18 Wheeler were on Creation Records for much of the 90’s, the band later became famous because of one of their support acts in 1993. In 1997 they broke through with the ‘Year Zero’ album which gave them their only chart hit ‘Stay’. We caught up with Alan Hake who played bass with the band whilst he runs his new label Must Destroy to ask him about his time on Creation.
When did you start playing in bands and how did 18 Wheeler get together?
It was the first band for all of us really. We all met in Glasgow as we went to the same gigs, record stores and pubs.
Were you a Creation fan before signing to the label? What bands/artists did you like?
Very much so I bought a lot of Creation records. I loved My Bloody Valentine & Teenage Fanclub as well as some of the lesser known stuff like Slaughter Joe, The Times and Velvet Crush. I also love that Bill Drummond album “The Man”. It’s almost seen as a joke now but I think it’s a great record.
How did the deal with Creation come about?
We got signed by Dave Barker (formerly of Fire/Paperhouse/Seminal Twang) when he set up the August offshoot label. When that folded we were kept on by Alan McGee.
What did you think the first time you went to the Creation offices?
We were a bit wide eyed. Ed Ball was making us coffee which was a bit surreal. We blagged 100’s (and I mean 100’s) of records which McGee thought was hilarious.
I expect this is something you’re bored of being asked, but I have to ask it. It was an 18 Wheeler gig at king tuts that Alan (McGee) spotted Oasis. Due you have any particular memories of that night in 1993?
The full line up was Boyfriend/18 Wheeler/Sister Lovers & Oasis. It was a pretty uneventful night and certainly didn’t seem like history in the making. I only saw one and a half songs of Oasis the last one being “I am the walrus”
Lots of the Creation staff couldn’t understand why Alan was so excited about Oasis at first, what did you think of them initially?
I didn’t like them at King Tuts but then we toured with them and BMX Bandits and we got to know the songs. They were an incredible live band even on that tour. It was simple stuff but loud as fuck and Liam’s voice was amazing. It became obvious they were destined for greater things. We all loved “Live Forever” and were a bit bewildered when ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Shakermaker’ (which I don’t like) came out as singles but now I can see that they were saving the best one’s till last.
You were on Creation for a few years before the ‘Year Zero’ album without much attention, what were those years like?
They were great times. No one liked us in Britain but we got to play in Japan ,France and Sweden where it was a different story altogether so we didn’t really care about Britain.
Year Zero looked like it was going to make a big impression and picked up a fair amount of airplay, how did you feel at the time?
No different really. It’s sounds weird but we’d been so used to being savaged by the British music press that we couldn’t really care less. “Stay” was almost a hit (number fifty something) and we got on TOTP2 so that was a bit of a novelty but then we went back into our studio trying to blend Brian Wilson melodies with modern recording technology -what were we thinking?
The album was released around the same time as ‘Be Here Now’, everyone has their own opinion of that era, how do you view that period of Creation, good or bad?
Creation was probably becoming less “special” at that point. At the “Undrugged” anniversary show at the Royal Albert Hall we were in a dressing room with the forgotten acts like The Jazz Butcher and The Weather Prophets. All the big acts had separate dressing rooms and then the 20 or so “losers/underdogs” shared one. Someone stuck a sign on the door saying “artists who have been dropped or are about to be dropped by Creation” and I remember thinking that was really funny. Now I can see that it was very poignant.
What are your best memories of being on the label?
All of it really. The only thing I hated was making videos.
How did your time with Creation come to an end?
We got dropped, simple as that. We got to keep our last album though. We may release it one day….
What are all the members of 18 Wheeler up to these days?
Sean Jackson has a degree in Russian and teaches in St. Petersburg . Neil Halliday has a good “proper” job in London. Steve Haddow married a Japanese girl and now lives over there and David Keenan writes for the wire. And still does Telstar Ponies I think..
Have you had a chance to listen to many of the records on Poptones or Wichita (Alan & Dick’s new labels)?
I actually worked for Poptones so a big “yes” there. As for Wichita I really like The Pattern they are sort of great and crappy at the same time if that makes sense?
I think the current music scene is pretty exciting and is the best it’s been since the early 90’s. Do you keep up with many new bands and what are you listening to these days?
I’m still a record addict. Some of my favourite newish bands are….. Low, Nebula, Von Bondies, Beachwood sparks, Flaming Lips, QOTSA, Turbonegro & Smog. I could go on and on.
Finally, do you have a message for the kids today?
Be true to your old skool
Interview: September 2002