Founded 10 years before they signed their biggest act, the indie label Creation Records started life as the passion project of co-founder, Alan McGee. In 1983, McGee was running a club called The Living Room, working as a clerk with British Rail and managing a band called The Jesus and Mary Chain.
In another in his occasional series on the history of record labels, Jim Carroll told host Kay Sheehy – sitting in for Seán Rocks – on Monday’s RTÉ Arena that McGee always looked for one thing from the bands he wanted to sign: excitement.
"He saw something in the Gallagher shtick that he really got."
The Jesus and Mary Chain, probably the band most associated with Alan McGee, came out of East Kilbride in Scotland in the early 80s. They were surly, with a sound Jim described as, "the Velvet Underground meets punk rock, meets Iggy Pop". McGee saw something exciting in the band’s early music that he connected with.
"There was a definite ideology they were following. The bands were very indie, they were in thrall to the Byrds’ jangle, they all looked the same, paisley shirts were the uniform."
The next biggest emerging band after the Jesus and Mary Chain that Creation signed were Dublin four-piece, My Bloody Valentine. In many ways, Jim says, they bankrupted the label. Creation released two albums by My Bloody Valentine, but getting the band’s frontman Kevin Shiels’ vision on tape proved costly, both in terms of money and time.
"Shiels and McGee had a kind of fractious relationship."
Bobby Gillespie, lead singer with Primal Scream was one of Alan McGee’s closest friends and McGee has said that watching Gillespie become a star was one of the most pleasing things for Creation. Screamadelica, the band’s breakthrough album was released by Creation in 1991, to critical acclaim. Although McGee’s subsequent decision to send Primal Scream off touring America with Depeche Mode didn’t end well, according to Jim Carroll.
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As the label grew, McGee became a heavy drug-user, having a breakdown while on a business trip to Los Angeles in 1994. He returned clean and sober in 1995, while Creation was enjoying the huge success of Oasis’s début album, Definitely, Maybe. But success led to more excess and the bills mounted up. By the end of the 90s, McGee had had enough.
"He got bored, that’s what happened. He shut the label in 2000."
Creation’s last release was Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR in January 2000.
You can hear the full discussion on Creation Records and listen back to the rest of RTÉ Arena here.