Noel Gallagher - Stuff Magazine - 22nd January 2007
With Oasis’ greatest-hits album out this month, Noel Gallagher looks back on leading what he calls “one of the top bands of all time.”
After 10-plus years of rocking, rolling, snorting, drinking, yelling and fighting (not to mention writing some of the best rock songs ever recorded), Oasis are releasing their much-awaited best-of collection, Stop the Clocks. We caught up with the (slightly) less potty-mouthed songwriting half of the Gallagher brothers and listened to him talk a whole lot of shit. Our apologies to Green Day.
STUFF: When was the moment you realized you could play in a rock ’n’ roll band for a living?
NOEL: I can’t remember that far back, really, but now that I think about it, it would be around the time I wrote “Live Forever.” That’s a fuckin’ good tune, man.
You wrote that in your bedroom around ’91, right? You hadn’t made it yet at that point.
No, we didn’t even have a record deal. I’d written most of Definitely Maybe before I wrote “Live Forever,” but once I wrote that, I said to myself, “This is undeniably fucking great.”
Who’s the first person you played it for?
A very uninterested girlfriend, I think. But then I took it to the boys during a rehearsal, and we all knew that was it.
All these years later, what do you think the appeal of Oasis is?
I’d probably say it’s my seemingly never-ending good looks and Liam’s charming behavior. I don’t know, to be honest. I’d like to think it’s the music, but I don’t know.
We read that you didn’t want Stop the Clocks to come out while Oasis were still together. Does it feel weird to have fans look back at your work even though you’re still making music and performing?
Every time we put a new record out, people are always looking at us retrospectively. There’s always a new generation of fans and journalists who want to give their take on the massive phenomenon that is Oasis.
You’ve said that you wanted to handpick the songs that went on it because if the record company did it, the album would be “shit.” Did you get any heat from your label for choosing B-sides and songs that weren’t commercial singles for Stop the Clocks?
I guess. I mean, at the end of the day, I did it my way, but there were a few mutterings behind the scenes and all that. But really, fuck those people. What do they know? They didn’t write “Live Forever”—or even “Acquiesce,” for that matter.
Usually when a band puts out a best-of album or a live album, it’s to fulfill their contract to their label. Was this released to make good on your deal?
You’re a sharp one. We fulfilled our contract with Epic when we did Don’t Believe the Truth, but they were going to do this “best of” anyway. So it was really a choice between getting involved and making it great or standing over on the sidelines and waiting to slag it off when it was released.
Do you have any regrets about your records? We know Be Here Now didn’t quite turn out the way you wanted it to.
Well, most of the songs are too long and some of the lyrics aren’t too well thought out. And of course some of the tunes on Standing on the Shoulder of Giants are a bit shit. But they’re all perfect expressions of their time, and you can’t change them, so why worry about it?
What would you say was the high point of Oasis’ most decadent behavior? There’s that famous story about the show in L.A. in ’94 when some of the band allegedly took a shitload of crystal meth and you stormed out. Was that sort of stuff common back then?
Well, first off, the reason why I left is because crystal meth is like cheap speed, and I was into far more exotic drugs at that point. I was quite upset my band members had become punks when I was busy reaching for the stars. But in regard to the drug thing, it was omnipresent.
Was there ever a point when you said to yourself, “This shit is wild”?
Well, when you look at yourself in the mirror at 7 A.M., wearing big fucking round sunglasses and a black fur coat with a fucking 50-pound note up your nose, and you say, “Yeah, man, this is what it’s all about,” you might be a bit fucked.
Can you give me a ballpark figure on how much money Oasis spent on drugs in the ’90s?
[Long pause] I couldn’t even calculate it.
A million pounds?
Whoa, man. I mean, a million pounds is a lot of fuckin’ money. But it’s got to be at least half a million. Wait, what the fuck am I saying—it’s got to be more than that. Just print 10 million. Put it next to my picture: “I blew $10 million on drugs!”
Are there any bands around today that you think need to be put in their place?
Green Day. What the fuck’s that all about? They consider themselves to be—and I quote—“a kick-ass rock ’n’ roll band.” They could not be less kick-ass if they tried.
What about them do you find so reprehensible?
They’re obviously a corporate punk band—and they ripped off one of my songs!
[Sings] “I walk these lonely streets…” Fucking “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”! If you listen, you’ll find it is exactly the same arrangement as “Wonderwall.”
We don’t know if you’re one to point fingers about knicking riffs from other groups.
Yeah, but not whole songs! They should have the decency to wait until I am dead. I at least pay the people I steal from that courtesy.
We asked Noel to share his insights about some well-known figures.
"Overrated. He's marginally talented, but not anywhere as good as me. If he wasn't fucking a supermodel, no one outside of NME would give a shit about him.
"Good lads, good tunes, good attitudes, good spirit. Noisy, loud and fast. I like 'em."
GEORGE W. BUSH
"He's just so funny. He obviously hasn't got a fuckin' clue what he's doing. He's hilarious in an absolutely spine-tingling way. As long as his lot are in power, American will rule the world and get the OK, but I think he truly is a fucking idiot."
"Poor Tony. He's overrated. I mean, underrated. I don't know. If you take the Iraq war out of the equation, he's been a magnificent politician for Great Britain. But his legacy will be the Iraq war. On the other hand, Bush is just an all-out idiot. Tony has saving graces."
GALLAGHER [WATERMELON-SMASHING COMEDIAN]
"Never heard of him."
"He's a fucking idiot. Couldn't care less."
"Awesome. Fucking awesome bunch of musicians. Great songwriter. Questionable fucking lead singer, but forget about that—undisputedly one of the top bands of all time. Truly awesome and remarkable."