You'll never believe this, but Alan McGee has some stories to tell
I have enjoyed this Record Head series. Simon Raymonde at Bella Union’s enthusiasm still makes me smile. I’ve experienced the fantastic laugh of Rough Trade’s Jeanette Lee, and admired Daniel Miller’s Moog at Mute headquarters. Discussing death with Sub Pop’s Jonathan Poneman was cathartic whilst Peter Thompson at PIAS crackled charisma with a business brain. None of the interviews, though, were as downright funny and honest as the hour I spent with Alan McGee.
These record heads, these pillars of independence, all had something in common. On their own terms, sure, they all possessed a drive to succeed. “I don’t think it just applies to the music business,” McGee is quick to point out. “To be successful at anything is all about will power; having the will to do something is probably stronger than having the love to do something. I have seen a lot of people succeed who are not that talented to be honest. I mean take Bono, he’s not that talented, he’s a good showman but he can’t write a fucking tune.”
Here he is, the old acerbic McGee. The guy from Glasgow not afraid of anyone. He might have got sober and relocated to a quiet corner in Wales but he’s still got fire in his belly. McGee is much more than the mouthy stalwart he’s perceived to be, though. He’s dangerously positive and upbeat about the future, or his future, at least. “I don’t really have a label anymore, we’re doing Creation Management and I am stopping the label thing completely now as we have the Jesus and the Mary Chain and Wilko [Johnson], so I really want to get back into the management side of things. It’s all going to go with streaming and so you might as well just fucking face up to it and just get on with it.
“I am interested in new bands and you are but most people aren’t bothered at all; they’d like to see some pony band from the ’90s do their album 10 or 15 years later. I know everyone has to make a living but it’s fucking bollocks.
“I have just bought a chapel as well; we have got a full license last week. Once the Mary Chain tour finishes this year I can start putting dates in next year for my chapel, it’s just a little venue in the middle of nowhere in Wales. It would probably be in one of the top three strangest venues in the whole of Britain, it’s fucking incredible, y’know? It’s one of the most life affirming projects I have done…”
I cut him off. Not because Alan’s chapel isn’t interesting – I stop him as we’ve been chatting for twenty minutes without mentioning Creation Records once. I haven’t even managed to tell him that his book was the inspiration for Record Head. So we talk about his book for a while and its unflinching honesty. He must have left something out, though.