Oasis Interviews Archive

A shitload of interviews from all the various members of Oasis and selected associates from the start of their career right up to the present day. These transcripts have been taken from various websites, forums and newsgroups over the years. Credit goes to those people who took the time to put these words online.

Saturday, January 29, 2000

Noel Gallagher - The Guardian - 29th January 2000

Morning-After Glory

Once, life was a cruise for Noel Gallagher. Oasis's brand of rock with attitude sold and sold, and the cocaine and champagne kept coming. Until, one day, he called a halt. He speaks from the heart about his brother Liam, his wife Meg, the baby on the way - and the album that charts his turnaround.

Just when was it that the glamour of Oasis first started to fade? When did their seductive supernova swagger cease to be sexy, and begin to seem graceless? Was it when a heavily bearded Liam Gallagher set upon an unsuspecting fan in Australia, breaking his nose? Or was it when even Liam's impeccable singing voice failed to disguise the fundamental pub-rock flavour of the band's third album? Somewhere along the line, a couple of years back, Oasis began to resemble a parody of themselves. Then, last year, to make matters worse, both the guitarist and bass-player suddenly walked away from the group, and were swiftly followed by the boss of the band's label.

The glorious, giddy heights of Champagne Supernova and Wonderwall seem long gone, as are the days when the irreverent, hedonistic Gallagher brothers, boozing for England, could do no wrong: Noel and wife Meg partying at Downing Street; luscious Liam and pouting Patsy posing glossily under a Union Jack duvet on the cover of Vanity Fair's Swinging London issue, the sexy ubercouple - so much more fun than their usurpers, Posh and Becks.

The Oasis party started in 1993 and continued pretty much unabated until 1997. They brightened the Major years, saw in New Labour and (What's The Story?) Morning Glory sold 12 million copies worldwide, topped only by the Spice Girls in the 90s.

Not that their third album, Be Here Now, didn't sell. It did - six million copies, to be precise. It was not that Oasis had become less successful, just less fashionable - and less likeable. For Noel Gallagher, it was the 1997 world tour that did it. The nose-breaking incident in Australia was symptomatic. "It just turned into a travelling piss-up," he admits now, as he sits sipping tea. "Bonehead and Liam were just fuckin' out of control, and I was trying to keep everyone together and trying to explain that people had stopped talking about the music and were just talking about the bullshit that surrounded the band. But after about a month, I just gave up and thought, fuck it, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." It was not a great time for the band's public image: internationally, the view of them was "a bunch of lunatics who come roaring through town drunk, smash the place up, play a couple of gigs and fuck off again. We did some shocking gigs on the last tour purely because we'd been out too much the night before. As soon as we put the instruments down, we'd go out and get absolutely shit-faced."

He sounds almost repentant. I'd expected him to be sober (he'd recently declared his new, clean status), but I thought that he might be aggressive or arrogant. None of that. He's not what you'd call humble, exactly, but he's polite, friendly even. And in spite of what he fears may be the onset of flu ("you know something's wrong when cigarettes start to taste bad"), he looks rather well, all bright-eyed and clear-skinned. In spite of the band's downward spiral, something, it seems, stopped them from throwing it all away. They pulled themselves back from the brink of terminal self-indulgence and self-destruction, and have emerged from the chaos of the past few years with a new line-up, their own record label and an excellent new album, Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants.

It's not a radical departure, and Noel's songwriting style remains the same, but Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants is more subtle than its predecessors, more of a "grower", and sounds perceptibly more modern than the previous three albums. "We needed a fresh inspiration from somewhere," says Noel. They enlisted Mark "Spike" Stent to co-produce with Noel. "If there's one person who can embellish a rock'n'roll sounding band, then Spike's the man, because he's worked with U2, Madonna, Massive Attack and Bjork, and he has one foot in the rock'n'roll camp and one in contemporary, electronic music. He'd always liked the band, but he thought that the records sounded crap, which was his opening line to us."

The songs are more personal, and there is less of the Supersonic-style sloganeering. Noel stopped writing lyrics "that just rhymed or sounded good. It's hard to write really deeply personal song and then give it to someone else who's five years younger than you to express it down the microphone. But Liam's got to understand that, from now on, the songs are going to get more meaningful to me and probably less meaningful to him. And he'll understand as he gets older."

The way Noel describes it, it's hard to know which was more insane, being on a deranged, drugs-driven world tour or being at home in London, where the party continued in much the same way. The new album is more about the comedown than the highs. Where Did It All Go Wrong? is a track written just before Noel and Meg, both now 32, moved out of Supernova Heights, their home in Belsize Park, north London.

Their house had turned into a nightclub, he says, "a pretty good one at that. The bar was always open, the door was always open, there were more people coming in and out than I ever got to know. I must have wasted years sitting there with the curtains closed talking about bullshit - aliens, pyramids, debating 'did they really land on the moon, let's watch the footage again in slow motion' or 'crop circles - what's that all about?'" One morning, he looked in the mirror at his yellow skin and popping eyes, unable to focus, with a load of strangers in the kitchen, and thought, "Oh fuck, how did we get here?"

Sunday Morning Call is about a particular person on a self-destruct mission, who is "too rock'n'roll for their own good". My guess is Kate Moss. "Could be - she's one of my mates, but I wouldn't like to say who it's about." Did Noel never think of checking himself into the Priory, the usual drying-out route favoured by the rich and famous? "I never understand people who spend £50,000 a month to cure a £10,000-a-month habit. And it creates another shit storm and a media circus, and people lie about why they're going in, and say they're 'stressed out'."

Instead, Noel and Meg sold their London house and moved to Buckinghamshire. He took the phone off the hook and stayed in. Gas Panic, the new album's darkest track, was written while weaning himself off cocaine - "going cold turkey, without wanting to sound too dramatic about it" - in the midst of a night-time panic attack. "It's basically a paranoid drugs song."

Even when the house wasn't full of party guests, life then at Supernova Heights sounds nightmarishly reminiscent of the Burton-Taylor carousing years. A drugs-and-booze-fuelled Noel and Meg were rowing "about fuck all. 'You said that to that person and they said that about me.'" Finally, says Noel, "I picked my missus up off the kitchen floor" and the two of them set off on a month-long holiday to Thailand. "We'd never really hung out together sober," he says. "We met through drugs. Our relationship was surrounded by drugs. We got married when we were pissed. Though we weren't drunk when we decided to get married," he adds hastily. "When I decided I was going to come off it and change the way I lived, in the beginning it was, like - how's that gonna be with our relationship. Am I still gonna like her?"

The holiday was a success, and he wrote the album's most uplifting track, the tranquil Who Feels Love, after a visit to a temple. "It was the calm after the storm. I suppose I was feeling at one with the world." He had become "re-acquainted" with his wife. "It was like, 'Yeah, she is cool'," he says. "'And I do actually like her. I love her.'"

Then, on their second wedding anniversary last year, Meg told her husband that she was pregnant, "as luck would have it", he beams (by the time you read this, the baby's arrival will be imminent). "That gave us something else. You go on being young and having nothing to keep you grounded... I like that I'm not going to be able to let myself go any more, because I'm going to have to be there." It was good timing, for both of them. Without the pregnancy, it might have been harder for Meg to quit the rock'n'roll lifestyle, says her husband. "Meg is hardcore, her and her fuckin' girlfriends are worse than any bunch of guys I've ever been out with." I find that hard to believe. "I mean it, man," he says seriously. "They are fuckin' hardcore rock'n'roll women. They can be a bit scary when they're out, actually," he smiles. "She's easily led, that woman," he says, rather fondly, "especially by mates who are 10 years younger than her. Meg always wanted kids, anyway, and I was, like, well, if it happens it happens, but I was over the moon that it did."

When guitarist Bonehead and bass-player Guigsy left the band in August last year, Liam "freaked out", but Noel was philosophical about it. "By their own admission, they weren't very good musicians," he says. They signed up rhythm guitarist Gem, formerly of Heavy Stereo, and bassist Andy Bell, formerly of Ride, to join the Gallaghers and drummer Andy White, and the new line-up made its debut in Philadelphia last December. The full world tour starts in Japan next month, ending up in the UK in July.

Noel is equally sanguine about the departure earlier this month of Alan McGee, the boss of Creation who originally signed up the band on the spot at a small gig in Glasgow and who has left to set up an internet company. "With two members leaving and then this, it looked like a big shit sandwich. But when you go to bed at night it's a crisis, and when you wake up in the morning it's just another problem to be solved." Liam was quoted as saying that he felt deserted by McGee, for whom the band had made around £30 million. "I know for a fact he just said that for effect, because I know he wasn't upset with Alan when he left. I dunno why he's saying he's broken-hearted because to be broken-hearted you have to have a heart, and he hasn't. He might think he does. He's got a soul, but he's not got a heart."

Creation Records has now folded, and 30 staff were made redundant. Noel feels for them, but says, matter-of-factly, "it's not the first record label that's folded, and it won't be the last...If it hadn't been for Alan, I wouldn't have signed off the dole. It works both ways. We made him a lot of money. He gave us the chance to make him a lot of money. He left us in a pretty decent position." The band have now set up their own label, Big Brother, though they remain under the auspices of parent company Sony.

A large number of young Britons spent their formative years on the late-80s rave scene, a movement that sparked a tabloid moral panic - and one that was largely outlawed by the Tory government. For those people, hedonism and anti-authoritarianism went hand in hand. So, when Oasis appeared in 1993, extolling the virtues of drugs - "like having a cup of tea", as Noel famously phrased it once - and proudly displaying their working-class, anti-establishment credentials, it's no surprise that the "chemical generation" took to them. Like the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses before them, Oasis tapped straight into the rebellious, feel-good moment.

After he'd made the famous drugs-and-tea comment, Noel recalls returning to his previous home in St John's Wood to find his house surrounded by journalists and the street cordoned off. He went to a friend's place. There had been questions raised in Parliament, and the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard, was on television demanding that he be kicked out of the country. "Two years later, I was arriving at Downing Street in a Rolls-Royce and thinking, 'I hope you're fuckin' watching this now.'"

