Chasing Yesterday: raiding the archives for lost footage

Part 2 of Tom Stroud’s in-depth interview with Supersonic director Mat Whitecross

“A lot of my favourite scenes didn’t make the cut, which is kinda bizarre but it happens on a lot of films. The scene that maybe even made you want to make the film in the first place doesn’t survive the final cut. Which is crazy but kinda makes sense when you’re in the middle of the storm.”

 

Tom: What’s the band’s archive like? Because obviously you started there and had complete co-operation. Is it in good shape?
Mat: It’s utterly chaotic, as you’d imagine. It’s er… well, having said that it’s in better shape now, because there’s one of our researchers – a guy called Martyn James. He’d been brought in by Ignition a couple of years ago to update everything while they were doing the Chasing the Sun reissues. So he was starting to piece it together, and then we inherited him from there. Oasis’s management company Ignition recommended him and he was brilliant. He’s an absolute obsessive and loves the band.

So that was good, but it was still a complete mess. But you know what it was like – back then MTV… I don’t think they really knew what they had. And the same was true of most television production companies. It was thought that this stuff was ephemeral; it’s over and you don’t know who’s going to survive. Half the stuff’s been wiped, it’s been lost.[1] Every company kept saying: “Oh yeah I think there was a fire a few years back.” And I was like, “What, and it’s destroyed every single thing you had?”

Half the time we’d have to go look on YouTube, or look on fan sites, or look on [Oasis Recording Info] and say, “Look, we know something exists.” We’d end up contacting MTV or whoever – who were very lovely and helpful – but they’d [generally] say, “Look, we just don’t have the footage.” We ended up having to track someone down to say, “By the way, we’re going to give you a lot of money for footage that you don’t have.” [Laughs] “And then we’re going to try and see if we can source it from somewhere else.” So, yeah, that was frustrating.

But it’s just – Liam said (and I don’t know if this is true or not), but he said, “I don’t think anyone had faith in us in the early days, so why would you film us?” And the other thing was that they were quite suspicious of outsiders. There was a lot of dodgy-ness going on behind the scenes, a lot of drugs being enjoyed. So I think you don’t like people coming in and waving cameras around unless they’re part of your team. Which is why it’s only people like their press officer Johnny Hopkins, the photographer Jill Furmanovsky, and [Creation Records’] Tim Abbot who were allowed in. I mean if you turned up and it was, like, Granada TV, they’d throw you out on your ear.

Tom: We’d seen little clips of Oasis rehearsing in the Boardwalk before, so it was great to see more of that footage in Supersonic. Where did that video come from? Who shot it, and is there much more left?
Mat: It was shot by a guy called Bobby Langley – I think he was a film student at the time but he’s now quite a big guy in the music industry. He does a lot of different merchandising for various artists. And he basically turned up at the Boardwalk and filmed them for a little bit, [possibly] for a student project. I believe he filmed three songs. One where there’s no sound, so that wasn’t particularly useful to us. And he filmed All Around the World, which was amazing and bizarre because obviously it’s a song off the third album [1997’s Be Here Now] so you just go, “Hang on, so this is before they were signed. How is that even possible?!” And then they did I am the Walrus. Then there’s a bit of banter and stuff.

But my initial instinct was that this was great. We could use I am the Walrus and explain the Beatles influence, and you’ve got the Beatles poster on the wall of the rehearsal room. And we did something similar in the King Tuts sequence, because they played [I am the Walrus] as their last song, as they normally did. So that was all set up and it was great. And I remember the music supervisor coming in at one point and going, “Are you thinking of using Beatles music in this then?” And I was like, “Yeah that’d be great. I don’t know how expensive it is, but it’s really important for us and I’d like to push for it.” And he said, “To put it into context, you could have either that one [Beatles] song, or you can have the entire Oasis back-catalogue. Whichever’s more important to you.” [Laughs]. But yeah, it’s gonna be quite repetitive. So I was like, “Oh fuck, let’s take that out.” So that was a no go.

And then for All Around the World we had a little section with [live sound engineer] Mark Coyle and Bonehead talking about how bizarre and incredible Noel’s self-belief was; he could come into this tiny, dingy little basement and be rehearsing a track that he had no intention of revealing to the world for another three or four years! I mean it’s just ridiculous, you know. The level of ambition… Mark Coyle was saying it’s like on the level of Mussolini or something [Laughs]. Like, you have this game plan and it’s into the decades. Because Bonehead was winding him up and saying, “Hang on. You’re kidding me – you’re saving this for the third album because you want strings on it?! But we don’t have a manager, we don’t have a label, we don’t even have a demo, and you’re saving this for the third album. You’re fucking crazy!” [Laughs]. But he was right, he was right.

Tom: One of the great things about the film is that all of the talking heads are relevant; they all add something to it, and they were all there at the time. There’s no celebrities shoe-horned in or anything like that.
Mat: Oh right, thank you. Yeah I think that was important to us. We talked about who we could interview and we didn’t want it to be like “I Love the 1990s” or something like that, with a bunch of randoms thrown in for good measure. We kept on saying it has to be from the point-of-view of the tour bus, from the band’s POV. On the other hand they obviously bumped into a lot of famous people along the way.

The There and Then interviews

Tom: Let’s talk about some of the people who aren’t in the film – I know with Guigsy you got close. Alan White’s not there, and temporary bassist Scott McLeod is featured but not interviewed [2]; were there people you wanted but couldn’t get?
Mat: Well all three of them, definitely. Guigs was really important to me, obviously. Because it was his band, it was his idea to start a band – he’s very funny about that, and Bonehead’s very funny about that. This was another sequence we did have in the film very briefly, but we didn’t have any footage to try and relate that part of the story.

So Guigs was suffering from some kind of injuries (he’d always seen himself as some kind of sportsman, as I’m sure a lot of fans know) and he was in the pub one night, commiserating with someone over a beer. And he saw this nutter trying to order beers in German, while doing Nazi salutes at the barmaid; he was like, “This guy’s interesting” and [his friend] said “Oh that’s Bonehead. He’s just this amazing musician – he can get a musical note out of anything; give him a radiator and he’ll play you a symphony.” So they collared him and Guigs had this moment, like, “I wanna be in a band – I want you to be in my band.” And Bonehead said: “Great! What can you play?” Guigs was like: “Nothing. You’re gonna teach me!” Haha. All this kind of stuff. There were some really lovely things that he told me but it just… I thought we got pretty close, but in the end he said he didn’t really want to be part of it. Which is fair enough.

