Noel Gallagher - Q - April 2000
It's a dewy November morning and this is Wheeler End studio, Buckinghamshire - the property, until very recently, of Alvin Lee from Ten Years After's ex-wife. From the outside it might be any old yuppy farm conversion, but the interior - cables and pedals, a battered Mellotron, baby grand piano, racks of '60s-centric electric guitars - could have oozed out of Paul Weller's dreams. At the back, computer screens flicker, while on vivid red and blue walls, posh posters tug a forelock to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, and quaintly warn of the dangers of smoking "reefer".
Driven, on the bladder's whim, into the unpromising lavatory, the visitor discovers quality toilet roll and yellowing photographs of Elvis Presley's personal Boeing 707, including one of the King's own gargantuan in-flight throne. If you needed a reminder of fame's rewards and - perhaps its spiritual costs, you could do worse than hop off the M40 and have a dump here.
The studio's most remarkable treasure, however, is a collection of miniature figurines. Astonishingly, they are The Beatles in full-on Rishikesh retreat garb, 1968. Cross-legged in front of the begarlanded band sits a tiny Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. "No Mia Farrow, though," winks Wheeler End tenant Noel Gallagher, swishing by with tea.
Gallagher is dressed rehearsal casual. Slim, bootcut indigo jeans cling to a barely existent arse, whilst on top a casually expensive, untucked powder blue shirt fights a losing battle with sprouting chest hair. He is markedly slimmer than at this stage in Oasis's last album campaign, when 'Be Here Now' emerged to its blistering fanfare of martial trumpets and subsequent chorus of crest fallen raspberries.
Less than five miles thataway, at home in Chalfont St. Giles, sits wife Meg, still two months away from giving birth to their first child.
Is she craving soil sandwiches yet?
"She's not even had morning sickness," relates Gallagher, puffing on a Benson & Hedges Special Filter. "All my mates who've had kids were going, Oooh, after about three months they start going weird. And I was waiting for this weirdness onslaught. But she's not gone weird. She's not started eating coal. She's not biting lumps out of any ofthe chairs. I was dreading the morning sickness, patting her on the back as she threw up in the sink. That'd be a bit of a role reversal. I've had morning sickness since she's fucking known me."
And you'll be at the birth?
"Oh yes. I got a massive bollocking for suggesting I wasn't. So I'll be there, with me little green mask on, saying, Push!"
Today, Noel Gallagher has another gestation on his mind. The new Oasis album, 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants', is finished. He is rehearsing a new band, containing Gem Archer from Heavy Stereo on guitar and Andy Bell, once of Ride and Hurricane #1 and very nearly of Gay Dad. Tomorrow, Alan McGee will announce that he's to leave Creation Records, setting in motion a sequence of events that will result in the label's dissolution by the end of January 2000.
Gallagher looks relaxed. Even his hair - mid '99's over-sculpted Badfinger "do" having mercifully grown out - looks relaxed. You're struck that even if 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' were to bomb ("and I do expect it to get panned," he shrugs) Noel Gallagher would remain what he has become: a proper rock star.
When was the last time you met someone who didn't know who you are?
The General Election, 1997. Me and Meg were trying to get polling cards, 'cos we'd just moved and they hadn't been sent. Anyway, the woman in the office was going, You can't prove who you are. And I'm like, You know who I am! What sort of stone have you been hiding under for the last years? I've got my passport but they're asking for another form of ID and I'm going, (cocks eyebrow) Do you want me to sing you a fucking song? My guess is she knew who I was, she just hated me.
Maybe she was a Blur fan.
(Grinning) Probably. Most people have an idea who I am. Sometimes you meet people who on purpose forget who you are. They always seem to be friends of friends of friends. (Adopts robotic social banter tone) "What's your name?" "Noel." "What's your name?" "Dave" "Alright Dave" "What do you do?" "I work for Tesco, actually." "No you don't" (Angry) "So why'd you fuckin' ask me for? You know what I do and you know what my name is" I'm not arsed whether people know me or not, but that sort of bullshit.