His mum was very proud, he says, as was Meg's mother, a former trades unionist. "And, of course, I was entirely convinced I was going to get a knighthood," he laughs. The post-victory euphoria was still tangible in Britain. Again in repentant mode, he says that he wished he'd called his Liverpool docker acquaintances the night before to ask if there was anything they wanted him to say to Tony Blair. "But of course I went there for the infamy more than anything, and it was, like, 'You're top.' 'No, you're top.' 'No, you're fuckin' top.' 'Well, thanks a lot, here's a gold disc.'" Whatever he may think of Blair now - he says he became disillusioned when the Government started "taking money off single mothers and students" - he's still glad that he went to Downing Street. "Once. I wouldn't do it again." He concedes that Blair's spin doctors were using him to heighten New Labour's credibility, "but we'd had 18 years of the fuckin' Tories drip-drying this country almost out of business. I'd voted Labour all my life."
Oasis's laddish demeanour was also very of-the-moment in the early days. Back in 1993, Loaded magazine was soon to be launched, and "lad culture", though not to everyone's taste, had at least a new frankness and honesty about it. Themn band's brashness seemed emblematic of a shift in British male identity. The popular perception of Oasis is still steeped in drugs, violence and sex. Is that a good thing? Noel pauses for a moment. "I can see that when we came along at the arse end of '93, it was Suede and all them lot, and we were, like, 'Right. They're shit. They're shit. You're fuckin' totally shit. Chop 'em out. Get us a fuckin' beer. Hello darlin'.' And the kids went berserk, because they were, like, 'that's me incarnate, how cool is that'. And the more people said it, the more we just went berserk. And we lived up to it for a while."

Liam, although calmer nowadays, still does, off and on. He "went missing" for a few days last November, and the tabloids made the most of it. For Noel, such behaviour, even now, is not without its advantages: "I was thinking, 'For fuck's sake, not again', but to some kid living in a council block in Glasgow, I bet he was going, 'You fuckin' go on, my son, you really don't give a fuck, Liam'." Episodes such as this - and Liam's scrape with the law for drugs possession a few years back - help Joe Public connect with the band, Noel believes. He can understand the media obsession with Liam and Patsy, he says. "Rock star. Headcase. Actress. Headcase. Little blonde chick, lunatic with a beard. I can see why people wonder what's going on behind closed doors." Patsy's recent comments in GQ magazine about the couple's sex life made front-page news in many of the tabloids.

Not that Liam and Patsy have a monopoly on the column inches, of course. At one point, Noel was approached by the tabloids to comment on more or less any subject: the Royal Family, the Labour Party, other bands. "They'd be, like, 'get someone round to Gallagher's house. He'll be up, he'll give you a quote'." And Noel would invariably oblige, usually drunk. "I'd be, like, 'What? The French? What've they done? Nicking our fish? Fuck 'em! Fuckin' French! And I'd go into one."

Nor has Meg exactly shunned the limelight. Her high public profile, frequently in Gucci, has added to the Gallaghers' seeming ubiquity. Unlike Patsy, who, since her days as the Bird's Eye peas girl, has been used to life in the public eye, celebrity was thrust upon Meg suddenly, and she embraced it. Her short-lived column in the Sunday Times, while curiously compelling, did little to enhance the band's mystique. Noel was not keen. "I went fuckin' ballistic. We have heated debates about stuff like that. To me it was just celebrity name-dropping and it was wrong." But the paper was offering her £50,000, and her party-organising business with friend Fran Cutler had not, at that point, taken off. "She wouldn't want anyone to think that she sits at home all day, eating cream cakes and spending my money. She's her own woman. At the end of the day, we had to agree to disagree. I would never put my foot down and tell her what to do. She'd tell me to piss off."

These days, "lad culture" has begun to look a bit tired. The Loaded ethos has been lifted and transformed by the wider men's magazine market, and the media generally, into something more ubiquitous and more cynical. For Oasis still to appear fresh, something more than a reputation for hell-raising is needed to justify their status, something more profound, and no one is more aware of that than Noel. But his approach is double-edged. On the one hand, he acknowledges that the mad-for-it melodrama helps people feel a connection with the band. On the other hand, he refuses to indulge his little brother. "I'm the only person who'll tell it like it is. He has a lot of people who pussyfoot around him and say, 'He does this because of that'. Fuck him. He's 27. He's a millionaire. I'm not having it that his life is any worse than someone who's living in fuckin' Leicester, who's got two kids and no fuckin' job. I'm not having any of that shit."
Liam doesn't always like hearing that, or reading it in print; it seems demeaning to him. "But if it wasn't for me," says his brother, "he'd think it was all right to go on a bender for three days and not see his kid. He'd think that was fine. He sees me and I'm, like, 'You're a disgrace.' It's for his own good. There's two sides to Liam: when he's pissed, he's fuckin' horrible, and I hate him, and I really mean that. I fuckin' hate him. It's just psychotic alcohol bullshit and I've got no time for him. When he's sober, he's a top geezer and you can have a rational conversation with him about anything." Rather sweetly, he adds, in his brother's defence, that it's a tall order to juggle the balls of rock-stardom and fatherhood, and that every so often Liam drops one of those balls, and that's when he goes on drinking binges. There's a track on the album written by Liam called Little James, about his stepson (Patsy's son by the singer Jim Kerr). "It's a good song," says Noel. "I wouldn't have let it be on the album otherwise."

Noel asked his brother recently which Liam would be coming on tour with them this year. He told him that if it was the same Liam who came on tour in 1997 - "with a beard and a stupid hat, blowing a stupid trumpet into his microphone" - then it would be the last tour on which Noel would be joining him. If, however, it was the Liam that he knows and likes, then that would be fine. "I just wanted to know what weapons to pack." Noel's worst nightmare is that somewhere in the middle of Texas, Liam will get drunk, start arguing, and the two new members of the band will bale out.

He's optimistic, though. "Everyone likes a drink and all that, but the chaos seems to have left, and I think we all know we're not some young punks any more. I don't like to say that we're responsible adults, exactly, but we want to put on a good show for the people who've bothered to come and see us after all these years."

The remorse creeps back into his voice."We've made some bad mistakes in the past, and still, in England, if we put out one photograph we sell out two nights at Wembley Stadium. To me, that is fuckin' astonishing. And we're not going to fuck it up this time."

It's perhaps no wonder that the Gallagher brothers are determined not to let their success slip through their fingers, nor that they went on a four-year bender when fame and wealth came their way. They had more reason to celebrate than most. Noel feels no nostalgia for his early years in Manchester. Out of his old friends, some are dead, some are in prison for drug-dealing or robbing, and a lot of them are "average Joes". He remembers going to his local, the Packhorse, on Friday nights. Everyone would stand around the pool table "talking about who was hardest, City or United". They are not romantic memories.

For Liam, their brother Paul, and himself, life was no worse than for anyone else on his street, but, he says, the 80s were not good time to be growing up. His unhappiest memories were of "unemployment and desolation, growing up on the dole on £17 a week. My Mam used to take half of it, and I'm glad she done it now. I come from fuck all and if I go back to nothing I'll have had a good trip." He won't be rushing back there, though. He still supports Manchester City, of course, but he gets agitated when Mancunians expect a more general sense of loyalty. "I'm like, 'Get over it, we don't live here any more. It's just the place where I used to live.'" When he goes there now, he says, he gets the sense of being a huge fish in a tiny fishbowl. "I think I'd probably go insane up there. London's massive, and there are millions of famous people, so who gives a fuck."

Of course, there's more to it than the grim surroundings. "Home life was a bit of a pain in the arse," he says, more quietly, "because my Dad was a typical Irishman, flying off the handle for any reason, and my Mam was a typical Irishwoman, always stood by him, even though we were always going 'leave him'." Peggy Gallagher waited until her sons had grown up, "God bless her", and then off she went. He hasn't seen his father for years.

Does he think they will ever be reconciled? "Never. I find it very hypocritical when he goes, 'my sons this, my sons that'. He doesn't even know us. He used to say that none of us would end up doing anything with our lives coz we were useless, coz we had no qualifications.

"If I went back to shake his hand and forgive him, that would condone everything he's done. He'd have got away with it. He's got to go to his grave knowing for a fact that I hate him and that Liam hates him and that my Mam doesn't want anything to do with him. He's got to fuckin' pay for his sins, man. Simple as that. Fuck him. He beat me up when I was kid. He actually physically had me on the floor, and I had black eyes because of him, up until I was 16, 17." His father has always denied this. But for Noel a reunion is off the cards. "There's no fuckin' way. There's nothing that anyone can say to me like 'but he's your dad'. Big deal."

Not that it was all doom and gloom. Learning to play the guitar in his teens was a happy time, he says, "strumming away on the same three chords - a bit like now." And listening to the Smiths ("Morrissey and Marr were like gods to me"), seeing the Stone Roses play, going to raves in his 20s, and working as a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets. His happiest childhood recollections are not of Manchester, but of summer holidays in County Mayo, Ireland, where the boys and their mother stayed with their grandma for six weeks every year, living on the farm and making hay. "My gran's got this house and the back garden is just fuckin' huge. The nearest neighbours are four miles away. She didn't have running water, so we went to the well to get water. It was back to basics. Those are my fondest memories."

So fond, in fact, that he recently went to a sanctuary and acquired two donkeys, because they reminded him of his childhood summers in Ireland. At their Buckinghamshire home, Noel and Meg also have four cats, some geese, some goats and five dogs (two Dobermans, two Jack Russell's and one mongrel they found abandoned in a shop doorway in Camden). He's hoping for a Staffordshire bull terrier for his birthday. Noel Gallagher? An animal lover? Who would have thought it. "They're for the kids, really, when they get a bit older."

Noel is now a three-pints-of-Guinness man ("then I fall over"). The couple threw a Boxing Day party at their country abode, and Noel thought that there were probably guests sneaking to the toilets for a quick coke fix. It didn't bother him, he says. He doesn't want to preach to anyone, it's just not for him any more. He says that, a few years down the line, when his kids get involved in the "same shit that their mum and dad did", that his experiences willthat his experiences will help him understand. When he eventually sits down to have that father-son or father-daughter conversation about drugs, "they'll understand that I've done it and that I'm not bullshitting them. When you're 24, and you're in one of the biggest bands in the world and you've got loads of money, you go mental. No one could have persuaded me then that, in six or seven years time, I was going to be lying in bed having a panic attack, getting the shakes. Life's for living."

The money he's saved from the drugs is "piling up in the bank". Along with a Porsche, a Range Rover, a Jag and 400 pairs of vintage Adidas trainers (which take up a whole room in the house), the couple have recently acquired a house in Ibiza. "Thinking 16 years ahead, our kids can go there and they'll be known on the island, they'll speak Spanish, the local police will know them - any trouble, their dad'll be over there."

And if, in their 40s, he and his wife get their "second wind", they'll be in the prime spot for a bit of clubbing. "We'll be the sad old gits at the back with our bottles of water who've forgotten how to dance," he says.

The baby is in "flight position", and Noel has been told by Meg that he will be at the birth. "I'm looking forward to the day after the birth. I've got a mental picture of the birth like some scene from The Exorcist with loads of swearing, people in masks, screaming, shouting, a smoke machine." His mother, needless to say, is ecstatic. "It's like a bus: you wait 10 years for a grandchild, then two come along at once." All is well, it seems. He wants a girl, he says. "Having two brothers and being in a band of five geezers, there are too many men in my life."

