a record label.
We all had a collective ambition, we were all going to do this.
It was like a gang.
There was always a self-importance about it all.
That was definitely me, but a big part Joe Foster.
I think we cooked each other up. The bits I never had in my armour,
Joe Foster definitely had in his.
So it was two of the most deluded people in London,
walking about going, "We're fantastic."
I'm up a hill, as you can see,
and you'll spot the connection in a moment.
I'm here to meet a band who I think are wonderful.
I love their sound. They're The Loft, and they're up this hill too.
MUSIC: "Up The Hill And Down The Slope" by The Loft
So we did some gigs first for Alan.
Within a gig or two, he said, "I'm starting a label."
It was like, "Do you want to do a single?" "Yeah, all right."
So we went off to a studio.
I think he said, "Well, I've got 50 quid."
Which didn't quite match what we were hoping.
# Give me the money or I'll shoot you right between the eyes... #
So we used to give bands £100 to go to Alaska Studios, or £200,
and we would press it up.
# Don't say no... #
It was done incredibly quickly.
I did the vocal and went, "I'm doing that again."
It was, "No, that's great."
"No, I really want to do it again." "No, that's great."
And that was it, that was the moment of, "Oh, well, that's it."
Very cheap studios,
how do we make the best of it? But in a bizarre way,
sometimes the least you have actually magnifies...
It magnifies your vision, magnifies the whole thing.
Joe Foster produced it in his inimitable style, which was
basically starting an argument with the engineer immediately,
which was kind of like his style, so he created a bad atmosphere.
We just, like, jumped into it.
None of us really knew anything about it. We just figured, well,
"We've paid for this studio,
"so you will damn well do what we tell you to do."
It was the first sort of real record that I think Alan could get behind
and say, "OK, we've had The Legend, I've done things with Biff Bang Pow,
"but this is a proper band I've discovered."
And this is the first proper record on Creation, I think.
Thank you, The Loft. That's Over The Hill. Thanks to Janice and her producer Michael...
We would travel to Glasgow to play,
and you'd almost enter a re-creation of what you'd left in London
in terms of dress code, people, what the DJ was playing.
So, geographically, we felt we were in both places at once.
We would hire a disco called Daddy Warbucks
just off George Square on a Sunday night,
put a band on, and make compilation tapes.
Clockwork Orange would be getting shown on the walls
as everybody was dancing to the 13th Floor Elevators.
We met guys like Bobby Gillespie,
and we saw bands like Felt, Jesus And Mary Chain,
The Loft, and all these bands were on this label, Creation,
so you'd be hearing that and lots of psychedelic music.
It was just a really cool club.
We played at Splash One, and I just remember
various drunken members of my family getting up on stage, going,
-BROAD SCOTS ACCENT:
-"I want to be in the band too! Gimme the drums!"
It was like that, you start thinking,
"Christ, maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all."
Our first contact with Creation was through Bobby.
I remember coming home from school.
My mum said, "Some guy just called about your band,"
and she said she'd asked him if he was famous,
and Bobby's reply was, "Not yet."
I thought he was worth calling back.
When we met them,
they had this sound, the image,
they had everything intact. It was all there.
They just needed a drummer, I guess,
and eventually that drummer was me.
They said, "Mummy, London, Alan McGee's got a record label,
"he'll put something out, man."
So we contacted Alan,
and initially he wasn't that interested.
But he was going to give us a gig,
so we came down to London to play our first gig.
MUSIC: "Some Candy Talking" by Jesus And Mary Chain
So we put on some really good bands and had some amazing nights,
started a label,
it's about 10 or 11 seven-inch singles in,
then we meet The Jesus And Mary Chain.
He was literally frothing at the mouth,
saying things like, "Five albums! Ten albums!
"Yeah, we're going to make millions!" And we're thinking,
"That guy's mad."
But whatever, he was willing to put a record out.
That was good enough for us.
And about six weeks later,
they had a massive single with that noise, Upside Down.
MUSIC: "Upside Down" by Jesus And Mary Chain
# We're moving round and round
# Can't hear a single sound
# And when I hit the ground
# I heard a ringing sound, uh-huh-huh
# I heard a ringing sound
# And my head hit the ground
# The sound of upside-down... #
It's a brilliant, violent, pop record.
-It is a great pop record.
It's great in the way that Be My Baby is a great pop record.
It's a huge explosion of sound
that completely inspires people,
and that's all you need.
We thought, "This is a big number one hit."
# You think you're dangerous, you never was but you can't see... #
It was amazing, but at the same time it was kind of an anti-climax.
sitting in Alan's little flat
in Tottenham, folding up the little gatefold paper sleeves
and stuffing them into plastic bags,
and it was me, William, Douglas, Bobby and Alan who did it.
The bad behaviour crept in, really.
It was more functional than getting off our heads.
We've got to stay up all night, so we do speed to stay up.
And I remember sitting there, thinking,
"Marc Bolan didn't do this. David Bowie didn't do this.
"There's got to be more to it than this."
And there was.
The Jesus And Mary Chain are the most un-riot band of all time!
They couldn't start a riot, but Alan McGee,
he could start a riot in a paper bag.
We knew there was going to be a riot at the North London Poly,
because when we went there, there was people talking about it.
The stage was invaded,
those beautiful red velvet curtains were pulled down,
the PA was pulled into a pile in the middle of the floor,
the police came running in with truncheons.
It looked like something from the Notting Hill riots in the '50s.
And we had to lock ourselves in the dressing room.
There was people pounding on the door with hammers, I remember.
We were thinking, "What a way to spend a Friday night,
"coming to see a band and thinking,
"Let's kill them after the show."
Well, what the hell happened?
We want people to come and listen to music, not fight. They should
divert their energies elsewhere if they want to fight. Not at us.
It's the world's largest rock spectacular.
72,000 packed into Wembley Stadium. More in America.
The Prince and Princess of Wales came early,
and Live Aid's creator joined the royal acclaim.
Where does Mr Alan McGee
fit into this rainbow of possibilities?
Is he a shadow,
coming along, smiling benignly?
Or is he at the top of the mountain,
laughing like a maniac, waving the flag and saying "Follow me?"
I would say the second.
People started to take Alan seriously for the first time, I think.
A lot more attention started coming on the label.
You'd read the New Musical Express or whatever was going about.
All their records would get in there, their acts would be in there.
People wanted to know what they were doing. They had a buzz about them.
With the money from the Mary Chain's first single,
he was able to get a room in an office block in Clerkenwell Road.
I ended up in a broom cupboard at Hatton Garden.
A lot more work was done in the pub. That was the continuing theme.
I was in a taxi with Alan, and he started getting very excited.
"Pat, Pat, we're getting Ed Ball!"
"How do you mean?"
"Ed! From the TV Personalities! He's coming to work for us!"
That was great. You could go to the office,
Ed would be there, and he lights everything up.
Ed was one of the boys,
and Dick was a good laugh, you know,
and we were just having it, really having a great time in life.
We spotted Biff Bang Pow.
It was the first time I'd properly met McGee,
and Dick was in the band as well, Dick Green.
Somebody took offence to McGee,
and had this plastic pint glass,
chucked it at him.
"Biff Bang Pow, you're shit!"
He chucked it at McGee, it hit McGee, side of his head,
and McGee took off his guitar.
"You fuckin' bastard, fuckin' get you by the way!"
They had this spiral staircase.
This guy goes down there,
there goes McGee, there goes Dick Green, there goes somebody else,
we're all running down the staircase, out onto the streets of Camden.
So that was one of my first touches with the whole Creation world.
You see, I was in two bands at the same time.
A lot of people think I was in Jesus And Mary Chain and I left to form the Scream, but it's not true.
I was in both bands at the same time. I'm not a drummer as such. I'm not a musician in that sense.
I only play two drums because that's all I can play.
It was very basic but it worked.
I wanted to be a singer in the band.
I think early days of Primal Scream were breathtaking.
Bobby was beautiful.
