Noel Gallagher - NME - 3rd January 2004
Have Oasis still got it? This is the year they show us what they're made of. Here's the inside track on their crucial sixth album - straight from Noel Gallagher's mouth.
The year 1994 was the year of Oasis. Ten years ago this August, the M&S clad gang of Burnage hoolies released their first album, the landmark 'Definitely Maybe'. It was the perfect distillation of the spirit of the times, a big-hearted, full-throated celebration of cigarettes and alcohol, of "sun-shee-ine" and the white line.
Now it's 2004 and everything has changed. The Gallagher brothers are the only remaining original members of Oasis. Noel Gallagher is a 36 year old father of one, Liam a happily coupled-up father of three (although the old madness is still there - after all, he did karate chop an NME journalist last year). The rock'n'roll landscape has been transformed by everyone from The Stokes to Dizzee Rascal and the cultural mood of triumphant optimism has been replaced by something much more downbeat. Is there still a place for Oasis?
Their live popularity isn't in doubt. But Oasis have to keep coming up with the goods on record too. This autumn, we'll find out if they're still a force capable of duking it out with the young bucks. Here, for the first time, NME brings you the story so far of Oasis' most important album yet.
IT'S GOING TO BE A PSYCHEDELIC ROCK 'N' ROLL RECORD
Noel says the album - expected in September, with a single preceding in July - will be a concise, ten-song psychedelic rock'n'roll record with no ballads, string sections or self-indulgence. He says he's aiming for a cross between Bob Dylan's 1965 classic 'Highway 61 Revisited', The Rolling Stones' famously out-there 1967 album 'Their Satanic Majesties Request' and The Stone Roses' 'The Stone Roses'.
LIAM'S WRITTEN LOADS OF SONGS!
"Much as it paints me to say it," Noel told NME, "Liam's songs are amazing! I'm writing these six-minute long 'Champagne Supernova' things and Liam write all these three-minute pop songs. He's got the blues, man. His new songs sound like The Yardbirds."
One of them, 'They Ain't Got Nothing On Me, They Ain't Got Nothing On You' was written when Liam spent the night in a German cell, after a legendary fight in Munich in December 2002.
SO HAVE NOEL, GEM AND ANDY!
Gem and Andy have written a pair of songs, each of which, Noel days, "I wish I'd written." As for the Chief himself, Noel debuted 'Stop The Clocks' at an acoustic show last February. Written at the end of the 'Heathen Chemistry' sessions, it's musically somewhere between 'Wonderwall' and 'The Hindu Times' while the lyrics deal with lost love and growing old. It will definitely appear on the album, as with another called 'Lord Don't Slow Me Down'. Other rumoured titles include 'Revolution Man' (a demo from the 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' session), 'Longer', 'Singin' Your Life', 'You Wanna Feel My Shame', 'Say It' and 'The Good Rebel'.
After years of being Oasis' sole songwriter, Noel's now keen to delegate. "I'm 36 now but when you're 21 and you're single and you haven't got any baggage you can just sit and write songs all night," he said. "Whereas now I've got kids and this and that, I don't have the time to write as much as I used to. I was talking to Weller about this and his next album will be his 640th album or something, and what more is there to fucking say? It's just a constant struggle to say the same thing differently."
THEY'RE WORKING WITH DEATH IN VEGAS!
Death in Vegas (Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes) teased out Liam Gallagher's best vocal performance for years on their own 2002 single 'Scorpio Rising'. "He's the greatest rock 'n' roll singer in the world," said Fearless at the time.
However, any suggestion that Oasis are 'going dance' is well wide of the mark. In a recent interview with Manchester City Life, Noel said, "I was saying to Richard Fearless, 'We don't really need anyone to freshen up the sound, we don't want anyone to produce it. The reason we want Death In Vegas to produce it is because we want you to, not because we need you to.' I'm quite capable of doing it myself, I can happily make a psychedelic rock record of my own. But I can't be fucking arsed this time... why should I do all the fucking work?
"Nobody else in the band wanted to use any outside producers, they all wanted me to produce it. Now I'd love to but I wouldn't feel comfortable telling other people, 'Now this song is shit and that and it's not going on the album.' So it was my idea to get someone who had no connections with the band and say, 'Here's all the fucking songs, now do summat with it.' The rest of the band were pretty dead set against that for ages and ages. Trying to convince Liam was the hardest thing. He'd always be like, 'What they fuck do producers do anyway? Sit there, drink coffee and tell you how shit you are.'"
Recording begins this week in Noel's own studio on his Buckinghamshire Estate.
IT'S GETTING TASTY OUT THERE!
Over the past year, Noel has bigged up new acts from The Hiss to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, showing a particular fondness for the new breed of Liverpool bands, such as The Stands. And he's less competitive than he once once. "To me," he told City Life, "the best band out there is Coldplay but we're not really in competition with them. Chris Martin is a fucking genius as far as I'm concerned. But all in all, this has been a fucking disappointing year for bands' second albums. Now I fucking love The Strokes, I love the way they look, I love what they stand for, I love the fucking drummer... but that second album? It's fucking dog's piss. And the same applies for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Vines. They're top live but the music's shit."
As for The Darkness, despite Liam liking them, Noel says: "I just find them really, really inoffensive. I don't know why people hate them or like them. It doesn't do anything for me. I'd actually put them in the same category as The Flaming Lips, where it's like I'm not even sure whether the people who like them genuinely like them. For me, it's like, 'Come on you weird fucking c***s. Try and play a gig without some 20 foot fucking vegetable jumping up and down behind you.' People go to a Flaming Lips gig to watch them, not listen to them. And I can't stand their fucking fans either - they can fuck off. Cat Deeley bands - that's what The Flaming Lips and The Darkness are, Cat Deeley bands! But nothing against Cat Deeley - I'm sure she's a very nice girl."
IT'LL STILL BE BLOODY MASSIVE!
While even Noel admits that "at some point you have to accept that music has moved on and you're not the cat's whiskers any more", Oasis' fanbase will ensure that the new album will be a smash. Just as well, since as Noel told NME, the band's enormous anthems wouldn't fit any other context. "I think Oasis only really make sense if it's played in front of 50,000 people. I think if it's played in a pub it wouldn't make much sense. Size is an important part of Oasis. I couldn't imagine 'Definitely Maybe' being some cult album that 50 people owned. I could never see us being The Jesus and Mary Chain. That was one of the first things we said to Alan McGee. I said, 'Don't be happy selling 30,000 albums and getting on Top Of The Pops once, 'cos it ain't gonna be fucking like that. We're going to the top of the tree."
After all this time, can Oasis stay there? Only the next 12 months will tell.