Another thing he will make sure of, he says, is that his kids know how privileged they are. "They won't grow up in a shitty council house with no money, but they'll have a pretty good idea what it's like, because I've been there." Recently, Noel was approached in the street by a fan asking for an autograph. He noticed that the boy was so over-awed that he was shaking. "Calm down," he told him. "We all shit in the same toilet. It's no big deal." The boy replied, "But you are my god." To Noel, this was absurd. But didn't he once say that Oasis were bigger than God? "I said we were bigger than God, but what I meant to say was taller. I believe Jesus was 5ft 7in and I'm 5ft 8 1/2 in," he smiles sheepishly. "I still stand by that."

Monday, January 24, 2000

Noel Gallagher - XFM - 24th January 2000

TL - Tim Lovejoy NG - Noel Gallagher

TL: To start off, you've just come back from the States. You were there before Christmas, yeah?
NG: Yeah.

TL: And er... how was that?
NG: Yeah, it was a good laugh. Erm...we went there to do a video and some of these radio festival things. It's like erm... it's like a festival, but it's indoors and it's... they play it live on the radio station in each state. Some... some of the worst bands I have ever seen *ever* were involved in 'em. But erm... it was a good laugh for us, 'cos it was a good chance to get out and play for the first time with the new guys, and it not be in England, d'you know what I mean, so there wasn't that much press attention. There was a bit for the first gig, but after that it was er... it was all American stuff really, which is good.

TL: How big are you out there at the moment?
NG: Er...I don't know... well we're still... I mean we've actually sold more records than we have in England... over the... over the course of our four... er three albums, so... but saying that, America's like about fifty times the size, so I don't know.

TL: Yeah, do you have to do each state? Is that how it works in the States? Are you liked better in one state than another one?
NG: Yeah, there isn't a lot that goes on... I mean most English bands would go over there and do probably no more than about six or eight gigs. They'd do New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, sort of the big industrial towns. But we... y'know we go over there for six weeks at a time, so we're bigger than... we're probably... out there Bush are the biggest English band and we're probably the second one, I would imagine.

TL: Yeah and Bush aren't big in England, are they, at all really?
NG: No. I don't know why. I've... can never work that one out, 'cos they're no worse than any other of the rock bands you hear on the radio these days, but... I don't know.

TL: How important is it for you to make it out in the States? Obviously you're massive over here but... in the States?
NG: Erm... it's no more important really than it is to be big anywhere else I suppose. It was erm... the important thing is, when you're... when you've got a record that's doing well over there, is to... y'know, is to get out there and cane it for all it's worth, 'cos that's where the money is really. So when like, Wonderwall took off y'know, we erm... we didn't play so much in Europe, we went out to America, because... you'd only regret it when you were younger, y'know what I mean?

TL: Yeah.
NG: Erm... but English bands don't seem to do too well over there because nobody really wants to go and spend six months of the year out there, because it's... I mean it's far away and it's such an alien culture to us, y'know. You can't get Match Of The Day or anything like that.

TL: Over here you're treated like a... is it exciting, 'cos it's like er... over here obviously you're treated like a god, aren't you? People are scared of you.
NG: (laughs)

TL: No they are.
NG: Well, me dogs are.

TL: People are running around the station going: "Ahhh, Noel's in here!"
NG: Yeah.

TL: When you were like, out in the States was it like, starting again?
NG: Yeah but that can be sort of erm... that can be an escape out there, because you can do things out there... y'know, you can go shopping and that, and you don't have sort of fifty, sixty people following you down the street and stuff. So erm... it can be quite liberating to get out there and just... to walk down the streets or just hang out on the beaches and just hang out in the bars and not get asked for an autograph. It can be quite cool, y'know? Erm so... there's good points and bad points to it really.

TL: Alright how did you get on then though, as a band? You've got Gem and Andy Bell in the band now...
NG: Yep.

TL: ... how did you gel?
NG: How did we gel? Erm...

TL: Did you enjoy playing with them?
NG: I did, yeah. Well, y'know we only had like a week's rehearsal with Andy before we went, so it was erm... after about six days we were on a plane going to the States together, and it was like... it was a bit daunting because y'know, not playing in front of an audience and stuff. And you only get to know people through them five o'clock drinking sessions don't you, in hotel rooms when y'know, when what they really think about your band comes out. So at the moment everything is... we got over the first hurdle of everyone being drunk, and er y'know, it was really good, it's a really good laugh at the moment.

TL: What was the actual process of selecting them then? Did you er... was it your idea to get them in or...
NG: Well in the case of replacing Bonehead, that was quite easy because I'd known Gem for a while and with him being on Creation and stuff, and I knew that he wasn't doing anything 'cos his band had been dropped a couple of years before. So I just phoned him up. And we didn't even bother rehearsing him or y'know, doing the audition thing because we were fans of Heavy Stereo anyway, and so we knew he could play. So that was that sort of boxed off within a matter of days. And then... in the case of replacing Guigs, that took about two months 'cos we went through the audition stage with that, about six or seven bass players, and some of them are in current pretty successful bands and they sort of came down on the sly, under the cover of darkness and all that stuff, and they were saying: "Oh if me band ever find out I'm here, I'm gonna get kicked out.", so we can't say who they are. But erm... it was like being on Stars In Their Eyes for like two months.

TL: So you say you like Heavy Stereo, do you like Ride, as well? With Andy Bell.
NG: Yeah, Ride done some good stuff. Leave Them All Behind in particular is my favourite track, and I think the album Going Blank Again is really good. But I like the last album they done, Carnival Of Light was quite good. But Andy's... I was... I was amazed that Andy was up for actually playing the bass y'know, 'cos he's such a good guitarist. He was erm...I was thinking... well 'cos when Liam said: "Look, Andy Bell ain't doing nowt.", so I said: "I can't see him playing bass." He said: "Well we don't know 'til we ask him.". So we asked him, and he said yeah, and he's erm... y'know, I was amazed really, but he's a top bass player.

TL: So are they now... is it officially, Oasis, the new line up or are they just here for the album?
NG: No, they're here for the... for this tour and then we're gonna go and make a record together, and then they'll be... hopefully they'll be signed onto the record deal and stuff like that.

TL: Somebody told me the other day, I don't know how true this is, that you would have actually liked to have worked with them on this album, 'cos...
NG: Oh yeah, totally. Yeah well I would have preferred it if Guigs and Bonehead... would've decided that they were gonna leave before we went and recorded the album, 'cos that would've made things a lot easier. Because now we're in a position where we're goin' on the road...er, to do a new record and... y'know, two guys in the band haven't played on it. But they're gonna be involved in promoting it, in the videos and stuff, which is quite... which is quite weird. So it won't really feel like a new start until we get the guys in the studio. But...it's all very exciting.

TL: Why did Bonehead and Guigsy leave the band? Had they just had enough?
NG: Well at first... y'know, at first I... at first I thought: "Well y'know OK, they wanna spend more time with their families", and then for a while I was thinking: "Well, that can't be right, because they've just had two years off, and nobody loves their wife and kids that much", y'know...

TL: (laughs)
NG: (laughs) And then... but erm... since y'know... I sensed that they just didn't want to do it any more. Bonehead didn't like touring, neither did Guigs, and they just didn't want to do it, so... I can't for the life of me understand why, y'know, why you would wanna, why you would wanna just leave the band, I mean, why don't you just quit touring? But... it's a funny one, but there you go, y'know.

TL: So Gem and Andy, they look good. Good hair!
NG: (laughs)

TL: Both of them. The band now looks a good set up, doesn't it? Y'know, was that part of your selection process, on the hair?
NG: Er... well we wouldn't have had any bald people in, after already having someone bald in the band, but it helps to have a decent haircut I suppose. But it wasn't the main criteria. The main criteria was to be able to play the instrument but, y'know, we're not gonna let anyone with a perm in either, y'know what I mean?

TL: Right, now onto the new single and the new album. I heard the new album - quality.
NG: Right. Nice one.

TL: It actually really surprised me 'cos y'know, your first single, Go Let It Out, it's kind of safe, isn't it? It's the Oasis we sort of know and love. Weren't you tempted to...
NG: Cheers! (laughs)

TL: It is. Weren't you tempted to put one of the other tracks on, y'know, one of the ones which are slightly different, as a bit of a shock tactic?
NG: Well there was erm... the thing with Go Let It Out is, it's probably, I think it's the shortest track on the album. Even though the songs are quite... in general are a lot shorter than on the last record, that one is... that one that's four and a half minutes. And we felt that it... that was the first song that was written for the album, and we felt that that is a good erm... representation of what the rest of the album sounds like. And erm... of course you don't want y'know, you don't want your first single going in a at number eleven do you? Y'know, because it's a sure-fire Top Of The Pops hit, innit?

TL: Well, are you nervous at all about it?
NG: Not really, no.

TL: So do you think it's gonna go straight in at number one?
NG: Dunno. Shania Twain's got a single out the same day, hasn't she?

TL: Has she?
NG: Yeah, that er...

TL: She's quality.
NG: (sings) "Don't be ridiculous...

TL: She looks good though...
NG: (still singing) ...You know I love ya"... She's got a good voice an' all. Erm but... I would imagine it'll go in at number one or number two. But y'know, number two's not bad. We've had a few number twos, Wonderwall and Roll With It were number two, so... Slade had a good few number twos, it's no embarrassment.

TL: Good band.
NG: Yeah.

TL: Are you excited about being back? Do you think the music scene needs a bit of a kick up the bum?
NG: I think... I think eventually as this year progresses with the likes of Primals putting an album out, and ourselves, and hopefully Radiohead and Richard Ashcroft if they get it together, it'll er.... hopefully we'll go on to dominate the album charts for the best part of the year, and early part of next year. But it won't... y'know, not... one band isn't gonna y'know, change it or anything like that. You can sit and analyse it for hours and hours but... y'know, if the kids want pop music, then it's there for 'em innit, y'know?

TL: What do you think of stuff like Steps?
NG: I think Steps are appalling. And there's no way that any of them are in their 20's is it? I mean I've seen them at Top Of The Pops, y'know what I mean, they are at least in... well, they're at least as old as me, and I'm 32. Totally, y'know. And er... yeah.

TL: My mate says the reason why all that stuff is so successful at the moment is 'cos the... everything's too good in the world at the moment. There's not enough... there's not enough...
NG: Yeah...

TL: ...anguish.
NG: ... but what I can't understand is, is like, when you see 'em... erm... y'know, you see 'em on the telly and they're supposed to be singing live, y'know when they see the bits on whatever programme, and it's like them from... Doin' It All Again, they're obviously not singing live because you can't sing harmonies doing a cartwheel, alright? Y'know, you can't. And er... it's like, I'm sure y'know The Spice Girls don't sing live or any of that nonsense. They'll sing the one song live, where they all stand completely and utterly still, and Backstreet Boys and all them, and then when they're running round and doin' hops, skips and jumps and playing hopscotch and singing in tune? You can't do it.