Do people stop you in the street?
Not as much as you'd think. I could walk up Oxford Street this afternoon and by the time people realise who they just saw I'm thirty yards down the road. And they're going, I'm sure that was him...I'm sure that was (comedy pause) Ian Brown. The best is being recognised in record shops. You sell ten Oasis albums in a minute. Then they buy what you just bought: What's he got there - Captain Beefheart? And then they'll get it home and think, What the fucking hell is this rubbish? Or they'll go, for them, so that's where he stole it from.
You handle the paparazzi far better than Liam...How does that affect Liam?
It comes with the territory. Liam will rant himself into an early grave about this. He takes his kid out the other day for a walk in the park and then has a kick-off at a photographer for taking a picture. I'm going, Have you lost your fucking mind? You make a decision. Either you say, I'm not a person, I can't take my kids out for a walk. Or you take your kids out for a walk and you accept that you get photographed. I've never had any trouble with them. I give them their two minutes and they leave me alone. I've never had a camera stuck in my face and I've never been followed.
So Liam brings it on himself?
If you're going around chinning cameramen every two minutes they're gonna be really up for it. They're gonna create a shit-storm for Liam. Every time he gets nicked there's a photographer on the spot, and that's suspicious. I mean, I've been in some scrapes, fallen out of nightclubs out of my brains at four in the morning, but they don't want me. The paparazzi've got it in for Liam 'cos he's got it in for them, and now it's a battle of wills.
How does that affect Liam?
The really sad thing is it gets him down. You know, he makes the best entrances of all time. I'll be sitting here when you're gone and that door will come flying open with a big fucking boot and in he'll come. "Alright?" "No I'm not fucking alright. Some fucker stuck a camera in my face when I was out walking my kid so I fucking chinned him so now I'm up in court next week on tucking GBH." And I'm going (affects playground "thicko" voice) Durrr!
How's Liam's restricted alcohol regime working?
Well, he only drinks twice a week now, which is Monday-to-Thursday and Friday-to-Sunday. The thing is, if he's trying to convince the nation, or his mates, that he's given up drink then that's fine, but when he's trying to convince himself, then fucking that's a bit sad.
How much of Liam's last Q interview (Q160) was the Liam you recognise?
When I went out and bought it and started reading it I was thinking, It's a pity that the guy who done the interview isn't the guy who's in the band. 'Cos the man that done that interview isn't the person that I work with. All that stuff about God, I thought it was hilarious to be honest...
What's your all-time favourite Liam story?
The funniest thing Liam ever did was at that Sony showcase in 1993. All those suits, no-one knew who the fuck we were but Liam just didn't give a shit. Anyway, we go to the bogs, and who's there having a slash but Jamiro-fucking-quai. Liam goes to have a waz in the urinal to the left of him, me to the right. Suddenly, in mid-slash he leans over, and right in Jamiroquai's ear, he goes (emulating Jay Kay "scat" at deafening volume): "Diddi-dit-dit-de-deee-dit-di-deee!" I laughed so hard I pissed all over my trousers.
Aah, those were the days. From their explosive arrival in 1993 until the summer of 1997 it seemed Oasis could do no wrong. Even as 'Be Here Now' neared release, record business pundits were heard to discuss the "Oasis Effect": how the record-buying public (already tiring, it seemed, of the Britpop party) would be dragged back into record shops by the lure of Oasis and cough up for all those unbought CDs by Cast and Sleeper.
The need for what Oasis offered was so great that 'Be Here Now' - regardless of its musical merits and demerits - became the fastest-selling UK album ever, clearing 750,000 units in the first three days of release. The band's power - buoyed by'(What's The Story) Morning Glory?'s 12 million sales and the Knebworth/Loch Lomond effect - was such that humiliating contracts were forced on journalists before they were allowed to even hear the record.
"The way the record company set that album up was immoral," tutted Gallagher to Q at the end of 1998. "I was waiting for them to put a contract in front of me at one point. I remember someone holding up the record on the telly and putting his hand over the cover 'cos he wasn't allowed to show it. It was so embarrassing.
