“I’ve Always Been a Johnnie Walker Fan”

Source: Q magazine
Author: Shane MacGowan
Copyright: (c) Q Magazine

“I’ve always been a Johnnie Walker fan”

That’s the DJ, of course. Bon vivant, boulevardier and now flashbulb-inciting mate of Johnny Depp, Shane MacGowan leads a simple life, untroubled by sleep, ceremony or soft drinks, extremely troubled by journalists. This is his diary (excuse shaky handwriting).

Monday, September 26

Did an interview with The Big E (late-night Euro-styled magazine show) at Filthy McNasty’s in Amwell Street. which is the pub I drink in when I’m in London. It’s an Irish pub and I know all the bar staff as personal friends. There’s lots of Irish pubs in London and I drink in other Irish pubs occasionally, like The Engine Room in Chalk Farm Road. but there’s something special about Filthy’s. All my mates drink there. I don’t go there because they insist on playing my records every time I walk in the door. I don’t mind so much when it’s the new one. when they stick on Rum Sodomy And The Lash endlessly, it drives me fucking mad.

They’ve got Pogues gold discs on the walls in there. I flogged mine. Charlie is this really good mate of mine and he practically lives in there. I drink there because everyone drinks there, and everyone drinks there because Charlie drinks there. I think they’re his Pogues gold discs in the pub from the time when he worked with us. Some of the other ones are maybe Spider Stacy’s. You should go in and have a drink and have a look for yourself. I flogged mine to a collectors shop and got a decent price. I was sensible. I’m sure Spider sold his for about fifty quid.

Stayed there until it closed and then went back home and watched videos all night.

Tuesday, 27

I don’t go to bed that often. If I do it’s usually during the day. But because I’m doing interviews all day, I don’t get any sleep at all at the moment. Interviews piss me off full stop. but it depends on the interviewer. It helps if you’ve got a good interviewer. I hate being asked questions full stop – interviewers, the police, like. “When are we getting paid?”, like, “Can you lend me a tenner?”, or “Have you got a cigarette?” – I’ve always hated those questions. I hated school for many reasons. but that was one of them.

Johnny Depp arrived to do Top Of The Pops with me this week. We’re mates, but of course now it’s turned into a big fucking scene. The first time I remember meeting him was in Dublin about three or four years ago, in a pub when we were drinking there after hours.

Did an interview for the NME with Gavin Martin who’s a bloke I’ve known for years. I was very irritable with him because I’ve been doing loads and loads of interviews and he was asking me questions that he knew the answer to and things. So I was a bit irritable and the next time I meet him I’ll have to apologise to him or maybe he’ll read this in Q. Some journalists are a real pain in the arse. They go in with an angle and they’re going to get you to say what they want you to say somehow. and it’s like a battle between you. You’re not going to say it and they want you to say it. Then there’s others who try to put a really intellectual emphasis on it.

Did a photo session in Holhorn at 10 o’clock at night for the NME. That was horrific. A good photographer is someone you don’t even notice, so you can drop him in a war zone and he can take shots of Vietnamese kids running down the road on fire. That’s a good photographer.

Obviously a photographer like that doesn’t stop and say he’s got to change the lens or take a Polaroid and make you hold the same position. Most of the photographers lately have been really good. There were a couple of guys who were so anonymous that I didn’t even catch their names, they just ran around me clicking while I was doing the interview. That’s the ideal photographer, the one I don’t even notice. But if you can’t have that, then just a guy you can relax with and you can have a chat with and he clicks away. I’m into spontaneous stuff, real energy. But if you’re a Genesis or Pink Floyd freak, you might think a good photographer is someone who has a good studio and knows a good make-up artist and it takes hours to do.

Wednesday, 28

Went to Top Of The Pops in the morning. Johnny was hounded by photographers, and everybody was trying to get an angle on it – my record company, all the papers. I was more pissed off than he was about it all. There was a whole gang of about 20 or 30 photographers there, all snapping away, going. Johnny look over here, Johnny look over there, Shane look over here, Shane look over there. Real sort of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall number. I thought that was quite bizarre I must admit, but that was the movie star angle.