TL: What annoys me a bit, right, is that all the tabloids and everything spend so many column inches on these bands...
NG: Mmm.

TL: ... like The Spice Girls and the er, Steps and stuff, and I drove past a Steps gig one night, and all it is is twelve year old girls.
NG: Mmm.

TL: And a few boys scattered in there. Clever boys...
NG: (laughs)

TL: ...who are scattered in amongst it. They're just a kids band, and it's like The Wombles when we were kids or something.
NG: Yeah.

TL: D'you know what I mean? It's like, and they get so many column inches. I can't...
NG: I just... I seen an advert today for the... Bay City Rollers are playing The Forum, and it's got on it, er...y'know "Original Line Up", and I was thinking, y'know: "Who's gonna be that sad to go and *see* them?", d'you know what I mean? I mean who's gonna go and see The Bay City Rollers for forty year old blokes singing Shang a Lang?

TL: Yeah, you're right...
NG: Y'know...

TL: ... I need to cancel those tickets.
NG: (laughs)

TL: Alright, your video. You hate it.
NG: No I don't hate it. I got into a... a heated debate about videos in general, and I was saying that all videos are a waste of the artist's time and money. And er, this American journalist was saying: "Oh, by that would you include your own videos in it?", and I'd say: "Well yeah, of course I do". And he says: "So you think your video's rubbish?". So I said: "Well yeah". Y'know, and that was it.

TL: So was the video Liam's idea? That's what I read.
NG: Yeah. Yeah. But could we look any colder in that video, do you think? I couldn't possibly look any colder at all. I was freezing.

TL: Yeah but I watched it, I liked it. I was really upset when I read those comments, 'cos I was like: "I like that video, that's cool, that's great" and then you read... and then I read that you didn't like it...
NG: Yeah but I didn't... y'know, I just... I don't mind it, y'know like I say, when you've gotta spend y'know, hundreds of thousands of pounds on videos and then you've gotta go and stand in a field for eleven hours of a day, and it's like: "Hang on a minute, I'm actually paying for this... for the pleasure" y'know what I mean? And then it starts to rain. And then you're like, well... you come home, you come home from like your day's work or what have you, you've got flu, your fingers are numb, like you're in a really bad mood, and it's cost you five hundred grand. It's like, y'know: "I'm not having that."

TL: Do you get involved in the creative side of them at all?
NG: I try not to, and that's probably why the videos are so naff, 'cos it's just like, I mean if... I suppose if you don't get involved then that's... then you can only be thankful for what you've got but...on the next video for the next single actually is pretty good because this time round we went: "Right. We want to do it in the desert man, because at least it's hot. And if it's gonna cost us like, four or five hundred grand, y'know, we can at least get a suntan out of it." So we're mincing around in the desert in Las Ve... just outside Las Vegas. But at least it was warm.

TL: The best bit though was when you're all standing there at the end playing, well, minus Andy Bell, playing the guitar, yeah? I think what you should do is, every time you do a video, leave one member of the band out...
NG: (laughs)

TL: ...'cos all I've heard for the last two weeks is: "Andy Bell's not in the video! Talk to him about that!"
NG: (laughs)

TL: So, which is obviously because you shot it before. Er, did you ever have to phone up the director and apologise to him for the er, for your comments, or...
NG: I didn't personally, but I got a phone call off Marcus the manager, who said: "The director's not very pleased."...

TL: (laughs)
NG: ...and I was like: "Oh right.". And he was like er, y'know: "Mark y'know said he was *very* upset.", and I said: "Well y'know, explain to him that..." y'know, for what I just explained to you. But y'know it's been... it's gone on erm... I think it's gone on pretty heavy rotation in America, so the Americans like it.

TL: Yeah.
NG: That's fine by me.

TL: Alright, new single out, er, new... er, logo.
NG: (small laugh) Yeah.

TL: Why new logo?
NG: Well you know. New band members and all that, and the other one was just looked a bit naff after all these years. It didn't look really... it didn't look good on T shirts and all that stuff. So, we were gonna have... you know the old erm... you know the old... small case lettering adidas logo?

TL: Yeah.
NG: We were gonna have that. And of course I ain't good at drawing these things out, so we sent it to this bloke who sent it back, and for the privelege of him just getting the old adidas logo and turning it into "oasis", he wanted *fifty grand* would you believe? So it was like...

TL: (laughs)
NG: ... so we said: "Yeah alright, the cheque's in the post mate". So I had this old little effects pedal that I've got, that I bought in a shop in America, and it was er... it was in that typeface. And erm... then we find out that Gem's got er, you know, he's a proper artist, he's got a degree in art, and he does proper paintings and that. So we got him to draw it out and it cost us nothin'. (laughs)

TL: D'oh! "Now you tell us!". Yeah, so, fifty grand the guy wanted?
NG: Yeah.

TL: That's only 'cos you're Oasis though, innit?
NG: Oh totally, yeah.

TL: Everyone does that.
NG: Yeah, if it was Shed Seven you'd have to, y'know...

TL: (laughs) Did you ever think about changing the name? Of the band?
NG: No...erm, I actually mentioned it once, and everyone... everyone laughed. But I was up for changing the name, but... management and record company were going: "Ho ho. No, hang on a minute. We've spent eight years y'know, with this band now", so...

TL: Did you have any ideas for names?
NG: I did yeah, but I'm not gonna tell you just in case we change 'em. Just in case we change, and there'll be some spotty youth somewhere, going: "That's a top name for a band that. I might call my band that".

TL: Alright erm, now the album... called Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants. Now we all know the story - two pound coin...
NG: Mmmm.

TL: I actually got my two pound coin up... out to read, and it said "Rugby World Cup 98"...
NG: (laughs)

TL: ....which was a bit of a bummer.
NG: (still laughing)

TL: But erm, is there...is there some deep meaning behind it...
NG: No.

TL: ...or just 'cos you saw it?
NG: Just 'cos I... y'know...after the last overdub session at our recording studio in... out in t' country, we went to the pub, and we got a lock in, like you do. And erm, being a fairly successful musician I'd never seen a two pound coin before, because we don't carry money in this business, needless to say. Y'know, so I was going: "Oooo! What's that big pound coin looking thing?", and (unclear) went: "It's a two pound coin". So I was... I was having a... y'know, checking it out and that, and then I noticed that summat was written around the edge. And er... I kept saying it back to myself: "Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants", and I wrote it down on a cigarette packet, and I got up in the morning and it said "Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants" - I hadn't written the "s" down. So I wrote it out on a big piece of paper, and it looked really good written down, so that was it. But it's got no real deep inner meaning to it. But erm... I have to say in America, they just absolutely love the title of that, because they just go on for hours and hours and hours about: (adopts American accent) "So like uh, you guys are like standing in the shadow of....", and it's like: "No honestly, it's written about a two pound coin mate, when I was drunk".

TL: (laughs)
NG: Y'know, and they're goin': (adopts American accent) "Hey no, but like, you have to admit, right?", and it's like: "No, but really, I was just drunk!"

TL: Was there any other names that you were gonna come up with, or can't you tell me...
NG: The album?

TL: ... in case some kid nicks 'em?
NG: Er, no. We were actually gonna call the album "Where Did It All Go Wrong?", but then I wrote a song called "Where Did It All Go Wrong?", and I didn't want to draw too much attention to that. And then for ages it was gonna be called "Calling All"... though it's just... and then when I... when I found "Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants", y'know, the "Calling All" didn't sound so exciting after all that.

TL: Right, now the album. I listened to it for the first time a couple of days ago, and er... I sat down, it was really weird, the first song came on... erm... Fuckin' In The Bushes - shame you had to call it that, 'cos...
NG: (laughs)

TL: ...awkward for radio. Couldn't you have called it something else? But I was like: "Wow!"
NG: We could have called it Lovin' In The Bushes...

TL: Yeah!
NG: ... in America they said that... 'cos like on the back of the album now it's gotta have er... it's got exclamation marks, and it's gotta have a sticker on the front. And there was actually someone said: (adopts American accent) "So we got an idea guys. Could you call it Loving In The Bushes?", and we was going: "Yeah but it actually says on the track...". (adopts American accent) "Could you not change that?". It's like: "No, piss off!" (laughs)

TL: (laughs) Petting. Heavy Petting In The Bushes...
NG: Yeah. And then they're saying: "Only it's really difficult, because they won't play it in the record shops", I was going: "Well bugger me. Well that's a pity, innit? Y'know".

TL: Really different. Erm, y'know, big drum beat, samples...
NG: Yeah.

TL: Does that sort of stuff excite you, making that?
NG: (very enthusiastic) Yeah! That sort of happened as erm... a happy accident really, 'cos I was doing a remix for the band U.N.K.L.E. in my house in Primrose Hill, or Belsize Park or wherever it was. And erm... we sort of had a bit of downtime in the studio, and while we had the computers out we were just... so I sampled up this drum loop that I'd always liked, and then... we were just messing about really, and it just developed from there. But erm, it's summat that I... see you need time to do stuff... with er, when I write songs on the guitar it's a very instant thing, because you're in control of what you do. Where if you sample up a drum loop, *that* takes the best part of six hours to get it all right in the computer, and sounding right, and I haven't really got the patience for all that stuff. But... that's why like, The Prodigy's albums take five years because I mean it... you would think with it being on a computer and stuff like that, it's a very easy process but it just takes *forever* and ever and ever to get y'know, to get it right. Whereas if you was playing it on a guitar, if you perform it and it takes three minutes to get onto tape, y'know, and that's it. Whereas... these things take hours, so I've not really got the patience for that way to work. But it's summat that I would definitely look into in the future.

TL: How are you writing songs now? 'Cos you used to sit on your guitar...
NG: Yeah.

TL: Is that how you still do it?
NG: Yeah, that's how I do it. I... 'cos I was... y'know, when the... when I got back off the last tour in '97, I was determined that I was gonna y'know... er... make a completely different approach to the way that I write songs, and I was thinking y'know, I would erm, y'know try and use samples and loops and all that. But I'm y'know, I'm no good at that. And I had to accept the fact that I write songs on an acoustic guitar... y'know, in a... in a pro... in a retro type of style, y'know what I mean? So... it was like: "Well, if that's what I do and that's never gonna change, then the only way to make that sound more contemporary sounding is to... is to work a bit more on the production really. So that's what we done. So it's basically trying to... trying to make summat that's quite retro in it's... in it's purest sense, to try and sound a bit more contemorary. With Go Let It Out for instance, if you just play that on a guitar it just sounds like a folk song. But once you've put like, a drum beat behind it and you get y'know, the studio...er... y'know you get the studio working as a musical instrument, it can sound quite exciting I think.

