Noel Gallagher & Gem Archer - BBC Radio 1 - 17th January 2000
Steve: In the Live Lounge here at Radio 1, we welcome Noel and Gem from Oasis. Thank you very much for coming in.
Noel: Good Evening.
Steve: You're spending most of your days at the moment rehearsing, is that right?
Noel: Yeah, rehearsing and doing interviews.
Steve: It's still a bit strange for me seeing Gem in the band, from this side.
Noel: It's really strange for him.
Steve: Is it just sinking in?
Gem: I'm still waiting for the Monty Python foot to come in!
Steve: Cause how many bands have you been in before?
Steve: That's a bit of an exaggeration.
Gem: It's not!
Steve: What was it like, the first time, the rehearsing?
Gem: The rehearsing? Erm...
Noel: It was weird cause we didn't have a bass player at the time, we rehearsed about five or six and it was like a different one each week. We hadn't rehearsed with him. He'd already got the gig before we rehearsed with him, because we knew the stuff that he plays and the stuff that he likes, so that was sorted, and then there was this procession of 'Stars in Their Eyes' hopefuls.
Steve: Were they people who thought they looked the part?
Noel: To be honest with you, they were people who were in current bands - who have sworn us to secrecy, because they've probably gone back to the bands - and they were going, "Listen, if anyone finds out I'm here, I'm going to get kicked out", so we had to keep it schtum. Probably the one you'd know about was Pottsy [from Monaco], but other than that we're not allowed to say.
Steve: Is it true to say that the new boys have given the band a fresh energy?
Noel: For me personally, it's like being in a new band, because I think we'd come to the end of the road. At the end of the last tour, at the end of '97, I was fed up with the band and what it had become and the people that were in it. I wasn't really enjoying it and I was maybe being a bit moody on the road with other people.
Steve: Do you think you'd almost lost your sense of purpose for a while there?
Noel: I was treading water since, really, the recording sessions of 'Morning Glory', because I'd written 'Definitely Maybe', and that album out of the lot of them had its own direction and stuff like that. It was a young person's sort of rock 'n' roll album, and after that, I was waiting for flashes of inspiration to come along, and they came in fits and bursts in Morning Glory, with the likes of 'Some Might Say' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger'. 'Be Here Now' it was just like, if you don't know what to do - if I'd give any young bands advice - it's like if you're in a recording studio and you don't know what to do, it's best to do nothing, just pack the gear up and go home.
Steve: Why do you think you carried on? Was it just that the momentum was there?
Noel: I don't know. We'd got back off that Morning Glory tour, and I'd walked out of the tour, the plan was to do one more album and then call it quits. But I suppose you're just not brave enough to say, you know, "what am I going to do after this?" So we just went into the studio and out it came. And then before you know it, your manager's booked a load of gigs and you're obliged to go on the road. It's not that I particularly wanted to do it, it was the thought of just being sat at home not doing anything was more frightening than going on the road.
Steve: You wouldn't be able to do this though, would you, because you write a lot of songs? All the quotes I read in the press are about how prolific you are. If you were sitting at home, sitting on your hands...
Noel: It's like being sat on a spinning top and just going round and round and round and round, and the more you go round, you just keep going round the same old path that you've laid for yourself really, and it just became a little bit boring for me.
Steve: But did you seriously consider packing it in?
Noel: I did on a number of occasions. After that Morning Glory tour was one occasion, and after the 'Be Here Now' tour, I probably didn't consider packing it in, but if we hadn't have had that two year space - I had to argue a long, long time to get those two years off, people were going "naa, what's up with you, blah blah blah." Liam, being Liam, was constantly mad for it. But I needed just to get away from it all, because we'd just come to the end of it. It was just really s tale. You can hear that on the like of 'All Around The World' for instance. It's just like a band in the studio going round the same old chords, and it was just getting a bit naff for me.
Steve: Do you think you're extra harsh on it now, with retrospect?
Noel: To be honest, I didn't really think that it deserved...initially the reviews it got were fantastic...and I didn't think it deserved the eight out of ten it got in the NME and stuff like that. And subsequently after that, I didn't really think it deserved the kicking that it got, so, you know, it was alright. I do remember at the time saying it was a load of pub rock, and people were going, "aah, what's up with you?", but I stand justified on that.
Steve: Don't you think a lot of that's down to people who don't quite know when you're being sarcastic or not?
Noel: Yeah, but we'd been in the band together for eight years and we had the same producer, and it was back to the same old studios, and it was the same old nonsense going on. It was just a lack of inspiration, you know what I mean?