We just wanted to be great. We didn't want to be like
mediocre, average, just another fucking band. We wanted to be like,
"We're going to do this. We're going to be great."
But I knew we'd be good.
I remember sitting on a hillside above Glasgow thinking, "We're going to get out of here,
"play all around the world because I know that we're fucking good."
"I know we're better than anybody else".
The Primal Scream thing was really just based out of friendship.
They were the coolest.
I toured with them. I remember going to Amsterdam
with The Weather Prophets and Primal Scream.
And they went from the sort of cute little boys into the rock stars.
With them, it was like drink and girls and drugs were number one.
Their music was number four or something.
I just remember there was me and Kizzy and Paul Mulreany from our band.
We were all just milling about in dirty jeans and jumpers, just looking like tramps, really,
at the office, and then, around the corner, comes the Scream.
And they've got nothing going on at this point. They haven't even got a band.
But there's Innes and there's Bob and there's Throb.
And they come round in their leathers and their hair and they are just the coolest thing.
You know? It's like, "Look, real pop stars!"
And it didn't matter that they had nothing.
We did a deal off the back of the success of Mary Chain.
Rob Dickens, the guy that ran Warners, he saw something in me that gave me a shot.
When we put Elevation together,
it was because I wanted to have his spirit in A&R.
And he wanted to have distribution and finance
to do the projects he loved.
He gave me Elevation Records which his record company suffocated.
But the Primals and The Weather Prophets were on there.
I shared his passion at the Primal Scream album. I shared it less at The Weather Prophets.
It didn't work out. I think there's a spirit that doesn't work at a major record company.
What makes them great is that they can't...
work within the framework of a normal organisation.
They're very dictatorial.
It's all about their view on the world.
And it's very hard to slot that into a major organisation.
It taught us a lot, and when we went back to the indie thing,
it was with renewed vigour, to be honest.
He shoved me into founding The House Of Love, The Valentines.
Alan, you haven't given up totally.
Alan McGee, by the way, was the gentleman
who brought Jesus And Mary Chain to fruition in this world.
You've now got The House Of Love with a single out on Monday which is a major event for you.
Everyone was so obsessed with being cool.
I mean, I know bands. This is what it's like, you know.
But that lot,
they really did take the biscuit.
# Destroy the heart she said
# You will suffer and be scared
We were backing up someone, and he just came up to me after the gig
and just tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I would really like to do an album.
"Are you into doing it?" And I went, "Yeah!"
The first time that Guy came in,
we were all sort of like, working-class, Scottish council estate kids, more or less.
Then having Kenneth Branagh walking up to you.
-It was, "Hi."
"How are you doing? I'm Guy. What's your name? Nice to meet you."
I had had experience of being on a major label.
I had been signed to CBS Publishing and been dropped, so I kind of understood the process.
We had some pre-prepared publicity photographs.
They were a very small outfit, Creation,
and they didn't do things like advertising,
and they didn't have a good plugger and stuff like this.
And it was all a bit, you know... They were busking.
It was a great band.
Guy was very ambitious, very driven, very driven character.
I remember we were on tour and John Peel started playing our album.
Almost every night he played a track and it just went through the roof.
It was a pretty heady ascent at the time.
The music papers loved them.
All the journalists wanted to interview,
wanted to hang out with them.
And basically, Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers
were shaping up to be the Morrissey and Marr of that time.
It was the first Creation album that sold, you know.
It was the one that set them up, basically.
And that changed everything for the label because, you know,
the phone was just ringing all the time, and...
there were more people being employed! It was party time for them.
They were absolute rock 'n' roll animals.
They have carried on. They're a bunch of mummy's boys.
For about two years I spent on the road with them...
the worst behaviour.
They were just shockingly out of control.
It was growing so fast and it got out of hand.
I think I had nervous exhaustion combined with sort of drugs psychosis.
For me, it was just drinking far too much,
and I didn't find it very easy coping with being famous all of a sudden.
I was kind of like feeling at my lowest ebb.
But the band was at its highest peak.
As we became more successful, my state of mind took a real nosedive.
Major labels, at this point, absolutely adored Alan.
They loved him because they saw in him the man who had the key.
Absolutely, he did!
They loved him, and he absolutely hated their guts.
Absolutely hated them!
I'd asked Alan to manage the group, and I'd said, you know,
"We should get a bit more muscle, you know."
So Creation managed us and he just went on the razz, you know.
And McGee just had an enormous amount of balls, you know,
and an enormous amount of nerve.
He took on the majors, for God's sake!
He fronted out EMI, RCA, MCA, CBS.
You name them, he fronted them all out!
The Waldorf behind a pair of glasses.
-He went, "We're going to get the best deal anyone's ever got."
-One of the biggest!
"So-and-so's offered us this much money, so-and-so this much."
And got the last of the biggest record deals for The House Of Love.
And signed him to Fontana, yeah.
At the point where Jesus And Mary Chain have turned into this phenomenon,
that they want to go with a major.
That was the point where the first cut is the deepest.
The deeper the cut, the harder you come back,
and he roared back!
The righteous revenge of the man was fully justified.
The success of House Of Love was that fulfilment.
That was the last time where Creation was going to lose a band
to a major, or any label for that matter,
and all the bands were going to stay on the label.
Ladies and gentlemen,
we're leaving Downing Street for the last time,
after 11.5 wonderful years,
and we're very happy that we leave the United Kingdom
in a very, very much better state
than when we came here 11.5 years ago.
The greats of rock 'n' roll,
be they people who twanged or wailed or...
..figured out ideas,
by and large, were the lunatics.
The Valentines were great. I always liked them.
Joe Foster first found them about '85, '86.
Kevin wasn't singing then.
And they were pretty terrible, but they weren't really bad.
We always thought we were going to be good.
And I only began to realise we might be good
after about four years of trying.
In '88, we were on tour and we met Alan McGee.
It came round that this guy
was going to do a gig,
and he wanted Biff Bang Pow, me and Dick to support the Valentines.
He was in a band supporting us, actually.
We were like, "No way are we supporting them!"
They were so dodgy around this time.
They were such an anorak band that me and Dick, we had to play above them.
So we went on after them,
and suddenly, there'd been a total metamorphosis.
He'd somehow grasped what it was he was trying to do.
And it was like raw and it was amazing.
We were just being really angry and full of energy and spirit and all that
and he was a bit impressed by it.
Me and Dick both looked at each other, and we were like,
"We've got to do it." And he was like, "We've got to do it."
So we went in the dressing room and went, "Do you want to be in Creation?"
So, we made this EP in a kind of state of mind of, "Well, why not?
"Let's do anything."
I discovered... I was trying to do,
you know when you kind of bend the guitar string
and you get the double effect, the Chuck Berry thing.
You know, the Pixies used to do it all the time. That bendy thing.
I was trying to do that, and I couldn't do it.
So I just got the idea of tuning
the two strings together and use the tremolo arm.
And then, I suddenly found that there was this amazingly expressive thing.
So, in the space of about four or five days, we kind of made our sound.
By the time we came out of the studio, we had the whole thing,
that melting thing, it just all kind of happened.
I never thought they'd become what they did.
They went up about five levels with Isn't Anything,
it's an amazing record.
WOOZY, DRONING GUITARS
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Thank you!
# Aaa-aaa-aaah... #
Being lucky is a talent in itself. He was very good at finding bands
who would pick up the key when whoever was the current band was going to drop it.
After six gigs, we had A&R men down, trying to sign us,
which was extremely fast.
We knew that then, even.
At that point, I was re-taking an art history exam or something.
And I remember coming home at lunchtime,
putting a pasty and beans or whatever in the oven to eat, the phone ringing,
someone passed the phone to me and said, "It's a guy from Warner Brothers."
This guy was saying, "I've been listening to your tape
"and I want to sign your band."
So I was just sort of, like, floored. Knocked out.
The guy, showing off, played me this band he was going to sign called Ride.
But he foolishly said, "I'm GOING to sign them."
