Noel & Liam Gallagher - Unknown - 1997
One thing was particularly striking when we saw you back on stage in June in San Fransisco, after nine turbulent monthes: your relaxation, your carefree attitude.
Liam: I've never felt any pressure in my life. The weak may feel crushed. I've really enough to be relaxed: I sing in a top band, my life is happiness, my wife is marvellous, I've just spent eight monthes of holidays It was good to come back onstage, to hear the band behind me. I've missed it physically for two monthes.
Noel: Around us, everybody was making a fuss: "Oasis' comeback!" or "Oasis vs U2!" For us, it was just the end of the holidays, a gig without any pressure. Last year, in England, we played in front of more than 200,000 people. So 60,000 Californians, it's intimate! I was so happy to be there, I missed the stage, I needed to see the face of the people who buy my records. Onstage, for 10 minutes, I'm all adrenaline. Then I calm down and I can observe. Today I'm neither excited nor nervous when I have to face the stage. Me, I'm the lazy one. Liam love being onstage; me, I'd rather stay in the hotel and sleep!
How have you lived these last nine months, when Oasis was often said to be dead?
Liam: We needed a break to redefine who we were, why we were there, why we came there. We needed rest, there were too many gigs, too much work. And then, maybe I had too much rest, I came back to home. But I had to come back to England. We needed a house to live with my wife. You can't spend six months of touring always sleeping in hotels and then come back to London and again sleep in a hotel! But I knew that Oasis would survive. This band is immortal I knew that Noel would come back. It would kill him to leave Oasis. I'll never let him drop dead. When he was doubting, I spoke to him. I said: "Noel, remember, all our kids' dreams, rock'n'roll" I gave him back the faith.
Noel: Playing in a band was becoming disappointing. We'd just spent 2 years on the road When we gave up in September, I was really exhausted. And I was disappointed by the band, disappointed by our record company I really thought that I'd never come back to Oasis, that the band was buried. It's an idea that never leaves me: everyday I think of stopping everything. I certainly don't want to be Mick Jagger, to keep doing it when I am 55. I want to retire when Oasis is at top. Last year, for a week, Oasis was unofficially finished, I didn't want to play in a rock'n'roll band anymore. All these stories about fightings between Liam and me are bullshit: we're always fightingf, it's normal, he's my brother. But the real problem was me: I didn't want to tour, to give interviews, to be photographied. Playing in Oasis had always been a job but then it was becoming a fuckin' job.
Did you find yourself disappointing?
Noel: Yeah. I was really angry against myself cos I had left the situation becoming so rotten. But I was young, I was just 29, I was naive. Now I perfectly control the situation. If you ask me a question I don't like, I'll stand up, I'll go away, I'll take the first plan and I'll go back to home. Nobody - manager, record company, rest of the band - can tell me what to do anymore. Now I'm the boss so I do what I want.
Did your mother swear at you whan you said that you'd had enough of Oasis?
Noel: Yeah! She always does! "Boy, you should take care, it's bad to say that". One of her main concern is that I look after Liam. Yet, he's not as stupid as he looks, he really can take care of himself.
How important do you think he is in Oasis?
Noel: He's the singer. Rather excellent in his job. Best fuckin' singer in the world. In the best fuckin' band in the world. Apart from that, he doesn't write anything and he doesn't play any instrument. Yet the band wouldn't exist without him.
You sound irritated
Noel: I really can do without Liam. I'll do solo records whan I want. It's me who sing Don't Look Back In Anger, isn't it? But he couldn't do without me. I can tell it to him: between brothers, we can say these things that hurt very much.
Between two fightings, do you manage to express some tender feelings?
Noel: Liam knows that I love him, I don't have to tell him. I know that he loves me and I really don't want to hear him telling me.
Do you sometimes feel prisoner of a role, obliged to be up to Oasis ' reputation?
Noel: It's not a wrong reputation: I am cool, smart and sweet! (laughing) But tou forget that there's another facet of my personality. I can be shy, reserved. An introvert guy with a big mouth. At home, I'm the most silent and quiet person you've ever seen! Fussy but quiet. If, for 6 months, I've nothing to do for the band, if I've well done my homework, if I've written good songs, yet I can't let myself go: if I wanna hook a picture on the wall, it will be done with precision, otherwise I become mad. It's like that for everything: I hate botched work.
