Noel Gallagher - Rolling Stone - July 1997
Liam Gallagher looks like he could be on stage. Dressed in a natty three-quarter-length blue coat and wearing tinted shades, the Oasis frontman struts across the floor of the band's no-frills office in central London, hands clasped behind his back and chin thrust out in his typical performance pose. But today, Gallagher isn't out to impress a crowd; he's just fawning over his manager's new vintage Bella motor scooter. "It's top, really," Gallagher says excitedly, circling the scooter. "I've got three like 'em at home. Top, top, top!" Entering the room, Noel Gallagher, dressed casually in jeans and a maroon Izod shirt, rolls his eyes and blows past his younger brother on his way to the conference room, where Noel begins to wolf down a lunch of pasta salad and grape juice. Sitting in front of him on the table is a prized possession: a cassette of songs from Oasis' third album, "Be Here Now," which is due out Aug. 26. It's a minor miracle that "Be Here Now" exists at all, given the Gallagher brothers' well-documented volatile relationship and the fact that Oasis nearly broke up last September after Noel left the band with five shows to play on a tumultuous U.S. tour. But after a few months spent cooling off, Oasis regrouped, and "Be Here Now" was recorded between December 1996 and March of this year. Perhaps symbolic of the turmoil surrounding it, the album is far more rowdy and aggressive than 1995's spare "(What's The Story) Morning Glory?" "'Morning Glory' was a bit quiet, poppy and clean," the older Gallagher says between bites of pasta. "This time we decided to give it the fucking full-on - as loud as we could get it. It..." He pauses, then leaps to his feet as he overhears Liam confessing his admiration for No Doubt to an office worker in the adjoining room.
"What did you just say?" Noel yells at his brother. "It's fucking rubbish, man!" "It's a top fucking song!" Liam counters, referring to No Doubt's hit powerballad, "Don't Speak." "This is what's wrong with music!" Noel rages, then slams the door. "Fucking hell, that No Doubt. Liam says he likes that song, and I can't believe it. God almighty. I've got a big problem with that fucking bird who sings it. I'm sure she's a very nice person. but that doesn't excuse the fact that the song is rubbish."
Noel changes the subject by popping a tape of the new Oasis album into the conference-room stereo. He adjusts the volume to a teeth- rattling level, then sits back as the album's first single, "D'You Know What I Mean?" blares through the speakers. The song is awash in layers of psychedelic guitar and drum loops - sampled from N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton," he says - then segues into a soaring singalong chorus. The melody of "D'You Know What I Mean?" is vintage Oasis, but the song's devastating percussive roar sounds unlike anything the band has done. Clearly, Noel's work with the Chemical Brothers on the electronic duo's recent hit "Setting Sun" rubbed off. "It's definately influenced the sonic side of things," Noel says. "When we were laying down this mix, we listened to our drum tracks and then to 'Setting Sun.' When their drums came in, they were twice as loud as ours. So I said, "We've got to get ours fucking louder than that.' It's all about compressors and EQs [equalizers], stuff I don't really understand. I just sit in the back drinking, pointing and shouting, 'It's not loud enough, turn it up!'" On the album, throbbing rockers such as "It's Getting Better Man, " "Be Here Now" and the squalor-filled, Sex Pistols-like "My Big Mouth" alternate with quieter guitar ballads like "All Around The World," the gorgeous "Don't Go Away" - many of which are full of layered guitar parts and string arrangements. Though singer Liam recently tested his songwriting chops, penning a tune with the Seahorses' John Squire for that band's album "Do It Yourself," Noel wrote all the songs for "Be Here Now." "I write the fucking songs for Oasis," he says with typical bravado. Oasis began laying down tracks for "Be Here Now" at London's Abbey Road, but the band was soon kicked out of the studio, Noel says, for "playing too loudly. Can you fucking believe that?" So Oasis ended up recording most of the 12-song, 72-minute album at Ridge Farm Studios, in the southern England countryside. But the genesis of some song stretches back further, to a Caribbean vacation that Noel took last fall. "The first part of 'Fade In/Out' was recorded in a little fucking shack on the beach," Noel Says. The song-the bluesiest thing the band has ever done-features a special guest: Johnny Depp. "We were drunk one night [in the Caribbean], and I borrowed his slide guitar and tried to play this solo, and it was absolutely dreadful," Noel recalls. "So he sat down and played it and got it in one take. He's actually a really good guitar player." Despite the pressures of recording a follow-up to the hugely successful "Morning Glory" and the intense media scrutiny surrounding the Gallaghers, the new album has re-energized the band. Today, Noel Gallagher is in good spirits, cracking jokes and smiling easily as he talks about "Be Here Now." It's a major change in attitude from last fall, when he bailed on Oasis' U.S. tour. "I wasn't going to do it anymore," he says, admitting that he regrets the decision to leave. "It was a circus, and I was just sick of everyone arguing, so I left. There wasn't a group for a while, then we decided to do one more record and call it quits. But after we started working, we thought, 'Oh, fuck it, what are we doing sitting around moaning for?'" With the record finished, Noel has moved to the brainstorming concepts for videos, planning an Oasis tour this fall and editing footage for a concert film (to be released later this year) documenting the band's weekend performances last summer at Knebworth, England. It was the largest concert ever held in Britian, attracting more than 250,000 fans. Still, Noel admits, nothing comes easy for Oasis. "We're back on the treadmill of being a band again," he says. "You'd have thought it would be easier this time, but believe you me..." He trails off with a shrug and a laugh. "I fucking know it won't be."