And with the other two… we couldn’t track Scott [McLeod] down. We really tried hard but maybe he doesn’t want us to know where he is. But we all really wanted him to be part of the film. Same thing with Alan White. We talked to him for a while and really wanted him to come in, watch the film, and be part of it. But he didn’t want to. And that’s fair enough – people have got their lives, y’know? You can’t force someone to be part of something they don’t wanna be part of.

Tom: You interviewed Johnny Marr…
Mat: Johnny Marr was amazing because he gave us three hours of his time and he was fantastic; one of the best interviews that we did. And he’s not in it! [Laughs]. And it’s kinda nuts, but he was so generous in terms of turning up. Noel had asked him as a favour, so he came in. It really was about those early days when he took Noel under his wing to an extent, showing him the ropes as much as he needed, and he lent him his guitar and all this equipment. And it was really lovely, and it kinda worked, and he introduced him to Marcus [Russell] the manager. So all those things seemed to make a lot of sense. But [that sequence] took up a lot of screen time, and you don’t see anyone because there’s no footage that exists of it. So that was tricky.

And it all comes to a head with the Newcastle gig, which is amazing. We turned it into a set-piece, because it was one of the first things we cut, and I was like: “Well if nothing else survives, this is gonna be in the final film.” Because it’s great, and the fans had sent in some great photos – so we started to try and animate it. And Jo Whiley was there for the Evening Session

Tom: Yes, you’ve got the audio…
Mat: Yes, so it was really looking great and it felt immediate. But it comes straight after Amsterdam, so in some ways we’ve [already] seen something similar.[3] And it felt like we just didn’t have enough time. That was heartbreaking to pull out, and there were a few moments like that which we cut quite near to the end, when we were trying to get this beast down from eight hours, to five hours, to three hours, down to two hours. And it came out – it was one of the few bits you could take out without massively affecting the rest of the film. And we did feel that we’d covered that area recently.

Tom: Yeah, I wonder how much of this was influenced by other things? Because there’s Dick Carruthers’ (2004) film from the tenth anniversary of Definitely Maybe, there’s Live Forever (dir. John Dower, 2003) as well, which had been over some of the same ground. Did you want to do it differently? Obviously there are some things you can’t leave out, but were you aware of all of that?
Mat: Yeah, definitely. I’d seen all those films before I even knew we were making Supersonic. And they were always in the back of my mind. So when it came to, for example, the Newcastle gig, I don’t really think that had been covered in [Dick Carruthers’ film]. This guy attacked Noel whilst he was on stage, and Noel retaliated by cracking him round the head with his guitar. That guitar (a priceless Les Paul) had been given to him by Johnny Marr, and it’d been given to Johnny by [the Who’s] Pete Townsend. That was a symbolic moment, this whole “passing the baton of this guitar down the generations.”[4] So that was a great scene. Similarly, with [Dick Carruthers’] Definitely Maybe film there was a lot of recording information that’s fascinating in there, but I felt that Oasis fans already know all this, so why are we repeating it when every single frame in this two hours is precious?

Tom: Yeah.
Mat: And similarly with Live Forever I think the obvious thing that we missed is the Oasis/Blur rivalry, which was a great 15-minute section of the film. And my instinct was that every time we had an anecdote, a moment, or story, it couldn’t just be in the film because it’s a good sequence; it had to tell the story of how they rose so quickly. And it’s the same with the songs. At one point we didn’t even have Wonderwall or Don’t Look Back in Anger there. Which is nuts! [Laughs] Kinda like suicidal, but at that point it was like they didn’t seem to fit anywhere, as great as those songs are. The producers were pulling their hair out saying, “You can’t leave out two of Oasis’s most famous songs.” But it was like, they didn’t seem to ‘live’ in this particular film. And, with the Oasis/Blur thing… my first concern was that it had already been covered very well in Live Forever and Upside Down (dir. Danny O’Connor, 2010), the documentary about Creation Records.

Tom: Yes.
Mat: And so I was saying, “What can we bring to it that seems to be unique to our film?” And when [Creation Records founder] Alan McGee came in and did interviews with us, he was great because I hadn’t heard him talk quite this way about that episode before. He went into a lot of detail about some of the things it’d been partly about, including this girl that Liam and Damon had been squabbling over. But, aside from that, in terms of our story it was more to do with how it contributed to the rise of Oasis. And the metaphor Alan used was, “Look, if you’re the heavyweight champion of the world, you never invite the newcomer in.” Because even if he loses he’s won, because he’s now at your level and people know him.

And that’s what Alan was equating the two bands with. He was saying, look, Blur were a much more experienced and better-known band. If you invite Oasis into the ring, put them on News at Ten, and then put them on the front cover of all these magazines, even if you wipe the floor with them, they’re now at your level. And people mention them in the same breath. That kind of thing was explained when the two albums came out [The Great Escape and Morning Glory]. One wasn’t the greatest Blur album in the world and the other was the greatest Oasis album, arguably. And so it was like suddenly Oasis swept the floor with everyone else. It was really good. It was a lovely sequence and obviously the banter’s really great, and Liam’s slagging off Blur and talking about “chimney sweep music”, Chas ’n’ Dave; it was very, very funny. But it’s pretty familiar to a lot of people, even people who aren’t super fans. At the end we just took it out and you kinda felt like you didn’t miss it.

Tom: There’s a really awkward bit in Live Forever where Damon just won’t talk about it, that the real reason they fell out so publicly is because there are other people involved. And there’s a long awkward silence.
Mat: I remember.

Tom: Is that story still to be told? That still hasn’t been gone into has it?
Mat: I suppose so, I suppose so. Well, the way that Alan described it to us (and I think it might be in one of the books, I think Noel mentioned it as well)… was that when Some Might Say went to No. 1, Alan was friends with Damon and they had a party upstairs at a place called The Mars Bar, in Covent Garden.

Alan was friends with Damon and said, “Oh you should come up.” So Alan asked Noel, “Is this alright?” and he said “Yeah, it’s fine.” So him and Alex James came up, and I think Liam was in their face immediately [saying] “We’re number one and you’re not.” And so Damon was kinda put out about that. And there was some girl who was there, and I think they both cracked onto and Damon took her home or something and… I dunno what it was! [Laughs] Whatever it was, it became like a public spat and Liam was saying stuff about Damon’s girlfriend. I don’t know what else was going on, but it was quite convoluted.

Tom: There’s a lot of psycho-drama going on at the time, wasn’t there?
Mat: Yeah! It was interesting, but it would’ve taken up a lot of screen time for something that was not that unique to us. I just felt… I mean, I still regret it.

Tom: It was nice to see [original drummer] Tony McCarroll in it, and I thought he came out of it really well actually.
Mat: Oh good.