It must be quite annoying to live with you
Noel: I'd hate to live with someone like me. I'm sure that my wife complains smoothly.. Actually, I'm very taciturn at home, especially when I'm writing. Then it's a real battle to make me say a word. But I don't have to apologize: it's my job, I have to do it, it's totally part of me. If my wife enters my room and asks me: "Oh, you're writing, can I see?", I close my books and I put my hands on them. Nobody can see before it's finished.
Would people be surprised if they saw you daily?
Liam: I'm not excited 24 hours a day. I'm awfully normal, dull, harmless I'm so normal that it's painful. Before, I lived at top speed, boom-boom-boom. But I had to calm down, I was about to die. One night, after a gig, I started to suffocate while sleeping. I remembered Jimi Hendrix, dead suffocated by his vomit after taking too much drugs and alcohol. So I relax, I fritter away my time all day long. When I'm sober, I'm even shy. That's why I drink. To have my big mouth again, to become someone.
Noel, do you write continually or with phases?
Noel: I work like a dog during a few months and then I can take a year of holidays. For example, I haven't written anything for more than 6 months, since I finished the 22 songs for Be Here Now and the future singles. Sometimes, I take a few notes, but most of the time it leads to nothing. When I'm not writing, I like drinking, watching football matches on TV, going to gigs. At home, I spend my life playing guitar, playing songs by the Beatles, the Jam or the Smiths. I read loads of magazines, I need informations more than stories. I really have trouble in finishing a book. I can't concentrate so long.
Liam: Books are for losers. I never need to live others' stories, mine is enough. Those who read books haven't imagination. They're not able to read their own mind, their own thoughts. Mine are really enough.
Is it sometimes humiliating to read what is written about you, especially about you lack of manners, of culture?
Noel: There's a lot of condescension and denigration. But I can't complain, I've said some things much more lousy about many people. But I feel sorry for Liam, he's really hounded. He shouldn't have married a star (laughing)
Liam: I've ben hurted by what I read. I don't want my wife to read that I'm always shagging when she's not there. I never complain when people say that I take drugs and I drink cos it's true. But I don't like when people are lying.
After your triumph at Knebworth last year, Oasis seemed to need nobody. Since this tumultuous autumn, you've both get married. Did you realize then that you weren't invincible, that you needed some support?
Liam: I've always needed my mother, but never needed my father. And I've needed the band, the manager. I love my brothers and my mum more than everything.
Noel: I've never underestimated my mother and my old friends' importance. But I don't need their advice, I don't need them to hold me saying that everything's gonna be alright. It's been too long that I look after myself, now I don't need anybody to take decisions. I've never asked help in my whole life. My friends are important when I want to party. The rest of the time, I'm an ermit. Even married, I remain lonely (silence) I like spending days on my own, going on a walk. It's the only moment when I can talk to myself, when I can put myself in my place. I'm very strict with myself, I call myself a sad bastard. And I rebel against myself: "You can't say that, I'm not so bad!" (laughing)
Liam: I look to myself in the mirror and I say that I'm into the right place. But I never speak to myself. He rather speaks to me (laughing) He tells me to go on like that, that the fight isn't finished, that there are still many people to send to hell.
Have you always been like that, lonely, stubborn?
Noel: As far as I can remember, it's always been like that: me against the world, stubborn as a mule. When I really want something, there won't be a second of rest until I get it. It's like that in Oasis, I hear things that nobody can conceive and I'm fighting until I've obtained that precise sound. Before, I fought physically to impose my ideas. But now I'm too old, it's just verbal. Music doesn't worth fighting. Anyway, there isn't any discussing anymore: I have the last word, otherwise I go away. I've never been into democracy. It wouldn't work in a band; there couldn't be five songwriters.
When you was a kid, what future did you dream of?
Noel: As a Gemini, I've always had a double personality: on the one hand I was sure that I'd be successful, on the other hand I was sure that I'd finish my life on the dole. So I thought that the truth was maybe in the middle: that I'd make a living from music and that's it.
Liam: I wanted to become someone. And I've managed, on my own. My life is far easy now than in my adolescence. I was just a scared boy, I was afraid that my mum'd fall ill, that my brothers would be unhappy.
Noel: I've never been afraid of anything. Apart of dogs. When I was a kid, they used to terrorize me. But I knew how to fight.
You come from a very catholic family. Have you grown in the fear of God?
Noel: It was a very heavy weight on my chilhood, but now I've totally thrown it away. But until the age of 13 or 14, I used to go every sunday to church. But the "catholic culpability" never stopped me from having a well filled sexual life. I'm not thinking of God when I'm shagging (laughing) Anyway, I've never talked to God, I used to go to church just to do as the rest of my family.
You've said that you've always been obsessive. What were your obsessions before rock'n'roll?
