Noel Gallagher - City Life - October 2001
As Oasis celebrate their tenth anniversary with a couple of intimate hometown gigs at the Apollo, Noel Gallagher talks exclusively to Luke Bainbridge about a decade with Liam and how he regrets leaving Manchester.
Has it been 10 years? it seems a lot longer. it seems like only yesterday. Oasis are playing Manchester Apollo this week as part of their tour which is billed as 'Ten years of Noise and Confusion'. The record company idea, it seems, is that hopefully the press will revisit a decade of Oasis in a deluge of retrospectives, but we all know the story, and in the morning glory, all too well.
Ten years ago they were,by their own admission, the uninvited guests who stayed till the end. Bursting with fuck-you asrrogance, snarling to all comers "D'you wanna be me? Well that just couldn't be". Who else could get away with releasing a song called 'Rock and Roll Star'. About themselves.From the opening percussion of 'Supersonic' to the fade out of 'Roll it Over' its been a rock-n-roll rollercoaster. From Definitely Maybe to Maine Road, from 'Wonderwall' to Knebworth, there were a million highs. Then it all when awry. cocaine, Champagne receptions at number 10 with New Labour. Celebrity girlfriends became wives. Kids arrived. shortly followed by their comedown, for Noel at least. 'Go let it out' was the first sign that the band were back fighting fit and if Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants didn't complete the conviction then last summer's live gigs certainly did. in hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck-adrenalin-rushing-mouth-open-wide-fuck-me type of conviction. We are all, sometimes, guilty of taking things for granted.So who is the best placed to evaluate where Oasis stand in 2001 and where they go from here? There can be only one really - Mr Noel Gallagher......
So How's Noel?
Hungover. For a change.
You announced you were going to release the first single from the new album in October, but its been put back to early next year now. Any idea when something will see the light of day?
We don't know when it's been put back to,it's just been put back. We had it mixed and the artwork done and everything, i've sill got the finished version in front of me now. i just thought it wasn't really good enough. we decided to go back to the drawing board. it was a good vibe, but it just needed more work. it was one verse and one chorus repeated over and over agin, much in the same vein as 'Roll With It'. we got away with it in '95 but there's a lot of decent songwriters around now, know what i mean? to me, i would be just like 'is that it?'.
So it was your decision to put the single back and not the record company's?
Oh, it was my decision and mine alone. the record company don't fuckin tell us what to do, never have and never will do. i did get loads of stick from the best though, 'cos they couldn't see what was wrong with it, which to me is quite worrying, that we're not all on the same wavelength.
What about the rest of the album, are you happy with that?
i was really happy with it until recently, but i'm fuckin livid now. i finished my bits three-and-a-half months ago, and then we handed it over to Liam, and in three-and-a-half months he's done nothing. Just concentrated on his drinking habit again. it's just drifting at the moment.
So it's not finished then?
is it fuck, no. all the backingtracks are done and it's fantastic album of instrumentals at the moment. hand it over to the singer and it just slows down and becomes this one really long drawn out, painful process. so to be honest with you i don't know when it'll come out now. it's down to him. something will be out next year, but someone's gonna have to give him a fucking kick up the arse man. it's just laziness, that's all it is, and maybe a lack of confidence.
Have you tried giving him a kick up the arse?
have i? no. i'd literally kick him in his arse. i can't be rational with that boy. i'm either really placid with him or relieve him of a couple of teeth, so...
When the last album Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants was released you said that it went a third of the way to where you wanted to be five years time with the band. How close do you think you are now?
i was doing an interview the other day for NME and they were talking about the last two albums Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants, and they said 'how come you aren't as popular as you used to be?' and i'm just like 'well, i think the songs are better but the tunes aren't as good', if you know what i mean. so it's a case of getting really good songs that are also really good tunes. so it's a case of being more selective with the song writing rarther than saying 'fuck it, heres 10 songs,lets go and make an album' y'know what i mean? and its a lot better now 'cos there's more people writing songs so there's more people to blame when it fucks up.
Are the band writing together now?
nah, nah, nah, nah....i don't do that.
So who's contributed to the new album?
Well i wrote seven, but i don't know if they're all gonna get on the album. Liam wrote four, i think, and Gem and Andy wrote two a piece.
And who has the final say on what goes on?
You never can tell with these lot, it used to be me but now we're entered into this fucking democracy thing. which is why things take for fucking ever now. i used to be in charge of this band, but now people get upset so it's like 'fine, you look after your shit and i'll look after mine', which is why things take forever.
Do all the songs sound similar, or can you tell who's written which song?
No, they all sound quite similar to be honest. the thing with Gem and Andy is they were fans of the band anyway, so it was like 'look your not writing for Hurricane #1 (andy's old band) and you're not writing for Heavy Stereo (Gems old band). you know the drill, y'know what i mean?' and with Liam i taught him how to write songs anyway,so he's gonna write in that style.
And you said previously that it sounds much closer to your debut album than anything you've written since Definitely Maybe. would you still stand by that?
Yeah its in your face. Even the slow songs are fuckin' loud. But i think what i meant by it being closer to Definitely Maybe was the spirit of it all and, up until three months ago, the spontaneity of it all. it was very much off-the-cuff, like 'there's the amp, let's fuckin have it!'. we didn't think about it much, until Liam's now gonna away and thought about it for three months and is disappearing up his own arse i think. but in its spirit it's more like Definitely Maybe because of the lyrical content i think.
Is that because after Bonehead and Guigsey left, you got two new members in so it's almost a new band, and a new lease of life?
Yeah, but i think it's more to do with the fact that we've all had new starts in our life, you know what i mean. Andy and Gem have just joined the band so for them it's a new adventure, and me and Liam have just left a little episode of our past behind so it's just sparked a new beginning really, but even that sounds a little pretentious for my liking, so don't print that man.