Tom: Considering the bad blood, he came out of it with some honour and some dignity.
Mat: He’s a very sweet man. We invited him along to the Manchester premiere and he spent a bit of time talking to Liam and Bonehead… I think it was nice [because] they hadn’t seen each other for a very long time.

Tom: Not since the courtroom!
Mat: Not since the courtroom! [Laughs] I think they might’ve bumped into each other in an awkward moment in the pub once or twice. But it’s a fascinating thing with him because he came in and basically just trusted us. I mean, he had no reason to; he came in, told his side of the story, and allowed us to do what we wanted. I mean if we’d wanted to stitch him up obviously we could.

But I wish we had a longer version of the film, because other people’s attitude towards him and the way he played is much more nuanced in the longer cut. Alan McGee, [record producer] Owen Morris, Mark Coyle all said, “Look, maybe Noel’s right and maybe Tony didn’t have it in him to play the second album.” But there was more to it than that. There was also his character, and all of them to a man said, “Look, he was the perfect drummer for Definitely Maybe.” He made that album in a lot of ways.

Because that garage band, punk aesthetic – the sheer power from him; you can see him in those early gigs, he’s sweating, really going for it. Playing like his life depended on it. And he’s a very sweet guy, but I think there was clearly also a clash of character. And, at the end of the day, you can’t survive in it; a band’s a very tight-knit thing, a pressure-cooker environment and Noel didn’t want him there. But it’s interesting when you talk to them about it – Mark Coyle [said] they should never have got rid of him. At the end of the day, no matter what anyone says, that was a turning point and it was never the same after that. It wasn’t the same. But, again, that was another whole sequence in the film!

Tom: Did you speak to the Real People?
Mat: No we didn’t. We’d booked in a session with them, and I’d cut together a sequence that was about fifteen minutes long. Because the importance of them can’t be overstressed – [both] Noel and Liam said that the Real People were a big part of it.[5] So we booked the session and it was the same as the Johnny Depp thing. It was like – “D’you know what? I just don’t wanna waste their time.” Because we got a point where…

Tom: The story was too long.
Mat: Well yeah. We were running at eight hours and I was just like… I feel terrible. We’re gonna go all the way up [to Liverpool] to interview them for the afternoon, and I already know it’s not going to be in the film. And I felt, quite keenly, that we’d really done them a disservice. On the other hand it’s just impossible to squeeze everything in. And it was a really important part [of the story] – what they did in terms of forming the sound of that band, and influencing them. It was obviously a huge thing. It has been dealt with a bit in [Dick Carruthers’] Definitely Maybe film. But I loved it. And also the other thing is that I kept on saying, “Come on, you guys must have some video footage. You had some crazy times…”

Tom: Yeah.
Mat: And they’ve got nothing. They didn’t even have a single photo of any of those guys together. And the first photo that the Real People seem to have of themselves is from about eight years ago. So I was just like, “We’re gonna have a completely out-of-date still holding over a fifteen-minute sequence. It’s not really gonna work.”

Tom: There are some great outtakes from the Live Forever and Wonderwall videos – were they from 16mm film?
Mat: (Laughs) They should have been!

Tom: From Sony America…?
Mat: Oh mate… Sony… I don’t know what happened in the ’90s with Sony but I think it might have been run by crack addicts because basically… it’s like: “The computer says no.” They were very lovely, the bosses that we spoke to were great, then you’d speak to the guy in the archive and he was like: “Oasis who?” It got to the point where it was like – “I’ve got all these canisters; what do you want me to do?” And I said, “We’ll fly someone over there and he can just go through it.” And he was like, “No, you can’t do that” and I was like, “Well look, could you open one of the canisters and just hold the film up to the light and then you can tell us?” and he was like “No. I’m not doing that”. So there were all these canisters just lying there. They seem to have lost all the rushes and even the print of Wonderwall for example, which is just mind-boggling. But some stuff seems to remain. We had the Cigarettes and Alcohol rushes. The director Mark Szaszy had kept a lot of stuff on U-matic (a semi-professional video cassette format) so, bless him, he shared that with us. There were a few things like that.

Tom: There’s quite a bit of the rooftop promo for Supersonic – someone obviously had outtakes from that.
Mat: Yes, that was Mark. So Mark shared that with us and that was great. As a rehearsal for that, as a kind of research thing, he’d also filmed the Water Rats gig and interviewed the band.[6] So we used some of that. But, yeah, the footage that exists seems to have survived just by chance for the most part. It wasn’t like we found some really great stuff that didn’t find a place in the film. The stuff that’s in there, rushes wise, I mean… I’d happily sit through the Cigarettes and Alcohol rushes all day because they’re beautiful. But there was only so much you could put in there without over-balancing the film.

Tom: So when you saw Tim Abbot’s videotapes, that must’ve been a moment. Because, as a friend of the band, he’d shot so much footage that hadn’t been used before. I guess the band’s involvement in Supersonic gave you a bit of authority – and if not now, then when were these tapes gonna turn up? You must have had hours of material to sift through.
Mat: Yeah, Tim shot a lot of good stuff and he was always in the right place at the right time. And it’s difficult because that wasn’t actually his job. So he’d come in and you’d get the classic thing where everyone’s just saying, “Ah come on, leave it out. Turn it off.”

Tom: Yeah.
Mat: And often there’s the classic thing of someone who’s still discovering the equipment filming six hours of their feet and then switching off as soon as someone’s about to say something interesting. That has happened to a lot of us, I guess, through the years. But he was great. He’d given Noel a kind of “Greatest Hits” selection of all his favourite bits, and so Noel gave that to us and said, “Have a chat with Tim and see what he says.”

And I think, understandably, he’s sat on that footage for a very long time.[7] So it had to be the right kind of project, and the right deal. But it was good – he never said that we couldn’t have it [but] there were a couple of moments where we were like, “Ah, I hope he doesn’t change his mind or we’re really stuck!” [Laughs]. There was stuff in there that was absolutely invaluable, which we couldn’t make the film without for sure.

Tom: And you had sound engineer Mark Coyle’s archive as well, which included that Liam vocal of Sad Song that everyone was amazed to hear.[8] And again you must have heard so much stuff… is there scope for another box set? Is there loads of exciting stuff?
Mat: Yeah I hope so, I hope so. I mean it’s not that… because Noel has kind of teased us with this idea that I remember reading in an interview about a year ago where he said: “Oh god, there’s a whole bunch of other songs that no-one’s ever heard.” And when I started asking him about them in one of the interviews he was quite dismissive, and said “Oh, they’re rubbish.” I was like, “Well, can we listen to them at least?” And Mark [Coyle] gave us a few in dribs and drabs. From my point of view, again, because of screen time I felt that we can’t spend too much time on old undiscovered songs because then we have to take out Champagne Supernova or something; it just doesn’t really work. But we could at least have a sense of them. And particularly what I wanted to try and get was any recordings of their conversations in the recording studio where you get a sense of the presence, the clutter, and people speaking through the mics and stuff. A lot of which Mark has got. He’s got some very funny stuff. On Definitely Maybe, I dunno what they were taking at the time but it’s basically everyone speaking in Rasta accents for an unbelievably long time! Hah.

