Alan McGee chats to us about music and much more
- Category: Culture
The sound of a needle scratching on the last groove of a vinyl record fills the front room of North West London flat. In the corner of the room, sits a man dressed in a sharp black suit and a dark Pork Pie hat. He smiles to himself, as he looks at the memorabilia that hangs magnificently in the room. He slowly rises from the chair, as he walks in a relaxed manner over to the record player. The man carefully removes the needle and pulls the record off the turntable then he places the vinyl back into its original sleeve. The man is slightly startled when he hears a high-pitched bleeping sound coming out of his jacket’s pocket. “What the hell?” he mutters to himself, then he quickly remembers that it is his Blackberry. The man puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out the device. He grins as he reads the email sent to him from a beautiful and far away friend. He thinks to himself, it has been a good life, good enough so far.
It certainly has been a good life for Alan McGee, Co -founder of Creation Records (1983 - 2000), Poptones (2000 - 2007), DJ, musician, blogger, journalist and now actor.
Alan McGee was born in 1960, into a working class family with very few luxuries in Mount Florida, Glasgow. Born at the time when the city was being the process of regenerated in the early Sixties. A simple philosophy of pulling down the past, and replacing it with nice identical abodes filled with cheap all mods cons. So when residents went to sleep they were meant to believe they have had “never had it so good.”
Perhaps seeing his hometown drastically change in identity and structure, may have had a profound effect on Alan McGee as a child, learning at an early age that nothing ever stays the same. An ethos that he would follow in his adult life. Yet once the face of the town had been completed, their culture stayed the same.
A town that maybe only found salvation in pubs, bingo halls and football stadiums ,who were prepared to allow circumstances to dictate their life. Yet in the late fifties, a new form of music had been spawned, Rock and Roll, “The world was black-and-white, and then suddenly it went into living colour”, is how Rolling Stone Keith Richards described the arrival of this new sound. Apart from football and boxing, now there was a new working class escape. A flight that anyone could take, and this was a plane that Alan McGee wanted to board.
Perhaps as a child, Alan McGee would hear The Beatles singing Can’t Buy Me Love and maybe subconsciously wondered how these four young men from Liverpool had taken the world by storm. Alan McGee might have known the names of Paul, John, George and Ringo, but not of their Manager, Brian Epstein nor their producer George Martin, who historically played a major part in The Beatles’ career. In addition over thirty years later Alan McGee would repeat the merits of these men with a young band from Manchester named Oasis, who would become his very own version of the legendary Beatles.
Yet this future success story would have to wait just a little longer, as in 1980 Alan McGee set off on a one-way journey to find fame and fortune in the world’s capital of music and fashion- London- as a musician. Taking very little with him, other then the Inspiration of the music he had listened to over the years, McGee made his way into the Big Smoke.
With no agenda or manifesto, Alan McGee formed a band, produced a fanzine, started a club night and launched record label, Creation. Now he was able to make the music he wanted to make, which in turn this would make Alan McGee a major player in the music world, renowned for his vision and inventiveness.
With an ethos of passion and a love for music, it was an honour for ZANI to catch up with Alan McGee at a hotel lobby near Paddington station, as we discuss his views and career.
ZANI - I understand that you are winding down all of your music related businesses and the only thing you are focusing on is your club night. Is that right?
Alan McGee – No, what I am really focusing on is becoming a house dad, in amongst the other madness I have to deal with.
I never saw my twenty-year-old son, until he was sixteen. So I am trying to make that relationship work, I don’t know if I am doing well, but I am trying. As well as trying to bring up my eight year old daughter, I just want to be a good dad. In the middle of all this, a lunatic called Welsh Pete contacted me, and asked me to be in some mad viral comedy called Svengali. Ended up doing it and now it is really taking off. Never done acting before, but I am enjoying it.
And suddenly I am being called a great actor, but if I am a great actor, then I’ve been a great actor for twenty five years. Because I am playing myself, and this what I have being doing with bands for the last twenty-five years.
ZANI – All the world's a stage and all the men and women are merely players.
Alan McGee - True, you are not one of these blokes that quotes Shakespeare at any given opportunity?