Steve: You sound bored now, talking about it! It's almost as if we've just gone back there. But this is where we were last time you were in, and it needed some sort of period of revaluation or something.
Noel: I don't remember the last time I was in.
Steve: We prefer not to around here.
Steve then plays 'Let's All Make Believe'.
Steve: "Let's All Make Believe", which is going to be on the "Go Let It Out" single, and which is coming out on Big Brother...?
Noel: It is, yeah.
Steve: Now, record company mogul!
Noel: Yeah, they said it would never happen. I recall a lot of highly paid people in the music industry being on television saying, "Oh no, it'll never happen, it's far too soon to the release of the album", but it is going to come out on Big Brother and so's the album. Once we've got this record out of the way, and another that we're in the process of writing, I personally would go and sign some groups, or do something with it, instead of it just being there for us lot to bolster our own egos with. Maybe sort of give...
Gem: ...give your mate a break!
Steve: A bit like the label which you last came from.
Steve: How's it going to work, this label? Have you taken people from Creation Records? Have you got mates in?
Noel: We haven't got that many mates in London really. It was like when we first phoned Gem up, we just said, "Er, look, we're looking for a new guitarist and we hate everybody else"...
Steve: Damned by fake praise!
Noel: ...which is like the wrong thing to come out with, cause he's sat there thinking, "I'm only in because they don't like anyone else". We've got a few people from Creation working for us, and then we're going to get other people who possibly are new to it, just to make it interesting and exciting really. You don't want people who've worked in record labels before, because they tend to be a bit cynical about it all.
Steve: And they've also got a certain way of doing thngs...
Noel: ...And they're all gossips in London anyway. You'd be reading in the papers what the artwork for the next album was.
Steve: Not only that, you'd probably be seeing it down Camden Market! Just on the subject of the new album, you were saying it sounded like you needed a break to get things straight in your head about where the band was going to go. Some of this is almost reflected in the lyrics, do you think?
Noel: Yeah. How it all came about was that over the first six months I was having the lay-off, I was writing bits and pieces, and I had to suddenly accept the fact that I write songs in a certain style, which is usually on either an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. Towards the end of 'Be Here Now', I wanted to make a complete radical change from what I do, but I had to accept the fact that I just sit and write songs on an acoustic guitar. So once I started from that point, I was like right, so I've accepted that. Now how can I make what I do, which is quite retro, to sit on a stool with an acoustic guitar and sing away. How can I make that more contemporary, and make it sound more modern and more interesting to the people who are already into the band, and maybe the people who have sort of shied away from the band in the past. So the first thing was, right, we need a change of producer, and the second thing was a complete and utter change of approach to the way we recorded things. And then it was a case of going through drum loops and samples and things like that. It sort of all built up from there really, but Spike was the key to it all, because he'd worked with Massive Attack and U2. He was the key to getting it to a more contemporary level.
Steve: Lyrically, it's less ambiguous, far more open in a way. There's Liam's track, but those tracks which you've written yourself seem to be far more about you, out of that period.
Noel: It was always difficult in the past to get really personal about songs, because then you knew at some point you would have to hand them over and give it to your kid brother to sing, who's five years younger than you and obviously doesn't live the life that you lead. So that was always a problem in the past, and that would always stop me from getting too deep about things. But this time, if we were going to go for a more personal approach, I just got a bit deeper down into the situations I was in at the time really.
Steve: Don't you find as well, there are certain snippets of lyrics which are almost like the things you pulled out of the air on the first album? There's a line on "Where Did It All Go Wrong?", something like, "Do you keep the receipts..."
Noel: "Do you keep the receipts for the friends that you buy?" Well, that song in particular is written about the circle of friends that I was moving in at the time. A lot of young, successful people who seemed to have the self-destruct mechanism in them. It all seems to be on the verge of crashing in upon themselves, and it's just an observation of that really.
Steve: There's a run of three tracks on the album, "Gas Panic", "Where Did It All Go Wrong", and "Sunday Morning Call", which is probably my favourite track off the record, which all seem to have that feel that there's a certain claustrophobia, but also maybe a standing back from everything.
Noel: Yeah. I do recall writing them in my house in London, and me getting really down about the situation that I'd let myself get into.
Steve: Were you letting yourself go?