As it transpired, Oasis and Creation had written a credibility cheque even six million copies of 'Be Here Now' couldn't cash, and nothing would be the same again. Over nine months, the Be Here Now tour, preposterous stage set in tow, lumbered on, Bonehead and Liam frequently "out of control" and Noel Gallagher - according to Paolo Hewitt's on-the-road biog, Forever The People - harbouring paranoid Colonel Kurtz delusions and insisting he be addressed as "The Chief" ("That was bullshit," insists Gallagher today. "I've been called The Chief since I was little").
In March 1998, Noel returned to Supernova Heights completely bereft of songs. But the party didn't stop. The booze and powders flowed on through spring and kept going until the middle of June. Most days, Noel would awake at three in the afternoon to find another unknown set of friends of friends of friends reviving in the kitchen.
"It was, Hello, who the fuck are you?" fumes Gallagher. "That wanker DJ, Sasha, said the scene round my house was 'seedy'. Well, I didn't see him complaining at the time."
Finally, the drugs got the better of him. And then, having resolved to give them up, the giving up got the better of him, too.
"I'd wake up in the middle of the night sweating, feeling like I couldn't breathe and that I was going to die. It was a dark time for me I because I'd just started writing a record but I was not feeling a hundred per cent about myself. All the people around me were still doing loads of drugs and it was quite hard for a while, I'd start having a panic attack even if I had a drink. But I thought, I don't want to go to the doctor, 'cos he's just going to put me on Prozac and I don't want to be like that. I just had this 'vision of Robbie Williams in me head.I was thinking, Fucking never, I'd rather fucking die.
"So it was at that point I said to the wife, Get your gear. Put it in the fucking car. We're leaving. The bar's shut. Meg at first was like, You lightweight. And I was like, I've got to do this because the way we're living is fucking me up. I'm just not happy. "So I moved out of London, moved up to the country permanently. Stopped doing all the fuckin' drugs and that and then I thought, Right, well, I'd better start writing an album."
Will you never take drugs again?
My motto is just Say No For The Foreseeable Future. I've been lucky; I had the best years of my life doing it and I'm having a great time not doing it. I'm proud that I could stand up and say, Fuck this, I'm not doing it any more, 'cos I'd been caning it since I was 14. But now it's just the odd Guinness, and I fall over after three.
Were you tempted by the Priory Clinic dry-out?
It was nice to do it without going there and hanging out with a bunch of twats for six months. I know a lot of people who've been there, and I've seen 'em come out of there looking worse than when they went in.
What do you do with your days now?
I get up, have something to cat, take my dogs for a walk and sit around and...talk, basically. I'm getting to know my wife again. I met her five, six years ago and I was whacked out of my head on drugs. So it's like reacquainting yourself with...yourself and your missus as well. It's actually quite nice. I've got back to the point when I was on the dole, where drugs wasn't a major part of my life - because I couldn't afford them - and getting the band off the ground was my obsession. So it's come full circle now. I can't stop writing. I'm writing for fun. No lyrics yet, but melodies, arrangements. I'm really, really excited.
When was the last time you were in Manchester?
Last time I played there, unfortunately. We used to make a point of going back to see me mam up there, but it got to the point that we'd get on a plane at Heathrow airport and before you know it someone would have rung through - "The Gallagher brothers are coming home!" - and the Manchester Evening News would be waiting there and it would be a fucking "symbolic visit". It's like, Oh fuck off, I'm just here to have a cup of tea with me mam. To be honest, if I hadn't married Meg, I'd have probably moved back up there by now. I was certainly getting sick of London, six years down there is enough. But there's no way Meg's moving up north. Fuck that! Not enough Gucci shops up north.
