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.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Noel Gallagher - XFM - 11th October 2001

So Noel, what does Liam do when you’re singing?
I think he probably stands behind me going like that (acts out a Liam look). He has a cigarette and moans about having a sore throat, or a cup of coffee and moans about burning his mouth!

You’ve been playing some new material on tour. Tell us more
"It's the first time we've played new stuff before it's been released; it's like give it up man. Why do it? I don't know. If it was solely up to me, I wouldn't do it. But we're part of a new group..."

Any idea of a release date yet?
"We start mixing what we're doing on Monday. We were supposed to have it finished by now, but we didn't have a producer. We were gonna go for a week, mix up what we've got, and then just start back up. I think at the last count, there was over 20 songs written, and while we've been rehearsing, a few more came up. We're drifting a bit but we'll get there. Slowly but surely and bring someone in to finish it off."

So in the ‘new group’, who writes the material?
"Liam writes his own songs, Gem writes his own songs, Andy writes his songs and I write my songs. So I don't think anyone is collaborating, but the majority of songs looks like its gonna be mine, with a couple each of the others, but we can't decide whether to get PG tips or Tetleys! I mean, can you imagine me & Liam writing a song!? But if you look at the big picture, I've learnt to concentrate on doing one thing at a time. At the moment the tour is the most important thing, so I'm thoroughly enjoying it at the moment."

When did you get your enthusiasm for the band back?
"Not too sure. You've got a certain sense of responsibility to the fans. I don't think I've ever really considered leaving. They're the lads (the band), so I don't know what I'd do without them. I'm happier now then I've ever been."

Kylie has been named the Queen of Pop. Do you like her?
"She's quite unnecessary. I can't think of one good reason why, y'know, "An Audience with Kylie!" Just check her name out. Say it a few times... Kylie Minogue... Funny! What's it mean? 'I Should Be So Lucky?' You can say that again!"

You’ve always been outspoken, haven’t you?
"I don't think I'm that outspoken. I only think that I'm telling the truth; I don't think I've ever said anything that outrageous. Journalists don't deserve the truth. I've done interviews, and say you've done an hour’s interview, for 55 minutes about the band, music, etc, and five minutes about drugs and the wife, the five minutes at the end become the interview. I just say when I don't want to answer, ‘no comment’. I can't shut my mouth!"

What did you make of the Parkinson interview with Posh and Becks?
"I got asked to do Parkinson. I said ‘Look, Parkinson? I don't know really’. Their producers said, alright we'll send the questions in advance, so you can work out your answers. I mean, what's the point in that? Y’see Beckham & his missus, had three weeks... for that!"

What do you think of Becks then?
"The England captain is beyond world class, but David Beckham... sort it out. (In the England game) He was the only one who could be arsed. Can you imagine standing in front of that ball, last kick of the game. You've got to give it to him. He would have been back to where he was before (after the Argentina game in '98). But the man in the paper is a knob. The guys got a moustache man! Not a beard, but a little underneath, one of them like Errol Flynn! Next he'll be wearing green tights!

Will Oasis be writing England’s World Cup song?
"Absolutely not. If we do anything, it'll be for the Republic of Ireland. If England played the Republic of Ireland I'd support Ireland. It's Roy Keane. I hate him cause he's at Man U, but when he joins Celtic, I'll be straight up there for his autograph! If anyone's listening to this from the Irish FA, half a million grand and we’ll do it for you!"

Do you think you’ll ever go solo?
"I think eventually I will do as it would be rude to pass away without a solo record. One day it'll happen as at one point Liam will get hospitalised, or get nicked, so I'll do my dub reggae triple album! So if there's a copper listening who's remotely a fan, nick him, and you'll get a solo record!"

Finally, are Oasis still the best band in the world?
"Still the best band in my world."

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Noel Gallagher - HotPress - 10th October 2001

It's been ten years that's shaken a fair bit of the world and now, suddenly, Oasis are back. What better time for a reflective, confessional, candid and scandalous one-on-one with a man who always gives great quote, Noel Gallagher? Interview with Stuart Clark

I'm bored and can't be bothered writing music anymore. The bigger the monster becomes, the harder it is to manoeuvre. I've started thinking that maybe it's time to scale it down - y'know, shed some of the weight or perhaps try new things altogether. "To be honest, I don't know if I can be arsed putting out another rock 'n' roll record. I deserve a fucking break."

If you'd asked on December 3rd 1997 whether I thought Oasis would be around to celebrate their 10th birthday, I'd have laughed ever so politely in your face and said, "No fucking way, mate."

Noel Gallagher had just been told by a third party that his brother, Liam, wouldn't be performing that night at The Point because he had "a bad throat". Coupled with a sulking (now ex) missus, it meant that festive cheer was in decidedly short supply. Rather than marking an improvement in their fortunes, the New Year of 1998 saw founder members Bonehead and Guigsy becoming estranged from the band to the point where most of their tracks were wiped off Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants - a record which the British press wouldn't have liked any less if it had come wrapped in a pair of Johnny Vegas' week-old Y-fronts.

"It was a complete disaster, but you know what?" Noel reflects. "We still managed to sell Wembley Stadium out last year in a morning. I don't want to slag Guigs and Bonehead off, but them leaving and Gem and Andy coming in has been the saving of Oasis. I know what you're thinking - 'Gallagher's talking through his arse again', but wait till you hear the new album!"

When HotPress contacted Sony to see if we could have an anniversary chat with Oasis, the answer was a firm - if scrupulously polite - "No, they're not doing any Irish press." Forty-eight hours later it's "to the airport and make it snappy!" as we're told that, seeing as it's us, Noel will make an exception.

"I like HotPress because, firstly, you don't make stuff up and, secondly, all me Mam's family in Ireland read it," he enthuses as we settle down for our natter in an Ober-posh London hotel. "Actually, you've probably printed loads of lies about us, but I've never seen 'em!"

