Alan McGee Returns

Former Creation/Poptones man discusses new label, 359. "The door is open..."

Alan McGee Returns

It’s an unexpected move from someone who auctioned off his rock memorabilia in late 2011, explaining, “I can’t be arsed with music anymore.” But this October former Creation and Poptones boss Alan McGee’s new imprint 359 will release its first three albums. McGee rediscovered his taste for music while helping plan the cancelled music festival Tokyo Rocks last year. “I didn’t see myself going back to music – I’d forgotten that part of my life,” he says. “I’d been living in the middle of nowhere, buying and selling property and being incredibly successful at it. But working on that festival, I realised that I still seemed to be quite good at putting music together.”

Thereafter he moved fast; having linked up with spirited independent Cherry Red, in May he invited MP3 submissions from potential signees and 2,500 musicians duly obliged. “That reminded me that I still really loved new music,” says McGee. “It was like a rebirth. ‘Cos I wasn’t really looking for anything. What shocked me was that it wasn’t a ball-ache. I enjoyed it! And out of all those, there were 100 good things, and 15 that I’d sign.”

“People aren’t being given a chance in music and society.”

Among 359’s initial releases are French electronic popsters Mineral, Liverpool singer-songwriter Chris Grant and 15-year-old voice-and-guitar troubadour John Lennon McCullaugh. “I’ve definitely not come back to the same industry,” continues McGee. “It’s like the '80s – then you didn’t have to look for good bands, whereas in the '90s you did, because the majors had all moved in.”

359 signings Chris Grant, Mineral and John Lennon McCullagh

He adds that "359" signifies, variously, one degree less than a complete revolution, the day of the year Christmas falls on, and the secret name for falcon-headed Egyptian God Horus, if Aleister Crowley’s Book Of The Law is to be believed. There will also be a regular 359 club night in Liverpool: “I can’t bear London,” observes McGee. “I’d say, everything that Dalston is, 359 is not.”

“People aren’t being given a chance in music and society, so in my own little way that’s what I’m trying to do,” he concludes. “It’s non-ageist, non-sexist, and the door is open. The label is what it is, and it’s all over the place.”

Photo: Retna