ZANI – No I am not, going back to Svengali, Is it a project, you plan to see right through to the end?
Alan McGee - I think I will, I am one of the boys now. I don’t know how I managed to do that. But Dean Cavanagh (Writer), Jonathan Owen (Lead Actor) and Phil John (Director) want me to be part of the whole shebang.
ZANI – Nice one. I love Svengali and it is becoming like the Extras of the music industry. With episode three featuring Bonehead (Ex Oasis) and Carl Barât (Ex The Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things)
Alan McGee - Bonehead is one of my best friends, and so is Carl Barât. I remember Jonathan Owen saying do you think we can get Carl, I said yea, and just made a call. Then he asked if he thought we could get anyone from Oasis, I said they are on tour, but I can get you Bonehead. Both Carl and Bonehead were well up for it, they loved the concept.
ZANI – I know it is too early to say, but I heard there are a few production companies interested in putting some money into Svengali.
Alan McGee - There are companies that seem to be interested. But nothing is set in stone until the deal is done.
ZANI – True, the external business lunches.
Alan McGee - I know this too well from the music industry. But the fact they are showing an interest, is healthy. But I can’t reveal too much for obvious reasons.
What I like is that boys from Svengali are doing all the hustling. Because I was the guy that always got the record deal, spoke to the agent in the US, and dealt with costing. It is lovely to get someone else to do all that, allowing myself to be me.
Jonathan Owen took me to one meeting about Svengali. I said put your money on the table, or fuck off. I think Jonathan Owen was a little shocked, but this is basically how you get money out of these people.
ZANI – I know, you’ve got to be a little bit of a….
Alan McGee- …..cunt.
ZANI – I wasn’t going to say that, but in fact I think that is the perfect word. Would you say that Svengali is a good representation of people are trying to make in the music industry?
Alan McGee - Yes, I would say it is, and I tell why. What I especially love is the main character Dixie, the manager that is trying to get his band the record deal and women all fall in love with Dixie, I don’t mean the character you see on screen, but the ball of enthusiasm and naïve charm he has. I’ve been a Dixie at one point in my life, and sometimes I still am. Bonehead and Carl have been a Dixie at some point, so has Dean Cavanagh and Jonathan Owen.
When I got together with my missus, I hadn’t sold sixty million albums. I was just a little guy who put out Indie Records. Sixty million records later, I was called a visionary but in reality I was a kid who bought out records, I was Dixie, and my future wife loved my enthusiasm.
ZANI – Like it, a cute love story amongst the struggle of making it. To me, the best art comes from enthusiasm, passion and pain which seems to be knocked out of people these days.
Alan McGee - I agree, and in Svengali Dixie has a nemesis in the form Horsey, the coke sniffing A and R man. My wife hates him. She has never met the actor who plays him Roger Evans, but he’s a lovely guy.
Anyway Horsey represents what is wrong with the music business. Horsey stands in the way of the young guy, who is full of enthusiasm and doing all the hard work. Svengali signifies the music industry, and how they stop the good people getting through. Where as I would put a spanner in the works, and let the Dixie’s of the world through, like Oasis. Where as in reality, the people in the music industry like Horsey don’t, but they know the Dixie’s have actually got talent.
ZANI – That is an interesting point. Without going deep, but do you think that people like Horsey when they meet some one like Dixie, there is an element of jealously?
Alan McGee - Absolutely.
ZANI – I agree and when someone is jealous of someone else, they will do anything to hurt that other person. Staying with the Internet, you stated in a Hard Talk interview that you say of music being distributed via the web is more of a ‘Revolution then an Evolution’. As we know, a lot of music is free now, especially with the rise of P2P software and sites like Spotify.
Now for music fans, this is great but of the artist this is terrible as they don’t get paid. Do you see the dust settling, and maybe these free music sites may offer an one subscription fee, so bands can receive payment ?
Alan McGee - They will have to, because eventually. If they aren’t paid, people will stop making music.
ZANI – That is a strong statement.
