Noel Gallagher - The Sydney Morning Herald - 30th November 2006
"I'd always been interested in music, but the idea of what Oasis eventually became came from seeing the Stone Roses live," Gallagher says. "Rock stars then looked different to us. We were normal lads who went to the football, took drugs and hung out on the street. When the Stone Roses came along, they looked like us and made the goal seem nearer."
Oasis, with Noel and brother Liam out front, would become the biggest-selling band in Britain. Twelve years on from their debut, Definitely Maybe, the band are in hiatus. A two-disc best-of, Stop the Clocks, is released this week and Noel Gallagher holds court in his Buckinghamshire home.
After several patchy releases, the band was reinvigorated last year by strong sales and reviews of their sixth studio album, Don't Believe the Truth. A well-received world tour followed.
Sadly, neither success has served to mend fragile relations between band members. Noel says that with the exception of rhythm guitarist Gem Archer, he has not spoken to any of his bandmates, including brother Liam, since March.
"The minute of the last gig of the tour ends that's me f---ing gone," he says, cheerfully. "I don't speak to any of those geezers. It keeps it interesting for me. I wouldn't want to come back off the road and then go straight back into the studio."
From the band's infancy, the tension between Noel and frontman Liam saw them develop into something of a caricature. There were fearful public shouting matches, fist fights, bust-ups and walk-outs. Noel, 39, who was raised with Liam and elder brother Paul by his mother after their father walked out, is philosophical about their relationship.
"A lot of the negative stuff in this band has been very unnecessary and a lot of it caused by Liam," he says, matter of factly. "He's a very antagonistic young chap."
It was during his mid-1990s songwriting purple patch that he conceived Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Glory - 27 million copies sold worldwide - and some of the best B-sides recorded in the past 15 years such as Talk Tonight, Acquiesce and The Masterplan.
Gallagher places Talk Tonight among his favorite vocal performances. It was written on Oasis' first American tour in 1994 after a "massive row" with Liam in LA.
"I took all the tour money and a big bag of drugs and went to stay with a young lady friend of mine," he recalls. "I wrote it about brief experiences of running around America for a week. At least something positive came out of it: a great f---ing song."
In spite of the band's inner turmoil, Gallagher still fondly recalls Oasis' early days, so vividly captured in the artwork for Definitely Maybe. The cover was shot in former guitarist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs' front room and captures the band as they were, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes and playing guitar.
"The only thing manufactured about that was the drummer was there," Gallagher says. "I'd always be around at Bonehead's house playing guitar. They were f---ing great days. I'd love to relive them, but they really can't be relived."
The mid-1990s saw an embarrassment of musical riches concluded by the release of 1998's cocaine-plastered Be Here Now.
Mercilessly panned on its release, Gallagher considers the album's main flaw was that it wasn't Morning Glory. "But I'd ran out of gas. In hindsight it could have been better, but it's an expression of its time."
Live Forever, a recent documentary featuring the Gallagher brothers at their amusing best, focused on the rise of Oasis and Britpop in general. Gallagher says that those involved (including his former nemesis, Blur leader Damon Albarn) are portrayed "as we are".
"Damon come across how I know him, as a confused individual," he says. "He always wanted to be the man, the voice of that generation, but what he failed to understand is that that's a mantle you can't take yourself, it's given to you."
On Oasis' last Australian tour just under 12 months ago, Noel noted the band had arrived at the end of their contract with Sony, and were not going to re-sign with them. He also suggested his own life had taken a re-signing.
These days Noel uses the services of a personal trainer and the hedonistic lifestyle of the 1990s is a distant memory. So, we have to ask, what's the better high, drugs or stepping out on a stage?
"I'd say being on stage, that's just incredible. Drugs are a very personal and selfish thing; stepping out on stage is a very communal thing that involves you and thousands of people. I'm more about others now," he says, with a knowing chuckle. "I'm not that selfish any more."