Liam: My only obsession is me. The rest - family, friends -, it's love. It's the same for music. I'm not as mad as my brother. I suddenly began thinking about music when I was 16. But I'd always liked singing, notably in the church choral.
Noel: In my life, there was only football and painting. I was always drawing. And of course drugs, a big obsession since I was 14. Manchester City was my life, I used to listen to their matches on the radio. Not Manchester United. Cantona is just a bastard. I spent my life hanging in the shopping centre Arndale Center. It was like that until I was 18. Then there was a trigger I couldn't explain. I decided to stop spoiling my life, I knew that I'd become a popstar. It was just like a lightning that collapsed on me. Till then, I'd hardly never written music but then I really started. Maybe I understood that I was useless, that I'd never find a job if I didn't exploit the only gift I had. I wasn't good enough to make a living from football; I was nearly about to fall in heroin like most of my friends.
The Gallagher family was part of the big Irish community of Manchester. Did you feel protected there?
Noel: There was a very strong femily spirit, even though I knew I couldn't rely on anybody. Our house was always full of irish families, I liked them.
After your father departured, you became "the men of the family". Were you ready for that?
Noel: Well, I've never thought about it, but you're maybe right It made me become more responsible.
Liam: I suffered a lot whan I was a kid, it made me stronger. My father especially hurt me a lot. My mother's old friend as well. They showed me only the dirtiest face of life: insults, blows. Men and religion have broken me (silence) But I understood very fast that I couldn't believe in God anymore but only in myself. And it's true that I became a man in spite of myself. I grew up too fast. I'm 24, but I've seen too many things. I'm still that angry kid and unfortunately I'm not about to calm down. I'll never forget a big fight between my parents; he didn't stop hitting her. She decided it was enough, she wanted to divorce. She used to go every week to the church but immediately after that she wasn't allowed to have the Communion anymore. She wasn't allowed anymore to eat Christ's body just cos she wanted to protect herself from a violent husband. I've never forgiven thais hypocrisy to the catholic Church. Religion turned its back to my mum so I turned my back to religion. Many of my ants heve never forgiven me. They say I'm a fool. But I don't believe at all in God, the old bearded man. Does He have a dick? Is He a man or a giraffe?
In D'You Know What I Mean? you evoke your father for the first time: "I met my maker, I made him cry".
Noel: It's not about my father, it's about God. If I ever meet Him, I'll have a few ords to say That said, I can be wrong, it's maybe about my father (mischevious smile) It's my way of evacuate my feelings: I write on a piece of paper evrything that's going wrong and then it doesn't belong me anymore. Even if what I write doesn't finish in a song, writing frees me. That's why I'll never go to see a psycholog. People don't always realize that there's a lot about me in my songs, some hard and personal things.
It's quite evident on Be Here Now. You seem vulnerable for the first time.
Noel, perplex: Vulnerable? It's strange because I wrote these songs when I was happy, just before our breakdown.
Are you afraid of becoming "married with children"?
Noel: Yeah, I'm afraid of having children. I'll never have, I don't want to. 2 dogs, a wife and I'll be happy. I take too much drugs to assuming such a responsability.
Liam: Me, not at all. Tooday I'm the happiest man in the universe. I'll never complain cos I've had everything I wanted: I dreamed of singing in a rock'n'roll band and I'm in the best; I dreamed of a beautiful wife and I've got the more gorgeous. I can't believe Patsy Kensit want to spend the rest of her life with me, to grow old and to die with me And the wind is blowing outside, she's keeping me warm. I want nothing more from life, except to be remembered as a cool guy. And to have children. Two kids. I need a family.
On this album, you write about your inability of communicating, something very usual in the boys from the North of England. Do you suffer from it now?
Noel: Growing up wasn't easy. I haven't got any nostalgy for adolescence: it's impossible to regret the dole It's true that in the north, boys are educated to become strong men, without states of mind. I've never cried. Even when John Lennon was murdered, even when Manchester City went down the second division. Yet, today I don't fight my weaknesses and my feminity anymore; I express them in Don't Look Back In Anger and Don't Go Away. But as I've never liked wearing girls' clothes, it's never been a big deal (laughing)
Liam: I've never been afraid of showing my feelings, of crying. Music sometimes touches me to tears. When our kid made me listen to Don't Go Away for the first time, I cried. But I can't say it too often, I mustn't show my weaknesses, otherwise everybody will be laughing. A guy can't cry. I keep my tears for when I'm on my own. As soon as I'm kind with people, they took advantage. I always have to watch out.
Do you sometimes feel like being manipulated? Do you think that people from your record company or journalists live their rock'n'roll dreams through you?
Noel: Yeah, always. I always have to remember where I'm from, who I am. Not to believe in what my manager or my record company say. I've been disappointed by people I trusted. But now I can replace them immediately. It's like this fuckin' war between Oasis and Blur I was pushed into this. It's this fuckin' Damon who started it all, but we shouldn't have bid higher, our record company and the newspapers made us do. If I could do what I want, I'd control everything in touch with Oasis. Cos there are always and everywhere people who are making stupid things in name of Oasis, and they're paid to do that
Being betrayed would make evreybody sad. But you aren't. Maybe it's because you've been fighting so much to become who you are that you haven't any state of mind anymore?
Noel: I don't like snivelling. I'm paid impressive amounts to do what I like most: writing songs. Whan I hear other bands saying that there are too many gigs to do, too many interviews, I feel like saying "So go and find another job, bastard!"
Is there anyone today who can influence Oasis' musical choices?
Noel: During the recording of Be Here Now, nobody was admitted in the studio. It's maybe the only matter that I can control as I want. Even the fuckin' band, even the fuckin' manager, even my fuckin' wife can't tell me what to do. It's my job place, where I become somebody. If I want a song to last 10 minutes, it will last 10 minutes. I don't care for what the radios could say. The studio is my home, I can slam the door. And for Be Here Now I did it. I had to learn many things but I'm ready for the next album, something psychedelic. It won't be traditionnal rock anymore. I don't care selling less records, I'm rich enough now. Now I can have fun
Liam, do you sometines feel frustrated because you aren't implicated at all in the writing?
Liam: I'd like to be able to bluff, but it wouldn't work very long. So I shut up and I trust my brother, who I think is a genius. He's spent all his life for the music. In our family, we don't do things halfway: when I sing, when I smoke, when I go to the toilet, it's always done perfectly. You should see the shit I put whan I go to the toilet (convinced look)
Why don't you write? Because of a lack of confidence?
Liam (outraged look): What? Lack of confidence?? Are you kidding? (he calls his bodyguard): You know what? I seem to be lacking of confidence! (the bodyguard grumbles and laughs) I sometimes write but nobody can see the result. These songs wouldn't be popular. Yat, there's no record company worthy to hear them. I'm rich enough not to need sell them. Writing helps me a lot.
Noel, you're a perfect self-taught person. How do you explain to the musicians the arrangements, the sounds you expect from them?
Noel: It takes a lot of time to describe precisely, with words, what I expect, but we've always managed. After several days. It's because my lack of education. Today I strongly regret to have left school so early I could have learned proper english. Whan I hear a music in my head, and I can't write it down, it's driving me mad! You can't imagine my relief whan I finally hear this music in the loudspeakers The real life is there, in the studios, creating music. The rest is only time to kill between two recordings.
Do you sometimes think of musiciens killed by the studios life?
Noel: When the atmosphere begins becoming really unhealthy, I know how to disappear. That's why the recording of Be Here Now took so much time: I worked for a week and then went on holiday for a week. I'm not Spector or Brian Wilson: I don't feel like being less important than my music, being its slave. Anyway, I'm not particularly fussy in the studios, I keep calm.
Do you sometimes terrorize the band, the technicians?
Noel: Yeah, I sometimes feel that they're afraid of me. But I'm a dictator only on monday and tuesday. These guys are here to do their job, to do it properly. They aren't there to give me advice, anyway, I don't listen to them. The band have never brought a goo idea concerning my songs.
You're a specialist of pop-music since childhood. How do you keep this passion while being yourself in its world?
Noel: It's worse now than then. I have to listen to everything. If I ever don't have any passion anymore, I'll probably stop playing. It's like that since I was 11: I buy loads of magazines, I listen to the radio and I dream. Whatever that could give a bit of animation in my life was good: playing guitar, touring in the whole world as the Inspiral Carpets roadie. Cos if I'd stayed on my own, I'd have become mad. Or more likely I'd have died from overdose.
You employ several people who were around you at this time. Are they important for you to keep you on the ground?
Noel: I've got a wife for that. And a very careful mother. I talk with her evreyday, she knows me more than anyone. If I ever need any advice, I'll go to see her. But it's never happened. Even when I thought of leaving the band, I talked only with myself. The friends are here to laugh with, not to tell me I'm an asshole! I don't care for their opinion. If these Mancunians are here, it's only because they do a good job. Oasis isn't a charity.