Alan McGee - Well they won’t be able to eat, so they will have to go and clean toilets, be plumbers or electricians, not there is nothing wrong with any of these jobs. But if you are the next Noel Gallagher, you should be able to get a record deal and make a living out of it. But if you can’t get paid, you will be working in the factory instead.
I think the reality is, it is quite a heavy answer, but the whole country is going more right wing, but I don’t mean that in a BNP sense. I mean that in a cultural and political sense. Everything is going to be a lot safer. I think the Government will make people pay for their music, this will include downloads and they will find a way to monitor it, we will see a new stage in the internet.
ZANI - Interesting point. If you were starting all over and you wanted to launch a new band or label, how would you go about in the year 2009?
Alan McGee - There is only one way, and that is the Internet. How Glasvegas got big is classic, a lot it was down to their hard work and me, giving away their demos. They were unsigned, and they were playing at KOKO Club in London which holds around 1,200 people. It is beautiful and sad at the same time.
ZANI – Why’s that?
Alan McGee - Beautiful that you can get that big on the Internet by just giving away a demo, and sad it takes you 1,200 people to get you a record deal.
ZANI – So how did the thing with Glasvegas come about?
Alan McGee - I met them, befriended them and started hyping them. I wrote a piece about them for The Guardian, and then at a certain point, I told the manager to give away the demos. The Manager said, “Are you crazy?” “No” I said “Do it”. But before they knew it, they had a live audience. They were great songs, and giving it away helped to shift the album, even though the fans had seen heard a lot of the material.
ZANI - I understand that you feel the only way for bands to make any real money is through merchandise and touring. So are bands more in danger of becoming of a brand, and how the hell is a young unestablished band going to make any money?
Alan McGee - You are referring to an interview I done 18 months ago for Hard Talk. But what I think is happening, due to the economic collapse, post 15th September 2008, I would say by this time next year, I think it is going to be hard for anybody to make any money out of the live music.
ZANI – You think live music is going to die down then?
Alan McGee - The festivals will be good, because they are good value for money. But when Coldplay are giving away a free live album to sell tickets and arguably they are the biggest band in the world, you start to think something is wrong.
ZANI – Interesting point, staying with record companies and the shift towards downloads. Don’t you think they saw it coming four or five years ago, and the artists could be paid?
Alan McGee - Yeah, they could have easily. You see ten years ago when Napster first appeared, they should have adapted the Napster model of downloads, but they didn’t. Then after Apple jumped in and stole it, who did a crap deal with the music business. So the music business has been fucked by Apple.
ZANI - How?
Alan McGee - Like I said the record companies never understood the digital thing, they signed a rubbish deal with Apple that meant the bands approximately gets something like four pence a track and about forty pence an album. This was because the record companies never understood how big digital was going to get. They are idiots, because the people who ran the music business ten years ago were in their sixties, which means now they are in their seventies. So when they did that deal over ten years ago they probably didn’t even own a computer.
The idea that you could purchase something you couldn’t hold in your hand, they didn’t see it coming. Even though the likes of me and Malcolm McLaren were saying that MP3’s are going to take over. As it is, I think it is going to move more towards streaming then MP3’s.
ZANI – Do they think there will be a shift in Apple’s power?
Alan McGee - I think Universal will set up something against Apple, because Universal have seventy per cent of the music business. But Apple have been the biggest distributor of music throughout this decade and they’ve got bigger and bigger. And if another CD isn’t made it wouldn’t matter to them, because there is so much music available on the net.
ZANI – I would like to see something compete against Apple. Moving into a romantic notion, with these P2P sites, is that the music is going back to people. They are now in control in what music is distributed and they don’t have to go to the men in suits.
Alan McGee - All that is beautiful, and as you know I am absolutely totally all about the people sharing the music, but also it would be great if the artist were paid. There needs to be monitorisation and the people are sorted out.
ZANI –As an avid Internet user, what website grabs your attention
Alan McGee – Good question. I like ZANI.
ZANI – You’re just saying that.
Alan McGee - No, it’s a good site. I don’t like Twitter, I went on Twitter for about a month and I took the piss. I was doing sushi reports and swimming reports. Because everybody was going there with these boring reports, and if my missus would let me, I would have done shagging reports.