Appropriately, nine months after snorting his last line of cocaine Noel Gallagher - abetted by long time Oasis aides Mark Coyle (computers, sitar, funny fags) and Paul Stacey (guitars, strangeness, being an ex-Lemon Tree) - had shaped the bulk of a new Oasis record. Songs about loving life and kicking drugs, songs written in London, Bucks and Thailand during the summer and autumn of 1998 and demoed at Supernova Heights and Wheeler End, were taken to Chateau De La Colle Noire, Montaroux, in the spring of 1999 to be properly recorded. Which is where the other trouble started.
"The thing about Liam," reports Noel, "is that when he gets drunk he's got a nasty side to him and he's just not nice to be around. So when we were getting ready to go to France we had a meeting and said, Let's give up drinking. Which we all did...except for Bonehead."
Beverage-related differences were only the half of it. Owen Morris, producer of '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?', 'Be Here Now' and The Verve's 'A Northern Soul', had been replaced by Mark "Spike" Stent - renowned for his engineering and mixing work for, among others, U2 and The Spice Girls. The new addition to the team had a surprisingly irreverent approach.
"Owen would take sides in the studio. He'd be like, It's a band thing and you've all got to do your bit. But Spike was like, Look, I don't give a shit who plays what, I just want to make a great record. Because he wasn't a mate of ours he didn't mind upsetting anybody."
Was that what drove out Guigsy and Bonehead?
"Personally," frowns Gallagher, "I think that the statements they put out, I think they're just cover stories. If they wanted to spend more time with their families - well, I don't think you come to a decision like that over a two-week period after you've finished a record. So I think the way this record was made did have a lot to do with their dissatisfaction, but until they say any different I don't know for sure. Maybe it is the family thing...Or maybe they were worried that they wouldn't have been able to do it live."
Either way, when Noel returned to Wheeler End in summer 1999 with the tapes of 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants', he was unhappy with what he had. The airy, humble ambience he'd sought was there in essence and the drums were fine, but the rest sounded "too posh". Then Guigsy and Bonehead bade their shock farewells and the French tracks were quickly jettisoned - drums aside - for vibey demo recordings and new guitar and bass tracks.
"Fuck it," sighs Gallagher, "what they played wasn't really much cop anyway...so...now they're not in the band I don't mind about putting some noses out of joint. Guigs didn't play anything on the album. I think Bonehead might be on it - not that you'd hear him, though. After Guigs left, we started again with the bass, redone it all. I played bass on six tracks and Strange Boy (Paul Stacey) played four."
Can you still be friends?
I'd like to think we could all get on one day, but I haven't spoken to either of them since the day my manager rang and told me that Bonehead had left.
Oasis are literally not the band you were. Can you ever be as big again as you were in 1996/1997?
I'm not saying we're gonna be as big as we used to be. If we were gonna have a massive, massive impact on music then we should have done it last time and we missed our chance. In England we'll probably sustain the same amount of - what's it called? 'profile' and that. But outside in the world it's like starting again. A lot of people round the world won't have heard 'Be Here Now'...lucky bastards. So we're coming back with this, a good record.
Do you feel the pressure of being the band whose job it is to pick Britain up by its bootstraps?
I do. You read these newspaper stories, these obituaries of the British music industry and right at the bottom it'll say, Now everyone's banking on the new Oasis album to do it round the world or British music's fucked. And it's like, Fucking cheers mate. Thanks for that. If you let it get to you you'll go back and listen to the record you've made and think, Is it fucking good enough? Frankly, though, we've done our bit for British music. The Stone Roses did their bit. The Smiths did their bit. The Jam did their bit and the Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy did their bit. Now it's up to someone else.
Everyone's talking about the 'decline of music'. How do you see it?
I think everyone's chasing their tail waiting for the new form of music. People are convinced that the new Clash are just around the corner. But I don't think that's gonna happen. I think the kids in general are so polite these days. There's never gonna be a new punk because people are so whacked out on drugs that they've almost become a form of mind control. Unemployment isn't as bad as it was. The majority of people got the government they wanted. Drugs are freely available. Plenty of night clubs. Lots going on. Plenty of money. What is there to rebel against, I ask you? Fuck all.
Sometimes you don't sound completely convinced by this record...