TL: Everyone who knows loads about music - unlike me really - bangs on and on about you having this new producer, Spike Stent. How important is a producer then?
NG: Erm... in this particular... for this album it was absolutely crucial, because... er, like I say, I mean I co-produced all the albums, including this one as well. But er, like I say, with me just writing songs on a guitar, y'know, I'm quite a purist in the rock 'n roll sense and I just wanted to try somebody different. So we basically just said to him: "Look" - y'know, he'd been watching the band develop for like five or six years - and we said: "How do..." - y'know, we played him the demos, and stuff - and we said: "How do you see it...", y'know. And he said: "Well...", y'know, and he gave his opinions and stuff, and most of 'em were pretty good, and it's always nice to pass the buck to someone else as well, if you fuck up. (laughs)

TL: Yeah, good. How much influence does he have over your material then?
NG: Oh he doesn't have any influence over the writing. But over the produc... I mean the arrangements are always done there's like, y'know I always go into the studio for a good six months before I even let the band hear anything. And it's all... y'know it's, I play the drums and the keyboards and bass, and sing all the songs, and blah blah blah, so I've got the album already written and arranged. And it's just a case of... y'know, gettting somebody else to... 'cos if you get too close to something, you can't really judge it er, rationally because it becomes almost like your baby, y'know what I mean? So it's a case of giving it to someone and saying: "Right, how do *you* see it?", y'know and er, it's just sounds really, and erm, just y'know. 'Cos like... I mean I'm generally lazy in the studio. I would just plug a lead into a guitar, turn it up to ten and that'd be me. Whereas Spike would say: "Well, hang on a minute...", we'd spend days just getting the y'know, the right sound. Just to make it sound more contemorary. And he'd been working with U2 and Massive Attack and that, so he's coming from that... from that side of things, and...

TL: Does it all get a bit... y'know, pretentious though in the end, someone going: "Yeah, we need to tweak this, we need to tweak that..."?
NG: Absolutely, yeah. But that's what it's all about, innit?

TL: Is it?
NG: Yeah. That's what it's all about.

TL: Bangin' out tunes on a guitar, innit?
NG: Bangin' out tunes is great, but you just bang 'em out live don't yer? But when you're in the studio you can come out with the right most pretentious bollocks you would ever hear in your entire life, man. It's just... it's great to be pretentious. Y'know. But y'know as long as you... 'cos in the studio is the place right, for pretentious people. That's where it all goes on. As long as you're not pretentious down the pub right, or with the missus, that's cool, y'know.

TL: Alright, so you're using samples on some of these records, and big drum beats...
NG: Mmm.

TL: ... do you think you'll do some like, re-mixes of future singles, I mean like Charlatans have done recently...
NG: No. Unless y'know, unless anybody phones us up and asks us, and y'know. But it's not something that we're looking into. But y'know, if... I mean y'know, there's only about... there's ten tracks on the record, and there's probably... four that you would say would probably warrant a re-mix. There's four that are quite... groovy. But to say it's dance orientated would be wrong really. I mean there's four like, and there's five y'know, rock 'n roll numbers. But y'know I suppose if Fatboy Slim was to phone us up and beg to do a remix, we might... we might consider it.

TL: Would you fancy strolling into a nightclub and hearing your record sort of booming out, and kids dancing around...
NG: Erm... strolling into a nightclub? Erm, that would probably, that's probably my... that's probably my vision of a nightmare, is being in a nightclub. I hate nightclubs. I can't stand 'em.

TL: Yeah, I've started hating them.
NG: Ahh, they're just appalling man. And the people that go there are just appalling as well.

TL: Yeah.
NG: And you get someone dancing up to you going like that...

TL: (laughs)
NG: ... and you just go: "*What are you doing*?"

TL: "Get out of my face!"
NG: Like a character off Sinbad or something... (laughs)

TL: (laughs) Alright, now Liam's got a song on this album...
NG: Aye.

TL: ... Little James. Er... quality, I think.
NG: Yeah.

TL: Quality. Did you know he had it in him?
NG: Erm... we sort of sensed that he did, but he never... y'know, he would never play me anything because he... he must have thought being the way I am, I was just gonna dismiss it anyway. Because we're brothers and all that stuff, y'know. But erm I've since mellowed over the last couple of years, and he played me this song, and he said: "What do you think?". I should have actually said: "I think it's rubbish! I think it's disgust...", y'know. But y'know, I couldn't bring meself to do it. But it is a great song y'know, and I said: "Look, it's *really* good. Let's go do it.". And I think he was quite amazed at first. And erm... once we'd arranged it properly - 'cos it had like seven verses and it went on for hours and that, and it can get quite boring because it's the same three chords - so we had to shorten it down. But I think it's, I mean for his first attempt at songwriting you gotta say it's staggering really. Erm, and hopefully it'll be the springboard for him to go and do... I mean, I've been saying to him: "Look, y'know, you should go and do a solo album, because that would be really exciting for people to listen to." because... I mean I suppose if I'd done a solo album it would sound exactly like an Oasis album but with me singing. I said: "But if you do a solo album that would be really exciting and interesting." I mean I'd even *buy* it, y'know what I mean, because you'd think... because he's y'know, he's a strange cat.

TL: So is he gonna do it? Solo?
NG: I... well if *I* was him, *I'd* do it, because he's, y'know he's an oddball character anyway, and his music's quite odd. That that... the song that you hear on the album is... is quite a straightforward erm y'know pop song. But some of the stuff that I've heard that he does write is just plain bonkers. It's just weird. It's got *no* place on an Oasis album, I have to say.

TL: (laughs) But when he was a kid he wasn't into music, I read the other day. It was you into music. He thought it was just a bit of...
NG: He was into... no, he was into...

TL: Footy.
NG: Yeah, we were all into football, 'cos we're from Manchester innit? But I think his first musical experience was y'know, travelling around on the bus with the old bit of lino on his back with his mates, doing all the breakdancing nonsense.

TL: Did he?
NG: Yeah, nobody knows that. But he was... his first record was an Electro 3 or summat like that.

TL: Ha!
NG: Yeah. (laughs)

TL: Get in! Was he any good?
NG: Eh?

TL: Could he do a windmill?
NG: I think he probably could actually, yeah. He was er... I don't... him and a few of his er, a few of his mates erm... who are now DJs obviously, erm... would go round the shopping centres with the little ghetto blaster and a piece of me mam's lino.

TL: (laughs)
NG: Givin' it all that. (laughs)

TL: And your mum had a big hole in her kitchen floor! (laughing) Where he'd stole the lino out of it!
NG: Yeah. And I was listening to The Smiths, just going: (adopts pompous, condescending voice) "It's appalling man, it's not even music." (laughs)

TL: (laughs) So how are you getting on with him at the moment?
NG: (cheery) Yeah alright!

TL: Yeah I read an article the other day, he had a pop at the way you dress.
NG: Did he?

TL: In that GQ article, it was.
NG: Well he wants to take his sunglasses off then doesn't he, and have a *good* look.

TL: (laughs)
NG: Erm... yeah well at least I never grew a beard. In my defence.

TL: Ah yeah. Good point. So d'you think you'll ever release Little James as a single?
NG: Erm... we've already got the next two singles earmarked. So I don't think we... I don't think... we're not into doing four and five singles off an album. Er, because we wanna get... it was never intended to be a single. That's the way it sounds, like a single. But we've already written the subsequent b-sides and stuff like that, and we don't really want to start writing any more songs with this line-up and them just be shoved onto b-sides. When we go into the studio for real for the ne... with the new line-up we want it to be for something significant, like it'll be the next single of next year.

TL: Right.
NG: And that.

TL: I suppose you're not allowed to tell me what the other singles are, are you yet? 'Cos they're top secret.
NG: Er, the next one will be Who Feels Love?, which erm, is sort of a... Indian, Eastern, spiritual, hippy nonsense. And the one after that, I don't know what it... well I do know what it's gonna be, but I'm not gonna tell you, because then we won't... we won't have the impact of a press release when it comes out, you see...

NG: As these promotion people will tell you.

TL: Yeah it's quite psychedelic this album, innit? Some psychedelic stuff on it.
NG: Yeah! Erm... it wasn't intended to be. But to make... y'know, to make guitar music sound more contemporary, the thing is to just make it sound weirder y'know. So... and then y'know people will start tagging it as psychedelia. But erm, I suppose it... yeah, it's not... whereas the last album was a rock album, when it rocked but that's really all it done - erm, this album is a lot more... a lot more focused and a lot more thought out. And the next one'll be even more so, because I enjoyed it this time in the studio more than I've ever ever ever done because I wasn't hammered all the time, y'know and there was... I was just working. So the next one'll be more in this vein, and hopefully a little bit better.

TL: D'you look back at your last album and say: "I wish I hadn't made it"?
NG: Yeah I wish... I wish I hadn't... I wish I hadn't written it. Once I'd written it, I was... I was obliged to go and record the songs then. But I wish I... I shouldn't have started writing it in the first place. As I went away on holiday with... er, the missus and about six of her mates out to the Caribbean, and er, it was when Euro 2000 was on. So I went for fourteen days and I... I was like: "Well, if I write a song a day, I'll have enough for an album". So the first three days were spent... drinking. So it was like: "Alright, so now it's gone up to two songs a day". And it shows, you know what I mean? It was just like (adopts slapdash manner): "Just... er.......anybody got any idea what rhymes with bus?"

TL: (laughs)
NG: "That'll do. That's a good 'un". Y'know, and it's... yeah I wish I hadn't written it. But erm... yeah, it's just the lyrics really.

TL: So when that sort of like bubble burst around the last album, 'cos before then you were untouchable...
NG: I think...