As if! Casting my mind back to our previous four meetings, I don't remember Noel Gallagher ever looking this relaxed or healthy before. The result, methinks, of knocking the Class 'A's on the head and embarking on a new romance with PR woman-around-town Sara MacDonald. We've ten years of Oasis history to go through today, so let's not beat about the proverbial.

Stuart Clark: Tell us about this shit cool rock 'n' roll record you're making?
Noel Gallagher: The backing-tracks are pretty much done and we're going to add strings and things next week. Liam, being a law unto himself, turns up at four o'clock in the morning and Alan, whose twin loves are cars and drinking, buggers off as soon as his drum parts are done. Which used to leave me in the studio with Bonehead and Guigsy, who I didn't have more than an hour's worth of conversation with in seven years. Now that Andy and Gem are there getting all enthusiastic about stuff, it's a far more pleasurable experience. Song-wise, Liam's got three, Andy and Gem have two each and I've come up with the rest. I'm artistically, morally, contractually and everything else obliged to say this, but I honestly think it'll be as good as Morning Glory and Definitely Maybe.

Any early contenders for the lead single?
Yeah, there's a Northern flat-cap anthem that we're going to finish off with a proper Salvation Army band.

Have you given up on America?
The question actually is "have they given up on us?" No offence, but to be as big as U2 are in the States, you've got to be prepared to sell your arse a little bit. You get to the point where you don't want to make another video, or meet the owner of Sam Goody's Records in Cincinnati. Bono wants to be the biggest rock star in the world, which is why he is.

How comes you were the only A-List celebrity not to make it to Slane?
U2 had been on at us to come over, but we thought, "No, we'll go and check out that Eminem fellow." Wrong decision! Basically, it was a load of fat geezers on stage shouting into a microphone. There was a guy playing records who you couldn't hear and Eminem - who you'd expect to be at least a bit charismatic-standing around looking bored.

I understand you had a close encounter of the Marilyn Manson kind.
I was watching Eminem from the side of the stage when one of Manson's guitarists came over and went, "Hey dude, it's really great to meet you, man." Ten minutes later, I get this tap on the shoulder and there's Brian in his full staff sergeant's regalia. I was like, "Ooo'er, I'm going to be beheaded", but, no, he ever so politely shook my hand and said "Hello." I hadn't believed this journalist bloke a couple of years ago when he told me that, "Be Here Now is one of Marilyn Manson's favourite records", but, yeah, it's true.

Am I right in thinking that divorce agrees with you?
When did you start working for the News Of The World? My private life is good at the moment partly because of Sara, and partly because I've got out of that celebrity thing. Having spent far too long worrying about what fucking party I was going to attend, I'm now concentrating on the day-to-day living of life.

I don't know if you read our Bob Geldof interview recently, but in it he accused courts of discriminating against fathers in custody battles. Fair comment?
Yeah, it's a fucking disgrace. The automatic assumption that mothers are better parents than fathers is blatantly anti-male. As was my mate, Paul Weller, being splashed all over the front-pages for something he patently didn't do. Innocent until proven guilty? Not if you're a bloke, and a famous one at that.

How has separating from Meg impacted on the relationship with your daughter?
There's so much stigma attached to being estranged from your kid that, for a while, I beat myself up over it. I'd see Anais and want it to be so special that... well, you forget that all kids of that age are interested in is drawing on walls and throwing cakes around the fucking room. When it comes to the point when I can communicate with my daughter properly, I'll sit her down and say, "This is what happened. These were the reasons. For better or for worse, I thought it was the best thing to do. What do you think? How has it affected you? Can we talk about it?" Until then, I'll continue to chase her round the room with a funny mask on!

What visitation rights do you have?
I see her every other weekend, and every Thursday and Friday on the alternate weeks.

Getting back to Oasis, did you really issue Liam with '10 Commandments' ahead of your last US tour with The Black Crowes?
"Thou shalt not drink or piss Noel off?" No, that was something which Dominic Mohan made up for his Sun column. I wouldn't mind, but it made me sound a right cunt! There were one or two - how shall we put it? -instances when Liam got out of hand, but generally he was quite well behaved.

Another of The Sun's recent exclusives is that you're skint.
(Laughs) Yeah, it's true, I'm down to me last eight or nine million. Because it takes over an hour to get to the studio from where I live by car, we sometimes take the train. Ignoring the fact that there's no First Class between London and Wycombe, they concocted a story which says. Noel Gallagher's so broke he's travelling economy on British Rail."

Are there any really juicy stories about you that the tabloids have missed?
Yeah, but I'm not gonna tell you 'em 'cause they're the ones we actively tried to repress! I've had to put a few people in taxis the afternoon of the night before and go, "I don't think you should take drugs anymore, and if anybody asks, you weren't in my house!" Some you'll be able to guess, and others have somehow managed to whore it through life with their characters unblemished.

Have you ever met a hero who's turned out to be a cunt?
I'm lucky in that all the heroes I've met have been pretty fucking cool to me. Someone who was a right cunt to Liam, God bless him, was Johnny Lydon. We met him and his brother in LA and as the ale flowed he got more and more lippy. Liam - or "the singer" as Lydon insisted on calling him - said something about being a Smiths fan and he goes, "How can you like them? He's fucking gay, Morrissey." Then he looked at me and went, "Are you wearing make-up?" To which I replied, "Piss off, you fat little bastard!" I knew that him having a pop at Morrissey was a wind-up, but our kid was ready to twat him!

Did you ever kiss and make up?
A rather sweet thing happened when I met him again at the Pistols gig in Shepherd's Bush Empire. I saw him walking across the room to me and thought, "This is either going to start with a headbutt or a drink in the face." What actually happened was that he put his arms around me and whispered into my ear: "I haven't got many friends in this game, but I'd like to think you're one." I'm telling you, man, I nearly burst into tears!

