Alan McGee thanks all of the bands, musicians and artists who submitted their demos to his new label 359 Music over the past month. The response was incredible, and the range of music impressive. Now McGee has made his first selection of 20 artists, who will be officially signed over the coming weeks.
“On 359, we will be making an announcement in the next ten days,” McGee exclusively tells Dangerous MInds. “I can tell you, we’re in talks with 20 new acts. Five contracts have already been signed, and we’re waiting on one coming in from Canada, and these will be the first six signings.
“There will be a second wave and a third wave of signings to follow. We’re already scheduling the next batch, but you won’t really be able to get the full idea of 359 Music until next Christmas, when we will have all of the records out.
“The second batch is entirely off the Internet, as is the third batch and we’re in talks with these artists to different degrees.
“The first batch of bands are ones I’ve kind of known about—like one of the artists is a girl from Canada. She’s a model who writes songs, and I met her on the Svengali shoot. I mean we’ve got fifteen-year-old kids on there and 44-year-old men. So there ain’t no rules.
“I was in London last week, and I met with three artists that I am going to sign, and one manager. The vibe I am getting back is that people are so happy that somebody is out signing bands again.
“The reaction has been great and I am so pleased I’m doing it with Cherry Red because they are completely the right partner for me, because they have genius expectations, they’re tuned-in and they want to build something new—though they know old fuckers like me still buy CDs.
“The most fascinating thing about the label is that at a time when people weren’t signing bands, to get 20 great things, and to think that there were 20 good things out there that couldn’t get signed is incredible. You know what, they’ve either been shut-out or people just aren’t listening.”
McGee has found the Music Industry has changed considerably in his five-year sabbatical. He finds the business as being like ‘a new industry,’ but one that he is exciting because of the changes in technology that make the process of finding new music far more immediate.
“You can listen to two-and-half thousand MP3s sitting in your bedroom,” he explains. “I mean all the music, the record company, the book, the film stuff, it’s all getting run out of my fucking bedroom in Wales. It’s bonkers, but you know what, it’s exciting.”
Earlier this month, McGee premiered Dean Cavanagh‘s film Kubricks, which was well received even though there was a slight hiccough with the screening, as McGee reveals.
“We premiered Kubricks in Leeds. In true Creation fashion it was—I’d like to say it was an overwhelming success—it was a success because basically James Allan [of Glasvegas] came down from Glasgow, and Lee Mavers, [who was in the The La’s] came over from Liverpool. And people were so amazed that they had come to it, in this little Arts Bar in Leeds.
“We got away with it, because we had some fucking rock stars there that had traveled. On another level, we had all gone up to Leeds to show the film because Dean lives there. But the thing is, the actual club itself had a screen that was two-thirds the size of the film. The smartest cookie in the room, to be fair, was Mavers who said, ‘What the fuck’s going with that fucking screen?’
“I had presumed, as you do, someone would have sorted it out before we started showing it. But, it ended-up, we premiered Kubricks to 80 people, where they could only see two thirds of the movie. The entire third of the right-hand side of the screen you could not see. It was truly quantum-we were in two different dimensions.”
Though McGee finds the incident funny, he is still proud of Cavanagh’s movie and has been hustling deals all over the world for its release.
“We did an I-tunes deal for Kubricks, and it’s going to come out in October in Europe and Australia on I-tunes. Next month, I’m going over to New York to do a private screening, and we’re also working on a deal in Japan.”
McGee’s film career doesn’t stop with Kubricks. He is guest star in Johnny Owen’s “5-star film” Svengali.
“I’m over the moon for Johnny Owen—he’s absolutely pulled it fucking off. It looks like it’s going to be a hit.”
Owen, who wrote and stars in Svengali as “Dixie” a pop manager on the make, has received glowing reviews from the UK press for his debut movie. The film has been nominated for an award at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival, and to cap it all, The Hollywood Reporter has given Svengali great review:
Essentially an excuse for audiences to spend 90 minutes with one of the most genially loveable protagonists in recent memory, Svengali is a showbusiness satire of the breezily gentle variety.
While Owen rightfully is receiving all the plaudits for the film, McGee’s performance and his sartorial attire have come in for their own critical appraisal.
Finding time amid his extensive Middle Earth commitments, meanwhile, Martin Freeman pops up now and again as a bumptious record-shop-owning “Mod.” His fleeting contributions are fun, but arguably better value is provided by McGee, who enjoys a surprising amount of screen-time and, in what is perhaps a deliberate in-joke, is never seen without his Trilby hat.
“Now, I didn’t know this, but weirdly there’s some character called Trilby in that original story, who inspired the hat. And because I wear a trilby in the film everyone thinks it’s some kind of in-joke to the Du Maurier’s story. No, it’s not, it’s because I’m bald!
“I’ve never seen the other movies, and didn’t know about Trilby until Johnny sent me a link to it. We were joking because in that Hollywood Reporter review they said I got more laughs than Martin Freeman, but we thought it was mental about the hat. At the Edinburgh Film Festival everyone was asking Johnny questions about the trilby, saying you know, you guys knew that, and he said, ‘No, Alan wears a hat, he’s bald, he’s worn one for ten years.’”
With all this going on, it’s hard to believe McGee has time for anything else, but he is finishing-off his autobiography Creation Stories, which will be published in November.
“It’s at the first edit stage, and I’ve let some people see it, some close pals like Irvine Welsh, and the reaction has been really, really good. I’m happy. It was a rocky start to begin with, the original deal fell through, but I’ve got a new deal with the publisher, and it’s all good now. We’re going to call it Creation Stories, it’s the story of my life, from me being a kid right through to what I’m doing now, and stories of the bands I’ve worked with, because we thought that was the best way to tell the story.”
In the meantime, Alan is forging ahead with 359 Records, and planning to release the first batch of records soon. Though submissions are closed for this year, he will be looking for more artists next year.