Noel Gallagher - Muse - 21st January 2000
Cast your mind back to Oasis' last stand. 1997's 'Be Here Now'. Recall, if you will, the reviews were almost all positive despite the album resembling something of a plump Christmas dinner. With wings. Bear in mind Oasis were the biggest band on the planet. Remember that anticipation was running high. No-one dared to be the kid who pointed out that the emperor was in the altogether. No-one. Face it, who'd sit in front of Noel Gallagher and tell him 'Be Here Now' was, well, a bit shit? That was then though.
"What happened was," begins Noel, "we went to Knebworth, did the fucking gig, blah blah blah, biggest band in the world. 'Morning Glory' was still in the American Top Ten and we were advised that we should go back and milk it for all it was worth. In hindsight we should have said no. I should have said, 'I want at least a year off'. We should have left on a fucking big high note.
"So we went back to America, the fucking tour fell apart, there was all amounts of shit going on: drugs and fighting and arguing and people getting nicked, hotel rooms getting trashed and all that shit. It was just becoming a fucking circus, I didn't like it so I fucked off home. There was endless speculation that the band was going to break up, to end that speculation I said, 'Fuck it, let's go into the studio and record an album'. 'Where's the songs?' 'Don't worry about that, we'll do that when we get there.' Which was the biggest mistake we ever made.
"Some of the songs were good, some of the songs were pretty uninspired. You know in your heart of hearts that you don't get two massive albums back to back, nobody fucking does. I don't even think 'Morning Glory' is that good to be honest with you. I think that's got a handful of good songs. "She's Electric"? Are you fucking sure? It was a semi-decent album with a big fucking hit, "Wonderwall". 'Be Here Now' was aimless. I was glad that album eventually got panned because then it was like, 'Right, the bar's fucking closed, I'm moving out of London, I'm stopping doing drugs'. I didn't have any songs left and it was like this is the fucking start again."
Is it ever. 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' is a startling return to form. Stripping away the bombast of 'Be Here Now', Oasis' fourth studio album has a heart and a soul where previously they had walls and walls of dense guitars. You get the feeling they approached the new songs in the same way a dance producer works. Picking and choosing the best bits, borrowing a hook here and there, using a sound now and again. As a result, 'Standing...' is a rock & roll record which acknowledges dance music without being anything like a dance album. A loop here and there maybe, a sample even, a few electronic noises and, of course, plenty of guitars.
"It's not a radical change from what we've been doing in the past," explains Noel. "It's the first step on what hopefully won't be too long a journey to where we want the band to be in five years from now. After five years I'm not too sure if I want to be doing this anymore anyway. Hopefully by then I'll have done the masterpiece album and I'll go, 'right, that's it, I'm signing off now for a bit'."
So is he proud of this one? "I'm proud of all the music and all the melodies and all the production and all the words bar "I Can See A Liar". I would have liked to work on the words to that a little bit more. 'I can see a liar/Sitting by the fire'. Hmm.
"That's horrible innit?" smiles Noel knowingly. "I fucking hold my hands up, man. I could have come up with something better than that."
Lyric aside, it is a cracker of an album. "I didn't feel I'd done my best on 'Be Here Now', I knew I hadn't done my best. And I knew I'd let the fans down more than anything because expectations were so high. When I listen back to "Stand By Me" and a few of those songs I just think, 'oh fucking hell, man, why are there so many fucking verses in it? Why's it go on so long? What's all that fucking feedback nonsense going on there?' Whereas this one now, I just go, 'yeah'."
You'd think that was that. Back in the saddle with a new album in the can. Key in the ignition, full tank of petrol, then pfutt. Late last year, Creation big tomato Alan McGee announced the label would be no more from June 2000. "He was very concerned that we hated him," smiles Noel. "I was going 'if you don't want to fucking do summit, then don't do it'. He started the record company eighteen years ago, set out to sell millions and millions of records, to sign the best rock & roll bands in the world. I said, 'you've done it. You've got nothing left to do, so what's the point?'. He said that's exactly how he felt. It would be wrong for him to stick around if his heart's not in it."
Problem: do they release their album on the label or do they go DIY? "We didn't want to put our album out on a record label that is like a ghost town when you walk into the fucking offices. Was anybody there really going to give it fucking 100 per cent? Was anybody really going to be arsed?"
Solution: Oasis set up their own label, Big Brother, and Noel is already believed to be out and about scouting for talent to sign on the dotted. The first single from 'Standing...', the grandiose singalong "Go Let It Out", will be the Big Brother's first release with the natty catalogue number RKID 001. And McGee? A raft of plans which sees him go off into the big internet yonder. Any future in that?
"He's always banging on about the internet," laughs Noel. "I have to admit I thought it was going to be a fad which was going to pass in about six months but you know..."
Yeah, we know... So what about Noel? What about Oasis? What's the masterplan now? "I would like to spent more time making records," says Noel. "I would like to make truly great albums, and to make truly great albums you need to be given the time and the space. With this record label thing we'll be the masters of our own destiny. We can do what we like. Hopefully what we like other people will like. We'll go the full on blitz for this album but I think it's time to slow down a bit, take more time out in between records. Now we've got families I don't want that to suffer at the expense of a few fucking gigs, you know what I mean?"
Problems? Phooey. In the past. And the future? "It's either going to be a glorious failure or it's going to be glorious," chuckles Noel. "We're either going to make the biggest cunts of ourselves or we're going to be the best rock & roll band in the world. Either way, it appeals fucking greatly to me."