Mark Coyle is amazing because not only is he a superhumanly intelligent, very funny, very psychedelic dude… he is [also] an interviewer’s dream. Because he’s like the band historian effectively, because he’d read every single rock biography before Oasis even existed. Then he was there for the Inspirals with Noel, so he’d seen it from before the beginning. And they both have that ability to step outside themselves, and understand the significance of each moment.

So I’d talk about things and the great thing about Mark is that – whatever you ask him – he so in-tune to what that story was that he’ll just go, “That was the turning point! After that, everything changed.” It was brilliant because we could pretty much apply it to anything. [Laughs]. You’d just say to him, “Right, tell me about that time Noel got left behind at a service station because someone was drunk or something…” and he’d go: “Ah, that was it!”, and all of a sudden talk about it for half an hour. “After that day, everything changed.” Ah, I love you Mark – you’re a dream! Haha.

Tom: There’s the edit point!
Mat: Exactly! Done. This edits itself.

Tom: Right!
Mat: He’s also got loads of tapes from his side-project with Noel, which is this kind of dance music.[9] He’s got a lot of that stuff which is really cool. There’s a lot of this weird feedback-y stuff that they used to play around with, which is very like a film score. We used some of that. There’s tons of stuff, and he would just go looking… saying, “Look, I don’t know if this is of any interest to you, but here’s a version of the first time Noel ever played Don’t Look Back in Anger.” Whatever these kind of things were, they would just suddenly come out. So there’s tons of stuff that would be fascinating to fans, for sure.[10]

Tom: What were the dance music tapes like? Because acid house was such a big thing, wasn’t it?
Mat: Yeah, it was kind of bizarre. Some of it is like weird jamming, maybe a bit like Fuckin’ in the Bushes and things like that. And there’s other stuff which is more house music-y, but it’s bizarre; it’s filtered through Mark Coyle’s psychedelic consciousness… I’d listen to it all day. There’s some stuff which is quite menacing and odd – we used that at points in the background at Knebworth, so you get this kind of rumble in the sub-bass. But yeah. I think fans would listen to this for the rest of their lives, those crazy fans would happily sit through a ten-hour cut of the film as well.

Tom: And of course there’s that fantastic 35mm footage from the D’you Know What I Mean? video, which was all scanned in high-definition and re-edited.[11] But no use to you because it’s outside the scope of your film…
Mat: Well we did have it in our film at one point because Noel – and again it was another section that I miss….

Tom: Were you looking at when Noel went to [the Caribbean island] Mustique, to record the demos for Be Here Now? [12]
Mat: The Mustique thing yeah. Again we didn’t have very much footage – we had a few pap shots, but we’d cobbled together something that we thought was quite clever. And we had Johnny Depp lined up, because obviously Noel had been staying with him. Noel was at his most introspective and vulnerable when he was talking about that stuff because he was saying: “Look, that was the one moment where I really froze and I just couldn’t produce the goods for the first time in my life. And it was one of those moments where the spotlight was on me and I was being told not only the fans but also the band, the shareholders, and the whole future of Sony, Creation, and everything else was all riding on me strumming a guitar, sitting in Mick Jagger’s house in Mustique…”

Noel said that for the first time ever the songs weren’t flowing out, and he was avoiding doing it. He didn’t know what to do. We had this whole section where we had the rushes from D’You Know What I Mean?, and we had the Mustique demos, which were part of the film at one point. It was a really lovely sequence but we didn’t have that much footage, so we were having to find interesting ways around it.

We’d lined up Johnny, and Johnny very generously said he was going to be part of the film and then, again, it was just too much of a good thing and we couldn’t find a way into it. But I loved the way that Noel talked about it because obviously, as usual, he was very amusing about it. He was saying at the first session, “What I should’ve done…”, his only regret was that if he’d saved all those B-sides, that could have been the third album. “Imagine the size of that band then, how big we would have been – I certainly wouldn’t be talking to you, I’d have been talking to Martin Scorsese right now.” Which I’m sure is true!

Having said that, he kind of immediately contradicted himself. Because, in a way, the making of the band was also the B-sides. The fact that they could suddenly open with Acquiesce and finish with the Masterplan at a gig – that’s almost unheard of. That’s Beatles territory, where your B-sides are as good as, or better than, the A-sides and you don’t want to short-change your fans. The ’90s were the era where you put out a naff dance remix and sold two CDs with different artwork on the front because you wanted to rinse the fans for everything. And that wasn’t Noel or the band’s ethos, but it did mean they used up a lot of great tunes on each single. Tunes which could easily have been the third and fourth album I guess.

Tom: Knebworth looks fantastic in high definition and I know that an official release has been mooted for a few years now. Presumably it was important to the film that you were able to use that footage first.
Mat: Yeah, no-one even mentioned it to us to be honest. I hope they do release it because the footage is beautiful. Dick [Carruthers] shot that and he did a beautiful job. For me it’s interesting though because they shot it on a silly amount of cameras. At that stage everyone finally got the picture and everyone knew we’ve got to commemorate this; it’s a big deal. They had three cranes I think, and I can’t remember how many cameras.[13] But weirdly (and I guess it’s partly my prejudice) but we ended up using mostly super 8mm footage.

I think they had a couple of guys wandering around with super 8 cameras and the footage is so dreamlike, and abstract, and beautiful that it just seemed to take the edge off the harshness of video. Even though we spent most of the previous two hours watching video, there was something about what we were trying to say about Knebworth that suited film.

I’ve encountered a similar thing on music videos – there’s a band I’m touring with at the moment and it’s one of those things where you end up thinking: “As great as these other cameras are, there’s something about film which is gorgeous.” There’s tons and tons of stuff which [Oasis] should definitely release because it’s beautiful, and it’s a great gig, and they’ve got two nights of it. So I hope that happens at some point.

Tom: You mentioned elsewhere that Knebworth wasn’t originally the end of the film…
Mat: There was originally a whole coda about the next trip to the States, which was so disastrous. And the whole thing of going on stage at the MTV awards and spitting in front of the audience, and that being – in some ways – the final nail in the coffin. And then the beginnings of Be Here Now. But it was another twenty-minute sequence and it just didn’t seem to fit. We couldn’t squeeze it in.

