Noel Gallagher - The Age - 25th November 2005
REGRETS? Noel Gallagher has two. The first is not taking a year off after Oasis played Knebworth in August 1996, the peak of their Supersonic/ Wonderwall golden years.
The 250,000-strong homecoming fulfilled their destiny as saviours of British rock. The inevitable slide into exhaustion and mediocrity effectively began the next morning.
"The second is changing brands of cigarettes," the songwriter says, blowing smoke from his Barcelona hotel window, " 'cause Marlboro Lights are a ladies' fag and it makes me feel less of a man when I spark one up in the morning."
They're minor quibbles, really, 10 years after the infamous Blur versus Oasis comedy made Noel Gallagher rich and famous. His and his brother Liam's sixth album, Don't Believe the Truth, is another bloated wall of distorted guitars and vacuous macho bluster that both signifies and seals his contentment "I meet people in bands and they're obsessed with pushing things forward," he says.
"I just wanna stay the same, which kinda makes me unique, so that'll do me."
Bands like Radiohead and REM and U2 and Coldplay are constantly trying to change who they are, and I wonder if it's because their personal lives are so rock-solid that they need to constantly destroy and re-create in their professional lives."
My personal life is f--kin' chaos, right? Everything outside of my music is falling apart and being re-created on a weekly basis. So I have to have something that's solid as a rock and that is my f--kin' music. Thank f--k for this band, you knowarramean?
"I don't wanna be in the studio going, 'What are we on now? Are we doing reggae or space jazz?
Oh, it's the Beatles?' That'll do me, thanks very much, I f--kin' know where I am with that. I'm good at that."
In theory, Oasis are even better at that since Zak Starkey, son of Ringo, became their drummer last year.
Gallagher prefers not to dwell on the dynastic implications. "It might freak me out," he says. "I might wake up from a dream and I'll be in a band with (fashion designer) Stella McCartney instead."
Neither is he inclined to read too much history into his latest choice of album titles. Since Oasis arrived in a snowstorm of British music press hype in 1994, many observers have found the alleged truth of their greatness hard to believe.
On their first visit here in '98, most Australians agreed they were a first-rate media circus with a pretty lame musical score. The same description applies to most British acts that have emerged from the machinery that Oasis set in motion.
The Gallaghers are scathingly dismissive of the latest production line led by Franz Ferdinand. Nor is Noel convinced by England's most absurd new rock hero, the crackaddled former Libertines personality turned Kate Moss handbag, Pete Doherty."
Babyshambles (Doherty's new band) ... it does all smack of the emperor's new clothes at the minute."
They're kinda the opposite of Oasis in a way, in that we were trying to make it big and Babyshambles are trying to make it small."
You gotta make it big. Don't f--kin' make it medium."
In that sense, even Coldplay are OK by Gallagher: "The only rivalry Oasis have with Coldplay is in Liam's head, right? Chris (Martin) is actually a good mate of mine."
Melbourne's favourite rock exports du jour are likewise men after Uncle Noel's heart.
"We did five weeks in the (United) States with Jet," he says, "and I gotta tell you, I love them boys. The bass player threatened to drink every member of Oasis under the table on more than one occasion and would then promptly pass out."
But their new f--kin' record, man, I'm telling you, I am pretty f--kin' amazed by. One tune sounds like the Beach Boys. Not that I like the Beach Boys. I f--kin' hate the Beach Boys - I think Brian Wilson is a cabbage. But we had a great time with them and they are top, top geezers."
Speaking of Blur, the Gallaghers were in the same room as Gorillaz' Damon Albarn at the Q Awards in London last month.
Any 10th-anniversary olive branches exchanged?
"Damon?" Gallagher sighs.
"Bless him. My missus is a Gorillaz fan so she was passing his table and said to him 'Oh, I really like your album'. After, he told someone that we'd sent her over as an emissary to test the waters."
"Now, I like Damon's music. He's made some f--king great tunes. But he's a f--kin' knobhead, man."