TL: ... was it slightly depressing for you?
NG: Erm, it was... d'you know, I knew that was gonna happen the day we set foot in Abbey Road y'know what I mean? And I listened to the stuff coming back out of the speakers, I was like... "No, there's summat not right here", and I do remember saying at the time... there was a lot of journalists outside Abbey Road on the... I think it was about the second week. And they came out and they said: "Oh, how's it going?", and I said: "Oh, it's just all pub rock bollocks mate." And I meant that. And everyone thought I was being sarcastic, but I wasn't. And erm... but there's a couple of good tracks on it - er like D'you Know What I Mean? is good and... erm... a couple of others that escape me at the moment. But erm, it's not summat... and it wasn't a very exciting time to be in the band. It was y'know, we'd come to the end of that er, of the road really. Y'know, we were doin' it... we were doin' it for all the wrong reasons, we weren't doin' it for music's sake y'know what I mean. It was like: "Ah, we had to go in the studio 'cos we don't know what else to do." Erm, and really we should have had the two years off then. And binned all the songs and come back... with a fresh approach. But... I suppose you gotta go through them things to get to where you are now y'know, so... I look ba... I mean to be honest I haven't listened to the album since... since the day I mixed it, so... but I still like D'You Know What I Mean, 'cos we've been playing it in rehearsals, and it still sounds alright. I don't know allwhat the lyrics are all about though! (laughs)

TL: (laughs) Erm, without Alan McGee would Oasis have got as big as they got?
NG: Well once we got... once we got a record deal, I think the music would have spoken for itself anyway. Erm... whether... whether we would have been allowed... erm to get away with some of the stuff that... whether we... 'cos with big record companies you get an A&R man. Still to this day I'm miffed as to what A&R men actually do. Er because like Creation would *never* come down to the studio. Creation didn't hear Morning Glory until we sent them the finished... the finished thing, so we would have probably got a lot of outside interference, which we wouldn't have been able to handle and we probably would have ended up gettin' dropped... for chinning someone I would imagine. Well we were let... y'know, Alan was always like: "Look, it's your baby, you go and do what you want with it." y'know. And of course it helps when you're selling five million albums of your first album y'know, they just stand back then and say: "Look, you obviously know what you're doing." But I would like to think that the music would have spoke for itself, but erm, we wouldn't have had as much fun on another record label. Because with Alan McGee came... we made some great friends there like Primal Scream and er y'know, Teenage Fan Club and that, and erm y'know that's how we met Gem and Andy, which I mean it all come back round in a big circle in the end. So... and they were great days around the time of the first and second albums, and it was fantastic. And it is always easy when you're selling records. I suppose if we weren't selling records it would have been a bit of a... a y'know, a bit more depressing.

TL: If Alan McGee hadn't come along though, d'you think that somebody else would've come along sooner or later? Is that the way it...
NG: We'd been gigging for three years and nobody had actually taken a... y'know... I'm not sure how many people had came to see the band, d'you know, in the gigs, but nobody was prepared to take a gamble. And it was Alan that did. But y'know. Erm, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't like to say that I'd still be on the dole, but I mean... he got me off the dole in double-quick time. And erm, he made... y'know he made me believe... see Alan McGee doesn't sign bands, he signs people, d'you know what I mean? I think the music is... is sort of... secondary in a way 'cos he's... and the more people that we met that were on Creation... the more clear it became that even though we probably didn't like their music, we loved them as people. And I think that the testament to Alan McGee will be when he gets the next Oasis album, and it's done by Liam, me and Alan, Andy and Gem and y'know, we're like Creation people d'you know what I mean? And I think that will be the testament that he will leave behind. And erm, but if he... y'know I mea n he's... there was stuff in the papers, Liam saying he was upset about him leaving and all that, which... I couldn't... how could anybody be upset about making more money? Y'know, which was...

TL: (laughs)
NG: ... I found quite bizarre. But y'know, I've... I've got nothing but love for the guy to be honest with you.

TL: So are you gonna sign bands? You said y'know: "A&R, what on earth do they do?" Are you gonna be signing bands to your label?
NG: Wouldn't like to do it just initially, because I think... at the moment it's just set up for us because we're so... y'know we're so massive it's... I don't think there's room for anybody else. But we've only got about three or four staff anyway at the moment. But y'know I think that it'd be wrong to... to go tonight to a pub, sign a band and then say: "Right well, I'm off on the road for two years, and when I come back y'know, you'd better be in the charts." I think you gotta be sort of there, hands-on type of thing. So in the... y'know, and the record label hopefully will be around for a lot longer than Oasis will, y'know what I mean? It's summat for me to do... or the rest of us to do when we're in our fifties.

TL: Er, so don't you see Oasis being The Rolling Stones, hanging around for years and years...
NG: I don't... no, I mean... (long pause) The thought of doin' it when I'm past forty is just... I don't... the thought of it doesn't fill me with any great pleasure. But y'know, saying that... if I was to go bankrupt and had to pay the bills, then y'know, show me the stage, man. Y'know.

TL: So you're gonna be like a footy player. You finish playing your career and then you're gonna
go into management, yeah? So you're gonna go into the record industry.
NG: Yeah I would like to... I would actually do what football players do, and own a pub sooner or later.

TL: Own a pub?
NG: Yeah, definitely. I was talking to our drummer about it last night. Erm, I'd love to own a pub.

TL: Theme pub or regular pub?
NG: Just a regular... y'know, pub.

TL: What would you call it?
NG: I... well whatever... y'know, whatever it was. The King's Head or the y'know, The Dog's Bollocks. Maybe summat like that man. (laughs)

TL: Wine Bar. Noel and Meg's... Winery.
NG: (still laughing) Yeah.

TL: Right now, some rumours. Right, there's some rumours about you recently. Are you going to live in Spain? Are you fed up with England and are you gonna live in Spain?
NG: No I've got... I've just bought... I've just bought a gaff out there, but I'm not moving there. Erm, that's just for holidays and for Meg and the baby to go there when I'm on tour.

TL: Right.
NG: But I'm not going to go and live there.

TL: 'Cos you've left London now...
NG: Yeah.

TL: ... and you're living out in the countryside.
NG: Yeah.

TL: Not too far from where I grew up, and I can tell you it's boring out there isn't it?
NG: Chorley Wood?

TL: Yeah.
NG: There's not a lot going on out there, is there?

TL: (laughing) There's not a lot going on out there, is there?
NG: No. We went through it the other day, and it was shut. (laughs)

TL: (laughs) Are you finding it hard...
NG: That was Saturday afternoon an' all. (laughs)

TL: I'm a legend down there. Chorley Wood's top light entertainer.
NG: I know. It's even in the... it's even in the... the... the guide to the area innit? (laughs)

TL: (laughing) Yeah. "Home of Chorley Wood's top light entertainer."
NG: Yeah, yeah.

TL: That's how sad it was. It was between me and Val Doonican, who got the gig. Erm...
NG: (laughs)

TL: ... so are you bored out there?
NG: No, I like it. It's erm... it gives you more time... because in London I used to... if I didn't have anything to do that... on a particular day, I would just nip to the pub. When I say: "Nip to the pub", it would be a nip to the pub between Thursday and Sunday.

TL: (laughs)
NG: Y'know what I mean? One o' them. But out there you get more time to yourself, and the doorbell's not always going. So what I tend to do is, if I'm bored I'll just work, so I just write more. And erm, just... I don't really do much when I'm out there, and it's... the local pub, it's... I can't drive you see, so it's too far to walk and too near to get a taxi. So I don't wanna sit in the pub all day, I just sit in the studio I've got up in the bedroom and just... fanny about. Y'know.

TL: So what do you do... have you got any like... apart from obviously writing your music and watching City, have you got anything that you do? Hobbies...
NG: No, I tell... well, I watch football a *lot*. And erm, see when we're at home it's funny 'cos like, we've got erm... we've got tellys all over the place. And er, after you come back off tour an' that, there'll be like a y'know, this big week-long lovefest in our house. Then after that it's like I go and sit upstairs and watch all the sports channels, and Meg sits downstairs and watches all the soaps. And that's it. We just communicate in the kitchen, when we're just like bumping into each other making cups of tea...

TL: Proving - doesn't matter how big and famous you are, still marriage is the same isn't it?
NG: (laughs)

TL: Alright, other rumour we've got here: is it true you haven't spoken to Bonehead or Guigsy since they left the band?
NG: No. I mean no, that *is* true. I haven't spoken to them, no. I haven't spoken to Bonehead since... halfway through the recording of the album, and I haven't spoken to Guigs since we left France.

TL: Don't you... miss them? Miss talking to them?
NG: I'm not a people person, d'you know what I mean? I got... I've... I've got too much to be gettin' on with. I'm not a social worker and I'm y'know, I'm not interested in what they're up to now. If I'm being brutally honest. But apparently... but I'm told Bonehead's in Rockfield Studios doing some recording with Owen Morris, who produced our last record, which... to me sounds very very interesting.

TL: Solo career?
NG: Well I don't know. I haven't got... I haven't got the faintest idea what he's doin', but appar... Whitey was telling us last night that he's... he's recording some of his tunes. So there you go.

TL: Cool. Er... kids. You're about to have a kid.
NG: Aye.

TL: Kid's name. I've heard loads of rumours about it...
NG: Well...

TL: ...obviously you can't...
NG: Well I can actually. I can announce it now, because it's very near... if it's... it's very near to the time. If it's a boy we're gonna call it Willie, and if it's a girl we're gonna call it Fanny. (laughs)

TL: (laughs) Yeah, right!
NG: (still laughing)

TL: OK. Are you looking at who your...
NG: (still laughing)

TL: (laughing) Are you looking forward to being a dad? Are you gonna be a hands-on nappy changing man?
NG: Erm............... no.

TL: (stifles a laugh)
NG: I'm looking forward to every aspect of fatherhood apart from that particular day. 'Cos apparently it turns into y'know, Exorcist-type material. Which er, y'know, and I was saying to what's-her-name the other day, I was going... when you're there, there's a lot... gonna be a lot of swearing goin' on an' that. (laughing) And I was saying to this geezer there, I was going: "Y'know, I know she's pregnant an' that, but there's only so much I can take man. I might have to stick one on her if she starts really slagging me off, y'know what I mean?" I'm gonna be around for a month after the kid's born, and then er, I've gotta go away on tour for about nine months, which is a shame.

TL: (laughs)
NG: (laughs)

TL: Do you still consider yourself the best band in the world?
NG: Erm.......... er, *I* consider myself to be the best band in *my* world, yeah. But erm, I'm not into all that nonsense any more. Doesn't matter, does it really? Doesn't matter when you've got four houses and nine cars, does it?

TL: What do you think of your competition now? Apart... I'm not gonna talk about Blur, 'cos we know what you think of them. Erm, Manic Street Preachers.
NG: Er, Manics have done some really good stuff. Erm... not too sure about the new single though.

TL: Right.
NG: Erm... I think it sounds a bit like Coffee and TV by Blur, I think, that. (Does a vocal impression of the guitar in the song) But erm, I generally... I like the idea of the Manics, I have to say. I think Design For Life was a... was a peak moment, I think that's fantastic. And that whole album... erm, Everything Must Go is great. Erm, so I like... I like the guys as well. Really like top blokes.

TL: Stereophonics, who seem to have like been king of the charts recently.
NG: Stereophonics, yeah. I like Bartender And The Thief, erm... and there's... there's another couple that I like, that their names escape me.

TL: Alright. Travis. Like them?
NG: Yeah. Top men.

TL: Alright. Muse?
NG: They sound like Radiohead, don't they? I've never seen 'em. I've heard one song on the radio, and I thought it was Radiohead.

TL: Right.
NG: Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But I think they'll prob... they might get lumbered with that tag in the coming months.

TL: It's a... it's a good album, Showbiz...
NG: Yeah.

TL: ... you should get it. It's really good. Badly Drawn Boy.
NG: I haven't heard anything by him apart from the stuff that he's done with U.N.K.L.E. Er... he's from Manchester isn't he?