I say this in a complimentary way, but have you ever met a bigger yob than Steve Jones?
(Laughs) In his leopard-skin kecks and his big beer belly! He's a fucking slag, yeah, but what a guitar player!

What about villains who turned out to be heroes?
Ian McCulloch. I met him at a gig and thought, "Aye, aye, here's a right mouthy bollocks," but then we clicked and spent six hours together in the bogs. Not having sex, I hasten to add.

Would he rate as one of the most full-on characters you've met?
He's in and around the top 10, but nowhere near as mad-for-it as, say, Weller. What was really scary was a session I had with him, Liam and Messrs. Craddock and Fowler from Ocean Colour Scene. Apart from anything else, they're completely fascist about their musical taste. Liam'd say he liked such-and-such band and Weller'd go, "Yeah, but look at the fucking shoes they're wearing." Our kid's big thing at the moment is that The Strokes are crap 'cause their singer's called Julian. Sure, it is a shit name, but musically they're fucking spot on.

Is it true that you tried to sign Jules and his mates to your Sour Mash label?
I got hold of their demo, which became their first EP, and thought, "This is the fucking bollocks!" The sound, the songs... I knew straight away that those guys have it. I was prepared to get on a plane and talk business with them, but before we'd had a chance to make an approach, they signed to Rough Trade. The money for the label comes out of my pocket, so we probably wouldn't have been able to afford them anyway.

Leaving the ding-dongs aside, what's the nicest thing Liam's ever done for you?
(Pause that isn't so much pregnant as feet up in the stirrups waiting to be induced). That's a hard one. Being nice to my daughter, I suppose. He's crap with adults but give him a kid to play with, and he's a big softie. I'm not good at accepting people being nice to me. For instance, I'd go out of my way to hide my birthday. Sentimental family stuff tends to embarrass me, which is my failing not theirs.

Are there any unreleased Oasis gems lurking in the vaults, or songs that would've been classics if more time had been lavished on them?
If we'd kept it for Be Here Now, rather than releasing it as a B-side, I think 'The Masterplan' would be one of the all-time Oasis greats. Similarly, if 'Don't Go Away' had made it on to Morning Glory, as originally intended, it would've been hailed as one of the top 10 albums of all time. That aside, I wouldn't really change anything.

So there's not a triple box-set of outtakes waiting to be unleashed?
I remember being in the studio with Owen (Morris) at the back-end of Be Here Now, and him asking if I had any more tunes. Which was the cue for me making up lyrics to eight or nine songs that I'd only got the music for. One of these days I'm going to get the DAT off him and see if there's anything worth releasing.

It's a matter of taste I know but, personally, I was well miffed to see OK Computer atop the Q 100 Greatest Albums Of All Time'.
I'm a fan of records, not bands. There's even stuff that The Beatles did which I wouldn't bother replacing if they were robbed off me. The Bends is a great record, but OK Computer and Amnesiac... I really don't see what all the fuss is about. There's nothing on 'em that wasn't being done by Faust 25-years ago. As for the real 'Greatest Album Of All Time', it's got to be Never Mind The Bollocks by the Sex Pistols. Partly because it sounds like nothing else, and partly because they split up immediately afterwards. The records we listened to non-stop when we were making Definitely Maybe, and used as our benchmark, were Never Mind The Bollocks and The Who Live At Leeds. Anything that lacked their intensity was thrown in the bin.

I don't want you thinking I'm a hippy dippy new age type, but have you ever had a paranormal experience?
No, but before going to see U2 in Manchester recently, me and me girlfriend were saying, "I wonder what it is with Bono and God?" Anyway, we're sat round a table after the gig and I go, "Explain it to me 'cause I was brought up Catholic and it means fuck all to me." We had a good three-hour conversation about his religious philosophy, which is basically, "Go to God, tell him what all your flaws are and say, 'Can you work with me?'" Which is completely different to the "Don't drink, don't screw, don't take drugs and always go to church" bollocks you get taught at school. I didn't think a whole lot more about it until two days later when there's a knock on the door and the recorded delivery guy hands me two books that have been sent by Bono. There's also a little note, which reads, "I don't know if you were serious the other night, but here's something that might give you a bit more of an understanding." What a fucking top geezer! His Dad's on his death bed, yet he still takes the time to go out, buy two books and send 'em to me! I'm on holiday next month and, I tell you, I'm going to read 'em from cover to cover.

You told me the last time we met that the only thing preventing you from moving to Ireland was Meg's refusal to go cutting turf in her Prada gear. Now that she's history, would you consider joining Eddie, Lisa and Damon out in Dalkey?
If I was moving to Ireland, I'd go all the way and get myself a place in Charlestown. I was there last week for my gran's memorial, and needless to say was drinking till half-four in the morning with all me aunts and uncles. Never mind that I had a plane to catch at 10.30, it was, "Ah sure, why don't you stay for another?" What's brilliant- besides all the jokes and the stories - is that you're a nephew, not a rock star.

Any downside to Ireland?
The one thing that'd put me off living in Ireland is the health service. I went to see my uncle, who's suffering from cancer, in Galway Hospital and it was an absolute disgrace. I wanted to take him with me on the fucking plane, but, y'know, he's an old geezer and he wants to be around his family. Everything else about the country though, I love.

What are your thoughts on the "War Against Terrorism"?
You mean the biggest waste of $50 billion in the world... ever? Inevitably, they will make a fucking balls of it. Do they know where Bin Laden is? What happens if he ends up in China? Are they going to send the SEALS and the Marines into Belfast to take out the IRA and the Loyalists?