Tom: It would’ve changed the tone as well, wouldn’t it? Because it’s less triumphant from that point on, it gets a lot more sour. And you do end with the sort of ‘heroes winning the battle’; they come out of it a bit more self-aware and you know that their world is never going to be the same again, but it’s still a moment of triumph isn’t it?
Mat: Yeah, I think so. What I loved about it was that after I’d made all these plans about starting and ending with Knebworth, we were then struggling in the edit because we hadn’t got to that point in the interviews. And we were like, “What if no-one has anything to say about Knebworth?” Other than it was a big gig and it went quite well. Is there anything more to say about that? It’s not the ending of a film; it’s certainly not the beginning and ending of a film about this band.

But actually, interestingly enough, completely unprompted Noel – and particularly Bonehead – started talking about it in very bittersweet terms, saying “That was the beginning of the end, that was when the rot set in… that’s when we became this machine, this brand. And we lost that punk spirit.” And then that, to me, made sense because you could have something that’s a huge celebration but with this slightly darker undertone to it. It doesn’t feel like it’s an empty big gig. And you’re right – adding anything to the end of that feels like we’ve made the point. What are we going to learn from another fight in America? That the brothers didn’t get on. Well, we’ve dealt with that exhaustively. Are we gonna have another moment where Noel leaves the band in America? Well, we’ve kinda done that as well. So there’s a few things like that which just didn’t quite seem to sit in the same film.

Tom: Were there other music documentaries that you liked and which informed your style? I was reminded of Julien Temple’s film about the Sex Pistols (The Filth and the Fury) I guess partly because of the voice-over but also the collage feel.
Mat: Well I guess those films are part of your DNA without you realising. We didn’t really watch anything – partly because we didn’t have the time, and partly because there’s always a bit of me that worries that we’ll then end up ripping them off deliberately. At least this way you encounter problems and you try and solve them on your own. But probably your subconscious is telling you how to deal with them anyway. It wasn’t a deliberate thing and obviously we used a similar technique with the audio interviews to the way that Asif [Kapadia] did with Amy (2015) and Senna (2010)…

Tom: There’s a house style there isn’t there…
Mat: Yeah but it wasn’t intentional. I mean obviously I love those films but it wasn’t anything that anyone asked us to do. That came, again, from what we were saying about Noel not wanting to appear in the film. I was like, “Well that makes sense, and this is the only way to do it.” Some of my favourite band documentaries… there are so many but probably my all-time favourite is Don’t Look Back (dir. D. A. Pennebaker, 1965). It has a much more fragmented style; obviously it’s in the moment, it’s being filmed. But I love the staccato editing style of that. We did quite a bit of that ourselves but it didn’t seem to suit [Supersonic], weirdly. There’s a million great documentaries, or the same ones that everyone else loves, but it wasn’t like we sat down and did a little masterclass so that we could remember how to do it.

I think each band deserves a different style. It was interesting talking to Asif about it – he was doing his own stuff, but a couple of times I met him over coffee and we had a chat. He was saying that the one thing he discovered with that technique was – and it seems obvious, I guess – but if someone’s saying something important then don’t have anything too interesting on-screen. And vice versa: if you’re watching something crucial, then don’t have anyone jabbering over the top. But, actually, once we were playing around with it we discovered that Amy is a jazz film with a jazz mood to it and quite a slow pace, deliberately. And it’s a tragedy, whereas ours is a punk rock film – so if we slowed it down too much we lost a lot of energy; whereas we ended up speeding it up. I think audiences are hungry enough and sophisticated enough to assimilate a lot of information simultaneously, and also it rewards repeat viewings. I’m sure Oasis fans will watch it a few times and get something else out of it each time.

Tom: The music sets the tone doesn’t it? Your film is a big statement over huge crowd shots and people being attacked with cricket bats and hammers. It’s quite physical isn’t it?
Mat: Yeah it’s different, and that’s the thing. How do you make something that has a very varied tone? Because they’re very funny but they’re dealing with a very deep subject, and at times they’re dealing with heavy stuff. They have that ability in an interview to flip between the tragic and the serious and the comic within seconds, without blinking… so I kind of felt like you get away with it because that’s how they are. Even tough stuff they can laugh it off. And in a way that’s more revealing than if they were bursting into tears every five seconds [whilst] talking about how difficult life is.

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Mat Whitecross was interviewed by Tom Stroud on 26th October 2016. Check out Part 1 here. In Part 3 Mat talks in-depth about Supersonic’s final cut and Oasis’s legacy. Online presentation and footnotes by David Huggins. Supersonic is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download from iTunes

 

Notes

Missing, Believed Wiped
1. (Back to article) By the mid-1990s many television companies were starting to appreciate the commercial value of the programmes in their archives, but policies were slow to change. Satellite TV channels such as UK Gold (devoted to repeats of vintage programmes) and the flourishing home video market all proved there was a healthy audience for classic television.

In some cases this inspired broadcasters to search for copies of programmes that they had wiped decades before. A classic example of this is Doctor Who; the BBC junked many episodes of the sci-fi series in the ’60s, when the cost of keeping the tapes outweighed any perceived commercial benefit (in terms of overseas sales or domestic repeats). In the years since, many of the series’ lost episodes have been recovered and released on VHS and DVD. For a detailed account of the whole “missing episodes” saga (with Doctor Who as the case study) I would recommend Richard Molesworth’s definitive tome Wiped! (Telos, 2013). Dick Fiddy’s Missing Believed Wiped (BFI, 2001) is another excellent resource.

But whilst the BBC had started to greatly improve its archive, many other broadcasters and independent production companies did not invest so heavily in retaining their output. Director Mat Whitecross acknowledges that the gaps in MTV’s 1990s archive initially proved problematic when sourcing Oasis footage for Supersonic. And it was recently discovered that (in 2010) Disney wiped the master tapes of ITV’s Motormouth, which included many performances by iconic bands of the ’90s, such as the Manic Street Preachers playing Love’s Sweet Exile in 1991; this now only exists as an off-air videotape. Such home recordings may now be the best chance of saving many lost music programmes from the ’60s right through to the ’90s. Visitors to this site may be especially interested in the hunt for Oasis’s lost appearance on the 1992 Blackpool Roadshow. Researcher James McDonald picks up the story in a fascinating article for the Archive Zones journal.