TL: Yeah.
NG: Yeah. He's gotta be a genius then.

TL: Now er, you're an intelligent bloke, as we all know.
NG: (laughs)

TL: Fame. Erm... is it y'know, with fame you lose your privacy...
NG: Mmmm.

TL: ... your life becomes y'know, public property, and you're in the papers the whole time. Y'know, you're about to have a kid...
NG: Mmmm?

TL: Is it all worth it?
NG: (pause) You can't really answer that question. It just is what it is. You can't... you can't be in a successful rock 'n roll band and not be famous. It's just never been done before, and it never will be done. Erm... that's just the way it is man. Er, I have to say for the first couple of years it was superb. And it... there was... that was probably the most exciting two years of my life. Just... when I moved to London an' that, and I was a young, single guy, it was just brilliant. Erm... but the older you get... er, the more cynical you become about it all. And erm... the longer you're famous, I think the worse it is for yer. But initially it's brilliant. But y'know, you've just got to accept the fact that that's just the way it is, y'know. Erm... it's just... it's a thing that I've grown up with now, and I've... y'know, I've got more more of an understanding of it. I hate having me picture taken, any... I mean even when when I'm doing photo shoots for magazines, I can't stand it. And I *really* can't stand it out in the street, but the worst thing about it is, is when you go shopping or summat. And you'll be buying some clothes, and everybody'll be starin' at what you're buying in the shop. And then all of a sudden the thing that you thought was really fantastic thirty seconds before then just (starts laughing) suddenly looks like, y'know... just horrible! And you you like, you start sweating an' that. But that can be quite erm... buying underwear is a bit of a pain when you're famous. 'Cos everybody's like: "Oooo!"

TL: And porn.
NG: Yeah. Well, especially if it's ladies underwear! (laughs)

TL: (laughs)
NG: But that's... that's why I moved to the country y'know.

TL: Right.
NG: It's like, I've... y'know... my time that I get alone is spent behind my front door. When y'know, when the car comes to pick you up and take you to into London, when you're goin' out doin' stuff, y'know, you take a deep breath at the door and as soon as you open the door, you're on duty, and it's as simple as that. It's like you're clockin' in. Then when you get out of the car and you go to bed at night, you're clockin' off. And y'know, instead of goin' out for dinner we have people round for dinner. You've just gotta... you've just gotta change... your lifestyle. Y'know, just alter it a little bit, and you know where to go and where not to go. And you know... y'know, if you go to a certain place you're gonna get hassle, and if you go to a gig y'know, you're hardly gonna sit... stand and listen to the band all night because you're gonna have... ninety percent of the people who are gonna come up either want a photograph or an autograph, and the other ten percent of people are gonna wanna come up and take the piss out of yer because y'know, they don't like you. Which is like... y'know, fair enough.

TL: So yeah, so what you've decided to do is you decided to get out to the countryside. What do you think of Beckham and Posh then?
NG: I feel really... I feel sorry for *him*, because he must come home at night and just slam that front door and say: "What have you been saying?"

TL: (laughs)
NG: Y'know. Because... y'know, because he obviously doesn't wear his wife's knickers, right? I think that's blindingly obvious to everybody else. Y'know, and she said it on The Big Breakfast I think, and she actually said that she was joking but... I weren't surprised that it was on the front page of The Sun or anything. I was... I was flabbergasted it was on the back page, on the sport pages. I was amazed that the sports writers picked up on it. But erm, y'know, you'd have to have a quiet word with *her* when you got in. You'd have to go y'know: "Look man, y'know just... what are you *saying*?"

TL: (laughs)
NG: Y'know: "Don't you realise I've gotta go and sit in a dressing room with like twenty four other blokes, man? Who are gonna be y'know, puttin' g-strings across me hook in the... in the shower, and stuff like that."

TL: (still laughing)
NG: Y'know. I mean, see, wouldn't it be cool if he was just like, if he'd go on the telly and say: "Yeah, I seen her stuffing her face with twenty four bars of chocolate last night, fat arse!"

TL: (laughs)
NG: (laughs) D'you know what I mean? Just to do her head in.

TL: Yeah or he should go on TV and say: "You know you sing that song at football? 'Does she...?'."
NG: Yeah!

TL: "I do."
NG: (laughs loudly)

TL: "I did last night. Hooray for me!"
NG: (still laughing)

TL: Alright, get in! You're touring soon, you've got Wembley...
NG: Aye.

TL: ... comin' up. Erm... is that a good place to gig? I know a lot of bands have had a bit of a problem with sound there. Have you...
NG: Erm...

TL: Have you seen any bands there?
NG: I've seen... I've seen a lot of bands there actually. And what... what they suffer from is... is they just tend to come to England... it's usually big bands... well obviously big bands that play there. It's usually big American bands that play there. So what they usually do is come and do one big gig at Wembley, and then... and then do one back to Europe. So they suffer from not putting enough speakers in the bloody place to... to y'know, put a good sound in there. But erm, I can safely say that whoever comes, there's gonna be the best sounding gig you'll ever hear in Wembley Stadium. Because we'd have been round the world, and it's not a money making venture for us, y'know. Obviously we're gonna make a bit of money out of it, but we're gonna... y'know, we're gonna make sure that it's *loud*, and that people can actually see the band. I mean I went to see... I been to see bands there, and they don't even have a separate y'know, like a separate PA system for the people behind the mixing desk. Y'know, and you was... you could barely see and hear, if you were halfway up the pitch it's terrible. But er, we... I mean people who've been to our bigger shows will know that we do put a lot of money back into the production so, I mean it's just gonna be... it's gonna be great for us because it's the last... it's the last time a band are ever gonna play there and it's the most prestigious gig in the world. Erm y'know, five years ago we were y'know, playing The Water Rats in London, so...

TL: Yeah.
NG: ... it's gonna be... it's gonna be really good. And it's good that we're doing it at the end of a tour as opposed to at the beginning, so we should be really playing well by the time we get back, and everyone should be pretty much on the case. We're just trying to get some decent support bands now, but because it's us everybody that we want to do it are just completely and utterly just asking for stupid amounts of money, y'know. We'd love to go and put... y'know erm... bands that not necessarily we like, but bands that we think that our fans would like... to play. Just to make it good for them y'know, because they pay like thirty quid for a ticket and what have you, but the bands that we're asking at the moment are just asking for stupid amounts of money for one gig, it's just a disgrace.

TL: Yeah but... it launch... when you had Verve, it launched them into a whole massive arena, didn't it?
NG: Yeah, yeah. Y'know, and you... to be fair, it's not generally the people in the bands, it's generally the people around the bands who are going: "Well hang on a minute. Y'know, we could get like a hundred and fifty grand out of this" and er... y'know so... it'd... I'd like... y'know, it'd be nice if it's a good... if it's a good supporting bill an' that, y'know. But erm... if not, y'know...

TL: D'you have any shortlist yet, or...
NG: Well of course the ideal thing would be to get Travis one night and Stereophonics the other. Not y'know, because... but purely because... our fanbase we believe would probably... probably everyone who owns an Oasis record will own a Stereophonics and a Travis record. Now whether that can be sorted out or not is anybody's guess. Another ideal thing would be to get Richard Ashcroft to do it. But y'know, whether he can get his band together or... whether the people around them bands would allow them to do it, I don't know. But erm... it all remains to be seen. But er... y'know, ideally you would like them two, but other than that we've just got to see who's available. And now everyone's getting snapped up for festivals now anyway, so...

TL: Are you doin' any of the festivals?
NG: Erm......... at the moment... no. I think we've been spoken to but erm... I mean we've got our own gigs, so I would find it... I don't know. I mean it'd be nice to go and do one that we've not done before. We've done Glastonbury, so we probably won't do that one again. But erm... be nice to do one. Just depends really, dunnit? Depends... depends how much money they offer us. (laughs)

TL: It's all money, innit?
NG: Yeah well I...

TL: What are you spending your money on? You've got so much now.
NG: Spend it on me wife.

TL: Excellent.
NG: But y'know, you gotta... I mean y'know, I might only be around for another five years. And then I've got another fifty years sat on me arse doin' nowt, so... gotta get it in the bank Timothy.

TL: I think you've got enough now though...
NG: And what are you goin' on about? You've got about nine jobs now ain't yer?

TL: Well yeah...
NG: Yeah, you're always presenting awards at all sorts of parties and everything. You're DJing, you got your TV show.

TL: Yeah but they're all...
NG: You'll have another TV show soon, won't yer?

TL: They don't pay much money though, that's the problem you see. I could do the band thing, get one big lump sum of money...
NG: Listen we *all* know what... y'know, you'll be on the BBC soon, or Saturday Superstore and all that.

TL: (laughs)
Introducing the tracks from Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants:

TL: What's this first track you bought then?
NG: The first track is called Who Feels Love?, and it's erm... it's quite different than it... than the version that we done on the album. Obviously there's no drums on it or anything. But it was erm... it was... I wrote it in Thailand when I was out there with Meg about a year and a half ago. And erm... erm, it's just quite slow and it almost sounds like George Harrison, a bit like The Beatles. But erm, it's good. I like it anyway.

(Semi-acoustic version of Who Feels Love? is played.)

NG: The next one is called Sunday Morning Call. Er... which is possibly being lined up as a single. Erm, and it seems to be the ladies' favourite (starts laughing) on the album. Erm... so all the... all the girlies like that one. Erm... but it's... generally... what's it about? It's about... it's about young people who are... have got... a self destruct mechanism.

(Acoustic version of Sunday Morning Call is played.)

Saturday, January 22, 2000

Noel Gallagher - The Independent - 22nd January 2000

Older, wiser and, gasp, modest, Noel Gallagher talks to Jim Shelley about being here now. Plus, exclusive photographs of a band back in business.

No cocaine. No hyped-up headlines on The Nine O'Clock News. No press wars and no punch-ups. No more parties at Supernova Heights or at Number 10, drinking Champagne with the PM. No Bonehead. No Guigsy. No Alan McGee. New musical influences, a new line-up, and a new label. A nice big house in the country. Married life. Babies.

A lot has happened in the two years that Noel Gallagher and Oasis have been away from the British music scene, and since the trailblazing, glory-making days of mayhem when we last met. Given the all-encompassing arrogance of the universe that Oasis previously inhabited, perhaps the most striking change is that nowadays Noel Gallagher can even allude to the possibility that the band's supremacy has waned.

"'Morning Glory' and 'Be Here Now' were uninspired, just treading water," he spits bluntly of the previous two Oasis albums albums now for ever consigned to history, blighted by the derisory label, 'Dad Rock'. At least now, with new tracks on the album like "Fuckin' In The Bushes", and the single ["Go Let It Out"], I know that I can combine rock'n'roll with a contemporary feel, and that gives me the confidence to go on."