I was thinking, will there be a tactical strike on Primal Scream for writing a song called 'Bomb The Pentagon'?
Knowing Mani, it's him who'll be doing the taking out... to the pub! Them being so angry all the time gets on me tits, but what a fucking band! Oasis couldn't go from 'Kick Out The Jams' to 'Come Together' to 'Vanishing Point'- we're not electronically aware at all. At least they're not cynical cunts like Manic Street Preachers. Did you see that bit on the telly when they met Castro? Here they were face-to-face with one of the most influential leaders of the 20th Century, and all Nicky Wire could think to say was, "Noel Gallagher shook hands with Tony Blair and we're meeting Fidel." I was thinking, "in your crowning moment of glory, you student, you still mentioned my name. Thank you very much!" They're living out the university fantasy of Fidel Castro blah blah blah, which doesn't appeal to me one little bit. The next time I see Nicky, I'm going to say, "Why don't you put your nurse's uniform on and go back to college?"

Now that you're a record company mogul yourself, do you have a greater understanding of what Alan McGee went through with Creation?
"Went through"? Personally, I think he made seventeen million quid out of me, so I don't feel sorry for him at all. He said a lot of things after Creation collapsed - like how it had summat to do with Oasis - that were really cheeky. I can't remember exactly how he phrased it, but the inference was that our record sales had suffered because his creative input had been taken away. He never had any creative input! I wrote the fucking songs, I co-produced the record. That's where it finished. He actually said that 'Some Might Say' shouldn't be a single, and it's the greatest number one that ever was in the '90s.

Is it just me, or is McGee trying to set a new record for how quickly you can blow £20 million?
With Poptones, you mean? There was all this hoo-ha about how it was going to be a punk rock label and then he goes and signs the Cosmic Rough Riders who are as un-fucking-cosmic and un-fucking-punk rock as it gets. I saw 'em at 'T' In The Park and was convinced they were all roadies. Fair play to McGee, though, for bigging it up and getting all that investment from The City. Who probably shat themselves when they heard El Vez!

Talking of the noble art of roadying, did you effect the tour t-shirt and big dangly bunch of keys look when you were humping for Inspiral Carpets?
Did I fuck! The one time I did wear a t-shirt, they told me to take it off because it had the Stone Roses on it and they were jealous of their success. I was actually known in roadie circles for not getting my hands dirty. The Inspirals played a lot of universities, which meant there were always Student Union-types willing to lug speaker cabinets up five flights of stairs! "Come on Jeremy, get that up there!" Actually a funny story. I bumped into Tom Inspiral for the first time in five years at a Liverpool Dockers' benefit. I hadn't seen him since the day he sacked me and he came out with the immortal line, "So what have you been up to?" I just laughed at him and said, "Y'know, this and that."

Did you ever get any of their cast-off groupies?
You wouldn't have wanted them, to be honest. You've got to remember this was the arse-end of the '80s. The kids coming to the gigs were either dressed like Ned's Atomic Dustbin or had huge ridiculous flares on, which wasn't particularly sexy.

I often wonder what became of the Barry Mooncults of this world...
Dancing around with a flower on your head? The talented one from Flowered Up, Liam Maher, has got a new track out called 'Dark Side Of The Spoon', which is pretty good for a recovering smack addict!

Would you concur with Kelly Jones that instead of wasting money on expensive TV ad campaigns, we should get the anti-drugs message across to kids by introducing them to Shaun Ryder.
That'd work. Rather than the drugs themselves, it's the amount you drink while taking them that does the damage. I'm glad I stopped. You see people getting paranoid and ridiculously off their tits and think, "Let me go home now!"

To sporting matters, and one imagines that you're delighted to have the Ronaldo-esque talents of Richard Dunne at Maine Road.
Talking of drinking... I saw him play the opening game of the season and, actually, he looked okay. Kevin Keegan might be useless at organising defences, but he's a good man manager and will hopefully get the best out of him. The one who needs to be off-loaded immediately is Paolo Wanchope. He put another three million on his price tag by being the leading scorer in the Copa America, and then comes back to play Watford and is a proper donkey. He's got knees that go both ways!

Looking back at the past 10 years, is there a particular moment that sums up the madness?
Band-wise, driving across Knebworth one misty morning in me Roll's Royce. I got out, sat on the roof and thought, "Yeah, let's have it!" Two sellout shows there later, we're the biggest band in the world. Another mad one was walking through the doors at No. 10 Downing Street, notas a plumber but an invited guest. I'm glad I did it to have a look, but in terms of New Labour, I recognise now that we were conned. We thought he was John F. Kennedy, when in fact he was John Major with a better PR. team!

Monday, October 01, 2001

Andy Bell - Designer Magazine - October 2001

In a career stretching over a decade Andy Bell has been in one of the most influential bands of our time (Ride) and one of the biggest bands of our time (Oasis) and not forgetting Hurricane #1 and Gay Dad. With the "Best Of ... Ride" in the shops this month we caught up with Andy to look back on one of indies most romantic stories and the influence they have on everyone from Radiohead to the Chemical Brothers. Taking it to the present day we also find out the truth about the new Oasis album and why he's happy to be called the George Harrison of Oasis.

Q: A "Best of" collection or a host of re-releases usually signals a reunion. I gather this is not the case with Ride so I guess the obvious place to start is Why?
A: That's only started over the past few years - this whole reunion business. We've been wanting to this (Best Of.... / Box Set etc.) for a few years and now its finally happened. People had been carrying on buying the Ride albums to make Creation want to do it, then when Creation folded we just got a plan together and found a label for it.

You'd stopped seeing Ride albums in the racks and people still wanted to buy them - we had to do something about it and of course its nice to look in the R section of HMV and say I did that.

Q: Is the idea of not reforming in essence not wanting to tarnish the memory of the band?
A: There's always that thing that you want your favourite bands to get together but at the same time you don't. If the Roses got back together again i'd be there, if the La's got back together i'd be there. But you don't want them to because you be watching with one eye closed going "Aagh - don't do anything wrong now and spoil it". The Second Coming was enough like that for me. It was painful yet it was still fantastic!!!

You've got to look good though. You can't be bald and you can't be that fat unless of course you were that way to start with!!!!