I immediately left,
and I used to have this mobile phone that was like a cosh, right?
And I remember going, "Dick, get me Ride's phone number."
Two hours later, Dick would phone me up on the cosh. "01865, blah blah blah."
And of course, he got them down.
We were playing a big show supporting The Soup Dragons at that time.
And who shows up but Alan McGee?
Ride were literally schoolchildren. They were harder to get than most, actually.
If they were a bit older, they were easier to get, because you
just sent them out of their minds and they would sign with you.
I basically used the other tactic I used to have.
I showed up every gig on their British tour for two weeks,
until they signed with me.
The bands he had already got on his label just spoke volumes.
McGee had got some of our favourite bands anyway,
it was just like a no-brainer.
I knew they were massive. I knew they were going to be huge.
Two great talents in one band.
It was very much what the indie press was after at the time.
First single cracked it, second single went in the charts.
And they became instantly huge as a live band.
Every month or two, we would put out a single and we would be playing bigger venues,
and this didn't stop until, like, mid-1993.
It was a dream for me, that my band would start to do well.
I never really expected that, I don't think any of us did at the start.
The first album went gold immediately.
We thought, "This is going to be the Beatles,
"this is going to be the most massive thing ever."
Because we just kept growing, and it was a phenomenon for a while.
Melody over noise was an unusual thing at the time, you know.
We had been getting into Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr and Husker Du
and bands like that.
A lot of people were influenced by that, and I seemed to be the only person that signed these bands.
It felt like there was something really important there,
those bands sounded so different.
I was the only person in the world that actually wanted them.
So when they came along, like The Telescopes or Slowdive, Swervedriver, nobody wanted them!
I was the only person that liked it.
I had no idea it was going to be this influential kind of music.
You go to America and you heard shoegazing guys.
I think the darkness of Swervedriver really appealed
to a lot of Americans.
Swervedriver were probably on different kind of drugs from most of the people on Creation, you know?
We were more probably speed and cider at the time!
I never saw them as shoegazing myself,
but they did seem to get lumped in. The only shoes they gazed at were the ones that were flying past
as people were surfing in front of them.
There's a sudden realisation that, shit, you know, we've got to follow this up now!
MUSIC: "Leave Them All Behind" by Ride
# Wheels turning round
# Into alien ground
# Past two different times
# Leave them all behind
# Leave them all behind
# Leave them all behind
# Leave them all behind... #
We started to go to places like Japan and America for the first time, and that's when you get
the likes of Seymour Stein starting to enter the scene.
Alan had started having relationships with major labels in the States.
Sire was a cool indie label run by a cool music obsessive,
huge fan, that became a big, thriving world force.
Ride was one of those wonderful accidents.
They were opening for one of my bands, The Mighty Lemon Drops.
When I heard that the act was on Creation,
I said, "This is worth checking out."
And they were worth checking out. They were young,
they were great musicians, they had great songs.
I told Alan, a few days later we did a deal.
Alan did a deal for three Creation bands with Sire in the states.
The deal was for Ride, Primal Scream and the Valentines.
These relationships with Sire and all the Warners people were crucial.
The Americans probably never understood what I was saying, but somehow they believed me.
People understand that Alan has something incredible up his sleeve. And he has worked with amazing bands.
I cannot stress enough how many Americans can't understand
every word he says, or even 50% of the words he says.
He was bringing in the money that kept us going.
It was pretty easy. I would just go in and tell people it was going to be the biggest group ever.
We were planning, like, You've got to go and sell this one to America,
get us another couple of hundred thousand dollars to keep us going or make a record.
It was still very tight times, financially.
For two or three years, we survived on advances.
We had kind of ran out of steam, because we had sold all the bands.
Acid house had a big effect on the label.
I remember hearing it in '87, in clubs in Brighton.
This music going...
"AAH-AAH UHH AAH-UHH AAH-AAH!"
And you'd be like, "That's rubbish!"
Just in its ascendance is house music, dance culture,
people making records with drumbeats, loops,
the whole alternative crossover thing was starting to happen.
We were in some indie club with James Williamson, January '89,
and it was all records that I had put out. And it was the most miserable fucking club ever, right?
I said, "Look, why don't we just go and have a good time? Why don't we go to the Hacienda?"
He came up and supposedly had his epiphany.
We walked in and there was 2,000 people going absolutely mental.
Wilson was in the corner in the cocktails bar, holding court.
He gave me a hug, I gave him a hug.
I looked on stage, there were 600 kids on stage, I'll never forget it.
And there was Shaun Ryder sweating profusely, out of his mind,
leading the charge of 600 people
punching the air.
I remember we'd gone to see a gig at the Astoria.
I hung around afterwards and by sheer coincidence,
it was turning out to be a rave club
and so I stayed and it was like this incredible slap in the face.
The first time you hear it on an E, suddenly it's like...it's great, it's amazing, I get it.
This is an advert for drugs.
It made sense.
It was like something I'd not felt for years.
Just an incredible, dirty, sexy energy.
I remember going into rehearsals the next day and saying,
"I went to this club last night,"
and described it and they were saying, "What, you went to a disco?"
All of us one by one had that moment.
I was converted to acid house.
I was so insane for it that I moved to Manchester.
It was no surprise that McGee came for six months
and lived in Manchester. He was always hip on youth culture
so whatever's going on, Alan McGee's got to be here somewhere.
I phoned Wilson up, "I'm coming up." He went, "You're joking?" I went "No, I'm coming up."
He went, "Erasmus has got a flat above us, do you want it?" "How much?"
And it was, like, £90 a week and I went, "Have it."
We went mental, really, for about a year.
Tony Wilson interviewed him about why he was living in Manchester.
May I introduce you?
The gentleman on the left with the strange hairstyle is Alan McGee,
the chief executive officer of Creation Records.
-Why have you moved to Manchester?
-Better class of drug.
He gave the classic line, "Why have you moved here?"
"There's a better class of drugs in Manchester."
But there is. You wouldn't go there for anything else.
SWOOPING ACID HOUSE BEATS
Alan realised that this would be something
that would really work for Primal Scream.
I remember telling the Primals about it.
Him and Jeff Barrett were completely obsessed
by acid house, and it became like a religion for him.
We took Bobby to, like...I think it was the Escape. This was April '89.
That night, we got on one, as they say.
The first one he gave me never worked!
Second one worked.
Gillespie got it. By about June, he'd invented acid house.
Musically, it changed Creation. It reinvigorated it.
It reinvigorated many of the groups on Creation.
The energy was, like...wild. You know, like...just wild. It was just like...
Drug-induced, but wild.
Fed back into us and fed back into the music.
Bobby was clever, Kevin Shields was clever.
They were influenced by it. I took Guy Chadwick to the clubs,
all he did was take his clothes off.
I'm absolutely convinced the worst thing
I can possibly do is take drugs.
He was out of fucking control.
Popping Es was a bad, bad idea for me.
It was like...we're in a gay club,
we're on drugs, acid house is pumping
and Guy Chadwick's taking his clothes off.
The bouncers are coming up to him going,
"Do not take your clothes off!"
He had no sense of danger whatsoever, do you know what I mean?
I'm just a complete nutcase when I take drugs.
In the corner, you've got Ian Brown watching me
trying to put Guy Chadwick's clothes on, going,
"What are you up to?"
We wish you the best of luck,
and hope you have other bizarre interviews
and other television programmes before you're both...sent away. Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Around late '88, beginning of '89, I moved the office to Hackney.
That's when it really went off the hook, that's when the parties started.
It was so disorganised. The look of the building was higgledy-piggledy.
The office looked like what Creation was like, all creaky floors like that.
It was like a maze. It was over a sweatshop, it was really run-down.
There were like little staircases with little rooms off.
We were gradually taking over this warren of disgusting rooms in this place.
It was kind of like this really weird kind of thing
zig-zagging across the road, Creation.
It was total chaos.
There were about seven or eight of us at that point,
it soon became 12.
