“Can you imagine having to answer questions about One Direction for the rest of your life?”
Alan McGee sounds like he definitely can imagine it, and unsurprisingly isn’t a man who would want to (although does admit to taking his daughter to see them when she was younger).
“That would be… well, at least for me it’s Oasis and not One Direction. Everyone always asks about Oasis, every f****** time. But that’s okay, it’s not a bad thing. Oasis are a good band.”
McGee is about to start a tour – a mixture of question and answer shows and DJ sets – and inevitably people are going to ask the Oasis question, he says. “The truth is not anytime soon,” is his answer.
McGee is more than happy to talk about his time with Britpop’s finest, the tale of how he came across them in the 300-capacity King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow in ’93 and immediately offered them a deal with his label, Creation Records, the stuff of 1990s legend. Within two years they were one of the biggest bands in the world.
Next week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of their debut single, Supersonic. McGee was there with Liam and Noel Gallagher at the band’s peak: the multiplatinum sales, the awards, the Knebworth gigs; for gifting Rolls Royces, and the hobnobbing with Tony Blair when things could only get better.
“People want the Oasis story, or my version of the Oasis story which I guess is warts and all,” he says. “We had lots of good bands. I’ve got lots of good stories – but half of ’em I can’t tell.”
Creation, the label which started as a DIY bedroom operation after McGee moved from Glasgow to London, was the label behind bands including The Jesus And Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Teenage Fan Club.
After Creation, he went on to manage bands including The Libertines and Mogwai, and now looks after the Happy Mondays – “I think I got that job because I’m the only one left who’s still alive,” he says. “But they’re fine now, it’s like family on tour. I mean, it would be pretty sad being 56 and still getting f***** up.”
So he has lots to talk about. Despite this, McGee sounds almost surprised when he talks about the interest in his own shows.
“I suppose it’s quite a normal thing,” he says. And then concedes: “It is quite a mad story.
“I didn’t plan to do a tour. We had a few shows and then more came in and now there’s more than 30. But I like working to be honest, I’m a grafter. And I like meeting people. And if people want to ask me a question, I’ll answer it.”
It’s that “working-class guy from Glasgow thing”, he says; a man “who should have been factory fodder breaking out of that life”. People are interested in hearing about that.
“I should’ve been a taxi driver or a labourer or a security guard, that was going to be my lot. Instead I ended up, from 23, doing music and managing some great bands.
“Ultimately people want to know how did I get it off the ground. And I suppose it was just through a love of music. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I started off being a bass player and I could f****** play but I was a chancer. I started putting records out and it became Creation. And then we got The Jesus And Mary Chain and that blew up.
“Within a year I was touring America to 4,000 people a night, it was f****** crazy. I mean, I was 23 and I was the manager. The roadies were older than me.
“And then in 1991 there was Primal Scream, Screamadelica, and then My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub, Ride, Sugar, Saint Etienne… we just kept breaking bands. And then Oasis.”
McGee’s autobiography, Creation Stories: Riots, Raves And Running A Label was released in 2013. There is soon to be a film, based on the book. Written by Irvine Welsh, directed by Nick Moran, starring Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting’s Spud) as McGee, filming starts soon.
“It’s Trainspotting does Creation,” says McGee. He laughs. “And that’s cool because I love Trainspotting. Irvine Welsh is one of my heroes.”
How does he feel to see his life in a script?
“It’s just a bit of a giggle really. I don’t take it particularly seriously. I mean, I can’t believe anyone’s wanting to make a film of it but Irvine wanted to so that’s why it’s happening.
“It’s about my childhood and Creation and the madness of it all. You know, everyone was out of control. I sobered up but everyone else carried on. Most people were just partying excessively, from acid house onwards.”
McGee himself went into rehab for several months in 1994. He continued with Creation until 1999.
“It was good fun, and I stopped when it stopped being fun,” he says.
The 1990s, he says, “was a great time”, although he’s not too nostalgic. He hasn’t really held on to any keepsakes, having sold a lot of his memorabilia “to pay for a house at the bottom of the garden”.
He does however still have the Godlike Genius award dished out by NME in 1996. That one will stay.
“It was a crazy time, it was an optimistic time,” he says. “Things always seemed like they were all going to work out and they kind of did, at one point. For most of the ’90s it was great.”
Talk inevitably moves to politics. Blair, he says, was “all right, up to Iraq”.
Now, he’s nicknamed his tour the Brexit tour. Unsurprisingly he’s not a fan.
“There are a lot of very disgruntled people in Britain. I think every f*****’s disgruntled but some of these towns I’m going to are just totally p*ssed off by the whole thing, so I’m calling it the Brexit tour.
“I mean, what a f****** shambles. There should never have been a referendum. But it’s happened. Whether we leave or whether we don’t leave now… get on with it.
“I despair that these people run the country to be honest. These are crazy, crazy times. I’ve never known political times like it.”
McGee now runs his new label, Creation23, which he set up last year. He’s excited once again about new music, he says, although knows the success – and excess – of the ’80s and ’90s can never be replicated. He’s happy with that.
“I think the idea that a band from a council estate and a label that was a DIY bedroom operation blew up, and the band became the biggest thing and we became the biggest deal in the music business, at that point – it couldn’t happen anymore. It’s just not set up like that, the music business now, it’s so corporate.
“But I still really love music. I mean, I’ve got some great new bands. The Clockworks, f****** great band; Young Garbo, Rubber Jaw, The Illicits, they’re all f****** great. And other new bands – Fontaines DC, Idles, Shame, they’re all brilliant too.
“I’m really loving new music. I’ve been around and I’m still going. I mean, there’s no way I’d have thought years ago I’d still be doing this at 58. So I love working with new bands. I’m 58, and still don’t know how to grow up.”
:: An Evening With… Alan McGee, presented by Toura Toura and hosted by Rob Fiddaman, starts in Glasgow on 11 April, with shows throughout the year in cities including Bristol, Warrington and Leicester, until the last date in Nottingham on 5 November.