Q: Surely the Radiohead gig request must have been quite tempting - if not as a career move, doing it just for the fun of it all?
A: Totally - it was for 5 minutes!!! Its always tempting for you if someone is so complimentary. But I personally couldn't have done it because I was really committed to Oasis and we were out in Asia or South America.

Q: The Box Set, which is out in the shops soon, features a CD of unreleased material. Is there going to be any tracks on there which really surprise even the hardened Ride fan?
A: Its from all different times. The first track is from before the band got together - a 4 track demo that me and Steve did of "Chelsea Girl" - and then it goes through to one track from "Tarantula" that never came out and covers everything in-between.

The most covered album is "Gone Black Again" because that was originally going to be a double album. So a lot of those tracks that got left off have finally come out.

If people give it a listen people will be surprised at some of the things we tried to do. One track on there is pure New Order - its is totally New Order but without vocals. There's a dubby version of "Dreams Gone Down" off the first album. And there's also a lot of tracks that are more your typical Ride.

Q: One thing you get (even just from listening to the "Best Of") is how much you evolved over the years and bands just don't seem to do that anymore?
A: That is so true. The Verve was the last band I can think of that changed on every album and actually got better. I don't know if we got better with every album but we certainly changed and we tried to get better. You don't see that many bands striving for a different sound.

The Coldplay album is definitely a creeper and just gets to you after a good few listens. I haven't seen them live recently, but Noel went to see them at one of the festivals and said that their new stuff is really really rocking. I actually feel that they may come up with a second album that is mind-blowing - they are seen as being really quiet and I think they've got a lot of talent - it would be great to see them do something really noisy and rock & roll!!!

The charm of the band was tied in with the spontaneity of the band and the things that made us fall apart after only 4 or 5 albums together was part of what made us great as well. We didn't see ourselves as an indie band. We saw ourselves as a pop band with indie influences. We wanted to be in the charts and that's what we were striving for.

Q: Could you remind us again why you split up ?
A: It was mainly just growing up and growing into different styles. I was basically into 60s rock & roll and Mark was into Paul Oakenfold and going to raves. I tried all that and it was cool but I wanted us to still stay as a rock band. So you had those two opposites and then Lawrence was a mad head.

Q: Looking back do you have any regrets on things that could have happened or did happen?
A: No, I don't think you should do that. You look back as it being a very romantic story that ends up being a disaster but then again so do a lot of good stories. When you see the Ride story written down I want to see the usual "how great it all started, the gradual decline, the final album and the acrimonious split" and then I want to see how they all got together and put out the Best Of and everybody was happy.

Q: If we could move on to the present day. There's so many rumours about the new Oasis album - what's the story?
A: Were just trying to get the last few bits done now. I've put a song in called "Thank You For the Good Times", Liams got 2 or 3 in there and Noels done the rest obviously. When I wrote "Thank You....." it sounded like "We All Need Someone To Lead Them" by The Rolling Stone. When we started playing it together though it started to sound like "Some Might Say" - I never meant it to be a "Some Might Say" copy but that's what it is!!!!

Q: It must be hard for someone who has been such a major creative force to join a band where essentially you'll have to give up a lot of the song writing side of things?
A: I wasn't actually writing anything at the time, I had writers block. I'd wrote 2 albums for Hurricane and that had been really heavy work for me, I was supposed to be writing a third one and it never really came. When I joined Oasis I wasn't song writing at all and Noel said "If you do write songs, bring them in, put them on the table and see what you've got".

It took me months to write one and then took me longer to have the courage to play it to them. After all you're dealing with really good songwriters here. So I was really happy when Noel decided to do this tune and I was glad that it ended up sounding like the band. I didn't want to come in and change the way the band sounded - if they would have changed over-night when I joined it would have just sounded unnatural.

Q: Are you over the writers block now?
A: I've settled back into a George Harrison vibe of writing two songs a year. I'm kind of just writing when it occurs to me rather than feeling like its my job. With Hurricane it was like i'd get the songs that came really easy like "Step Into My World" or "Only The Strongest Will Survive", which were the best ones, but the rest was quite hard to do.

You really should just write when you've got something to say and in the past with Hurricane I was writing 10 songs about nothing.

Q: Looking from an outsiders perspective some people would get the impression that a couple of songs per album isn't enough for yourself and Gem?
A: It is for me. I've done everything and had the chance with my own band. I have my magic band which is Ride and my hard working band which is Hurricane. I've written enough songs - how many more songs do people want me to write.

The thing is I've written about everything I want to write about and if there's anything else I can put it into one song a year or two if you're lucky. Maybe 5 years down the line from now there will be an Andy Bell solo project because its the one thing I haven't done yet. If you see my hair falling out beware of an Andy Bell solo album - you can't have a bald man on the front cover can yer!!!!

Noel Gallagher - Scotland On Sunday - October 2001

Gather your family round you," says the man in the parka, "be thankful for what you've got. Say a little prayer once in a while." Noel Gallagher swings from one extreme to another. One minute he is getting misty-eyed about his family, the next he is feeling down. "I'm really tetchy," he says. This is a moment, a mood. It's not what he is like every second of his life, but it is what he is like sometimes.

It is what he is now, sitting in a drab, anonymous, carpet-tiled office in Marylebone, ranting. "He's getting on my f***ing nerves at the moment. I hate not being able to go to my own studio because he won't sing when I'm there because it freaks him out. It's just like f*** off. You know, either sing or don't sing, but don't do some f***ing pastiche of the two. 'I think I might sing today, but I think I'm not in a good mood.' It's like, who do you think you are? Jim Morrison? You're meant to be an untortured artist. Either sh** or get off the bog man."

All I did was mention the word 'Liam' and he's off. The album isn't getting finished. The music industry is corrupt. Damon Albarn is a "f***ing c**t." Every sentence he speaks is dowsed with those familiar old asterisks. A white rim of spit gathers in the corner of his mouth. He sounds like some sort of absurd, yapping caricature of his mid-Nineties self, but older, wiser, a little wearier, and, of course, less out of his head on drugs. He even looks the same: shoes, hair-cut, the same old mod Oasis, updated. "I've got a very balanced view," he tells me, pausing for thought. "Outside my home is bullsh**, inside is calm." It's odd, but Noel Gallagher makes me laugh. What is it I find so charming, disarming and unexpectedly likeable?