They were friends that Alan had brought in to work there.
None of them had been involved in record companies
or corporate things before, they made it up as they went along.
It truly was a really truly independent thing.
You could be yourself to quite a large extent, yeah.
You didn't have to pretend that you weren't crazy.
A label full of personalities and mad, wild people.
Then Tim Abbot and his brother got involved.
Alan called me up and he said, "Let's meet up." And that was it.
We became firm friends, partners in crime and he introduced me to Dick
and he said, "Have a look over the company."
It was a crazy place but there was work getting done
and obviously we were selling...
a decent amount of records. Probably not enough for us ever to survive.
And we were all getting paid then as well.
So it was a functioning company, you know.
People did that extra bit, people wanted to be there. It was play.
Good times though, that period was.
Because we made great, unique, left-field records.
MUSIC: "Loaded" by Primal Scream
# I don't wanna lose your love
# I don't wanna lose your love. #
There's probably no greater human being on God's earth
that would be surprised that Primal Scream had a hit.
We had them for six and a half years before they had a hit single.
The record that really made everything happened was Loaded.
THROBBING BEATS KICK IN
Andrew Weatherall come into the picture with the band
and large quantities of...refreshments!
He was practically the same age as us,
growing up with the same music.
He was into punk rock and he was into dub and into disco.
It was just right, you know? He was an amazing person to meet.
It was righteous, really.
I remember the first time the cassette of Weatherall's work
on the track came into the office, it was absolutely amazing.
I'll never forget that moment.
The sound was different but the essence
of Primal Scream was still in there.
It was like dance music came into indie music.
That was the crossover thing.
When Loaded happened... "Wow, they're actually doing it, they've made a dance record."
Loaded came out as a white label in the clubs.
That was a big turning point.
It was very special. It just completely changed things.
Never heard anything like this ever before.
We went on a European tour and we were loving being in a band
and loving the gigs but nobody was listening.
We got back to England and people were going crazy about Loaded.
Single of the Week everywhere and then it became a big chart record.
Most indie records would go into the chart and go right out again.
Even to this day, but that stayed in the chart for weeks.
It was like a real, proper hit record.
This was the moment that Alan could actually put
Primal Scream where they belong, on Top Of The Pops in people's homes.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
# I don't wanna lose your love
# I don't wanna lose your love. #
I'd just got on a bus, I was coming to London and I got
a phone call from Alan McGee
saying, "Duffy hasn't got his Musicians' Union together,
"Do you want to be on Top Of The Pops with Primal Scream tonight?"
I'm there to sort of pretend to play keyboards.
Everybody else was partying, enjoying Top Of The Pops.
# Whoo, yeah... #
LOUD REVERB GUITAR
So we moved from being on the dole to getting £70 a week.
McGee gave us a wage. They also gave us a tiny advance.
We built a studio in Hackney and we bought a sampler.
Then we kind of started writing Screamadelica.
The group were so off their head.
We had the hottest band in the UK at the time that couldn't
get to the studio and make a record because it was too complicated.
The gestation period for Screamadelica was months and months.
It wasn't just a band going in making a record,
it'd been those singles and remixes.
Obviously the dance of side of things was the next big thing, the next thing, the next sound.
The most exciting things.
We were influenced by that whole time.
It fed into us which then fed back into the music.
I think we came in from clubs, all on ecstasy,
go back to Andrew and his place
and he had a little four-track set up, we'd start writing.
We were always good at writing songs but then through the sampling
and using loops it became suddenly more modern.
And then they would go away, when you'd just about given in with them
and come up with Higher Than The Sun.
So of course I would just then stick it out to keep the buzz going.
We got the odd mix of Higher Than The Sun and McGee heard it
and said, "It's got to be a single, Bob. I know it's not going to be a hit
"but we have to release it as a single, it's a statement."
# Higher, higher than the sun... #
They had the biggest album of the era with Screamadelica.
The music was infinite in its different styles,
it wasn't just punk, rock 'n' roll or whatever.
The spirit of John Coltrane was on that album.
It summed up, in a funny way,
that whole period for me. A proper golden moment.
I think they managed to capture something really for a generation.
Even on the night of the record getting made,
there were about seven or eight people in the office
and Paul Cannell had done this sun.
He said, "I was out of my head then and I saw some damp on the wall
"and there's something in the damp, can you go and photograph it?"
We spent an afternoon shooting this damp, looking for...
You know you see those fucking things like Jesus in the toast?
It was like, "There's something in the damp,
"I want that for the artwork."
And I think it was in white and blue
and Bobby being Bobby loves a picture with his band, right,
so he wanted to do the inside cover as a sleeve. I'm thinking,
"Yeah, great, that's really going to do well(!)"
So I thought, OK, put it on the ground,
put four album sleeves round the sun
and went, "THAT'S the album sleeve."
And he went, "I want it in red," and I went, "Done." And that was it.
McGee was always travelling to America or Europe.
He was always away.
I would only see him or speak to him briefly, you know.
So it was quite distant, the relationship.
But, you know, when things started happening for Primal Scream
in a big way with Screamadelica, McGee was incredible,
he was invaluable as a friend and as an adviser
and as a supporter.
We were shocked. Me and Dick pressed 60,000 records.
Even though it was mania,
we had no idea that the world was going to get it.
We were clueless, really.
We just put the record out, we just thought it was a good record
and what I was really proud of, obviously,
was that my friend made this incredible record.
I guess Screamadelica would be the first record
that really went kind of big.
And then the Bandwagonesque record did pretty well
and Loveless came out and that was a big record too.
So everything started to happen quite quickly, I think.
Anyone able to put three records of that quality out
in a little run like that was amazing.
Why they all came at the same time? I've no idea, pure coincidence.
Timelines weren't organised to come in that close a proximity.
But they did and it was great for us, it was great.
Even though I was on a lot of drugs at the time,
I did kind of realise, "This is it, this is the peak."
"If it gets any better than this, it'll be strange."
This is a song by a famous British songwriter called Shakin' Stevens.
He's like a kind of modern Elvis. From Wales.
# She wears denim wherever she goes
# Says she's gonna get some records By the Status Quo
# Oh, yeah
# Oh, yeah... #
The Scottish thing's always been pretty big with media.
We'd have people suddenly appear like Teenage Fanclub
and people like that, we just brought them into the world
but who knew? Norman Blake, The Boy Hairdresser, who knew?
Myself and Douglas had been friendly with Bobby Gillespie.
We lived in Bellshill, which is about ten miles
from the city centre of Glasgow
and on a Saturday afternoon we would go into town
and meet up with Bob and a few different other people.
We all got together and I think initially I started
helping out with The BMX Bandits.
And then the next thing another band was formed
called The Boy Hairdressers
which then became Teenage Fanclub.
I kind of got word back from Bobby that they wanted to sign to Creation
cos they weren't getting on with their record company
but I'd no idea they were as good as they were.
We didn't sign a deal with Creation at that point.
We went into the studio and Creation started paying for the recordings.
Every song that came on on Bandwagonesque,
it was like, "Fuck, it's really good."
We put it out, it exploded in America.
# She'll drive us home If there isn't a bar
# Oh, yeah
# Oh, yeah... #
You know, McGee's a real people person,
so he gets everyone else involved.
Norman had been a member of The BMX Bandits and still was a member
when he started Teenage Fanclub.
I think Alan took us as a sort of labour of love.
It was like, "I'm going to persuade people that The BMX Bandits
"are actually worth listening to."
He saw me as a kind of stand-up comedian who had aspirations
to make pop records or something, initially.
Myself and McGee made a ginger connection.
I think he felt sorry for me. He's obviously a redhead as well
and he thought, "There's a wee chap that's making music.
"Nobody's going to sign him, he's got red hair."
We had been playing a lot of shows around the UK.
At the same time, Nirvana had been over touring.
Our paths crossed on numerous occasions
and we became friendly with them.
They were able to use the leverage of Nirvana
to get on Saturday Night Live and get all that in motion.
