First Published April 2019
FROM CANTONA’S CAR TO GLASTONBURY
Tony McCarroll went from being IN the band who were on their way to becoming the biggest in the world, to being just one more person outside the Oasis bubble. And all in the space of one phone call. And all at the behest of one man. In Part 2 of our chat, we continue the amazing story of a man whose very first proper gig was in Kinnity parish hall, the beginning of a journey that would lead all the way to Glastonbury… spending a little time with Eric Cantona’s car along the way!
When the first cracks in the band began to show during Tony’s time in Oasis, and indeed, as they got progressively worse, how hard was it to watch that develop? Or how early on did it seem like something that could eventually prove to be a threat to the band’s very existence, let alone to their success?
“I don’t think we ever thought about it. What’s that saying, livin’ off the seat of your pants? That was us, ya know, We were just crashin’ on through. O.k, in the book I say we were aiming to be rock-stars, but mainly I think we just wanted to be out of our regular lives and mundane jobs, not that there was even many jobs about then. It was just about being successful. And it was a yearning for all of us to be able to put our music on an album. That was the box ticked. Success after that…, I mean we knew we were good, but I suppose that was in the hands of others, and whether or not they got to listen to the music. But lo and behold, word got out and it exploded.”
Can Tony remember the first moment when he actually thought to himself, this is actually happening, we’re onto something big here?
“The first moment? Crikey. I mean, we played Glastonbury early doors. We signed in ’93 [to Creation Records], and we played Glastonbury in ’94, I think August ’94. So you start off with your gigs to five-hundred, and you do that circuit. Then you do a thousand, then fifteen-hundred, and that’s how it works its way up. But the day I walked out on the stage at Glastonbury, us being a new group to the scene, we were on an early slot, 2 to 3pm. But when I walked out, we had thirty or forty-thousand people singin’ the words back to us, and you’re like, ‘What the f*&k is goin’ on here, like?!’ [laughs]. I was nervous, I’ve got to say, but the job had to be done. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing to be part of. And for that many people to turn up at that time in the afternoon, it was brilliant.”
So what was the root of the famous – or infamous – argument between Tony and Noel?
“We had a bit of an argument early doors, before we even signed, and if I’m being honest, I don’t think it ever really recovered. Again, I didn’t cast the first stone, it was Noel just overstepping the mark with something. I was shocked, and I had my say with him. And I don’t think it ever recovered from then. Lord knows the band could have split up at anytime, with the Gallagher’s relationship as it was. It just turned out that I was the first one to be asked to leave.”
When he did leave, because the atmosphere within the band must have been very difficult to work in, was it as much of a relief as anything else in some ways? Or was he angry because he knew there was still so much good stuff still to come from Oasis?
“Well when it did come, I didn’t expect it! But it wasn’t a relief, no. Like I said, the tour bus was always a ball of energy, with everyone in a great mood one day, then everyone in a terrible mood the next day. We were the sort that, whatever happened, we just got on with it and moved on to the next thing. But that [being asked to leave] did come as a shock. I had an argument with Noel in Paris, and then a week or so later when the new single, ‘Some Might Say’, hit number one, out of the blue came this phone call. I just thought we would have trudged on through whatever problems there might have been. Maybe take a bit of time-out to deal with issues, if there were any. But no, Noel decided I wasn’t going forward, and that was it.”
After Tony left Oasis, was he a fan of the band or was it a bit too hard to pay attention to them?
“I’ve always been a fan of the band, even to this day. I was disappointed by the way things happened, but I’m not bitter. The band went on to huge success, and I’m part of that. So I have to be proud of that fact. But when I did hear (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, my initial reaction was they’ve f&*ked it up! It’s done now. What’s this all about?! [laughs]. But the one thing I’ve realised about listening to Oasis tracks is that you’ll listen again, and again, and they’re growers. You hear something different, something new in them, each time. And then you appreciate it. But my initial listen was that’s a bag of s&*t, or whatever, ya know [laughs]. But then, as you listen and listen and listen, and you start to think, actually, that’s a f&*king classic, that is. It’s somethin’ else. Yeah, there was a couple of weak albums that they’ve done, but I think the last two have somewhat resurrected it and brought things back to the original feel, if ya like. I think they got too experimental for a while, and I put that down to money, without a doubt. Havin’ too much studio time, and experimenting too much, and they lost somethin’ by doin’ that.”
Is Tony able to evaluate where he thinks Oasis rank in music history, when you take all of the great bands into consideration; The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who, and everybody else of that ilk?
“Well they’re definitely going to be up there in the Top 10 and eating from the same table as everyone you mentioned when we all go up above! Without a doubt, yeah. There’s a lot more elements to Oasis, and I’m starting to realise this about successful bands, especially after watching Bohemian Rhapsody, for example. There’s always something extra to those bands that achieve to those levels. I mean, the music was great with Oasis, but then you had the relationship between the brothers as well, that whole what’s gonna happen next thing! Are they gonna make it to the next gig?! Is someone gonna die?! [laughs]. There was always somethin’ interesting goin’ on. And I think with all the greats, that’s the case. There’s always some extra element that sets them apart from everybody else.”
Now, I’m a massive Manchester United fan, and this revelation drew an immediate sign from Tony! But even so, he has an Eric Cantona story that is pretty amazing…
“Yeah, I did meet Eric a couple of times, but I think it was before we actually gained any success. There was a chap who somewhat helped formed the band, a friend of Liam’s. Basically, we were car valeting and we’d been asked to change the tyres on this car one day, Eric’s car. So it was taken to some back-street garage somewhere to get the cheaper tyres, hoping nobody would notice. They put it up on the ramp, and whatever had happened, the door was open. Next thing, something had happened to the f&*king door! And I was like, oh my God, this is Eric Cantona’s car! [laughs]. He’s gonna knock the f&*k out of the lot of us! [laughs]. But we ended up rectifying that and I don’t even think he noticed in the end! But it was a bit of a shocker, thinking what have we done to this hundred-thousand pound car!”
So what’s every-day life like for Tony these days?
“Every day life has been normality for the last…crikey…I’d say fifteen years. I’ve just been livin’ what I’d call regular, normal life, away from the limelight really. Just back in normal employment, but look, that keeps everybody sane, havin’ somethin’ to do. And I’m quite happy with that. But we’ve got this [the tour] off the ground and I’m hoping there’ll be some longevity in this, too, that it will roll on to bigger and better things, hopefully in America, Europe, and beyond. We’ll be able to spread our wings with it.”