Not only does he appear to be at ease mentioning the concept of possible failure, the new Noel that stands before us even seems to be suffering from a previously unheard-of attack of modesty. "Even if the new album absolutely fookin' stuffed big-time, all around the world," he considers with something actually approaching enthusiasm, "at least I know we made ONE decent album!"

Surprisingly - for someone with a brandnew album, 'Standing On the Shoulder Of Giants', to talk about - it turns out, Noel is actually referring to the first, classic Oasis album, Definitely Maybe.

"You write your first album when you're young and you're broke and you're hungry and you write your third album when you're a big fat drunken rock star. You just fall into that treadmill. All the great bands have a great first album, don't they. So in a way, it's no surprise that the following two were so DULL. 'Be Here Now' does nothing for me. We lost it down the drug dealers."

Noel Gallagher and, consequently, Oasis, it's safe to say, have changed: not only clean and serene and happily married, but finally more grown up. Now 32, Noel - the man who compared taking cocaine to drinking tea and famously sprinkled it on his cornflakes - has been cokefree for two years, and even Liam has determined to cut down on his drinking, putting an end to the days when he would greet the new day by immediately downing the two glasses of Jack Daniels by his bed, carefully prepared the night before.

"Liam's like, two steps forward, two steps back. As for his chances with drugs, well he was never really big on buying it anyway, the tight bastard. I suppose he'll follow suit, eventually."
After all those years of bragging, taunting the likes of Blur, it is still something of a shock to find Noel embracing mortal status, and leaving the battles to be the biggest and best band in the world to someone else.

"I'm not really fookin' arsed about that any more. I just wanna make records and, whatever I do, just have a good time. And I want to remember most of it! I don't want my life to consist of just sitting up for days, around the same coffee table, doing gear and listening to the same conspiracy theories."

He seems almost happy to acknowledge that the new Oasis album is not the greatest album ever made, and not remotely as radical or dance-related as has been reported. "This idea that it's some sort of reappraisal is getting right on my tits," he scoffs, sounding like his old self "It's just another rock'n'roll record. It's a tiny little step in a contemporary direction, not a fookin' big side-step."

After all, as he points out, every time he asked his brother how he wanted the vocals and the guitar sound on a song on the album, "Little James" (the first Oasis song ever written by Liam) to sound, "he just said, 'like The Beatles'."

The best songs on Standing...are, as he says, either the most contemporary, like "Fuckin' in the Bushes" (a heavily sampled vocal-free groove worthy of the Primals' Screamadelica) or the most personal. The dark paranoia of "Gas Panic!", for example, is ostensibly about the drug-induced chest pains, night sweats and panic attacks Noel had started suffering but, on a more telling level, also alludes to the pressure of having to bring Oasis up to the standards of greatness he had so publicly set.

The comparatively soulful "Where Did It All Go Wrong?" sums up Noel's attitude towards what the band had mutated into - the very thing Oasis had set out to sweep aside; just another band forever flaunting their Champagne and cocaine lifestyles, celebrity girlfriends, big houses, flash cars, and famous friends.

"It's about me looking in the mirror and going, how the fook did I end up in a room with a bunch of actors and supermodels? And politicians! All that fookid bullshit."

Ask him if he would go to that famous party at Number 10 again and he answers, "No! Never!" before you can finish the question. "Tony Blair is no Tony Benn or John Smith. But if we all thought they were ever going to be any different, we're the mugs aren't we?" Besides, he says, he "hardly ever goes to London any more", and keeps away from the paparazzi and the drugs.

"My life revolves around proper things like fookin' family and friends." Having sold Supernova Heights, "the biggest tourist attraction in Belsize Park", he has settled down in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire with his wife Meg, waiting for the birth of the couple's first child - what he calls "having another little person on the firm."

"It's a bit isolated out here, yeah, but it's fookin' fresh air innit? I can actually walk round the garden without somebody sticking a camera up me fookid arse. If I want to play me music double, double, double loud, then I can."

As for the future, he seems genuinely excited and is utterly dismissive about the idea of looking back - refusing to mourn the end of the original line-up, being signed to Creation or the legendary drug fests.

"The Nineties to me were just a phase we were going through," he shrugs. "It's the next five years that will determine where we actually stand in the history of British music."

After the forthcoming British tour, he wants to go straight back into the studio to record with new members, Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell, who have replaced Guigsy and Bonehead. (Asked what the difference will be, Noel retorts, "There's no bald people.")

"After that, who knows? I could well be just so attached to me kid that I wouldn't want to leave the house. Then it will be official: Dad Rock Lives!"

Improbably, for a moment, it appears Noel Gallagher has become almost mawkish.

"I'm looking forward to everything. I'm looking forward to the baby getting a personality and running round the house, thaes going to be fantastic. But for the first couple of years, fook all'appens. They just sit around and shit and fookin' cry don't they?"

The one shadow in his life right now seems to be that Michael Abram, the man accused of attempting to murder George Harrison, was, it has been suggested by the local police, planning to go for Noel afterwards.

"That really fookin' freaked me out. He [George Harrisonj only lives up the road! We had the police round here saying, 'You've got to beef up your security.'But I've got a bunch of dogs here anyway," he shrugs. "Dogs," heays with evident admiration, "are the best deterrent because they don't give a fook do they?"

Some things at least never change.

Friday, January 21, 2000

Noel Gallagher - Muse - 21st January 2000

Does this man need any introduction? Noel Gallagher talks. We listen.

Cast your mind back to Oasis' last stand. 1997's 'Be Here Now'. Recall, if you will, the reviews were almost all positive despite the album resembling something of a plump Christmas dinner. With wings. Bear in mind Oasis were the biggest band on the planet. Remember that anticipation was running high. No-one dared to be the kid who pointed out that the emperor was in the altogether. No-one. Face it, who'd sit in front of Noel Gallagher and tell him 'Be Here Now' was, well, a bit shit? That was then though.

"What happened was," begins Noel, "we went to Knebworth, did the fucking gig, blah blah blah, biggest band in the world. 'Morning Glory' was still in the American Top Ten and we were advised that we should go back and milk it for all it was worth. In hindsight we should have said no. I should have said, 'I want at least a year off'. We should have left on a fucking big high note.

"So we went back to America, the fucking tour fell apart, there was all amounts of shit going on: drugs and fighting and arguing and people getting nicked, hotel rooms getting trashed and all that shit. It was just becoming a fucking circus, I didn't like it so I fucked off home. There was endless speculation that the band was going to break up, to end that speculation I said, 'Fuck it, let's go into the studio and record an album'. 'Where's the songs?' 'Don't worry about that, we'll do that when we get there.' Which was the biggest mistake we ever made.

"Some of the songs were good, some of the songs were pretty uninspired. You know in your heart of hearts that you don't get two massive albums back to back, nobody fucking does. I don't even think 'Morning Glory' is that good to be honest with you. I think that's got a handful of good songs. "She's Electric"? Are you fucking sure? It was a semi-decent album with a big fucking hit, "Wonderwall". 'Be Here Now' was aimless. I was glad that album eventually got panned because then it was like, 'Right, the bar's fucking closed, I'm moving out of London, I'm stopping doing drugs'. I didn't have any songs left and it was like this is the fucking start again."
Is it ever. 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' is a startling return to form. Stripping away the bombast of 'Be Here Now', Oasis' fourth studio album has a heart and a soul where previously they had walls and walls of dense guitars. You get the feeling they approached the new songs in the same way a dance producer works. Picking and choosing the best bits, borrowing a hook here and there, using a sound now and again. As a result, 'Standing...' is a rock & roll record which acknowledges dance music without being anything like a dance album. A loop here and there maybe, a sample even, a few electronic noises and, of course, plenty of guitars.

"It's not a radical change from what we've been doing in the past," explains Noel. "It's the first step on what hopefully won't be too long a journey to where we want the band to be in five years from now. After five years I'm not too sure if I want to be doing this anymore anyway. Hopefully by then I'll have done the masterpiece album and I'll go, 'right, that's it, I'm signing off now for a bit'."

So is he proud of this one? "I'm proud of all the music and all the melodies and all the production and all the words bar "I Can See A Liar". I would have liked to work on the words to that a little bit more. 'I can see a liar/Sitting by the fire'. Hmm.

"That's horrible innit?" smiles Noel knowingly. "I fucking hold my hands up, man. I could have come up with something better than that."

Lyric aside, it is a cracker of an album. "I didn't feel I'd done my best on 'Be Here Now', I knew I hadn't done my best. And I knew I'd let the fans down more than anything because expectations were so high. When I listen back to "Stand By Me" and a few of those songs I just think, 'oh fucking hell, man, why are there so many fucking verses in it? Why's it go on so long? What's all that fucking feedback nonsense going on there?' Whereas this one now, I just go, 'yeah'."

You'd think that was that. Back in the saddle with a new album in the can. Key in the ignition, full tank of petrol, then pfutt. Late last year, Creation big tomato Alan McGee announced the label would be no more from June 2000. "He was very concerned that we hated him," smiles Noel. "I was going 'if you don't want to fucking do summit, then don't do it'. He started the record company eighteen years ago, set out to sell millions and millions of records, to sign the best rock & roll bands in the world. I said, 'you've done it. You've got nothing left to do, so what's the point?'. He said that's exactly how he felt. It would be wrong for him to stick around if his heart's not in it."

Problem: do they release their album on the label or do they go DIY? "We didn't want to put our album out on a record label that is like a ghost town when you walk into the fucking offices. Was anybody there really going to give it fucking 100 per cent? Was anybody really going to be arsed?"

Solution: Oasis set up their own label, Big Brother, and Noel is already believed to be out and about scouting for talent to sign on the dotted. The first single from 'Standing...', the grandiose singalong "Go Let It Out", will be the Big Brother's first release with the natty catalogue number RKID 001. And McGee? A raft of plans which sees him go off into the big internet yonder. Any future in that?

"He's always banging on about the internet," laughs Noel. "I have to admit I thought it was going to be a fad which was going to pass in about six months but you know..."

Yeah, we know... So what about Noel? What about Oasis? What's the masterplan now? "I would like to spent more time making records," says Noel. "I would like to make truly great albums, and to make truly great albums you need to be given the time and the space. With this record label thing we'll be the masters of our own destiny. We can do what we like. Hopefully what we like other people will like. We'll go the full on blitz for this album but I think it's time to slow down a bit, take more time out in between records. Now we've got families I don't want that to suffer at the expense of a few fucking gigs, you know what I mean?"

Problems? Phooey. In the past. And the future? "It's either going to be a glorious failure or it's going to be glorious," chuckles Noel. "We're either going to make the biggest cunts of ourselves or we're going to be the best rock & roll band in the world. Either way, it appeals fucking greatly to me."