Original drummer Tony McCarroll on Oasis and Supersonic
Meeting Liam Gallagher for the first time in 20 years at the premiere of the new Oasis movie could have been awkward for Tony McCarroll but, as the film’s director acknowledges, the sacked drummer’s early contribution to the band is now widely recognised.
MAT Whitecross’s new film Supersonic, documenting the rise of Oasis, has got many yearning for the band’s mid-90s epoch. Perhaps Ewan McGregor, who recently reprised his definitive role of Renton for Trainspotting 2, put it best after seeing the film: “I’m So Happy. I’m so sad. I want to go back.”
Supersonic gives the original five-piece some context, proposing that each band member played a vital role. Original drummer Tony McCarroll was the first casualty but, as many suggest, the character of his drumming was essential.
Director Whitecross had this to say: “There’s no doubt, the reason why people love Definitely Maybe is down to Tony’s drumming it’s very aggressive and punk, it has this low-fi aesthetic. After him the sound is more professional but there’s something you lose; you lose the sense of these young guys who have come from nowhere. You never quite connect with someone in the same way as those you grew up with.”
At the film’s premiere in Manchester, McCarroll was reunited with Liam Gallagher and Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs together for the first time since his sacking in April 1995.
“I had met Bonehead before and we had no issues, we had a hug hindsight is a great thing; everyone has grown up,” McCarroll said. “I hadn’t seen Liam in over 20 years. I wasn’t sure about going to the after-show but I’m glad I did. Liam came right over and said: ‘Me and you in there for a chat’.
“It was like yesterday and very natural, there was a bit of banter right back to how it was. There’s a sensitive side to Liam. We went through a lot and knew each other inside out. It was great to see him again.”
Noel suggested Definitely Maybe was the sound of five working-class Irish Catholics coming out of council estate in Manchester I asked McCarroll, what was his own connection with Ireland?
“I lived and went to school there for two years around the age of nine and 10. We were always sent over for six-week holidays. I stayed very close to those roots. My dad came from Tyrone and my mother was from Offaly they met in Manchester at an Irish club.”
The film summons the sense of a shared work ethic as well as each member’s unyielding belief in the band.
“We all wanted to change our lives; there was a feeling among us that ‘life has got to be better than this’. Liam used to say ‘I’m going to be famous’. We all felt that something was going to happen and we were determined to keep going until we had exhausted every option,” McCarroll says.
“I was working on a building site-6am to 6pm Bonehead picked me up at quarter past and we would rehearse every night until 10pm. We were like a primed boxer; coming out the rehearsal room it was like stepping off a spaceship: we’d be saying ‘What just happened in there?’ You knew how good the band was.”
It was a twist of fate that Supersonic, the band’s first single and arguably their finest moment, arrived after McCarroll started warming up while recording another track.
“We went in to record Bring It On Down. I remember playing the high-hat, snare and bass drum it was a simple beat. Noel shouted ‘keep that going’ and an hour or two later we had Supersonic. It all happened that fast, it was a miracle.”
Among the majority of fans and critics Definitely Maybe defined the band’s legacy and was never bettered.
“You start a new drummer and you start a new band”, affirms McCarroll. “The secret of the band was the very basic playing we filled the gaps with each other. Noel’s a great songwriter without a doubt but I think Bonehead was another very important member in creating that wall of sound with his playing. The whole Oasis thing was bigger than any one of us.”
The band also recently reissued their third album Be Here Now, from 1997. McCarroll is convinced the band will reform one way or another he’ll be part of it.
“I don’t know when or what the line-up will be but I’m sure it will happen and I’ll be there. I don’t know if I’ll be invited to be part of it but I’ll be supporting them from the crowd at the very least.”
Oasis: Supersonic is out now on DVD; the Chasing The Sun edition of Be Here Now is available now.