Noel Gallagher - NY Rock - July 2002
Not only are drinking excursions and old band members yesterday's news, but the band's approach to songwriting has changed quite a bit too....
NYROCK: The new album, Heathen Chemistry, is slightly different from the band's previous work. Tell me about it.
NOEL: I guess it's called growing up. But Oasis has become more of a band in a way. It used to be left to me to write songs, at least songs that did sound good. But Liam is starting to write more and things changed. We got a new line-up. That's always a chance for a new start and it's more something like a mutual effort. The old Oasis basically was "Noel's writing the songs, Liam sings them and the rest just play their instruments." That has changed and it feels a lot healthier.
NYROCK: In the past, scandals seemed to follow Oasis around. What's changed?
NOEL: Our line-up changed and that's always a good headline and the divorce of a rock star also always gets a lot of attention. Liam's private life wasn't a particular happy one and at the same time he tried to be a good songwriter, leave his mark as a songwriter. But he got dissed all the time and somehow he just lost it sometimes. It's pretty normal to have a freak out from time to time. I think everybody has, but when you've reached a certain level of popularity every freak out is highly published. Take the scandal when he was caught in the tube without a ticket. Shit, it happens and lots of people get caught in London every day, but they're not famous so you don't read about it. It's as simple as that.
Maybe we did make it a bit easy for the media. I speak my mind and the media picks out the things they want to hear. But, hey, that's all right. I can be honest and the media has something to write about. Otherwise, they'd be forced to waste all their space on bands like Travis or Coldplay.
NYROCK: So Oasis have become something of a team effort?
NOEL: It had to become something like that. I started to feel really empty and burned out because I wanted to do everything on my own. I have to admit that I was quite a shit sometimes, you know. I forbid the others to write songs and that has changed as well. Six of the eleven songs on Heathen Chemistry are songs written or co-written by other band members and two of Liam's songs are great. They're fantastic songs. If he keeps at it, he's got the potential to become a great songwriter.
NYROCK: Is it hard for a control freak like you to let others take over?
NOEL: In a way it is and it took some time to get used to it. On the other hand, it's also great because it's a weight that's been taken off of my shoulders. I can lean back and let others take on some responsibility. I don't have to do everything anymore. I can take my breaks and the world ain't going to stop. It's a learning process, growing up maybe, but something I really did have to do.
NYROCK: You founded a new label Sour Mash and it specialises in indie bands. That seemed unusual to me.
NOEL: It's not unusual at all. I love the wild underground sound, the stuff that comes out the US right now, bands like the White Stripes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Strokes. They're like a fresh breeze, great bands that shake up the rather anaemic rock 'n' roll. Those bands don't only exist in the US. We got them in the UK as well, but one has to find them and that's something I want to do. My mission if you want to call it that.
NYROCK: In the past, booze and drugs were your main source of inspiration, but you seemed to have kicked it all...
NOEL: A lot of reasons played into it. First of all, I wanted to survive. Then, I became a father. Those were the obvious things. But, still, you know, when I sit back and think about songs like "Wonderwall" and "Supersonic," I do realize that I don't even remember anything. I don't remember when I wrote them. I don't remember why I wrote them and that's really a bit embarrassing – especially for a songwriter.
NYROCK: For a while, it looked like Oasis would cease to exist. You got so fed up with the band that you packed your stuff and left....
NOEL: I had to. It was simply something that needed to be done because I really didn't have any other choice. Liam was annoying the hell out of me. He just was on about that he's the greatest and stuff like that. Sometimes he can be over the top and then he becomes a real pain in the arse. I really couldn't bear it anymore and I had, in fact, two choices: Kill him to shut him up. Or leave. Obviously, I opted for leaving, otherwise I'd be in jail and not here now. But that's all in the past.
What I think does count is the fact that we're still a band and we're a hungry band, something we haven't been for far too long.