Noel Gallagher - The Age.com.au - 12th December 2006
It was literally in a matter of days that Noel Gallagher went from being unable to pay for a round of pints at his local, to receiving a phone call informing him that a £1 million royalty cheque was to be deposited in his bank account.
"With hindsight, they were crazy times," he said in a room upstairs at the Forum Theatre this week where he was preparing for the first of two Melbourne shows. "You suddenly just waste a lot of money on shit, utter rubbish. God knows how much money I've blown on drugs, shit cars I can't drive, and daft houses I've never lived in.
"It takes you ages to get back on an even keel. I went mad with it for a good three and a bit years before I started to come around. You forget who you are."
Gallagher, now 39, is in town as part of a three-month world tour for Oasis' new best-of album, Stop the Clocks. The jaunt has been an outstanding success - tickets sold out in less than an hour.
On this tour, in which Gallagher is accompanied by Oasis guitarist Gem Archer, brother Liam Gallagher is a conspicuous absentee. On stage on Sunday, when a punter inquired of Liam's whereabouts, Noel was typically candid. "He couldn't be with us," he declared. "He was washing his hair . . . Actually, truth is, he couldn't be f---ed."
Offstage, he was a tad more decorous.
"Liam lives in Disneyland, y'know what I mean?" he said. "He's started to carry a man bag, which is very disturbing. Apart from that, he's the usual him. I kind of give him the wide berth. Liam doesn't do acoustic shows or interviews, anyway."
The best-of campaign has hardly lacked controversy. Two weeks ago, a widely reported tirade about troops in Iraq landed Gallagher in hot water with veterans' associations.
"I'm regularly grossly misquoted in the press," he said. "They made it sound like I was saying British soldiers deserved to get shot at. I was talking about soldiers in general in America, and I was just, like, 'If you don't like getting shot at, don't join the army.' "
Gallagher was also bemused by the storm that surrounded his sarcastic remark about the Socceroos.
"All things like that I've said very tongue-in-cheek," he said, with a grin. "But I'm yet to master the art of making my quotes look good in print. My point was, Australians are that good at cricket and rugby, why do you bother about football? Please leave football to the rest of us."
Last night, after a show at Vodafone Live at the Chapel, Gallagher also participated in a Q&A session at the Kino cinema for a screening of the band's new documentary film, Lord Don't Slow Me Down. He will also take in the Ashes Test in Perth.
Gallagher says that after spending more than two years recording and touring their last album Don't Believe the Truth, the band agreed to take a year off. They plan to reconvene in June. Gallagher has spent most of his time in his eight-bedroom mansion in Buckinghamshire. He also took his daughter to Sea World in Florida.
"I took my little daughter to see the killer whale," he said. "She was more underwhelmed than I was."
The band has experienced an odd history in Australia. Due to various internal calamities, the band never made it out here in their mid-1990s heyday. It was a tension-filled, bleary-eyed 1998 tour that introduced Australian fans to the band's live show.
"I wouldn't like to think I'm apologising to the Australian nation," Gallagher says, "but we let ourselves down on that tour. I was here for about a month and was out of it every day. We almost had to start from scratch when we came back again. We've only really had a career here for the last five years. I do like coming here, though."
Next year they will be honoured at the Brit Awards, the UK equivalent of the Grammys.
"We've been gently pushed into all this," he says. "Let's get this out of the way before I'm 40. I don't want to be like Pink Floyd going up there as an old fella. I might as well do it while I can still look good in a leather jacket."