Perhaps because he really doesn't seem to care. He doesn't stop for a second to think whether what he says is politically correct or clever. The tongue takes over and the random contents of his brain spew out. "I've never been one for donating large amounts of money to charity," he says when I ask about what he does with his hard-earned millions, "because I donate a lot of money as it is. It's called tax. Forty f***ing per cent tax." He gets names deliberately wrong, flaunting his ignorance. It's as if he finds it amusing that anybody would come to a pop star for opinions on world events. You want a cracking quote, I'll give you one. Last week he was referring to Bin Laden as "whatshisname binliner fella", this week he's calling him "Elmer Fud" and suggesting that someone should "fly a plane into a building somewhere in New York and not the World Trade Center" (meaning the offices of some record company, but he's only joking).

This is all a surprise to me. Noel Gallagher is a genuine deadpan comedian. But then I should have known. This is the man who, when Bonehead left the band, said: "Well, it's not like Paul leaving the Beatles."

I was never a big fan of Oasis. To tell the truth, I had to drive 20 miles out of town to a storage depot to find the couple of albums I had from their heyday. If nothing else, that's a sign of the times. How often does anybody play their Oasis albums anymore? Yet, back home, and before I'd even dusted off What's the Story Morning Glory or Definitely Maybe, I knew the Gallagher brothers must have got to me, just as they got to the quarter of a million who went to watch them play at Knebworth. I could reel off the words to every single song. Singing to 'Wonderwall' I had a brief flashback to the swagger and optimism of the Britpop era, to Noel popping round to Downing Street for tea, Liam and Patsy on the cover of Vanity Fair, Liam being arrested for possession of cocaine, to the fights and the attitude and the declarations. "I've been to the top of the mountain," says Gallagher, "and I've seen the view and being in the biggest band is great because of the adulation and the money and the f***ing flying around in jets, but it's a lot of work to keep it going though, man."

But Noel Gallagher isn't the same man he was five years ago. The highs and lows of being in "the biggest band in the world" have left their mark. The face is lined, brow furrowed, and the two sharp creases running from nose to chin give his mouth a down-turned appearance. He is now almost puritanical in his lifestyle, a divorced father-of-one, off the drugs, with a new lower-key girlfriend, Edinburgh-born Sara Macdonald. His rants are more sensitive and worldly: violence as a means of protest, unions, American foreign policy, the dangers of taking ecstasy, what "Elmer Fud" is going to do next. "If this was 1997," he says, "I would have made some ridiculous statement like, oh f***ing kill Arabs, or whatever was the most outrageous comment available to my brain cells at the time. But I'm not the same person as I was. Well, I'm not on drugs anymore."

How times have changed since the days he boasted sprinkling cocaine on his cereal. At Supernova Heights, he and wife Meg Mathews (once described as 'Britain's premier party girl' by Elle magazine), partied 24 hours, most days a week, pushing the limits of their lives and relationship. "When I wasn't on drugs," he says. "I was going to get them or coming back from getting them. I remember sitting in my house and a party started on a Friday afternoon and it went through till Monday, and I'm still meeting people to this day who were there and I don't recognise them. I mean proper minging shady-looking characters I would back away from in the streets." Somewhere in the middle of all this the panic attacks started and the sleepless nights and the doctor advised him to get off the drugs. So, one morning, he did just that, he woke up, and instead of skinning up, he had a pot noodle and never looked back. Not long after, he bought a house in Buckinghamshire, dragged his wife kicking and screaming out there (well, she still wanted to party) and began the slippery slope towards the end of their marriage.

Mention Mathews and he looks away, studying the laces on his trainers. "I don't talk about that," he says, "because people don't appreciate my honesty on the subject. There's too much f***ing fall-out and I can't be arsed." Yet he can't stay away from the subject too long. It's there, a part of his life and conversation. To Noel Gallagher it has a significance, it labels him. He is now a divorced father. "What I went through," he says, "wasn't painful. It was a release for me. It was like, well, thank the lord that's over. I wouldn't bore you with the subject. It's in the past. It's gone."

His honesty about Mathews has been brutal, their divorce a very public War of the Roses. He has (unfairly, I suspect) portrayed her as a money-grabbing materialist, a party girl. Following the court case, he said: "I just walked past Meg in court and I abhor it. But if somebody wants their pound of flesh that badly, there is nothing you can do to stop it." Poor Meg. In the public popularity stakes her husband seemed to win all too easily. After all, he was the soulful talent who'd seen the light. All most people really knew about Meg Mathews was that she was shopped a lot and had a boob job.

The dispute rolled on. Mathews was rumoured to be after a £10m settlement, Gallagher offered £3m. A quick divorce was granted on the basis of his admitted adultery with Macdonald (though he was never unfaithful till after they had separated). Mathews was given custody of Anais - well, he said that was only right, "that's what babies do... stay with their mam" - and Noel now sees his daughter on Thursdays and Fridays and every other weekend. "I'm not naturally a great father," he says, "but I'm getting better. I can spend hours with Anais, I can spend whole days letting her ride around on my back."

Perhaps it is because he does not want to gift to Anais a childhood like his own, that he is so worried about his talents as a father. Gallagher's parents finally hit the end of their rocky marriage when he was 17. Thomas Gallagher, an Irish Catholic, had a habit of staying out for days drinking, and would shout and scream at his sons, Paul, Noel and Liam. Often it would end in violence - and for the most part it was Noel who was on the receiving end. "I think he resented the fact he had kids because we got in the way of his lifestyle. And we got hammered for it." Peggy, their famously strong mother, only stuck it out that long because she was a Catholic. Then one day, it all came to a climax. Thomas drove Noel over the edge. The teenager struck out and pushed him down the stairs, hospitalising him for six weeks. "My last memory of my dad is him being taken away in a paramedic van," Noel said in one interview.