ZANI – What about FaceBook?
Alan McGee - I like FaceBook; you can put videos up there. It is smaller; you can interact with people with music and news. But on FaceBook, I won’t add anybody I don’t know. With MySpace I will add anybody.
ZANI – I agree. I think FaceBook is brilliant for exchanging links. We always put our links up there, other people will copy them and put them on their page and the word soon starts to spread.
Alan McGee - I’ve noticed that, and I like it. Like I said ZANI is a cool site.
ZANI - I am blushing. OK, to me, two of the greatest men to have ever run records labels in the UK were you and Tony Wilson (Factory Records). Both you and him did have a very open public slagging match via the media. But I feel deep down there was mutual respect between you two, like there is between two top quality football Managers.
Alan McGee - I think Tony Wilson liked me, but I don’t think he respected me, I am not sure though. Only because he was ten years older then me, but I am not knocking him in any way, because I loved Tony Wilson.
ZANI – He must have respected you?
Alan McGee - Perhaps, but whether he respected me, the way I respected him, I don’t think he could because he was one of my heroes, and I wasn’t one of his, that’s ok. I am probably somebody else’s hero.
I remember getting the call telling me that he had died. It was about half past six on a Friday night, I was putting my little girl to bed, and I was jet lagged. I felt like I lost a friend, yes we had public slagging matches occasionally, but none of it was ever meant.
ZANI – That is what I thought, and I pleased to hear that. In April the music world lost another great character, perhaps the most exciting manager to come out from the UK since Peter Grant, John Weller. What are your views on John Weller?
Alan McGee - I liked John Weller a lot, he was a good guy. I tried to sign Paul Weller.
ZANI – That was my next question, about signing Paul Weller for Creation Records.
Alan McGee - I won’t go into any details about what money was discussed, but I put a seven figure sum on the table, but I never got a meeting with Paul. (Laughs). But he did go to Andy MacDonald and Go Discs! for a lot more then I put on the table.
But I did like John Weller, he was lovely and always respectful towards me. The same can be said about Paul Weller. I remember meeting him in the Oasis dressing room and it kind of shook me up, because I love Paul Weller so much. You know when you meet your idols, and as the saying goes it can be a big disappointment, because they are wankers. Well Paul Weller is not a wanker, he’s a great guy. He is a beautiful person and a good man. I was into The Jam, and what Weller stood for. Apart from The Clash, I loved The Jam more the Pistols. If Weller had been a cunt to me, it would have devastated me.
ZANI - Staying with Weller, well mainly The Jam, let’s talk about the inner sleeve notes of All Mod Cons. I think these sleeve notes influenced a whole generation, and it was here, that you discovered The Creation.
Alan McGee - You are right. I don’t know if there are people that mean that much to people anymore. In saying that I think Pete Doherty might means that much to people and probably Liam Gallagher means a lot to people. James Allan does in Scotland, especially in Glasgow where I come from. He’s a folk hero. But those sleeve notes educated a lot of people.
ZANI - Before you formed Creation Records. You were a guitarist in a band called The Laughing Apple, after a few line ups changes which included Andrew Innes (Primal Scream) and future business partners Dick Green and Joe Foster and musical direction. The band soon became Biff Bang Pow, named after a Creation record. Is it true that these bands are getting a bit of cult following over the Internet?
Alan McGee - Yes, I find that amusing. Laughing Apple has got more fans from the Internet then we did in 1981.
ZANI – I know you are not a big fan of bands reforming, but on the surge of this sudden interest, is there any chance that Laughing Apple might reform for a one off gig?
Alan McGee - No, not interested. Noel Gallagher offered me Wembley, not the stadium but the Arena, if the band would reform around 1997 or 1998. I turned him down, not for any money.
ZANI – Well I don’t think you really needed the money at the time. Staying with Alan McGee the musician, what record or artist made you want to get involved in music?
Alan McGee - T- Rex.
ZANI – Which song?
Alan McGee - Get It On.