Because I was spending a lot of time in New York
with Seymour and Joe McEwen, I understood the Fanclub would work.
When Gillespie said to me, "Norman wants to talk to you,"
I suddenly went, "That'll work in America."
What they wanted was British versions of their bands, and that's what the Fanclub was.
Thank you. Goodbye.
It was a Scottish band trying to be American.
See you next time we're in New York City.
You couldn't help but like the Teenage Fanclub
because their people skills were fucking phenomenal.
I think that's probably what they had over everybody.
I do sign bands on songs, but I actually sign people
on the off-chance that they might make a great record.
I'd no idea that the Valentines were going to morph into
being Loveless when I signed them in Chatham
and they were playing the town hall.
We kind of suddenly got popular.
There was a lot of expectation so we went in to make
the new album that we were going to make in eight weeks.
Everything went horribly wrong.
Creation at the time were going bankrupt.
We started making Loveless. Nightmare.
It went on to this massive kind of going from studio to studio.
Creation would find a studio that was about to close
and stick us in there for another month.
That was it, and it went on for a year and ten months.
They did take a long time.
They did spend around £270,000 making the record.
But they didn't bankrupt Creation.
Me and Dick being out of our minds nearly bankrupted Creation.
It wasn't any individual's fault.
They didn't help, but neither did the cocaine or the ecstasy.
If the label had collapsed, he was the one to lose the most
because everyone else had houses.
Everyone else had families, centred relationships.
Alan, all he had was Creation, his baby, his gift to the world.
It could quite easily have gone down.
We kind of lost the plot majorly, really.
In the meantime, I had this vision or whatever you want to call it,
I knew what I wanted to do.
We worked very slowly. It wasn't being a perfectionist, doing things over and over again.
Just everything very slow, a few hours a day.
Some people have got this thing.
It's almost like an illness, they can't finish. Kevin has that.
He can't physically say that's it. He finds it really, really hard.
Our relationship with the label was getting more and more like that.
We lost it but they kept us going by not pulling the plug.
Not many other labels would have done that.
It's worth it because it's like the Sistine Chapel of modern rock music.
There was no A&R input whatsoever to it,
whereas I was busy trying to emotionally blackmail
Kevin Shields into giving me a record,
feigning nervous breakdowns by pretending to cry down the phone.
Which helped, because he believed me.
It was still a nightmare getting the record out of him,
but I got the record out of him.
We finished it off in a sudden burst of activity
over the space of two months.
It was like Metal Machine Music becomes a pop album.
Maybe that was the last great rock record. It was going somewhere new.
Since then, everybody's just went... it's went backwards.
It was worth it, do you know what I mean?
We went through a lot of pain for that record.
Kevin went through a lot of pain for that record. It was worth it.
The culmination of all that '50s and '60s and '70s
biographies and autobiographies and all those stories that we'd read
were being translated and lived out at Creation House in Hackney.
Get some serious drugs.
Just that line alone could have almost been a mantra
at Creation HQ for a while.
There's no discipline. They're all on drugs.
You went down there and everyone's on drugs.
Squeaky clean as I used to be,
the first time I ever took an E was at work.
Every Friday, McGee used to turn up at about 12 o'clock
with a bag of Es and the whole fucking place turned into a party.
We had a phone system that did a loudspeaker page to the whole building.
There'd be feedback and Alan would come on and go
"Right, right, right, hello. There's a party in the bunker -
"everybody stop what you're doing and come down."
The bunker was the basement which was Alan, Dick and Tim's office.
Suddenly people would turn up. The Bands would just hang around and the party would start.
They'd get the Valentines to come, Primal Scream.
Creation was a whole weekend out.
You'd go in for a meeting on Friday night
and Monday you'd leave and you're like, "What happened there?"
One hell of a weekend. And what was it we were supposed to organise?
I mean, it was just complete chaos at that point in the office.
You can imagine going back on Monday and looking at the carpet
and smelling all the alcohol and seeing paraphernalia everywhere.
I had to start the Monday by cleaning my office
and trying not to think about what was done on my desk during the weekend.
The railway track went past Westgate Street.
I can remember one time me and Paul Mulraney
were on these two giant concrete podiums.
We were playing something like Frankie Knuckles, dancing away like lunatics.
At seven in the morning, commuters were going to work
and as they were going to work, we were going like that on the pillars.
That's how insane Creation was and at half-past eight, nine o'clock,
we'd be like, what's the sales figures?
Ed, phone up Rough Trade and find out what we've sold.
At half seven in the morning we were like on an E, doing the mad E dance.
We've both never been the same since.
He was the engine revving beyond normality.
But that was the way those racing cars were fuelled.
It was suggested that I should visit Creation the next time I was over in London.
People said that Alan was a huge fan and a huge fan of music in general,
so that was enough to get me interested.
# Well, I see you're leaving soon. #
He probably looked at us and went, "What the fuck?"
The meeting with Alan was interesting.
I really couldn't understand a lot of what he was saying.
I could tell that he enjoyed the music and he was very enthusiastic.
I wasn't letting anybody have copies of what I was working on
at the time so Alan and I went downstairs
and just listened to eight songs, maybe.
It eventually became Copper Blue and he asked, "What do I need to do to get you over here?"
Then immediately I had everyone trying to sign it off me
but I put it out myself anyway.
When the Sugar album came out and went top three,
that felt like a real breakthrough.
We went gold in England,
we ended up on the cover of the NME,
we ended up album of the year.
It felt like everything must be financially OK
but the wheels came off pretty soon after.
I think that all through that time they were having financial problems.
The ambitions and their vision far outstripped their financial income.
McGee was running around going to America and Europe,
doing licensing deals
and then getting the money from that to put a band into the studio.
Not paying the studio until they had to.
Basically winging it all the time.
People thought we were absolutely out of control.
We always seemed to owe somebody,
whoever pressed the records, loads of money.
They sent down a few people from time to time to tell us off.
I built myself a cupboard to hide in.
Just because every call was
"Where's our money, where's our money?"
People coming round.
They'd come down and meet me and I'd just be terribly rude to them.
They'd just leave, really, to be honest.
There was always going to be a point, whichever album it was going to be,
where Alan spent too much money on an album
that was not going to sell enough to cover that expense.
Whichever album it was going to be, it was going to happen.
He needed to shore up the funds.
There really is only one way to go in the record business
and that's to go to a major.
We'd been close to bankruptcy,
putting houses on the line
and anything they could to keep it going.
It made Alan push even harder, I think.
"It's Alan, what's the trigger word? When do you need to be pulled out?"
Because you're going mad with the drugs.
You're still coming in and running a label
and you're far more resilient than anyone else,
but you are damaging your health.
I guess he was getting more frantic, more manic.
You get used to it, you grow with it and you're all a bit frantic and manic and doing similar things.
My recollection is that Alan was pretty suspicious
of the whole thing at the time.
I remember McGee calling me up after Screamadelica,
some time after that and saying,
"Listen, I'm sorry, man, I've let you down.
"I'm going to sell the label to Sony." He felt that he'd failed.
We thought we would never be able to make a deal with these guys because they just hated us so much.
I just said, "Give me the money."
I think the one we all thought could break through was the Primals,
because they'd had Screamadelica and they just seemed ready to go.
With a bit of our Sony bucks, we could break that sucker wide open.
When Sony got involved in Creation,
some people arrived and completely changed the vibe
and some drugs arrived and completely changed the vibe as well.
There was always Alan's personality behind it.
I guess I didn't know then it was a drugs personality
and that that was what it was that was causing him to be
so erratic and so hard to deal with sometimes.
I thought I was possibly up there with Beethoven or Shakespeare,
that I was creating metaphysical history by running Creation Records.
I was absolutely delusional.
Creation had been building so much expectation
and so much promise that the world
was ready for Alan to present
the right band and everyone would buy into it because it was Creation.
It's like that famous painting of the two fingers touching.
This is the last great rock'n'roll band.
This is the band that we've all been waiting for.