At Top Of The Pops you do about two rehearsals, about two or three dress rehearsals, then a couple of run throughs, then the real thing and then the real thing again. It’s better now you have to sing live. But it’s good for the musicians who still mime because they can get completely wasted. I just got completely wasted anyway. Not too wasted to sing though, but you’re there all day. Me and Johnny did a couple of telly interviews for GMTV and The 0-Zone (music-based staple of Children’s BBC ) and we had a few drinks when we weren’t doing them. But it ended up everyone wanted Johnny and he was saying, This interview isn’t about me. it’s about Shane. He was a little bit bemused I think, the fact that he got dragged into all the other interviews when he was only supposed to be doing Top Of The Pops. He’s not even in the band. He was over here on a break from all that shit, and he got the same old shit he gets in Hollywood. More shit in fact, because in LA people just shrug and go, Yeah, alright, it’s Johnny Depp. Or it’s Robert De Niro, or whatever. Dublin is getting like that, there’s loads of pop stars and film stars living there at the moment. It’s a really hip city, like, the Stones are always hanging around and it’s a small town and people don’t take much notice. If Keith Richards is walking around the streets in Dublin he won’t get hassled.

At midnight, we had to go to Elephant & Castle to reshoot the video for That Woman’s Got Me Drinking because there was smoking and drinking in the first one, the one that Johnny directed and starred in. In it, I was a barman and he was a drunk, so it would have been fairly unrealistic to make the video without any smoking or drinking in it. Some people won’t broadcast a video with drinking and smoking in it before 10pm. The new video is just the band miming to the record in a warehouse. All we did was mime to the record two or three times and we’ve got a perfectly good video. It took about an hour, which seems short. but then it’s not a very long record.

It’s good in a way, we’ve got two proper pop videos for the record, even though one of them took a day to do and cost thousands and the other one took an hour and cost a lot less. Two videos, the one they’ll show before 10 and the one they’ll show after 10.

Thursday, 29

Did an acoustic session for Simon Mayo with the band on Radio One. I was knackered because I hadn’t been to bed. I wouldn’t have got up again if I’d had a kip. It went alright though. We did two songs, The Rising Of The Moon and Nancy Whisky. Nancy Whisky is on the great invisible first Shane MacGowan And The Popes single, so it’s not on the album. The record company had the bright idea of putting out a CD-only pressing of 10.000 and putting Nancy Whisky on it, which is one of the best tracks we do. They printed this ad saying that three of the tracks would be unavailable anywhere else and made it impossible to put the track on the album, so we put The Rising Of The Moon on the album instead. It wasn’t my idea, put it that way, and I’d like to state that categorically. Putting out only 10.000 copies on CD is mad because people basically couldn’t get hold of it. Whoever at the record company came up with that idea is stuck in the late ‘7Os and all that “instant collectors’ item” rubbish.

The acoustic thing was alright. There was a problem with the drums – they thought they were too loud or something. But all it was in the end was that I had the same mix as everybody else in the cans. So I just took the cans off so that I was singing just with the noise of the band and it was alright. I think they pretend it goes out live but it was recorded. Me and Johnny did an interview with Simon Mayo. That was wonderful.

Later on we all went to Filthy’s. Johnny’s been there before, last time he was over. Stayed till closing time and then went back and watched videos.

Friday, 30

Went out to Tower Records buying videos with Johnny. He got a load of videos and I got a load of videos, mostly films we’ve seen before. Once Upon A Time In America, Bruce Lee The Legend, Fist Of Fury, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Coogan’s Bluff, that sort of stuff.

Did an interview with Johnnie Walker in Filthy’s for Radio One and that went fine. I’ve always been a Johnnie Walker fan because he’s into playing what he thinks is good rather than what he’s told to play. Went out with Johnny and my girlfriend Victoria for a meal and watched videos.

Saturday, October 1

Johnny flew back to LA. He was supposed to go back on Monday but I think he was so pissed off with all the attention he was getting that he was dying to get home. Next time we’ll not tell anyone he’s coming.

Went out eating again. I like Italian restaurants, Greek restaurants, Chinese restaurants. I really like Young’s in Upper Street in Islington. My favourite Italian restaurant is this little place in Soho, but I’m not going to mention the name because then people will know where I go eating most of the time.

That’s usually what I do at weekends. I’ve not really got a normal job, so if I’ve not got any work to do, I’ll watch videos or go down the pub.