Bring It On Down – Eoghan Lyng Speaks With Original Oasis Drummer Tony McCarroll
By 2008, Oasis, a group that used every hackneyed Beatle reference outside of Revolution 9, had broken up a decade too late.
How very different in 1994 with the onset of Definitely Maybe, a powerful punching record steeped in the very best of rock n’roll, a format continued on two exhilarating follow-ups.
Behind the band sat Tony McCarroll, whose cymbal work opened the fiery Supersonic and elegiac Live Forever, the latter tellingly burying him in its video. Foreshadowing his departure, McCarroll duly exited the band in 1995, not before Definitely Maybe kicked the band into the international stratosphere. McCarroll wrote of his time in the band through the moving Oasis The Truth (2010), becoming the first Oasis band member to write a book. It was to Oasis’s shame that he left.
Whatever the technical superiority Zak Starkey and Alan White brought to the group, Oasis lacked the rough edge pummelling through the drums, and that punk gravitas left with McCaroll.
Eoghan Lyng, whose own curly hair mirrors McCarroll’s, met up with the drummer twenty five years after Oasis took Britain by storm.
Q: You write so beautifully about Ireland in your book. Was Ireland important to the band?
TC: You know what, I went to school in Ireland. When I was nine or ten, two years in school there. I learnt a bit of the Irish language and did my first performance there, me and a guy on tin whistle. Must have been mad! It was in County Offaly, a town called Kinnitty. I love Ireland. It was very important to the band, we were Irish. I mean, [Peggy Gallagher] never lost something as important as her Mayo accent!
Q: How important were The Real People establishing Oasis?
TC: They were there for us at the beginning. The doors were being shut on us in Manchester, there’d been a lot of activity from Manchester and it didn’t look another Manchester band would get signed. The Real People saw something in us and led the way. They were influential in the song-writing, getting the verse/chorus structure thing right. They helped with Supersonic. Alan McGee wanted us to get Bring It On Down recorded. We were jamming and the doors opened. They told us we were going to record something better. We got Supersonic [laughs].
Q: There’s the arrhythmic grooves on Columbia and Bring It On Down. Was that a reaction to New Order and The Hacienda?
TC: I think that was more of a coincidence. I preferred how we got it in some concerts, getting it right. We were trying for that punk rock vibe on Bring It On Down. Wasn’t easy to get the drums, took a few goes, but we eventually got it. It’s a great sounding album I must say, twenty five years on.
Q: Behind the Gallaghers, Paul Arthurs stood as a powerful musician. How were his contributions?
TC: I got on really well with Bonehead. I wouldn’t say we keep in that much touch, but we shared bedrooms, so we got to know each other. Great lad. He can get sounds out of guitars, keyboards, radiators. He was the oldest, most down to earth member, I guess. I was in Drogheda where they said he passed through. He was in a band with Vinny Peculiar, I couldn’t really get into them if I’m honest. But he’s doing well. I met Liam after the Supersonic (2016) film. It was at an after party. I hadn’t seen him in about fifteen years, but it was hugs straight away. We asked “how’s yer mam”, that kind of thing. Great to see him.
Q: Definitely Maybe is inarguably Oasis’ strongest work. Where do you stand on band’s legacy?
TC: I’d have to agree with you, Eoghan. It’s quite an eclectic album, lots of things going on. I think there was a weaker period for the band. Of course, this is all in hindsight, but I think they did some things in the middle period which weren’t right for the band. They might have had too much money, which I think they’ll admit themselves. On their last two albums, I think they went back to how they were at the beginning. Very rock-centred.
Q: Any ideas what Owen Morris brought to the album?
TC: No ideas, to be honest, he sprinkled his magic dust all over it and really brought out the sound. He had some kind of box which dirtied up the sound. Made us really loud on the jukeboxes back in the day. We were a good band, I remember playing Glastonbury. We must have played to 300,00 people in 1994. What an experience!
Q; How was it for you that Some Might Say hit number one in 1995?
TC: Bittersweet. As you say, I played drums on a number one single and then one night, Friday I think it was, I was called to say I was no longer in the group. Fair enough, I thought. But when they played it on Top of The Pops, it was Alan White at the drums! No disrespect to Alan, but I played drums on a number one single, and Definitely Maybe at that. I’m very proud of that period and I think I played in the better half of the band’s life. Not many people can say they played with Oasis!
Q: You’re attending Q and A’s at present. What are the forthcoming gigs?
TC: I just did one in Drogheda and will be doing one in Wexford. The one in Wexford will be a presentation on September some time. There’ll be a tribute band called Live Forever playing. I gave a Q and A at a pub in London, there were about 200 Oasis fans there and I guess I got bullied into playing the Supersonic intro. Just the drums and voice.. sounded mad! But it was a great night, I like James [Oasis Pod host and event organiser] a lot.
Cover image of Tony McCarroll with Liam Gallagher: Oasis World