If this was the last record I was ever gonna write or make then I'd be thinking, Oh dear. But the next one's half-finished already. It's an ongoing thing. In the final analysis, this is just another record by another band in the "O" section -just before The Osmonds. It's not a sonic fucking headfuck like the next Prodigy album is bound to be, but I'd like to think that people will go, (cocks head to one side and raises eyebrow) Oh aye, I wasn't expecting that.
What do you mean by saying there are two 'shit' tracks on it?
"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" and "I Can See A Liar" could have been better explored. When I said there were two shit tracks, those are the ones I mean. We weren't even gonna put "I Can See A Liar" on the album but Liam threw one of his bottom-lip fits: (affects Neanderthal grunt) But it's me Sex Pistols song!"
'Be Here Now' seems to have damaged your confidence. But it's also put you in touch with your fallibility.
Well, when we made 'Be Here Now' I wasn't in a fit state to make any decisions. Also, the record company are hardly gonna come round when you've sold 25 million albums and tell you that you might want to shorten down the arrangements. And your manager's not gonna say anything 'cos he doesn't want to upset anyone. Everyone's going, It's brilliant! And right towards the end. we're doing the mixing and I'm thinking to myself, Hmmm, I don't know about this now. I don't think it's a bad record but I certainly don't think it's a good one. It's just average.
It sounds like a better record now there's a full stop after it...
And that's why, in the final mix, we decided to have a door slamrning at the end. That was a conscious decision. We were saying, The party's over now.
When raffish, Faces-influenced guitar group Heavy Stereo were dropped by Creation, Gem (hard "G", regulation Creation hair, scampishly chipped front tooth provoking a faint lisp) Archer stopped going out for a year. He worked in a guitar shop and trekked regularly to Newcastle, where his mother was in hospital. He was there on his son's birthday last year - feeling particularly glum - when Noel Gallagher rang his wife.
"There was a houseful and he spoke to her sister and everything," he relates in mellifluous Geordie. "He said, Look, I need a guitarist. I thought, Fucking hell, there is a God."
Today is Monday, January 17, and God wants Gem (Gem because of Gemmill, because of Archie, because of Archer - it's a '70s football thing) for an acoustic guitar player. Being a member of Oasis means he has already seen Pete Townshend naked but for a small towel. Now there is work to do. In a glass tomb deep within Yealding House, London W1, he, Noel and Oasis/Sheryl Crow keyboard player Mike Rowe are recording a Radio 1 session for Steve Lamacq. Afterwards, Gallagher will pick a cover version - to be played by Oasis at a future ful-band session - out of a bag of suggestions made by Radio 1 listeners. Since the Beatles have been excluded, front-runners include 'Come As You Are', 'Sympathy For The Devil', My Generation' and - ho ho - Blur's 'Country House'.
"Apparently Bonehead rang in," deadpans Noel. "He nominated Ernie: The Fastest Milk Cart In The West."
Luckily, Gallagher will pick 'My Generation'. "Luckily", since this is the song Oasis have been rehearsing with suspicious assiduity all week.
In the meantime, the red "on air" light engages and "Sunday Morning Call" - 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' best conceived song about Noel's drug'n'fame hangover - chimes out. Gem stares intently at the stubby Gallagher fingers. Noel cocks an ear to Gem's upper-fret twanglings. Tiny, twinkly Mike Rowe - playing Paul Weller's Wurlitzer electric piano - is bet £50 that he'll mess it up. He doesn't.
The session dispatched, Gallagher peels five crisp tenners off a fat roll and slaps them into Rowe's open fist. "He wouldn't have coughed up if you lot hadn't been here," Rowe whispers to Q.
Accompanied by a larger-than-necessary entourage and interrupted by precisely three autograph hunters (they have photos taken with Noel - not Gem - and "The Chief" pulls his uncomfortable new photo face), the party repair to the Landmark hotel, where there is ample opportunity to test Noel Gallagher's "three pints and I fall over" promise as Guinness flows like booze in a pub. It was here, on November 10, 1994, that Gallagher - having been suddenly turfed out of his Chiswick flat for self-styled "recreational activities" - met Meg Mathews. Inauspiciously, he'd just witnessed Manchester City beaten 5-0 by Manchester United and she thought he was a "miserable wanker". For about a week now, he has been the nominal head of his own record label, the Sony hosted Big Brother, and in ten days time he will be the father of a baby girl called Anais.