Despite rumours, there are no firm plans to marry Macdonald. He seems to be taking his time, working on the album, feeling his way out of one marriage before he commits himself to the next. In some ways, Gallagher's life has been defined by the women he has been with: mother Peggy, wife Meg and now girlfriend Sara. As one acquaintance has said: "He's like a chameleon, he takes on the characteristics of the woman he's with." Certainly he seems affected by Macdonald. Throughout his conversation he constantly refers to her: what she's reading, what she's doing, 'Sara says this' and 'Sara says that'. It's as if he's throwing out fragments of discussions with her. "Sara told me about the politics in Palestine." "Sarah would say I am self-obsessed." He's even written a love song to her. "It's called 'She's Love'. I just woke up one morning and I felt so in love. I wrote it in three minutes. It's three minutes long."

At first glance Macdonald doesn't seem that different from Mathews - just a toned-down, quieter version of the ex. After all she's a blonde, London-based PR who he met in Ibiza, not some mousy librarian or charity worker. "I found she was as sarcastic towards me as I am to her," Gallagher explains. But what's most significant about her is her willingness to keep out of the limelight. She's a more private person, less obviously showy. Why does it work? Gallagher shrugs. "It's there and it's happening so let's just enjoy it for what it is. Why analyse what's right? You just analyse the life out of things. Just do it man. It's like the world's about to go to f***ing war, you know, let it go."

Gallagher appears at home with the quiet new life he has created. He still drinks - but that's his only vice. These days he says, he hates parties, preferring just to hang about in the studio or watch TV. "I think the skills that I was given don't involve social skills. I'm not very good at sitting around a dinner table with people and discussing the day's events on Sky News. Between '94 and '98, I was in a different state of mind. I was social because I was taking a lot of drugs. A lot of party drugs as well. I didn't smoke spliff or take heroin. It was the drugs that make you wanna go out."

But he was never entirely the lager lout portrayed in the press. "When you're in a band with someone who's proclaimed himself king of the lads," he says, "then you sort of get tarred with the same brush. Now I can be a stroppy c***, but equally well I'm a sensitive boy and a dad. Sara doesn't like me blaming the whole thing on being a Gemini, but part of me is. I could go and stand on the football terraces on a Saturday afternoon and get pissed, be a sexist macho, in the pub talk about lads' stuff. Equally I could go to 10 Downing Street and talk about the plight of the Liverpool dockers. Equally as well I could sit with my mam and talk about the past and her gran dying. So there's a lot more to my character."

Noel Gallagher says he's in a bad mood, but I can't help thinking really he's just playing at it. He's just too entertaining, just too full of provocative little sound-bites. Besides, only a couple of days before we met, he did an interview with NME in which the Gallagher brothers presented a robust front of solidarity. Six months ago he said he had never felt happier. But today his enthusiasm is flagging. "Up until yesterday I'd been getting on well with him for weeks," he says, but before long he's moaning: "If he wasn't my brother, I would have split up with him years ago."

Gallagher has a knack for exaggeration. As one friend said: "you have to put a 20% commission on all he says". Elmer Fud is probably going to blow the whole world up. Kids shouldn't go on anti-globalisation protests because one day they'll probably get shot. The record industry is about to collapse. "They've sold the soul of the music business to the faceless millions." And, while we're on the subject, Jamie Oliver has got a record deal. 'Music to cook by," he spits out. "Music to cook by? It f***ing demeans what I have done for the last 10 years sitting in the back of a transit van, getting flu, pneumonia, trenchfoot, but, you know, sacrificing, s***loads to be obsessed by music. And you get some c***, no disrespect to Jamie Oliver, he' s probably a lovely guy, but music to cook by?"

So, I'm disinclined to take everything he says as gospel. True, Liam and Noel have always had a rocky relationship. One tour Liam was throwing in the towel, the next it was Noel, but they have always stuck it out, and the rows and the tiffs are part of what's been so appealing about them - the grand soap opera. It was there from the very start, from when they shared that tiny bedroom in Burnage.

It's a relationship that shifts, but on the whole it's classic birth-order dynamics. Liam fighting, drinking, larging it to excess, his older brother reining him in: Liam the spoilt brat, Noel the worrier. Both, perhaps scared that their whole world might just disintegrate, because they've both just got too much Thomas Gallagher in them.

"Liam," says Noel, "is the life and soul of the party. I probably always stand in the kitchen. Like the other day Liam's son had his second birthday party. See I'm not one for sitting round with party hats on me head. I'm more like a grumpy uncle, whereas Liam is there with his face painted and he 's dressing up for the kids and stuff. Sometimes I wish I could be more like that."

Right now he feels his grip over his brother slipping. The clock is ticking. He counts each day that passes in which he doesn't get Liam into the studio. Ten years of Oasis, and he's already pushing 35. "We were going to have a single out by the end of the year," he says, "but that's f***ing gone now, and it's because there's no one actually in charge [they're producing the album themselves]. I can't tell anybody what to do in the band because now it's this new democracy. There's no referee and it looks like it's just going to drift. It'll end up in an almighty fight is what it'll end up in."

Once Noel gets going on a rant, he's unstoppable and this is a big one. I mention his mother and he barks: "Well she doesn't say you should use more of Liam's songs or anything like that".

Is that an issue?
He nods. "He thinks he's the new John Lennon. He thinks he's fantastic. But who's gonna tell him? The same way who's going to say to me that maybe a song's not going to be good enough?"

So they don't?
"No, because all mine are f***ing great."

