Noel Gallagher - Irish Times - 6th December 1997
After three sell-out Dublin concerts, Noel Gallagher is bored with Oasis and thinks the band should give it a rest. He spoke at length to Kevin Courtney.
Noel Gallagher, guitarist and songwriter with Oasis, is tired, and it's not just from touring. As he sits in his dressing room at the Point, hours before the first of the band's three sold-out shows in Dublin, he lets out a huge yawn, not the yawn of someone who is jet-lagged or overworked, but the rather indifferent yawn of someone who's a bit fed up. Basically, Noel Gallagher isn't "mad for it" anymore, and it shows.
"I'm bored with Oasis, and I can't wait till this tour is over so I can take a long break," he admits. "If someone told me that tonight was the last date and we wouldn't play again for another five months, I wouldn't give a f***. "I'd go home, grab a beer, turn on the telly and watch the football. I think everybody's getting a bit bored with Oasis - I know they're getting bored with me and Liam, and the Beatles influences, and the drug stuff, and all that other bollocks about us. I think it's time to give it a rest, give the fans some time off from us."
Just a day after this interview Liam suddenly pulled out of the two remaining Dublin shows because of a throat infection. Noel stepped into the lead vocal slot,and the shows went ahead, but many fans felt that Liam was up to his old tricks again.
"I can't predict the future of Oasis, and I can't say what's going to happen a few months down the road," Noel had said. "I think it's amazing that we've got this far, and we're still together. Earlier this year it looked like the new album would never get made, and we'd never go on tour again. "But the album came out, it sold a few copies, and we've done some good gigs. All in all, I'd say it's been a great year for us. But after we've finished this tour you won't see or hear anything about Oasis for quite a while."
Noel could be picking the right time to drop out of the public eye. Even the media seem to have got bored with Oasis lately, and the Gallagher brothers are not pursued with the vigour of old. Time was when the tabloids ran a Noel and Liam story every other day, and the Gallaghers' every outburst was meticulously noted, misquoted, taken out of context and blown up out of all proportion.
Lately, however, there's been a fall in demand for Noel's controversial quotes, and the only places you're likely to find a mention of Oasis is in the review pages; most of the critics are saying the same thing - that their much-hyped third album, Be Here Now, is a letdown, that the band has reached its creative and commercial peak,and the only way from here is down.
"Is that what they're saying?" asks Noel. "Funny, I didn't read that. I thought the critics said we peaked with Morning Glory (Oasis's second and most successful album to date). But this new album has only been out a couple of months, and it's still selling. We didn't expect it to do as well as Morning Glory.
"I think a lot of critics can't make up their minds what to say about us. They're afraid to give their opinion until they've read everybody else's opinion. When Morning Glory came out they slagged it off, but as soon as they saw the kids were buying more copies of it than any other album, they changed their minds and started calling it a classic. "Be Here Now got great reviews from all the critics, but when it didn't sell as well as the last one, they turned around and went, 'I'm sorry I said that, it's really a shit album.' I wish critics would f***ing stand by what they say and take the consequences. I have to take the consequences of what I say every day."
To some people Oasis represent the thick end of the lad-rock wedge, but five minutes with Noel Gallagher, and you realise that not only is he smart, he also has a sharp rock 'n' roll instinct, and an uncanny insight into what makes Oasis so appealing - and sometimes very annoying. Noel speaks with the freedom of someone who can step outside his own myth and see the bigger picture.
"I've never believed in the rock 'n' roll myth. I'm just the bloke in a band who writes the songs and plays the guitar. I'm just doing my best, writing the best songs I can at the time. I never said we were bigger than Jesus. I never said I was a genius. That was some c*** in a magazine said that, and then everybody else started saying it. "I'm not a genius, and I'm certainly not godlike. I can't believe that sort of thing, especially when I read it after a night on the piss and I look like shit and I've just been in the loo throwing up. I look in the mirror and I don't see anything very godlike there. Liam's the man for the rock 'n' roll myth."
Noel is also clued in enough to realise when the rock 'n' roll myth can no longer be sustained, and he knows that the Oasis legend must inevitably lose its shine. He believes that Oasis's time came and went during 1995 and 1996, when the band became the biggest British pop phenomenon since The Beatles. Their second album, What's The Story (Morning Glory?) is now the second biggest-selling album of all time in Britain, coming close behind the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; the singles, Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger, are hugely popular anthems, and when the band played two consecutive outdoor shows in Knebworth in August, 1996 they attracted a quarter of a million fans.
"You can never repeat something like that," says Noel. "That was a moment of history, the culmination of Britpop or whatever you want to call it. There's no way we could ever do another Knebworth - we'd be just trying to re-create the last time, and that would be pathetic. The time was right for us then, and we grabbed the moment. We live in different times now, and we just have to let that go.
"It's not as exciting anymore - it's more like work. It used to be exciting when we never knew if Liam was going to show up, but it probably wasn't exciting for the fans who had paid money to see us. You know, queuing up outside the venue wondering if the show was even going to go ahead."
Oasis still have a way to go before the world tour is finished and they can put their feet up.
They're off to Asia and Australia in the New Year, and tonight they start a string of British dates which culminate in a homecoming gig in Manchester. Oasis won't be releasing a single for the Christmas market, even though pundits were predicting a possible Christmas Number One for their epic song, All Around The World. Instead, the song will be released in January, leaving the snow-covered field wide open for The Spice Girls and The Teletubbies.
Go on, admit it, Noel, you moved the release date back because you were afraid Oasis would get stuffed by four furry animals and five loud girls. He laughs contemptuously.
"Us running scared from a bunch of fat idiots and The Teletubbies? No f***ing way. The reason for the delay is that the video hasn't been finished yet. I don't give a f*** about chart positions.
What matters, says Noel, are the fans, and he seems determined not to push the fans' loyalty to breaking point. How does he feel, then, about touts in Dublin charging up to £300 a ticket for the band's three gigs?
"I think that's sick. I wouldn't pay that much money to come and see us. I'd pay that to see The Sex Pistols in 1977, if I could travel back in time."
And what about the accusations that Oasis have shut down unofficial websites dedicated to the band, even though most of them are run by genuine fans who get no financial gain from these activities?
"That's not us doing that, that's Sony," says Noel, pointing an accusing finger at the hapless record company rep who has just come into the room to call time on the interview. "I don't even have a computer at home. "I know f*** all about websites, Internet, surfing and all that. When I'm at home I just want to watch Brookside. So if there's any twat in a bedsit complaining about having his website shut down, don't blame me, pal, blame Sony."
Finally, how is the rocky relationship between Noel and Liam, rock's most famous rival siblings? Are they still the battling Gallaghers or has a truce been called in the name of rock 'n' roll?
"Everything's great," says Noel. "Just today he came up to me and gave me a great big kiss. So the tablets are definitely working."