So it's been a bit of a regrouping period all round then?
The optimistic songs are very optimistic and the angry ones are very angry, thats just the way i've been feeling lately. there is no middle ground for me no more, for a couple of years everything as alright. now its really good or its fuckin shit. but i'm glad to get back to my extreme behaviour rather than walking around with a glass of champagne, going 'isn't life great?'
Does the group have more of a gang mentality nowadays?
well, I don't hang around with anyone who isn't in the band - apart from Weller, but he's almost an honorary member of our band anyway - but you can be in a gang when your 34? i don't think you can, can you? i dont think you can. no, you can't.
And how has your relationship with Liam been recently?
it was fine until i found out he hasn't done a stroke of work for three months and now i just think he's a lazy cunt and i can't bear lazy people. i can't bear people who sit around all day and pontificate on how great they are but don't go and put it on wax man. it reminds me of a lot of people in Manchester to be honest with you. it's like ''I'm this and i'm that', well alright let me hear it, play it me through the speakers and i'll be the judge of how great you are and it's like 'you ain't got nothin to play me,so why don't you shut the fuck up?'. which is my theory on it all.
And you looking forward to the gigs?
i can't fucking wait to be honest. the band is absolutely fucking rocking. we're playing the longest we've ever done i think. it's approaging two hours and i think we only play four singles. it's a proper fan's set. if anyone's just remotely coming along for a night out then forget it, 'cos you won't hear anything you know. it's all b-sides and album tracks. the encore will be old favourites, but of the 24/25 songs we've been doing, only four or five are singles.
Why did you decide to do smaller gigs for this tour, these are smallest venues you've played since 1995?
Because the only time we've played indoors since then was '97, when we did Earl's Court and stuff like that and we've never play .... we sort of bypassed the big theatres, we went from nightclubs to sort of stadiums. the Apollo's the only venue in Manchester we've never played.
Well, you went straight from the Academy to Nynex didn't you?
Yeah, so we never got to that theatre level anywhere. we never played Brixton Academy, we never played any of them sort of places, so i was like 'if we're gonna mark ten years of the band let's play places we've never played before' and they were like 'you've played everywhere!' and i went 'well we haven't played the Apollo'. you know, you do lose something when you play outdoors becasue you go on in daylight and it's great for the spectacle, bu there's nothing better than seeing a band indoors in the dark and its fucking loud as fuck, proper rocking and sweaty. we've missed that, or i've missed it anyway.
And it works for the band as well....
Of course. i think the last gig we did in England there was about quter of a mile between me and andy who were the furthest apart. it was fucking ridiculous man.
Are you looking forward to playing Manchester again?
I never look forward to Manchester 'cos there's too many peple trying to get on the guestlist. the hour-and-a-half on stage will be mega, but the bit before and the bit after will just be a pain in the arse, 'cos it will just be people who think you recognise but you're not too sure if you do, it's like 'eh remember me, i was in your class in St Mark's? and i',m like 'really?'. but the gigs will be fucking mega, man.'
Cos there was a time when you seemed fed up to the back teeth with Manchester?
Was i ever sick of Manchester? (asking himself) i dont think i was ever sick of Manchester. i mean a lot was made of our Mancunian roots and i just didn't think it bore any relevance to the music, d'you know what i mean. in the early days they used to say we were a Manchester band and we were like 'well what the fuck does that mean?' alright we're a band and we're from Manchester so in that snse we are a Manchester band, but we don't sound anything like the Roses or the Mondays or James, i don't think we sound like any band that came out of Manchester, d'you know what i mean.. we're closer to the Buzzcocks than anyone else. the problem is when you say Manchester band yo just get this vision of fucking maracas and baggy flares.
So you wanted to get away from being a Manchester band, rather than getting away from Manchester?
we just wanted to get away from being tagged as a Manchester born. we were never sick of Manchester. i mean it was where i was fuckin' born man, how can you get sick of the place where you're born? you couldn't. i think it's a shame that we had to leave there 'cos we had to move to London to really smash it, 'd'you know what i mean. i regret that a lot, actually leaving Manchester. i wish i was still living there. but you make your decisions in life and you stick by them.
So you wouldn't ever consider moving back to Manchester then?
I can't. i've got a daughter down here now, so it wouldn't be fair on her d'you know what i mean. but if i didn't have kids i'd be on the train like i shot let me tell you, 'cos i've just about had it with London. it gets on my tits. i was up in Manchester last weekend actually, first time i'd had a walk round since the IRA bombed the gaff. what the fuck are they doing with Piccadilly Gardens man?
They've got a world renowned Japanese architect called Tadao Ando, who's basically building a wall across...
Some cunt wants fucking knocking out on that council. i brought me girlfriend up 'cos she'd never sort of been up before and we'd turn round al these corners and i'd go 'and round here is... hang on a minute it's not fucking there anymore, what the fuck's all that about!' and i was saying 'Piccadilly Gardens is really nice 'cos i used to go there when i was kid when they used to have a fairground there and that!'. then we turn round the corner and it's not there anymore. so they're building a fucking wall across it? that fucking council man, there's too many fuckin' students on it. no offence to the students like...'
And with that he's off again ranting about Keegan 'the jury's still out man, someone needs to give him some cash', his proteges Proud Mary 'im'm like 'Get out on the road' and they're up for it, so 'there's the van, there's the map for the gigs and i'll see you next year somtime' and the latest band he's about to sign to his label 'they're gonna set the world on fire. their not young kids or anything, they're about my age, but musically speaking it's fucking light years ahead of anything. it's like signing The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Beatles and early Fleetwood Mac. in one afternoon. Beta Band eat your heart out man.'They live their lives for the stars that shine. People say it's just a wate of time. They were wrong.