Does fatherhood bring any fears?
Yeah, 'cos I don't know what kind of father I'm gonna be. They say that you'll always be the opposite of what your Dad is, which suits me 'cos my Dad's a twat. But how am I going to react when I first catch 'em taking drugs? Which is inevitable. How am I gonna react the first night they stay out and you don't hear from 'em for twelve hours? Which is inevitable. What are you gonna act like the first time they say, Er, Dad, we're thinking of going to Ibiza for two weeks...?
Will you send them to a Comprehensive?
Urn, they're probably going to go to school near home, and they're all posh schools round there. I think if the kid went to a normal Comprehensive school he or she'd probably get their head kicked in by some yobbo - some Man United fan's son. I suppose you owe it to your kids to give 'em the best education you can. But I have to say that as soon as they can understand things about life then they're getting in that car and we're driving up to Manchester and they're seeing where I come from. 'Cos it would be easy for them to take a lot for granted, since they're hardly gonna have to save up for their own car or a stereo for their own bedroom.
Go Let It Out seems to be having a pop at the Royals...
Oh aye. For me it's saying, it's no wonder that the royal family are the way they are, because they're just tucking clowns, and the longer we keep them that way the more fucking bizarre and banal they'll seem to us. 'Cos if someone said to you, Here's sixty million pounds a year and the rule of the country, wear a daft costume and go out and get pissed every day, you'd be the biggest fucking arsehole that ever was, of course you would.
Would you get rid of them?
A public flogging first. I'd seriously maim them for a few years - at least one leg each would have to come off - then I'd get rid of them. Maybe an eye out, something like that. It really pisses me off when there's a big disaster in this country and they turn up at the scene of the crime going (clasps hands behind back and walks stiffly up and down), Oh, right. OK. (Coldly) Hmmm. Pretty bad isn't it? I see. Right, OK, fair enough (rubs hands together) Now where's the fuckin' party?
(Now thoroughly insensed) And the Duke Of Edinburgh, he's a fucking lunatic. He has no conception of how fuckin' disgustingly potty he is...That thing he said about that junction box looking like it was "put in by an Indian", he obviously doesn't give a shit about how someone might feel about that. He probably thinks we still have a colony out there somewhere. What a fuckin' knobhead! And that's why, before I got rid of them, there'd be a couple of floggings at least.
How did you feel about Creation's collapse?
If Alan McGee was still head of Creation Records then we'd be on Creation Records. But when he left we thought, Fuck that. The decision was forced upon us. We were never shouting about getting off the label. I'd sign back up tomorrow if he was back on board.
How did Alan McGee break his departure to you?
I think he thought that we'd go Fucking ballistic. But we just went, Look, if you want to go and do something else then just go and do it. It doesn't make any difference to us. We're the biggest band in England. It's not like we're Teenage Fanclub. And he goes, Well, as long as don't fall out. But what is there to fall out about? If it wasn't for you I'd still be on the fucking dole.
But hadn't Alan lost it?
I think his track record over the past three years speaks for itself. He hasn't signed any good bands since Super Furry Animals.
Isn't it a testament to the philosophy of the label that you and Gem and Andy Bell could all end up in a band together?
The legacy of the label will be the fact that us five are now in a band together and it's a testament to the fact that Alan McGee never signed bands; he signed people. Really cool people. In the rehearsal room it's like we've been in a band for ten years already, and in a sense we been in the same band for ten years, and that band was called Creation Records.
You can't drive, can you?