I was stood at the bar and McGee walked up to me
and I remember he had on a sky-blue top, white jeans,
red shoes and ginger hair, and I go, "What the fuck is this lunatic?"
And he had a skinhead at the time.
He looked like he'd been on acid for six months.
There was a bit of a scene with a promoter about us playing on the night.
We told them we're going on or your club's getting it.
Which we did, we did the gig.
Me and my little sister, Susan, watched it.
Two or three songs in, I remember saying to my sister,
"I think I should sign them."
And he went, I really like your band."
Noel tried to give me this demo and I said I don't want it.
He said, "Have you got a record deal?"
I said, "No," and he said, "Do you want one with Creation?" and I went, "Yeah."
Let's just do it.
That was it.
We shook on it...
They finished the tune,
we chatted away about the Beatles and the Sex Pistols and blah blah blah, and that was it.
I drove back to Manchester that night
and the next day I phoned a few people who knew McGee.
I said, is this liable to be bullshit or is it liable to be real?
They were going, "Oh fuck, yeah."
Then the phone rang and there he was,
"Do you want to come down to London?" I was like, "Wow."
# There's no easy way out
# The day's moving just too fast for me. #
Literally, the first person to say to them, you're great,
do you want a deal, was going to get them and I was that guy.
You've got to create your own luck.
You've got to know when something's great, which to my credit I did,
but I fluked it because I was there.
He was convinced it was all going to fuck up somehow.
Then he stopped playing the demos to people and stuff
because he thought, his words not mine by the way,
a band this good won't be signing to our record label kind of thing.
# I take my car and drive real far
# To where they're not concerned about the way we are
# In my mind, my dreams are real
# Are you concerned about the way I feel
# Tonight I'm a rock 'n' roll star... #
I see us and Primal Scream as virtually identical people
but we come from different places musically.
We're not electro wizards, so you know what I mean?
We stick to the plank of wood with the strings on it.
They were the flagship. That's my band signed to Creation.
I remember them coming in the first time to come and see yourself.
Very quiet. I can visualise the kid now as he came in.
He just looked fantastic. You just wanted to be him.
Noel's kind of dead businesslike.
We just talked about fucking drugs and music.
I don't even think we talked record deal that day.
Scored on the wall behind Chris Abbott's desk
in big black felt pen was "Northern Ignorance."
Noel spotted it and went, "I like that. What does it mean?"
I thought that kind of describes me.
I fucking love this place and I've not been here two minutes.
I found out much Later that he liked Rattle and Hum U2.
If he'd said that, I could never have signed them.
# I'm a rock 'n' roll star
# Tonight, I'm a rock 'n' roll star. #
We decamped to Sawmills Studio down in Cornwall.
That sound was polished, it was there and ready.
Alan came down to listen to the mix of 'Rock'n'Roll Star', and this is fucking true, right?
Now 'Rock'n'Roll Star', it's a fucking tune, right?
If you record it blowing into a trombone it's a fucking tune.
So anyway, up it comes, it's having it, gets to the end bit, it's fucking mad as fuck.
# It's a rock'n'roll... # It fades out into this fucking echo and reverb.
Alan went, "It's fucking great, man."
"But I'll tell you what, turn the hi-hat up in the second verse."
It didn't dawn on me what he'd said about 10 seconds.
I was like, "Is that all you've got... The hi-hat in the second verse?"
"But it's all right in the first verse, I take it?"
I thought it was fucking mental. The hi-hat?
Who gives a fuck about the hi-hat in the second verse?
# It's just rock'n'roll
# It's just rock'n'roll
# It's just rock'n'roll... #
So we went on this tour. It was fucking brilliant.
The press had started to take note. People were coming to the gigs.
It started to take hold.
You could feel a youth culture thing was just starting.
The word phenomenon is often overused, or attached quite lightly. But they were.
It was all about the music, clothes, drugs, fucking football.
Going out and having a great night out. Who wouldn't want to be in the middle of all that?
It got its own power and energy from the chaos really.
They were becoming front-page phenomena. New Beatles, if you like.
The speed at which it went, I think that was just above and beyond anybody's expectation.
Somebody mentioned the word Britpop. And that was that.
Of course, the doors got blown off really by Parklife
and the Oasis explosion.
and Pulp and Elastica and the people that followed that.
I don't think music had had that impact since the '60s.
That made for the most remarkable and exhilarating time to be alive.
And obviously there was Blur/Oasis kind of wars, as they call it.
He'd got another horse in the big race.
This led to this little excursion in the charts.
Allegedly we won that battle and lost the war.
Two of Britain's most popular pop groups have begun
the biggest chart war in 30 years.
The industry hasn't seen anything like it since The Beatles battled The Rolling Stones in the '60s.
One asked oneself, what has meaning and depth,
and what is candy floss?
There are certain things that mean it, man.
Even though the person doing it might be trying to make a pop record, a hit record,
if something is good, is it not correct to turn the world on to it?
After Definitely Maybe, we moved here.
It's kind of like when Creation sort of got posh.
The main change was, you went from Hackney to Primrose Hill. They got new offices.
Primal Scream's studio was around the corner.
If anybody wasn't in there, they were in the pub up the road.
You would constantly see somebody from Creation
coming from the pub with trays of gin and tonics and Jack Daniels.
Alan would just be, "Go to the pub and get me 500 fucking double Jack Daniels."
Kids were walking up the street. Lots of people had jobs and didn't know what they were doing,
or where they were supposed to be sitting. There was always somebody in the corner at Creation Records.
"Have you got a desk?" "I don't know what I'm doing here." Do you know what I mean?
"Why are you in the corner? What are you doing?" A piece of paper in your hand, like a review.
"Why are you...?" "I don't know. I've been here for six months.
"I haven't got anywhere to sit. Nobody knows my name. I want to go home!"
They were great times. Everybody was holding on for dear life.
Nobody knew where it was going to end.
We were genuinely more mental than the bands. You know? Up until Oasis.
They were more mental than we were. They were more mental than me or Tim really, you know?
You know, your record label boss always had drugs on him.
Always had the phone number of somebody who would be there within fucking five minutes.
I was becoming a professional drug addict.
I was going more and more out of my mind really, to be honest.
It's a bit like, you are supposed to be Alan McGee.
You're supposed to be this insane person.
I'm in America and there'd be 20 people waiting to take me out cos I was like a professional good time.
But the partying took its toll on Alan quite quick. He wasn't kind of there for most of it.
I can't remember what happened. I was too embroiled with my own band
and trying to keep that together.
I guess he did too many drugs, or whatever.
Too much for him.
I'm not really sure what happened, but I think he got ill.
It was his problem really.
That kind of thing happened early on in the life of Morning Glory.
He was out of the game. But the rest of us went fucking bananas.
Well you would do, wouldn't you?
I'd basically been partying for six years, that's what it was.
But it was all coming to like a climax.
I think the first sign of his breakdown might have been on a plane to LA.
I remember, it was a long line of cocaine about that size I did off the back of an amplifier.
And then went and tried to get on a plane.
I got carted off the plane by paramedics.
Then checked myself out, went to a Swervedriver show,
got absolutely rat-arsed again.
I think the first time he had a little bit of a crash.
If he'd stopped then, I think he would have been fine.
I shouldn't have started partying again after I was taken off the plane but I did cos I was a drug addict.
He's a one-man Charge of the Light Brigade. I don't think the word circumspect is in his vocabulary.
He's just like a raging bull.
I just thought he was like a train and completely unstoppable.
He went up and dragged himself on and crashed again, I think.
It was as if I had a metal pole in my neck, which wasn't good.
I went into the Mondrian, jumped in the shower, couldn't calm down.
Phoned up the lobby. They got the paramedics.
19 paramedics came, got me from the room,
took me blood pressure. It was 172.
Put me in a wheelchair. Now this is starting to get bizarre.
Put oxygen mask on. Inside my head I'm looking at it this person sitting in the chair.
Now I'm normal. But I'm not feeling normal.