ZANI – I like it but my favourite is, Children Of The Revolution. In 1983, you done a club and live music night called The Living Rooms above the Adams Arms, near The Post Office, and you also done a fanzine called Communication Blur, is that right ?
Alan McGee - You are right , but you didn’t know this, but there is a whole Creation generation in the US , that photocopy Communication Blur and they circulated all across the country, it’s insane but true. It’s got a real fucking cult thing, I couldn’t believe when I heard this.
ZANI – Ever thought about putting a best of Communication Blur?
Alan McGee - No, I don’t even have a copy, but there are going on eBay for £100.00.
ZANI – So with a club night and fanzine, with a record label round the corner, did you start thinking this time next year I will be a millionaire?
Alan McGee - No, I never thought I was going to make any money out of music in my life. When I started making money out of clubs, I thought I might have a good couple of years, but not as a job.
I just thought I would be a nine-to-five man for the rest of my life. I was told as a kid, by my parents, that I was a loser. I was surprised that people were interested in what I did with music at the clubs, let alone my record company.
ZANI – Modest I must say. When you started Creation Records shortly after, with a small business loan from NatWest, was there record label you were trying to emulate or were you just doing your own thing?
Alan McGee - But even then I still didn’t know what I was doing, I just saw it as a hobby.
ZANI - The first ten years of Creation were exciting, with signings such as Primal Scream and Jesus and Mary Chain, who sold to Blanco Y Negro for £75,000. What were the first ten years like for Creation Records, I guess that is pretty hard to sum up?
Alan McGee - For the first four years, I saw it as a hobby. Then in 1988, The House Of Love went gold, and My Bloody Valentine went silver. Around the end of 1988, or the start of 1989, I then realised it was a prober job. As Creation was seen as being responsible of critical acclaimed albums during this period
ZANI – Like Screamadelica.
Alan McGee - That was 1991.
ZANI – I know, but I adore that album, but still in the first ten years.
Alan McGee - I signed Primal Scream but nobody liked them. But people liked a lot of the other acts on Creation. Like The Weather Prophets, My Bloody Valentine and The House of Love. During this period, I was getting a lot of respect from the public and the industry and I was enjoying that. Then we started to move into the bigger stuff and shift albums and I think at that point, is when Creation became a real business.
ZANI – Going back to Primal Scream, and the remark you made that no one really liked them. But it was the track Loaded in 1990 that put them on the map and won them a whole new audience, the Acid House generation. Do you think that the DJ Andy Weatherall was hugely instrumental in the success of this single and the album Screamadelica?
Alan McGee - To be honest before this point they weren’t very good. Primal Scream would be in denial about this. Andy Weatherall took one bit from their single Losing More Than I'll Ever Have, and mixed it.
Then Primal Scream suddenly reinvented themselves as this big dance rock band, but I think they were a little before their time. But I don’t listen to their singles anymore; I don't listen to their music anymore to be honest. I only listen to two bands from Creation in 2009.
ZANI – I know, Oasis and Teenage Fan club, why not the others?
Alan McGee - It’s nothing personal, I mean that about all the records I have put out over the years, I just don’t listen to them anymore. There only two bands, that I still listen to, for enjoyment, that is Teenage Fan Club and Oasis. Teenage Fan’s "Everything Flows" still gets me every time. It came out before I signed them and I signed them on the strength of this.
ZANI - I still love Oasis, and they seem to be back with vengeance. As we know, your meeting with Oasis on 18th May at 1993 Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is legendary. What was it that really turned you on about them, or is that unexplainable?
Alan McGee - They were just good, it that’s simple. Noel’s guitar playing was brilliant and Liam looked the part.
ZANI - Is it true before you signed Oasis, you thought they were fascists because of their use of the Union Jack?
Alan McGee - That was a year before I signed them, it was only because I was told that by Debbie Turner. I was in her office and I saw their poster with the swirling Union Jack on the wall, I asked if they were a fascist band, she said yes they are.
ZANI – There is one artist on the Creation label that hardly ever gets a mention, a very beautiful woman called Idha.
Alan McGee - Her second album Troublemaker is a fucking amazing record. She’s a house wife in Sweden now. But to her credit to if you make an album that good, you probably don’t need to do it again.