Noel: It was 'mad for it' gone mad, you know what I mean? There came to a point where I was like, I don't want to be a wheezing old bag at 45 and just never had the balls to give it up, to get my head straight. At first it was like, I'm going to get my head straight for about six weeks, and that turned into eight weeks, and lo and behold, it's now nearly two years. Me standing back and looking at what had gone on and what had gone wrong.
Steve: You're going to play a couple of songs from the album tonight. What's the first one?
Noel: The first one's called 'Who Feels Love', which is a bit of an old hippy type thing. It's quite a radical, different sound than it is on the album, but you've got to hang in there with it, cause it goes on a bit. It does sound better on the album, I have to say.
They play the song.
Steve: It's Oasis in the Live Lounge, here at Radio 1, and before you play your second track tonight, it's time to pick the track that you'll be covering when you record your session for the Evening Session later this week. This was the deal. Oasis said, "we'll cover a song chosen by fans and listeners, anything but a Beatles song". The response, I have to say, was immense. Over the last fortnight, we'd had about six thousand e-mails from all around the world, plus calls on the phone and cards in the post. So we've added all the votes together and come up with a Top Five which we'll be choosing from in the back tonight. They are: The Who - 'My Generation', Blur - 'Country House'...
Noel: Ooh, can't wait for that one.
Steve: Can't think why! Rolling Stones - 'Sympathy For The Devil', Nirvana - 'Come As You Are' and Robbie Williams - 'Angels'. Noel, do you want to do the honours?
Noel: And the winner is... The Who - 'My Generation', which I think Liam will be very pleased about.
Steve: Are you happy with that?
Noel: Well no actually, because we've been rehearsing 'Country House' all day, because we were bound to pick that.
Gem: I think Andy will be happy with that one.
Noel: He will actually, yeah.
Steve: What can you do with 'My Generation' by The Who, do you reckon?
Noel: I dunno. Well, we could make it longer. I dunno really.
Steve: Change the lyrics?
Noel: That's the beauty of it all.
Gem: Put a moustache on it.
Noel: I beg your pardon, sir.
Steve: Do you think, just noticing the way you act tonight, is the chemistry a bit special now? Do you think you've got a rock 'n' roll gang again?
Noel: It's not so much a gang in the sense that we've known each other for years. I think it's more of a musical gang, do you know what I mean? I'm quite obsessed with music up to a point that for my missus it becomes boring, but I'm finally in a band where - Liam's always obsessed with music - but Andy and Gem, these two in particular, are right bang into it. It's good to be able to sit down and chat about bootlegs and stuff. We used to never have them conversations, ever.
Steve: It's funny, just the 'hanging out' aspect almost, because I saw you two walk past us in the queue at the Foo Fighters gig.
Noel: We were there to see the Hellacopters.
Steve: They were supporting, weren't they?
Gem: The Hellacopters, we heard them on the radio, on John Peel, and we just went, "who was that? Hellacopters?" It was kind of like a race to find who could find the most out about them. They're from Sweden - three points!
Noel: But yeah, we go out quite a bit.
Gem: We did three gigs that night.
Noel: Yeah, we went to three gigs that night.
Steve: This is like being 17 again!
Noel: We went to see Southern Fly at the Scala. We were on the way to the Scala and we heard Tony Crean from Go! Discs, he was going on about this band, Crashland, and he said, "tonight they're playing at The Monarch". Was it The Monarch? No, the Falcon. So we had this driver, Chris, who just screeched the brakes on, and we said, "Camden it is!" So we checked them out, and then we went to see... I can't remember that one... we were very drunk.
Gem: There was that other guy with loads of fruit on his head, wasn't there? A sort of Doctor John via Dr. Seuss.
Noel: He had like a telecaster with the mirrors on, like Syd Barrett, but after that we walked out, because he had a bowl of fruit on his head.
Steve: And that's still a no-no! Whatever you do, bands, the advice from Noel Gallagher is that you can do many things, apart from the bowl of fruit on your head! Listen, thank you very much for coming in, and you're going to do another tune.
Noel: Yeah, this one's called "Sunday Morning Call", and we have had to edit this down a bit, because it's got this big guitar solo bit in the middle, but they always sound naff on acoustic guitars. You sound like John Barry or someone like that. So we've cut that bit out. It's your favourite song on the album...
Gem: It's my favourite one, yeah.
Steve: Me too.
Noel: It's one for the ladies. I think all the girls like this one because it's a bit soppy.
Gem: What you saying?
Steve: Live then tonight on Radio 1, thank you very much, this is Oasis, and this is "Sunday Morning Call"