Creation Records and Poptones founder Alan McGee has done it again... he's started a new label. Launching with six albums from the likes John Lennon McCullagh, Chris Grant and Pete MacLeod this October, in a guest column for Q McGee introduces us to 359 Music.
Last Easter I was contacted by a Japanese promoter, Takashi Yano, to play five records before Primal Scream went onstage in Tokyo to 30,000 people. His offer was ten grand for putting on five tunes and first class travel, so I thought about it and decided to take the ten grand and my iPod and go see the Primals - a no-brainer, as they say. Now, at this point, I had no intention of ever getting involved in music again, well, bar the songs that I still publish to this day via Creation Songs and will be paid forever on, I had no interest in doing anything new. During that week I had such a good time with Takashi, and he then approached me to run a label for him called 1123, which he then went and signed to Warners Japan. It unfortunately just took so long, and I knew I had some great things up my sleeve musically. I just got more and more frustrated with the length of time it was taking to set the structure of the deal up. I've never been one to sit around once I want something. I spoke to my old friend Iain McNay of Cherry Red, who said, "come with us and I will give you half the company." It was a better deal in my eyes than a six-figure salary, so I went with Cherry Red. Again a no-brainer. I love Iain McNay. He was the first person to ever sign me in the music business 33 years ago when I was 19 years-old, so it was inevitable that Iain McNay would ultimately bring me back to music.
So we formed 359 Music, which I run my side of the deal from my bedroom in my house in Hay-on-Wye, whilst Iain and Adam, the MD, run the engine room from London. It's the age of technology. Got an Phone or a Blackberry? Then you've got a record label office. It will never be Creation, as that company was about being the biggest, whereas 359 Music is about me and Iain not playing by the music business rules, not running off and signing to majors at the first glimpse of success and, most importantly, just enjoying doing music again. I guess that's the only parts 359 Music will have in common with Creation - enjoying it, doing music I believe in, and doing it my way.
I think we got lucky with the first six artists. Chris Grant's album It's Not About War is one of the best records I have ever put out at any point in my life. John Lennon McCullagh is 15 years old and, unlike Jake Bugg, he doesn't have the song writing team to help him with the songs - he writes his own tunes 100 per-cent. Pete MacLeod who has morphed into being the Bobby Gillespie conscience part of the label, my very talented right-hand man with his own talent which stands up against all the people who have inspired him. Tess Parks is an amazing lady from Toronto who has made a haunting album, which is part Brian Jonestown Massacre part Mazzy Star but big part Tess Parks. The French electronica of Mineral and the beautiful ballads of Gun Club Cemetery. A very good bunch so, in short, our first batch we got lucky with.
Next I intend to sign another 15 or so acts next year as we seem to have a surplus of bands out there who write there own tunes and are ready to go - and most importantly are not puppets to the industry. The quality is high, and for that reason I am glad I found my love of music again. To be honest, I had forgotten I was quite good at pulling stuff together in music until I met Takashi and at once we had both Blur and Neil Young ready to headline his festival.
The music business has changed so much since 2006, which was the last time I put out a record, but for me that makes it fun again, as the game is constantly changing. It's said that sometimes you have to go away to remember who you are, well that was my last five years. The great thing is for me that people like Chris Grant or Mineral have made me me feel the way I felt in 1991, and for that - well, I bless the gods. Alan McGee
For more head to 359music.co.uk.