ZANI – True, one last question on Oasis, what it your favourite track by them and your fondest memory of the band ?
Alan McGee - Probably ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ is my favourite track. I have many fond memories of Oasis, but probably The Word in 1994 doing ‘Supersonic’. I was ill in a drug rehabilitant centre and seriously depressed as I was coming off the gear, but watching Oasis on TV for the first time made me forget all about that.
ZANI - Moving ahead, as a bigger lover of music, I see you still keep a healthy interest in up and coming talent. What bands should ZANI look out for?
Alan McGee - The Grants , Vortex and Glasvegas.
ZANI – We will try and get them on the site. You never managed Oasis, as that was Marcus Russell, but you did manage The Libertines. Which I understand, but correct me if I am wrong, that you didn’t enjoy the experience, and if so, why was that?
Alan McGee - They are unmanageable for obvious reasons. I think Peter is an incredible talent and a great songwriter. Carl is one the nicest people I have ever met in Rock and Roll.
ZANI - Please tell me about a positive bands you have managed and why?
Alan McGee - You mean that I have enjoyed to manage? Mogwai. They're funny, funnier then me, and I am fucking funny.
ZANI – Well you are making me smile. When did you start wearing the Pork Pie hat?
Alan McGee - I would never wear a hat, when I was a manager of The Libertines, because Carl Barat and Pete Doherty wore a lot of hats. I thought I am never wearing one. Then I went to the Coachella festival and I decided to put a Pork Pie hat on, because it was hundred degrees. As I got so much attention for wearing it, I thought this is my look from now on. That was probably three years ago.
ZANI – Well you look dapper in it. Did you really say in 1991, “Creation is not a democracy, it’s a creative dictatorship”?
Alan McGee - I did say that and I probably meant it. I was basically saying that nobody has got a say in anything bar me.
ZANI – So it was the equivalent of Brian Clough saying "We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right"
Alan McGee - Yes, they didn’t have an opinion and it was basically like that until 1994. Then I came out of drug rehab, I became a liberal and other people started signing bands, then Creation wasn’t so good anymore.
ZANI –You are known to be a strong supporter of the Labour party. How do you feel about the New Labour, let down or the best of a bad bunch?
Alan McGee - (Long sigh) Basically my views has changed so much in the last twelve years. Now I just think they are a bunch of corrupt fuckers.
ZANI – I think we all do now. Have you been tempted to write a book about your life, not only you are a great writer, but it would make a fascinating read?
Alan McGee - I’ve been asked loads of times, I might do it. I probably will do it after the Creation documentary comes out at the end of the year. Don’t know yet, but I am pissing off to Wales soon. I will still come to London to DJ, appear in Svengali and find material for my blog Too Cool To Die.
ZANI – Please tell us about your blog?
Alan McGee - That is done with a pal of mine, Paul Brownell. He is based in Canada, but he is moving back to England. He moved to Canada as an experiment, but unfortunately when he got there he found out that it was 35 degrees for six months of the year. If I do decide to write a book, I will probably do it with Paul. The blog is all about music, it is well worth a view.
But I’ve just got to a point out, as I’ve got older that I have got very little to say about the music business anymore. It just doesn’t interest me, I was talking to Alan Moulder yesterday and he was saying people are saying that “They are missing Alan McGee”. It’s like it’s over.
ZANI – Hmmm, that remains to be seen. What would you define as the greatest Rock and Roll movie?
Alan McGee - Scarface.
ZANI – Scarface, why would say that is the greatest Rock and Roll movie?
Alan McGee - It depends on what your definition of Rock and Roll is. It is pretty Rock and Roll to me.
ZANI – Sorry, I didn’t explain my definition is, I meant a film about a band.
Alan McGee – Why didn’t you say, ha, in that case, A Hard Day’s Night. But if you are talking about the Rock and Roll attitude, then it is Scarface.
ZANI – Good answer, I like Flame featuring Slade, as a well travelled man. What is your favourite place in the world?