I'm feeling as if I'm going to like, go.
I felt like a wanker basically.
It's like, you got the rock 'n' roll badge. I had to stop it.
It was hard to tell at that point how big the crash was.
A near death experience or whatever it was, it is hard to say.
It was a big crash.
It was a big crash.
I guess his dealings with his friends and the outside world changed from then on in.
That was a point in time that I had to basically draw back.
It was a slow road to getting better.
The main kind of void was Alan's energy.
Alan was a whirlwind of energy. And then he'd gone.
So the company was fairly rudderless.
Alan was the president of pop before that. That's what he was.
We all followed wherever he went, like children following the Pied Piper.
"Where's Alan?" "Alan's in hospital."
At one point it was, "That's it, I don't care what you do, I'm not going to be involved."
My whole thing was, "Right, I'll look after it, you get better, then you decide."
"Cos at the minute you can't... you can't make a decision because you're too..."
"...you're too ill to make a decision, to ill to see clearly."
Dick had to step up to the plate, and I think initially was a little bit bewildered by it.
He was always a low-profile kind of guy.
He wasn't somebody who'd push himself into the spotlight. He was happy in the background,
working as the Yang to Alan's Yin. That was why they were such a good partnership.
They were polar opposites as personalities.
We tried to do it as a team. It took all of us to replace Alan's drive.
We kept it going really. We more than kept it going at that point!
But the momentum was there. All we had to do was guide it along the tracks.
I guess Dick was the guy who held it together. So maybe Dick's the secret hero of that label.
He's a solid guy. Without Dick, none of it would have happened, you know?
# Wake up, it's a beautiful morning
# Feel the sun shining for your eyes
# Wake up it's a beautiful (Wake up Boo)
# For what could be the very last time. #
Boo Radleys with Wake Up Boo
was the first time I'd had 65 regional radio stations that I pitched,
and it was the first time I had 65 A lists ever.
So that was like a little landmark there.
A bolt out of the blue for everyone. We put a lot of effort into the Boo Radleys. I certainly did.
I always remember the concerts and Martin Carr, a great guitarist.
You think, that guitar's really loud, really exciting.
Then it got even louder. How did he do that? How can that possibly work?
But it all seemed to fit into the context of great pop music.
Alan was ill at that point.
He used to send me postcards to the studio telling us
to pull out every dirty trick in the book.
And with Wake Up Boo, I thought that's what we were doing.
Going from nowhere to the NME front cover, which happened within a matter of days.
It was a dream come true.
And the first Number One album.
It's what you dream of as a kid, and it all seemed so easy.
You wanted something to happen, and it happened, it seems impossible now.
# Today is gonna be the day
# That they're gonna throw it back to you
# By now you should've somehow Realized what you gotta do
# I don't believe that anybody
# Feels the way I do about you now. #
Morning Glory was the most, least anticipated album of all time.
Nobody was waiting for the album to come out,
because it came pretty soon after the first one.
We went down to hear the first tracks,
and it was like everything they played was a potential single.
There was an equinox with Morning Glory becoming so big,
That was a watershed moment in Oasis's life.
I suppose that year became a watershed for Creation, really.
You had this massive album that went way beyond indie expectations really.
Wonderwall was the turning point that everyone really.
A huge international hit.
I mean, no one knew how big that record could be.
I think we were all stunned.
# Because maybe
# You're gonna be the one who saves me? #
A lot of it is tinged with a bit of sadness,
because that kind of album was everybody's dream.
Alan always dreamed of having the biggest band in the world on his label, and he did.
But he kinda fucked himself up in the process,
so he wasn't around to really enjoy it with the rest of us.
His dream was to have a band that made it in America, and it did. He wasn't there for that.
The rest of us partied like drunk monkeys until the fucking sun came up and fucking went down. It was great.
You could feel that they had the real shot that most of those Creation bands didn't have.
People were ready for an alternative band that had real, real songs.
With Oasis, it was a fast build, but it was a logical fast build,
where they went from playing small clubs, to medium clubs.
I remember they played in New York,
it was called the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
That was a build that just happened logically for them. It just went quickly.
# I said maybe
# You're gonna be the one that saves me?
# And after all... #
You just had the impression that everything was going to go crazy.
That things wouldn't be the same again.
It was something that put Creation on the map,
and it ended up with people like Alan McGee, and Noel Gallagher hobnobbing with Tony Blair.
It was quite a bizarre thing to happen.
It was also the seeds of the end of Creation,
it was going to go commercially ballistic to the point
that a small North London independent record label
could never service that kind of level of success.
# First time, I did it for the hell of it... #
Oasis had just become extremely successful
and we were huge beneficiaries of that success.
I think everyone was expecting McGee to sign the next Oasis or something.
They came down to see us playing.
I think it was about our fourth ever concert.
In a pub called The Monarch in Camden, in London.
Came to see them, went into the dressing room,
and went "Gryff, really good band, it would really help
"if you sing in English," and he went "we were."
Alan convinced himself that he'd invented Oasis in his head.
And therefore he could do it again.
Something For The Weekend could be a Blur song,
and I always wanted my Blur.
So I went, I'll have my own version of Blur.
Little did I know that I was signing this insane band
of anarchists from Wales.
When it went really big for Oasis,
and there was a lot of money coming in.
They would just let you do anything. You know?
Creation called me up and said, "There's this band called
"Super Furry Animals that have just written a song about you,
"and they want to use your photo on their album cover."
Immediately I said yes, yes, but can I hear them play something?
I'd just come out of prison, and I was trying to catch up on everything,
all the drugs that have been around, invented since I was banged up.
All the different sounds, different forms of communication,
everyday life. I was trying to catch up on everything.
So that was my re-entry, actually. It was of fundamental importance
to everything that happened to me since.
Really born again!
It was just incredible how this label came along
and indulged us in the things we would think about it,
but don't necessarily think it's possible to live them out.
It's like some strange fantasy.
Whatever idea we came in with, they would say, "Yeah, let's do it."
They were really free thinking like that, it was great. They never really thought about the money.
You could buy an armed vehicle for £11,000.
We went to an arms dealer called Baz in Nottingham.
The criminal Justice Bill had just come in,
so we installed a sound system,
so we could go to raves,
and the equipment could not be physically confiscated.
We were bit aggressive with it, we took it to Radio One.
We took down the record in a tank, and they put us on heavy rotation.
People were looking for a reason, after 30 years,
or whatever it was, a band had become that big.
It had never happened since the Beatles.
Why did that happen? How has this come out of nowhere?
And there are all these people who are going to see them at Knebworth.
# How many special people change?
# How many lives are living strange?
# Where were you while we were getting high? #
Doing Knebworth was above and beyond
any of my expectations for that band.
I never, ever doubted what we were doing was going to reach out,
and people were going to take it.
Never did I imagine it would get as big as that.
They sent crazy Bentley limousines,
and things to pick up everyone on Creation Records,
and drive them to Knebworth.
So even Super Furry Animals went to Knebworth in a Bentley.
We weren't even playing, you know.
There was so many people going, we had to fly in by helicopter.
I remember circling the site,
looking over the site at all these thousands of people
just swarming in and filling up, it was just something else. Beyond.
We watched it from a distance. It was almost like a dream.
It was one of the few times I've seen Noel gobsmacked.
Second night at Knebworth, he was gobsmacked.
He didn't have anything to say - which was a first!
# Some day you will find me Caught beneath the landslide
# In a champagne supernova in the sky
# Some day you will find me Caught beneath the landslide
# In a champagne supernova
# A champagne supernova
# Cos we don't believe
# That they're gonna get away from the summer. #
It was fun, but there was a horrible side to it.
Everything, overblown to every degree really.
VIP tents within VIP tents within special areas.
You had to have 15 different wristbands to get near,
and then find out, "I couldn't get in that one, I'm paying for this!"
He'd pay for that Creation Records world-class tent,
and tried to get a glass of water, and they told to go away.