Goodbye, I’m going home: the Scott McLeod saga
2. (Back to article) In September 1995 bassist Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan quit Oasis, exhausted by the rigours of the band’s constant touring. But the show had to go on and Oasis quickly recruited former Ya Ya’s guitarist Scott McLeod as his replacement. Scott had previously supported Oasis whilst with the Ya Ya’s, and was full of enthusiasm for his new job. He explained to the Melody Maker that: “I’m just really excited. I’ve just joined the greatest band in the world as far as I’m concerned. They’ve got a fantastic songwriter with Noel.” He added that: “It’s a giant step for me […] obviously I’m a bit nervous about it, but it’s not as if I haven’t played in front of people before. It’s just… well, not 20,000!”

After appearing in Nigel Dick’s promotional film for Wonderwall, Scott joined Oasis for a brief, ill-fated tour in the USA. Oasis’s second album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? had sold 250,000 copies in its first week on sale in the States, and the band were keen to capitalise on its success by crossing the Atlantic to play a short series of promotional gigs. All seemed well, but after only a handful of concerts Scott suddenly decided (on 17th October 1995) to leave the band. Noel and Liam were incredulous, and Creation Records issued a statement two days later: “He gave no apparent reason for leaving, other than he was unhappy and didn’t feel he fitted in. No amount amount of persuasion from the band’s tour manager or manager could persuade him to stay – he refused to discuss the matter with any band members.” (Melody Maker, 28.10.95).

In crisis, Oasis cancelled their outstanding dates in Buffalo, Toronto, Detroit and Chicago. They were only able to fulfil their TV appearance on CBS’s David Letterman Show (broadcast 19th October 1995) by playing as a four-piece, with Bonehead on bass. Introduced by Letterman as “The most popular rock ’n’ roll band in England today”, they blasted through a ferocious version of the title track from (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? to a rapturous response from the audience. Noel later received a phone call from Scott, who explained: “I think I’ve made the wrong decision.” Noel retorted: “I think you have too. Good luck signing on.” (BBC News: Traumas follow Oasis tours).

Once back in the UK, Oasis started searching for yet another new bass player; the clock was ticking, as they had huge gigs lined up at London Earl’s Court on 4th and 5th November 1995. At the last minute, however, Guigsy announced that he was well enough to rejoin the band. Speaking to writer Paolo Hewitt after the gigs, Noel joked about his bassist’s reasons for returning: “The fact that I threatened to sack him if he didn’t might have had something to do with it… he seemed to perk up quite dramatically after that.” (There and Then).

Amsterdamage
3. (Back to article) The punch-up on the ferry to Amsterdam drew much press coverage at the time, helping to build up Oasis’s wild image. Perhaps the best-remembered piece on this was by the journalist John Harris, who interviewed Noel and Liam (for an article entitled “The Bruise Brothers”) published in the NME on 23rd April 1994. Harris summarised Noel and Liam’s disagreement over the event in his Britpop memoir The Last Party: “Liam celebrated his role as an uncontrollable libertine; Noel, taking issue with his brother’s pride in Oasis’s high jinx, insisted that attention be paid to nothing but the music” (Harris, p. 146). The tape recording of this interview was later edited and released in 1995 by Fierce Panda records as a CD single entitled Wibbling Rivalry, attributed to “Oas*s.” It became the highest-charting interview release in the UK, having reached number 52 on 25th November 1995.

Noel strikes back in Newcastle
4. (Back to article) Johnny Marr recalls lending his priceless 1960 Les Paul guitar to Noel in this hilarious interview he gave to Channel Bee in 2009. “Taketh thy Les Paul and lay down some heavy licks…”

The Real People
5. (Back to article) The Real People (better known as the Realies to their devoted fans) are a five-piece rock ’n’ roll band from Liverpool, who formed in 1988. The band, led by the brothers Tony and Chris Griffiths, blended a melodic Merseybeat-inflenced sound with echoes of the infectious ‘baggy’ groove popularised by bands such as the Inspiral Carpets and the Stone Roses. They signed to CBS in 1989. However, when CBS was taken over by Sony, personnel changes at the label meant they lost much of their managerial support. Despite this, their single Believer charted at no. 38. Shortly after this the Realies set off on tour supporting the Inspiral Carpets, where they got to know Noel and Mark Coyle (who were then working as roadies for the band).

After being sacked by the Inspirals, Noel invited Tony and Chris to see Oasis play the Boardwalk in January ’93. The Real People loved two of their songs (Rock ’n’ Roll Star and Bring it on Down) and asked their manager John Bryce to sort out some studio time for the band. When this fell through the Real People invited Oasis along to their 8-track studio in Liverpool to record a set of demos for songs that eventually appeared on the band’s debut album, Definitely Maybe. You can read more about the demo sessions in an interview Tony and Chris gave to Oasis Recording Info in 2012.

Tony Griffiths later recalled that: “At the time [The Real People] were quite experienced because we’d been going a few years and had a record deal. It was totally agreed by all of us that…there was something there [with Oasis], but there was something there mainly because of Liam as a front man and the songs were good, but it was very rough around the edges. And that was the whole idea… if we took them in the studio and helped produce some demos for them we could sort of take them to the next level. And that’s basically what happened.” (Griffiths, quoted in The Gallaghers’ Millions, BBC3)

Amongst the songs Oasis recorded with the Real People was Columbia, a droning guitar instrumental that the band had played live at some of their recent gigs. Lyrics were written for the track during the recording session, and in October 1993 the track was remixed at Out of the Blue Studios in Manchester, ready for release as a promotional “white label” 12-inch. A few months later it had caught the interest of BBC Radio 1; Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq premiered it on 6th December 1993 on the station’s popular Evening Session. Later that month, the Real People attended Oasis’s recording session at the Pink Museum. Oasis were scheduled to record B-sides for their first single (Bring it on Down), but the session seemed to be going nowhere:

“They only had two songs, one which was an acoustic song and one which had a really dated Manchester indie sound, a really crap song it was. I couldn’t really believe they were recording these songs. But they were saying “they’re only B-sides”, so I had to point out that there’s no such thing any more as only B-sides. When you put on a CD you don’t have to physically turn the thing over, the songs just come on, so “B-sides” are very important. I told them the songs they were doing were a load of crap and said to Noel: “What was that thing you were jamming before? The one that sounded a bit like Neil Young?” And he said, “That one’s not finished.” I said, “Look, you’re paying £300 a day here to record a pile of shite you’re not going to be happy with, why don’t you do something really worthwhile, write a song, make a song out of it.” And that’s basically where Supersonic came from.” (Griffiths, quoted in Oasis by Lee Henshaw, pp. 29-30).

As the song took shape, Noel worked in lyrics inspired by the scene around him: Elsa was a flatulent Rottweiler owned by the recording engineer Dave Scott; and the Real People’s BMW was parked outside the studio. The song was completed with the addition of backing vocals by the Realies’ Tony Griffiths. Supersonic had been recorded and mixed within just eight hours: an instant classic that became Oasis’s debut single and a staple of their gigs for years to come. You can reading more about the recording session in an interview that studio engineer Dave Scott gave to Oasis Recording Info in 2012.

