Noel Gallagher - Boston Globe - 14th April 2000
Up the mountain, then down it. That's been the path of British rock in the last decade - and Oasis has seen both sides of that mountain. The Beatles-sounding band, starring brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher, sold 29 million albums in the mid-'90s, but has struggled with its latest release, ''Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,'' which slumped to No. 185 in Billboard this week after just five weeks.
What's going on?
''All of these things come in cycles, don't they?'' says Noel Gallagher, the band's guitarist and chief songwriter. ''When we first started, people said that British guitar music was dead because everything was American grunge with Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and the Smashing Pumpkins. But then we came along, and all the American rock died down for a while. But now it's back with Korn and that type of music. Five years from now, you might be having a conversation and jazz might be back in vogue. Who knows?
''I think after about six months of this [new] album being out, we'll find out where we truly stand,'' adds Gallagher, whose group headlines the Orpheum on April 27. ''We've just come out of this whirlwind phenomenon that was Oasis between 1994 and 1997. The world was fascinated by British music and we were at the forefront of that. It has sort of tailed off over the last couple of years while we've been away, but everyone in the [Oasis] camp is still really positive about getting out and doing the gigs and then going on to make another record.''
Although record sales have dropped, Oasis is still selling oodles of concert tickets. The Orpheum show is sold out, as was a recent tour of Japan. The group will head back this summer to England, where it plays football stadiums and has already sold out two nights at Wembley Stadium, which holds 76,000 people.
''The new album is not a very singles-oriented album, so we weren't expecting it to be that successful in terms of record sales, but we're still a successful rock 'n' roll band,'' says Gallagher. ''To be successful is not just all about selling records.''
The new album, named for a saying on the two-pound British coin, is, frankly, not Oasis's best, and not up to the 10-million-selling ''(What's the Story) Morning Glory?'' CD, which put the band on the international map. Some new songs work, such as the single ''Go Let It Out'' and the psychedelic ''Who Feels Love?'' (with a ''Dear Prudence''- style riff), but some others are surprisingly inert, and one, ''Little James'' (written by Liam about his son), has the goofy lyric, ''Live for your toys, even though they make noise.''
Still, Noel retains a wonderfully carefree attitude toward the band's current sales malaise. ''I'm not in this for the career. I'm in it because I don't want to sit at home,'' he says. ''If this ended tomorrow, I'd just go and do something else. But I'd do something else with a guitar on my back. Even if it was decorating at home, I'd still have a guitar while doing it.''
Yet he's not unaware of the pressure heaped upon Oasis.
''We're the biggest band in England, but I always feel that we get an unfair amount of pressure that we have to do something ground-breaking. Whoever said that music had to always move forward? Who came up with that notion? To me, it's like I'm good at playing a Les Paul [guitar] through a Marshall stack. That's what I do. I can't be a member of Kraftwerk, you know? I like the way that I sound and I love the way that we sound. I don't see that I should have to change it because of some fanciful notion that music should always have to be moving in a certain direction.''
Oasis has two new members this tour - rhythm guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell. ''We're just a better overall band now. It's as simple as that, and hopefully that will translate into the recording studio the next time,'' says Gallagher.
As for his famously tempestuous relationship with Liam, Noel says, ''It's the same as it always is. When he's sober, he's great. When he's drunk, he's a [jerk]. At the moment, he's more sober than drunk. Six days out of seven he's great; and on the seventh day, it's just batten down the hatches and walk in the total opposite direction from where he is.''
As to life outside Oasis, Noel and his wife recently moved to the country from London and had their first child, a daughter. ''I started having babies and started a farm! It's all gone wrong!'' he says kiddingly.
A country gentleman? Is he turning into George Harrison or something? ''Well, I haven't gotten his beard yet, but that's definitely on the list,'' Gallagher says, chuckling again.