No. I took loads of fucking lessons. Imagine the scene. I'm learning in this housing estate in Slough rough as a Paddy's arse. I'm in red Nissan Micra with a big red triangle on the top that says, "Knobhead". On the other side it says "...from Oasis". So the instructor's going, Do a left here. Three point turn here. It's a quarter to four in the afternoon and all the kids pile out of this school at the end of the street - all these top scrubbers from Slough going, Is that the geezer from Oasis? Second day, there's about seven or eight kids there waiting for me. Third day, there's about a hundred and fifty people. I did a forty-five-point turn and kangarooed up the close. Now I could just about handle the kids watching me on my lesson but I wasn't gonna fail my fucking driving test in front of two hundred kids. I'd rather have a chauffeur.
Can Meg drive?
Oh yes. The worst day of my life was when she passed. I'd just come back from the 'Be Here Now' tour. I wake up, wrecked, and she goes, I'm my driving test today - aren't you gonna wish me luck? I goes, No way are you going to pass. If you pass your driving test today, I'll buy you a fucking Porsche. One and half hours later she's back - I've still got two golf balls up me nose, can't breathe, fucked - waving this fucking green paper. So she drags me out of bed, into the car, down to the fucking Porsche garage, picks the fucking convertible with the fucking fancy paintwork. How much is it? Sixty (feigns difficulty breathing) seven (choke!) thousand (erk!) pounds (cough)...To her credit, she's going, And put the right year on the cheque!
How did you break your nose?
I was in Manchester town centre. I getting off a bus, going into a amusement arcade, coming out of the amusement arcade, saying, "You what?" to some fucking United fan and waking up in the bus shelter with a crowd stood around me. I had two black eyes, a tooth knocked out and me nose bent. And me mam goes, What happened to you? (Sulky teen voice) I fell over.
What does Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants mean?
To me it means, the greats of music will always be the greats and we're down there, the little boys, still creeping up. I consider us a great band of the '90s, which is a great thing to be, but, you know, let's see we can span two decades. We'll be toning down the touring of course, that's a young man's game. But I'm always going to be making music and as long as Liam looks after his voice I think we can do some really great things, but I'd hate for us just to fucking disappear and just crop up on '90s revival programmes every now and again. Oh, by the way there was this band Oasis...It'd be nice to get another five years out of it.
Recently, on a promotional trip to Paris, Noel Gallagher, 34, had an out-of-body experience. "It was the last interview of the day. It was eight o'clock at night and I'd been doing 'em since ten o'clock in the morning. I'd been up since five. So I was giving the standard answers: Gas Panic!... blah blah blah...panic attacks...blah blah..cocaine withdrawal, and suddenly my whole head went numb and I whited out and I heard myself echoing in the background, as if God was gradually turning the reverb knob. Suddenly I came to and the guy's sitting there nodding, going, That's fantastic man, and I have absolutely no idea what I said. I used to pay 60 fucking quid for a feeling like that."
Noel Gallagher is charismatic company. He is the multi-millionaire businessman who - almost effortlessly -keeps Sony Records afloat and Anais Gallagher in pampers. Equally, he is the Guinness-swilling ex-drug addict who - he admits - stole the microphones from his first ever press conference. He swings in a second between intensely modest self-knowledge and outrageous bluster, exhorting his drinking companions to check out Texas Beatles clones Cotton Mather and California Jesus & Mary Chain clones Black Rebel Motorcycle, whilst imagining his brother in women's underwear and comparing his bass player to "a joss stick". He knows the glory of Mick Jagger's lyrics ("My name is disturbance"; that's genius at work) and the wonder of Dave Hill ("Anyone who has four hair cuts on the same head has got to be respected") He reveals that his mother-in-law sends him books of poetry, presumably in the hope that they will improve his lyrics.
And whatever he really thinks of 'Standing On Shoulder Of Giants' - just a "good record", remember, with "two shit tracks" - there's no doubting his enthusiasm for what comes next: an Oasis record written and recorded with the aid of Andy Bell and Gem Archer. The true Second Act of Oasis's story starts here.
"The future's wide open now," fizzes Noel. "All bets are off. As soon as we get these gigs out of the way it's gonna be, (rubs hands together) Right now let's really go to work."