Noel Gallagher - SignOnSanDiego - 8th September 2005
The things you hear about the brothers in the British rock group Oasis – that they're bratty and offensive and they love to brawl – those things are all pretty much the truth.
In the more than 10 years that Liam and Noel Gallagher have been playing Beatles-tinged rock together, they've done the following: started feuds with other bands, canceled concerts on a whim, stormed off TV interviews and insulted each other on stage.
And still, fans can't get enough of their rock-star behavior.
Even now, at age 38, Noel Gallagher still loves to bash the bands he hates, such as current media darlings (and competition) Bloc Party: "It's amazing that bands like Bloc Party get record deals," he said by phone while vacationing with his girlfriend in Cabo San Lucas. "You've seen a photograph of them, right? You look at photographs of these people and think 'How does that happen?'"
Thanks to its heavily publicized feuds with fellow Brits Blur and most recently the Libertines, Noel Gallagher has become as natural at rattling off attention-grabbing quotes as he is at writing anthemic rock songs.
Look, here's another one:
"I have not heard a masterpiece of British music since (Coldplay's debut) 'Parachutes,'" he said. "There are about a dozen bands, like Franz Ferdinand, who have great songs but have yet to make great albums."
It's easy to see why Noel Gallagher's standards are set so high.
Since forming in the early 1990s, Oasis has sold 34 million albums around the world. Its first release, "Definitely Maybe," was the fastest-selling debut album in British history. And its second disc, "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?" released in 1995, continues to be one of Britain's top three albums of all time.
"I don't think we can achieve anymore in terms of record sales," said Noel Gallagher. "If I had something better to do, I'd probably do it. But music is all I'm good at. If I wasn't doing this, I'd just be getting fat at home."
As the group's guitarist and main songwriter, Noel Gallagher is the one responsible for penning practically every one of the band's Top-10 hits, including "Live Forever" and "Wonderwall."
After being turned down as a frontman for the band Inspiral Carpets when he was 24, Noel Gallagher then focused his attention on his younger brother's band.
He joined Liam Gallagher's group on the condition that he could have complete control.
But that dynamic changed over the summer, when Oasis released "Don't Believe the Truth."
Rare for the band's long, tumultuous history, the album includes songs written by the rest of the band: frontman Liam Gallagher, guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell.
"Not writing the full record meant I didn't have to work as hard," Noel Gallagher said. "I always get the final say on songs. In the past, when the guys would bring me their songs, I didn't feel like they fit in with where we were going. But this time around, I thought their songs were fantastic."
The result is a record that, after several years of uninspired releases, recaptures the energy and excitement of the group's earlier music.
Sure, it still sounds distinctly like Oasis – roaring guitars, nasal vocals – but there's a new level of diversity to the music.
Noel Gallagher's classic, arena-friendly song "Lyla" fits well next to Liam Gallagher's short, indie-influenced "The Meaning of Soul."
The band isn't breaking any new ground – it's still obvious they love the Beatles, especially on "Love Like a Bomb." (Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey, plays drums on most of the songs.)
But what is surprising is that Noel Gallagher enjoyed watching his brother succeed at songwriting.
So what about that famous sibling rivalry?
"It doesn't rear it's ugly head as regularly as it used to," Noel Gallagher said. "Liam's only just started to write songs, so he's playing catch-up. I didn't teach him how, I think he must be watching and learning. I don't think I could teach him, he wouldn't be the best pupil. He tends to focus a lot on the extracurricular stuff."
Because Oasis is scheduled to tour well into next year, including stopping at Coors Amphitheatre Wednesday, that doesn't leave much time for goofing off, especially for the more responsible, older brother.
When Noel Gallagher's not on stage, he's usually the one spending his free time plugged on the phone talking to reporters.
"It certainly feels like I'm the one who does all the press," he said. "But that's because the rest of the three don't exude any kind of charisma. They just don't have much to say. I on the other hand. ..."
Just because Noel Gallagher has plenty to talk about, it doesn't mean he's ready to take centerstage. Even though he has to put up with his brother's drunken rages and on-stage outbursts, Noel Gallagher is happy in the background.
"I'd much rather be the Keith Richards character," he said. "Who wants to be Mick Jagger? I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy."