Ewen Bremner on Alan McGee: 'He was someone who could see what other people couldn't'
- David Pollock
- 19 July 2019
Scottish actor and part-time musician discusses his role in the Nick Moran-directed Creation Stories
'We're nearly done with the shoot now,' says actor Ewen Bremner, late on Saturday evening as he's being ferried by car back to his London hotel following a day's shooting on the Irvine Welsh-scripted, Nick Moran-directed Creation Stories, in which he plays seminal Glaswegian indie impresario – and, of course, discoverer of Oasis – Alan McGee. 'The shoot's been quite energetic, and I guess it carries a lot of the spirit of Creation Records with it; mainly the super-ambitious, bloody-minded schedule. But yeah, we got there somehow.'
We're on the phone to talk about Bremner's role as McGee, but also to talk about his own music, which he'll be giving a rare run-out under the name ExitMan at Edinburgh's Neu! Reekie! this weekend. Although the role of professional musician was never one he seriously thought he might fill when he was younger, it was as much of a passion as acting to Bremner; when he dropped out of school at 16 and failed his acting audition at Telford College, he thought he might take a course in Instrument Repair Technology instead.
'At one time I thought I might get into music, but I didn't know what the hell I was doing and I was never that great a musician,' he says. 'It was all a bit messy.' Instead, he took small theatre and screen parts for a decade before Trainspotting happened, and he realised he was a professional actor. 'I've been writing music since I was a teenager and I tried to be in bands a couple of times when I was young, but it didn't go too well. As an actor you're never in one place for more than a month or two at a time, and it's not fair on the others. You're a pretty useless member of a band if you're not around for six months or a year, or whatever.'
Instead, he works on his own in his spare time, recording with machines. He self-released an album online five years ago, but the last year or two has been more focused; these more recent fruits will be heard at this gig, in the hope of an album emerging soon. 'It's just a trio, double bass, violin and I play guitar and sing – or some people might call it that, we'll find out on Friday,' he laughs. He'll be alongside Euan McLaughlin on violin and Oliver Bustamante on double bass.
'When I lived in London I went to night school studying Afro-Latin percussion, and a lot of various rhythms, a lot of samba, that's what I wanted to get into,' he says. 'There are different influences to the music... soul, punk, I don't know what the hell you'd call it. It's all an attempt to communicate something about what you're feeling about this world and this life – just like whatever other work I'm doing.'