Why Oasis rejected the opportunity to score the ‘Trainspotting’ soundtrack
Oasis and Trainspotting are two of the most quintessential cultural artefacts from the 1990s. Both the band’s era of dominance and the film’s release felt like moments that helped define a decade in Britain. However, these two cultural titans had the chance to collide when director Danny Boyle attempted to recruit Oasis to produce the soundtrack, but, Noel Gallagher was having none of it.
The soundtrack for Trainspotting, in the end, famously didn’t feature any original music from Oasis. Still, that didn’t stop it from becoming one of the most lauded soundtracks in the history of film. The 1996 classic famously opens with a monologue over the top of Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’, which fitted perfectly. It mainly relied on music from the Britpop era from Pulp, Elastica and Sleeper, which provided the film with a zeitgeist feel.
The only original song featured on the soundtrack came from Oasis’ arch-enemy at the time, Blur’s Damon Albarn. The frontman recorded the track, ‘Closet Romantic’, exclusively for Danny Boyle’s production. However, Albarn wasn’t the first name on the list to feature on the soundtrack, but Oasis had already told Boyle there was no chance of a collaboration.
It wasn’t until 20 years after the film’s release that the revelation came out that Oasis had turned down the chance to feature on the iconic soundtrack. In 2016, during a press question and answer session, Trainspotting producer, Andrew Macdonald, and costume designer, Rachel Fleming, explained why Oasis didn’t want to participate in the project.
“Danny [Boyle, who directed the film] is from near Manchester, and he was very keen to have Noel Gallagher do something, but there was a reason why he didn’t do it,” Macdonald said. “He came to the launch party in Cannes, but I don’t know why he didn’t do a piece of music.”
Fleming then hilariously added: “I met Noel at a thing the other week and he said to me: ‘I would have done something, but honestly I thought it was about trainspotters. I didn’t know.’ That’s what he actually said.
When Gallagher appeared on Hot Ones in 2019, he reluctantly confirmed that what Fleming said was entirely accurate and he genuinely thought it was a film about trainspotters. “Nobody told me, why did it not say heroin addicts in the title?” Gallagher lamented. “I’d never heard of Irvine Welsh, I’m not very intellectual, and I don’t read books. Trainspotting? A film about spotting trains? I was like, ‘Nah, you’re alright mate.’ Little did I know that it would go on to become one of the great British films of all-time.”
The former Oasis man expanded on this faux-pas with Matt Morgan in a YouTube interview on Gallagher’s channel, stating: “Oasis were on the other side of the world at the time, and someone said, ‘Do you want to get involved in this new film that’s called ‘Trainspotting’?’ And I went, ‘Trainspotters? Fuck that! This is a failing of mine, and I can’t help it. If I see somebody approaching me with a camera to do that thing, if I see them from a distance then I will pretend to be intimidating because I don’t want to have my picture taken.”
Back in 1996, Oasis were an unstoppable force of nature that looked like they could do no wrong in the eyes of the British public and Noel Gallagher knew how to connect with the youth of the country in a way that nobody else could. The film didn’t need Oasis to become a legendary piece of cinema with an equally delectable soundtrack to boot. However, it’s hard not to pine for what could have been if Noel had heard them out and let Boyle explain the story to them rather than trusting his gut on this one.