Desert Brats
6. (Back to article) Clips from Mark Szaszy’s footage of Oasis’s 27th January 1994 gig at the Water Rats have also been used in a handful of other documentaries. A clip of the band playing Bring it on Down (re-dubbed with the album audio) appeared in the There and Then concert video released in 1996. And Dick Carruthers’ 2004 documentary There We Were, Now Here We Are: The Making of Oasis featured shots of the band backstage and at the bar. These clips are unique to the edit broadcast by Channel 4; the version of Carruthers’ documentary included on the 10th anniversary DVD of Definitely Maybe was re-edited from scratch, and dropped Szaszy’s backstage video in favour of other rare footage. Clips from the backstage video also appeared in a trailer published by Oasis’s official YouTube channel on 26th February 2014, to promote the 20th anniversary reissue of Definitely Maybe.

The Tim Abbot tapes
7. (Back to article) In 1996 Creation Records’ marketing consultant Tim Abbot published his book oasis.definitely, which included many frame grabs from his video footage of Oasis’s early days. Abbot’s video archive remained a largely untapped source until 2010, when director Danny O’Connor used a brief clip from it (minus the original audio) in his documentary film Upside Down: the Creation Records Story. His film uses two very short clips from Abbot’s video, showing Noel Gallagher and Owen Morris at the mixing desk in Rockfield Studios. O’Connor uses this fragment to illustrate Noel’s anecdote about mixing Rock ’n’ Roll Star. Mat Whitecross’s documentary Supersonic (2016) is, of course, the first film to make extensive use of Abbot’s footage, including a unique sequence of Liam recording his vocals for Champagne Supernova in one take.

Liam’s Sad Song
8. (Back to article) Fans were delighted to hear this Liam-sung version of Sad Song in Supersonic, and the mystery over its origins has sparked much online debate. It’d previously been thought that Noel wrote this song pretty much ‘on demand’, to fill the gap created by cutting the vinyl edition of Definitely Maybe over two discs rather than one.

Noel: ’When we cut the vinyl version of this album on a single disc, the grooves were so close together that it was really quiet. So we went back to the record company and said, “We can’t put the vinyl out like this”, and the way round it was to do a double album. But that meant we were a song short, so they said, “You’ll have to come up with another song by tonight.” I just thought, “Piece of piss!” So I went home, and I live on my own anyway, and the chords I came up with lent themselves to it being a sad song.’ (NME Oasis 1991 – 2009 Collectors’ Edition magazine, p. 11).

Sad Song received its public debut on BBC Radio 1’s Evening Session on 7th June 1994, and the final studio version was recorded and mixed by Owen Morris at the Windings studio, on 22nd June 1994 (Source: Melody Maker, edition published 1st October 1994).

But Paolo Hewitt’s book Getting High seems to indicate that Sad Song existed before all this. In Chapter 12 he notes that in August 1993 Noel and Marcus Russell travelled to New York to inspect various record companies. “At a meeting with a major A&R man, who shall remain nameless, they played him ‘Digsy’s Dinner’, ‘Sad Song’, and ‘Live Forever.’” (Hewitt, p. 206).

Maybe the version of Sad Song they played him was this unheard demo with Liam on vocals. Oasis might have recorded it as a basic 8-track demo in early ’93 (around the same time as Married With Children), then thought of re-recording it on 24-track when they found themselves a track short for the vinyl edition of Definitely Maybe. Please note that this is purely speculation on my part – the mystery remains…

Oasis: It’s not quite acid house…
9. (Back to article) The influence of dance music on Oasis can be traced from their first demos right through to Noel Gallagher’s collaborations with Goldie and the Chemical Brothers. In the early days Oasis covered a house tune called Feel the Groove by Cartouche, naming their version after its lyrical refrain “Better Let You Know.” Another early demo (entitled Comin’ on Strong) was later reworked by Noel and the Chemical Brothers into the No. 1 hit Setting Sun. And Columbia (a demo Oasis recorded 1993) shares its chords and main melody with Tortuga, an acid house track by Axe Corner released on Palmares Records in 1991.

A few years after Oasis taped the demo of Columbia, speculation was rife that Noel might release some of the dance music tracks he’d recorded with Mark Coyle in the late ’80s. Speaking to Andrew Perry in the October 1996 issue of Select Noel explained that “We wrote about six or so bangin’ tunes – really happening. We used to come back from clubs and do them. Acid house and ecstasy was all new then, so it was like, put the guitar down and see what this mad thing can do. Never put me hands in the air once, though. When we went to raves, they’d go, ‘Let’s see some hands!’ and I’d go, ‘You’re not fucking seeing mine, pal.’”

The NME followed up on the story on 9th November 1996, giving Noel another chance to reminisce about his clubbing days: “That’s how the whole Stone Roses thing kicked off. Guys from guitar bands going to clubs. Remember that big rave Sunrise at White Waltham airfield? I got arrested there – I think there was something wrong with the car. I used to know 808 State quite well. I did do some dance stuff in about ’88 with my producer Mark Coyle. We’ve still got the tapes and we’re wondering what to do with them.” The NME also spoke to an Oasis spokesman, who added: “I heard them a long time ago and the tracks were classic late ‘80s acid. The release has not been discussed yet but there is a possibility.”

A month later Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs spoke briefly to Select magazine about Noel’s acid house tunes. Were they any good? Bonehead replied: “From years ago? They’re brilliant. I didn’t believe they were him. I wouldn’t call ’em acid house, they’re a bit more chilled than that, dancey beats with guitars over them. He used to do ’em with Mark Coyle, our engineer who co-produced the first album. They used to sit in his bedroom – with an eight-track and a few keyboards and guitars. Noel used to come to rehearsals before we got signed and say, “Listen to this, what d’you think?””They were brilliant; he should do something with them. If you heard them you’d be freaked.” (Select, January 1997, p. 118).

Fans learnt more about Noel’s demos with Mark Coyle on 12th July 1997, when he confirmed to NME that D’You Know What I Mean? contains a drum loop sampled from NWA’s Straight Outta Compton (which itself had been sampled from the famous ‘Amen Break’). “I remember when me and the original engineer, Mark Coyle, used to do dance stuff years ago, we put those drums on a track for about half-an-hour because we thought it was so amazing.”