Alan McGee - Good question, probably my place in Wales, but I can’t deny I had a good time in Los Angeles, that was about 3 years ago. I liked it, because I had just come out of the Indie thing, The Libertines management and the Oasis phenomena. Plus England was bored with me, as I was bored of England. When I went to LA, nobody knew who I was. I was just a weird bloke walking around with a Pork Pie hat and a Portsmouth Frock coat. And in midst of all this I ended up becoming good mates with Joaquin Phoenix and Lisa Marie Presley.
ZANI – Nice friends to make, so you reinvented yourself in the City of Angels?
Alan McGee - Kind of, in life it’s funny how you meet people and they become good friends. I was out for a Thai meal with one of my friends and she said to me, do you want to come and meet one of these actors that is doing music, and I thought “fuck off”. Then I thought “oh what ever”, so we went this recording studio around the corner from the restaurant, there is this dude Joaquin Phoenix, and I didn’t know who he was. There was a guy who I vaguely knew, Antony Langdon from the band Spacehog. He said “I met you with Oasis”, and I was kind of “How’s it going dude”, but I didn’t have a clue who the other dude was.
But he seemed to be in charge; they played me this record they had made it and sounded like Pearl Jam. So I slated it, then Joaquin probably realised that I didn’t know he was the hottest property in Hollywood at the time, Walk The Line with him playing Johnny Cash had just come out.
ZANI – Nice.
Alan McGee - So he came up to me and said “The name is Joaquin Phoenix”, I heard the Phoenix part, and I want to the hotel to Google River Phoenix, then worked out that this was his brother. I googled Joaquin Phoenix, and realised that I had been with Hollywood‘s biggest star.
ZANI – Ha, what ever happen to the record they had made ?
Alan McGee - It has never been released and it’s been made about ten times or something thing like. I think it might come out, who knows. But it’s Antony’s record with Joaquin very much involved.
But I kind of infiltrated Hollywood, by default, by becoming friends with Joaquin, and then through him I meet Lisa Marie Presley, that was an interesting meeting.
ZANI – Would love to hear it.
Alan McGee - I am in Joaquin Phoenix’s garden with a few other people. It’s getting dark and we started talking round a table, with just a candle for light and there was no moonlight, so you couldn’t see who the people are.
There is this women at the end of the table, started asking all this intense questions about all digital music, royalties and record companies being fucked up, you know blah blah, and not having a clue. So I asked the immortal question, probably the greatest question of my life, “Are you in the business?” to which she replied, “Yes, my dad was Elvis”. And that’s how I met Lisa Marie Presley
ZANI – Nice, the daughter of the King. Final question, I know you come across as very serious, but there is a lot of humour in you, and sometimes it goes over people’s head, does that bother you?
Alan McGee - I am funny, but I don’t really care if people get it or not. I can explain that, but leave it as it is. I am a massive piss taker, and I don’t really care if you get the joke or not.
Alan McGee has strongly lived by these principles all of his working life. As he is a highly strong-minded individual who has followed his own path, regardless of what people think of him, good or bad.
For the time being Alan McGee has backed away from the music industry and as he wants to relax and be surrounded by love. After a lifetime of being on the move and dealing with band politics, he needs a well deserved break. As to whether this move is a permanent one, only time will tell. But a creative predator, will always be on the hunt for a worthy artist venture.
As an individual, Alan McGee is a jovial, charismatic and intelligent man, with a pleasant manner. He talks about music as a fan, speaks about experiences with elation, and is forceful in the positive sense about expressing his points of view. He does not rest on his laurels not by a long shot, nor does he speak about his former drug addiction with bitterness, but just as a matter of fact. McGee is very forward thinking.
The man in the dark suit with the Pork Pie hat, puts his Blackberry back in his jacket pocket, and he walks into the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. Whilst he is waiting for the kettle to boil, he decides to have a rummage through the bottom drawer of one of the cabinets, brimming with junk collected over the years. As he is fumbling around, he feels a little prick in his index finger. The pain does not hurt him, but makes him curious. He pulls out an old rusty badge, he gazes at the item, and reads out aloud the message White Riot, he chuckles to himself and says “Life has just got better”
© Words - Matteo Sedazzari / ZANI Media.