Security were like, "Who are you?"
He couldn't get backstage, but Mick Hucknall did.
He was, he was drinking our beer. And we were like, that's fucking Mick Hucknall, get out.
It was my tent. I paid £250,000, and didn't even sell diet Coke,
so I couldn't even get a drink.
# Where were you while were we getting high? #
When the fireworks were going off,
I kind of went AC/DC,
and it wasn't like the band or the management, it was just the event.
I kind of thought, it's not really us,
it's not really Oasis, I don't know what it is. We should get out.
# Champagne supernova
# Champagne supernova
# Cos people believe
# That they're gonna get away for the summer
# But you and I We live and die
# The world's still spinning round We don't know why
# Why, why, why... #
We probably should have ended it after Knebworth.
In our heads, that's when it started ending.
For want of a better word, the indie scene has never been the same since.
It killed indie music, in a way.
But, um, at least we were the last, you know. I guess.
So really the Creation Records story is about the death, the end of the independent.
I'd say the monumental success that we had,
which we wanted more than anybody else in the world,
that was probably the beginning of the end.
It's a bit like the Roman Empire. When it seems at its strongest,
that's when it's starting to crumble.
It went from being a kind of proper indie label
to almost like trying to become an multi-national.
It was hugely different.
It was nothing like the Creation we had known at the very beginning.
Some of it good, probably most of it bad.
It seemed to be a lot of people working there that you could tell
they were there because it looked good on their CV.
I guess that comes with the level of success.
When a band gets so big,
it can't be run by a load of fucking drug monkeys from Hackney.
They brought in a lot of people who had no passion for rock 'n' roll and music.
They could have been selling baked beans, to be honest with you.
Sony looked at the turnover, which was becoming monumental.
I think they suddenly realised we've got this insane human being,
who, at any given moment, could go back to drugs.
It was me that was on the cheque book.
And that was kind of dangerous.
Because that was like one of the lunatics having keys to the mental institution.
You know, I could let them all out.
I think you do a deal with these people
they want more and more and more and more and more.
You don't know what you are putting out - Nikki Sudden records, or Felt records.
Or the Slaughter Joe records, they want the Primal Screams and Oasises and the My Bloody Valentines.
You know, big acts.
In all those deals that people made with independent labels,
the successful ones inevitably became owned by the majors.
But, at the time, the idea was to keep Creation going as a strong independent.
Sony sort of had to disempower me.
And they, stealth-wise, put people in around me.
They formed this management collective.
There was just too many people!
Staff issues. Everything was a crisis to do with people rather than the artists half the time
and it was getting very difficult to manage that many people.
When it comes to being a boss of 50 people,
I don't know about Dec, but I just used to want to run away.
That's probably not a very good leadership quality!
I always assumed people knew what they were doing.
I run my part of it, so I know what I'm doing and I'm off my head
all the time. So everybody else must know what they're fucking doing.
Really, it was just me and Dec.
Everybody around us had been brought in by Sony.
We were surrounded.
So we got taken over really. Brilliant corporate tactics.
You don't take the shares, you just sack all the people
and "put our own people in so we can out-vote these loonies", you know!
Whether he thought he was back into it, after the illness, 100%,
I don't think he was.
Maybe that's partly my fault, because the way
I democratised the label - had to make it survive when he was ill.
He didn't quite fit back into that, I don't think.
So it was never quite the same.
And he was never quite the same.
One good thing they did was release the last Mary Chain album, which is a great album.
Munki. It's great.
We got booted off Warner Brothers Records and we needed a deal.
And, er, Alan was there to rescue us.
# I had trouble But I found my star
# Found myself an electric guitar
# Well I was some kind of messed up kid
# Now look what you did Look what you did
# You made me, yeah... #
I know for a fact the Mary Chain took that to every major record label
and they all rejected it.
And Alan put it out.
They believed in Mary Chain when nobody else did.
They've believed in the Mary Chain at the start, when nobody would and at the end.
To me, that's a fucking great thing,
because Jim and William Reid are so amazing.
You know? A great band. One of the best bands ever.
# I love rock 'n' roll
# I love what I'm doing
# I need rock 'n' roll
# Gets me where I'm going. #
I remember phoning Dick up one morning.
A particularly bleak February morning.
I'm just saying, "Are you enjoying this?"
And he was going, "I hate it." And I went, I don't like it either.
And we just thought, "You know,
"what are we trying to achieve with this?"
We think we've done all we can do.
We went to see a couple of Sony people and just said, "Ah, you know,
we think that's it."
Let's finish this now.
It was a hard decision, but I think we both had enough.
They told us three or four months before they were going to close the label down.
And we were going to be the last record on the label.
I felt let down. I didn't feel offended.
It was just like it was fucking so unnecessary, you know what I mean?
If somebody had been a bit smarter with the cash.
We bailed at a point, at least we kept our dignity.
We thought we'd have to go through a whole rigmarole
and maybe if we were lucky we'd get out at the end of 2000.
They worked out if they cut us at November 1999,
they saved half a million running costs.
And me and Dick were like cheering.
We got out just before the end of the decade.
We got shafted. Totally fucking shafted.
They fucked us over because...
I made my best record, right?
They actually shut the fucking office a week or two after the record came out.
There was nobody in the fucking building, there was nobody working the record.
We paid everybody off, the staff off properly, we paid the bills.
We kept the rest of the money. It was OK.
We still put in the Primal Scream album at number two.
Oasis still put their album out on their own label and it went to number one.
We ended on a high, but that isn't rock 'n' roll, so we went bust!
Nostradamus did say that creation would end in 1999.
So people were really paranoid around the millennium
that the world was going to end, that creation was going to finish.
But he didn't specify it would be a record label!
BIG BEN TOLLS
Any insinuation that rock 'n' roll is a hopeless case
is when you get to the supposed state of Nirvana that it's always going to be empty.
It's a fallacy. You see, our dreams are so huge and enormous and vast.
And we can never really fully meet them.
The rule really is to be glad for every fucking thing.
The flag has gone in, you know.
We can return to the moon in 20 years' time
and that Creation flag will still be there.
I think it was like the ultimate fucked-up family.
When you go through such an incredible moment in time,
you're bound together in some very profound way.
You can't shake that off, even if you want to.
I think if you asked any single band now,
we'd all love to be back on Creation.
I don't think any of those bands would have been as successful if they hadn't been on Creation.
We wouldn't have done all the stuff we've done if it hadn't been for Alan and Dick.
I don't think anyone else would have taken a chance with Primal Scream.
It was a great atmosphere to make music in, to talk about music
and to talk about what was possible.
The ideas that you had.
Some of the ideas we had were fucking amazing.
They found certain individuals or bands, interesting people,
and thought they had a unique voice that had to be heard.
Alan signs people, he believes in the people, he's not to know
that when he signs you as an artist, you're not going to go off
and make space-jazz albums next time, but he'll pay for it and go with it
because he believes in you.
They gave us the freedom to do what we wanted.
They financed our fucking dreams.
And even when they never had any money,
they went out of their way to find the money to do it.
Eventually, it all came good.
Made great records.
You know, it all paid off in the end.
We couldn't have done it without Gillespie.
# Feels like I'm going mad
# Best friend I ever had
-# So low I feel so sad.
We rewrote pop history with lightning!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media
E-mail [email protected]
Millions of sales on both sides of the Atlantic, near bankruptcy, pills, thrills, spats, prats, successes, excesses, pick-me-ups and breakdowns - all spiralled together to create some of the most defining music of the 20th century.
This is the definitive and fully-authorised documentary of the highs and lows of the UK's most inspired and dissolute independent record label - Creation Records. Over 25 years after Creation's first records, it follows the story from the days of the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub to the Boo Radleys, the Super Furry Animals and of course Oasis, among many, many more.
The label's enigmatic founder Alan McGee talks candidly of the trail which led from humble beginnings in Glasgow, via drink and drug dependency to being wined and dined at No 10 Downing Street by Tony Blair.