Paolo Hewitt’s Oasis biography Getting High revealed that Noel and Mark Coyle also used drum samples in some of their early ’90s demos. In Chapter 5 he noted that they had: “set up their tape recorders, got out their guitars and started putting melodies and ideas over sampled drums. One song they recorded used a sample of Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth.’ A few years later, the group Oui 3 employed the same idea and scored a major hit single” (Hewitt, p. 111).

On 7th December 2015 I tweeted a question to BBC Radio 2 about these dance music demos; Jo Whiley hosted a Q&A with Noel after his gig at the BBC Radio Theatre, and luckily my question was amongst those selected. When asked whether the tapes still existed Noel explained that there was just one tape, and that his DJ Phil Smith sometimes plays the only remaining copy. He summed up by saying that the demo “Doesn’t sound that bad… but then it doesn’t sound that good either!”

Mark Coyle’s early Oasis demos
10. (Back to article) Creation Records’ Tim Abbot spoke about hearing some of Mark Coyle’s other early Oasis demos in the June 2005 issue of MOJO. He recalled “going back to Mani [The Stone Roses’ Gary Mounfield]’s flat with [Noel associate] Mark Coyle sometime after Definitely Maybe came out. And there was a music room with these quarter-inch reel-to-reel tapes. On them were Wonderwall, Champagne Supernova and about three other songs already demoed. I asked Coyley when these had been done and he said, “1993.”

Restoring the D’You Know What I Mean? video in HD
11. (Back to article) On 17th August 2016 the official Oasis YouTube channel published a high-def version of the D’You Know What I Mean? music video. For this restoration the directors Dom & Nic worked with colourist Dave ‘Luddy’ Ludlam and members of the original production team to combine a new HD restoration of the film with Noel Gallagher’s 2016 remix of the song.

The new restoration was based on a 2K scan of the original 35mm film negative (further details are available from The Mill, and you can see a side-by-side restoration comparison on my site here). The HD scan greatly enhances the colour fidelity and detail of the image, particularly in dark areas of the frame. These improvements over the old standard-definition version are even more marked because the original was a letter-boxed PAL master, whose picture is made up of 432 active lines rather than the full 576. The version on the Time Flies DVD is zoomed to 16:9 from that master, so the picture there is quite soft and ‘steppy.’ Subsequent conversion to NTSC (for the DVD) introduced more artefacts.

The HD restoration of D’You Know What I Mean? shows the great potential for remastering the other early Oasis music videos, where the original film elements survive. Blu-Ray of Time Flies, anyone?

Recording the Be Here Now demos in Mustique
12. (Back to article) In May 1996, Noel went on holiday to the Caribbean island of Mustique, where he recorded the demos for Oasis’s third album, Be Here Now. Noel first commented on the session in an interview for the August 1996 issue of Select:

Noel: “I’ve got 15 songs on a cassette. Like I say, I went to Mustique with Owen (Morris, producer of first two albums) with a digital 8-track and a keyboard to do the strings on. I played them on acoustic and Owen programmed the drums in. It’s the first time I’ve ever done any demos, bar Live Forever and Up in the Sky. But it sounds good. My Big Mouth sounds fuckin’ excellent, like a cannon going off in your head. There’s about four like that, quite Stooges-like. Then there’s the stuff in the vein of Don’t Look Back In Anger, and there’s a couple of Wonderwalls on there. It’s Gettin’ Better (Man!!) is like the big fuckin’ party tune, quite camp as well – our Liam with his fuckin’ hand on his hips, ha!”

Co-producer Owen Morris also commented on the Mustique demo sessions in the September 1997 edition of Q magazine, which looked back an 18-month period leading up the release of Be Here Now. After two weeks writing (in Mustique), Noel rang Owen Morris and asked him to bring over his eight-track and a drum machine to record some demos. Flying over, the producer reckoned two new songs would constitute a result.

Owen Morris: “But then the first night he reeled off fifteen songs on the acoustic. Then we piled through them in a week, midday to seven in this chalet by the airport – that’s where the plane on D’ You Know What I Mean? comes from. It’s easy with Noel because you make decisions on the hoof – chop that, stick that in, bung it down. Guitar overdubs and backing vocals as well. The Mustique tape’s amazing, really cool, although it sounds shit because of the drum box. And that was the album, apart from a couple of songs got dropped and Magic Pie was added later. The words, most of the arrangements and the running order were sorted on Mustique too. He’s got big balls that man. He did that week’s work and that was it.”

Looking back on this session in 2007, Owen Morris explained to Q magazine that: “The Mustique session was the last good recording I did with Noel. The arrangements were shorter than on the album, Noel was performing well and the vibe was positive. We were recording in a shack, drinking rum, smoking quality weed and, outside, Kate Moss was swimming naked in the pool…life doesn’t get much better.” (Owen Morris, The Total Madness of Be Here Now, Q Magazine, 2007, quoted on p. 78)

Alan McGee also commented on the demos in Paolo Hewitt’s book on Creation Records, This Ecstasy Romance Cannot Last: [In May 1996] Noel played us the demos to Be Here Now and I remember thinking, this is gonna sell about half the amount of copies as Morning Glory. It’s a really intense record. No obvious hit singles like the other record. But at the end of the day, who was gonna put their hand up and say, ‘Noel, I think you should maybe shorten most of the songs and not repeat “It’s getting better man” 47 times.’ Because, to be honest, number one, he hadn’t been wrong yet. He’d been right. Everything the kid had ever fucking said was right. Number two, even if you were right which basically we all were in our heads, I don’t think anybody in that room thought differently to me, which was, this is a guy who has just sold 14 million records and just collected a 15 million pound publishing cheque. Is he actually going to listen to the bosses in the record company? Was he fuck. So he’d just come back from holiday with Johnny Depp and Kate Moss. He’d sold 15 million records. He’d just banked 15 million pounds. He was living in another dimension by that point.

The Mustique demos have since been digitally re-mastered, and are available on the (2016) Chasing the Sun deluxe edition reissue of Be Here Now.

Operation Gold: Filming Knebworth
13. (Back to article) Noel Gallagher recalled the filming of Knebworth in an interview published in John Robb’s book The North Will Rise Again: Manchester Music City (1977-1996):

Noel: “We made a film of Knebworth. It’s called Operation Gold – a documentary that’s never been put out. There were 15 cameramen travelling with fans on the train from all over the country, they filmed the police meeting rooms and all that. It cost us a fortune to make – it will probably get released on some anniversary. The gig was recorded properly with cameramen in the crowd filming from the fans’ point of view. We were going to release it as a live album but I said it was too soon. But I think people will want to look back on Knebworth and say, ‘Yeah, that was quite mental what happened to all of us.’”
(quoted in John Robb’s The North Will Rise Again: Manchester Music City (1977-1996), p. 380)

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