In this new Q&A for Oasis Recording Info, Tony and Chris Griffiths of the legendary Liverpool group The Real People recall the recording sessions for Oasis’s demo tape, Live Demonstration.
When did you first meet the band and what were your impressions of them as individuals and musicians?
Tony: We first met Noel on the Inspirals’ tour in 1990-91 when he was their guitar roadie. Noel came across as a likeable young man and we got on great with him and Mark Coyle.
Can you give an outline of what a typical ‘day in the life’ of the Real People was like working with Oasis on their demo tape? Was it a good creative atmosphere in the studio? How did you help the band develop the songs and their arrangements? Where and when were the recordings done and how long did the whole process take? Any detail on the equipment used and the recording and mixing techniques would be great.
Chris: Sessions began Friday evenings and ended Sunday night.
Tony: The sessions themselves started off creatively but often became a bit wilder as the session went on.
Chris: We were at our Porter Street studio (now a restaurant) where we used a Tascam 8 track with SEC 16 into 8 desk which we still have. Oasis used their own musical equipment which Noel sold to Johnny Roadhouse Music shop when they got signed.
What songs did Oasis have at the start of the session and were many written whilst there? Did Noel write any songs from later albums during these sessions?
Chris: Oasis had Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, Up in the Sky and everything on the demonstration tape and the 8-track B sides. They came up with Columbia and Whatever whilst here with us.
What records were the band listening to at the time? Were there any particular tracks or albums that were used as a reference for the kind of sound they were going for?
Chris: We most listened to Slade during this period, with a bit of Buzzcocks too.
I understand Columbia started out as an instrumental; can you describe how it developed from this into the finished song? Am I right in thinking Chris co-wrote some of the lyrics with Liam? (If so, were any other Oasis songs from this time co-written?)
Tony: Chris helped with the melody and lyrics for the verses as Columbia was an instrumental at that point. Chris swapped demos with Liam and Noel at the time, which influenced some of their future songs including Rocking Chair and others.
The demo and an early studio mix of Columbia feature three samples, only the first of which is retained in the album version. Do you remember how the following samples came to be used in the song and where each of them was sampled from? They certainly help give the demo a more psychedelic feel than later versions…
A man saying ‘I’ve seen so much to disgust mother, take me into your arms…how am I to protect you?’ on the intro (from around 15 seconds into this upload of the demo)
What sounds like a Hare Krishna-style chant on the outro (4.43 onwards in the demo)
A male voice at 4:22 says ‘[take] away… the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.’ According to this page, this is from the Biblical Book of Amos. http://bible.cc/amos/5-23.htm. That line is then looped, over which is layered another sample of the same voice reading ‘Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’, which, according to this other page is also from the same book of the Bible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Like_an_Ever_Flowing_Stream
Chris: Two of the samples were taken off CDs I had and the other was Tony Benn recorded live off the radio.
The demo and both studio versions of Columbia feature backing vocals which sound quite different from either Liam or Noel – were these sung by either Chris or Tony?
Tony: Yes we both sang backing vocals and played piano & helped with string arrangements on Whatever.
You mentioned in an earlier interview that you recorded around twenty songs with Oasis, from which those heard on the Live Demonstration cassette were selected; can you say what the other songs were and do the master tapes of these still exist? What format(s) were the Oasis demos recorded on and mixed down to?
Chris: Yes. The Live Demonstration tape, 8 track B sides and some others whose titles we forget.
Some of the b-sides on the early Oasis singles (Alive, D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?) were demos – were they always planned to be b-sides or were they intended for either Live Demonstration or Definitely Maybe?
Tony: They were intended as demos.
Some tracks from Definitely Maybe weren’t on Live Demonstration, like Shakermaker. Can you say where and when this early version of the song was recorded, and whether Tony sings backing vocals on it (as they sound similar to his backing vocal on Supersonic in places)?
Chris: Don’t know but we think it (Shakermaker) was done later
Did you also produce the demos of Live Forever, Up in the Sky, Digsy’s Dinner , Cigarettes and Alcohol, and Whatever? If so, what are your memories of the recording sessions and where and when were they recorded?
Chris: We helped with Whatever, Up In The Sky and Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.
What are your memories of the session at the Pink Museum studios in which Supersonic was recorded? Some sources claim the original plan was to record a version of Bring it on Down for release as a single, but engineer Dave Scott remembers the session was in fact booked to record the b-sides I Will Believe and Take Me Away.
Tony: Dave Scott is right but we made them record Supersonic after hearing them jam it during the day.
Noel has said in interviews that he was happier with the sound of the demos than with the unreleased version of Definitely Maybe recorded at Monnow Valley studios with producer Dave Batchelor; did you hear these tapes and, if so, what did you think of them? How did the sound differ compared to the released version?
Tony: said he thought Oasis preferred the 8-track versions to the unreleased version.
Tony McCarroll notes in his book that, having successfully rerecorded the album at Sawmills studios, the only track remaining to be completed was Bring it on Down. Apparently there was a problem with the drumming on this track, which was then redone at Eden studios; what do you remember of that session?
Tony: When the Realies visited the studio, Tony MacCarroll was having trouble with Noel regarding the drums. I think they had a session drummer there.
Chris: We had our drummer there, Tony Elson. Noel left the room and Tony McCarroll re did the take… and then we told Noel it was Tony Elson who had done it. Noel accepted the take!
When did you first hear the finished album and did you think at the time that it would come to be regarded as a classic?
Chris: We heard it same time as everyone else and knew it was a classic. We were very proud to have been a part of it, not just musically, but because it went on to become part of history.
(Interview by David Huggins. Answers © Tony and Chris Griffiths. Published on Oasis Recording Info, 2012)
For more information on Oasis’s early demo recordings I highly recommend visiting Mr Monobrow’s excellent Oasis Demos Information Site, which contains a wealth of information on the variant edits of each track on Live Demonstration. More details are available in this earlier interview The Real People gave to MOJO magazine; Paolo Hewitt’s book Getting High: The Adventures of Oasis; and the documentary included on the 10th anniversary DVD edition of Definitely Maybe.