Relive the 90s with Britpop photographer Kevin Cummins

Written by Hatti Rex, Photography © Kevin Cummins

With a CV that includes being the chief photographer at NME for over a decade through the ‘80s and ‘90s with a portfolio starring names like Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Elastica, and Suede; Manchester-born Kevin Cummins has captured the Britpop legacy, Cool Britannia and the Madchester scene more so than any other person on the planet. 

Anthologised in his latest photobook, While We Were Getting High: Britpop and the 90s is a time capsule that takes us on a trip down memory lane to the era when Damon Albarn and the Gallagher brothers were having it out on every front page. 

Even for fans who know the genre like the back of their hand, the book promises some never-before-seen rare pictures and insight documenting the rise and fall of the Britpop scene. 

So what was it like to work with the Gallagher brothers? 

“They’d had a scrap on the ferry overnight”, Cummins tells the BBC in an exclusive interview about the book and his first meeting with Oasis. 

“Noel had gone to bed, the rest of them had a fight with some football fans and were kept on the boat and sent back to England. So that was my introduction to them.” 

Having only one of the boys to photograph, he had to make it work just to get paid for it. Taking a few snaps of Liam Gallagher wandering alone down the iconic red-bricked streets, the rest was history, and that one moment would set the tone for his later meetings with the band. 

Despite the previous no-show, Noel Gallagher features as a contributor in the book, alongside other notable excerpts from Suede frontman Brett Anderson, Echobelly’s Sonya Aurora Madan, and Martin Rossiter from Gene. 

All these bands are so intrinsically grouped together, but the book explores how all these bands rose up through their separate paths before being lumped together by the magazines. 

Gallagher admits that he found the Britpop tag “a bit demeaning” as Oasis weren’t part of any scene but were mostly responsible for pushing indie into mainstream playlists. But as with all movements, accidental or not, everything comes to an end eventually. 

"Britpop was long dead when Tony Blair invited them all to Downing Street,” Cummins explains.

“That was the kiss of death. The whole point of youth movements is that they're anti-establishment."

While We Were Getting High: Britpop and the 90s is available to buy now.