In fact, he confesses that in the past all his songs have not been "f***ing great", some have even been "appalling" ('Roll With It'). What is most appealing about Noel, is that for all his arrogance, he willingly shoulders the blame for having messed up. When he should have come out with a really great third album he produced the sadly disappointing Be Here Now. "It's just shockingly bad lyrics," he says. "But I will say in my own demonic drug-induced state I wrote an album in 14 days and - count them - that sold seven-and-a-half million copies. If I'd actually tried at that point in my life I'd have been f***ing God. As it was I was more interested in having a party, so it was like, well, I'll spend half an hour f***ing about with this and then we'll be off down the beach."

It wasn't just the critics who were disappointed, it was the public. The Oasis spirit that we all knew and loved had been drowned under a cacophony of guitars. As one critic pointed out, this was exactly the sound of a bunch of musicians who'd taken too much cocaine.

Perhaps all this worry about the album "drifting" is because he is scared he missed the boat. It is clear Gallagher has a certain sour grapes about the current success of Gorillaz (the animated chart-topping project by arch-rival Damon Albarn). "You know it sickens me when you read interviews with people like Damon," he blurts out, "and they're obsessively trying to get into the top 10 all the time. Well, I think Damon will jump on any bandwagon that comes along."

Get over it, I keep wanting to suggest; the era of the Blur versus Oasis death match is over. It's no longer funny, or if it is, it's only funny in a very sad way. But he doesn't let up. "Well, for a man who actively went out of his way to convince the record-buying public that he wasn't a cartoon character," he says, "it's ironic that he actually ends up one. I mean everyone knows my view on Damon Albarn. He's a pretentious, calculated student. To write an album about splitting up with your girlfriend. I mean, not even your wife, your girlfriend. It's like, oh, spare us please."

Albarn has done the one thing that the Gallagher brothers can never and should never do - he has reinvented himself. What was so great about Oasis was their unreconstructed rawness. They weren't trying to be anything, they just were. Their message: 'You gotta say what you say / Don't let anybody get in your way.' Noel knows this. He's gone back to the feel of their first album, Definitely Maybe, got rid of all the fancy production and tried to simply write great Oasis songs.

But at this stage in their career, Oasis don't just need to bring back the old style, they need to go that extra journey. The journalist Paolo Hewitt, who spent six months on the road with Oasis wrote: "[Noel] often said he would never write a song about his fractured childhood because it's nobody's business but his own. I agreed but I also suspected a cover-up. One day I think he will confront his demons armed only with his guitar."

You suspect that's when you'll get the good stuff. But perhaps it's still too early. "I wouldn't be so calculating as to write about my own pain," he tells me. But is the pain in there? "Subconsciously it must be. You would have to be some w***er if you went through life and weren't affected by anything that happened to you. Let me tell you, when you people dissect the lyrics for this album you can read anything into anything. I could recite the lyrics for 'I am the Walrus' and convince you it's about me and me alone." He's wrong. I'm no dissector of lyrics. Probably, I'm like most listeners. When I hear songs, I interpret them in the light of my own life and emotions, not anyone else's. Gallagher agrees: "I would want every girl in the country to think 'Wonderwall' was about them and them only. They're about whatever you want them to be about. But I never ever, and I can put my hand on my heart and my child's life and say that I never sat down once and said 'right, I'm going to write a song about getting divorced', or about what it's like to be estranged from my child. I just think it's pathetic. Eric Clapton writing songs about his dead son? That's exploiting the fact that your child is dead. You're making money out of it, man. That's wrong. Morally that's wrong."

Maybe it will all work out. After all, the energy and the anger are still there. As Gallagher says: "Everything that I actively went after and pursued I got. Sometimes I think it was from my own endeavour and I think what a hard working guy and sometimes I think maybe it was just destined for me. Maybe it was just preordained, and I didn't need to bust my ass all those years."

It's so brazen you almost think he just might do it again.

Noel Gallagher - City Life - October 2001

In My Mind My Dreams Are Real.....

As Oasis celebrate their tenth anniversary with a couple of intimate hometown gigs at the Apollo, Noel Gallagher talks exclusively to Luke Bainbridge about a decade with Liam and how he regrets leaving Manchester.

Has it been 10 years? it seems a lot longer. it seems like only yesterday. Oasis are playing Manchester Apollo this week as part of their tour which is billed as 'Ten years of Noise and Confusion'. The record company idea, it seems, is that hopefully the press will revisit a decade of Oasis in a deluge of retrospectives, but we all know the story, and in the morning glory, all too well.

Ten years ago they were,by their own admission, the uninvited guests who stayed till the end. Bursting with fuck-you asrrogance, snarling to all comers "D'you wanna be me? Well that just couldn't be". Who else could get away with releasing a song called 'Rock and Roll Star'. About themselves.From the opening percussion of 'Supersonic' to the fade out of 'Roll it Over' its been a rock-n-roll rollercoaster. From Definitely Maybe to Maine Road, from 'Wonderwall' to Knebworth, there were a million highs. Then it all when awry. cocaine, Champagne receptions at number 10 with New Labour. Celebrity girlfriends became wives. Kids arrived. shortly followed by their comedown, for Noel at least. 'Go let it out' was the first sign that the band were back fighting fit and if Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants didn't complete the conviction then last summer's live gigs certainly did. in hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck-adrenalin-rushing-mouth-open-wide-fuck-me type of conviction. We are all, sometimes, guilty of taking things for granted.So who is the best placed to evaluate where Oasis stand in 2001 and where they go from here? There can be only one really - Mr Noel Gallagher......

So How's Noel?
Hungover. For a change.

You announced you were going to release the first single from the new album in October, but its been put back to early next year now. Any idea when something will see the light of day?
We don't know when it's been put back to,it's just been put back. We had it mixed and the artwork done and everything, i've sill got the finished version in front of me now. i just thought it wasn't really good enough. we decided to go back to the drawing board. it was a good vibe, but it just needed more work. it was one verse and one chorus repeated over and over agin, much in the same vein as 'Roll With It'. we got away with it in '95 but there's a lot of decent songwriters around now, know what i mean? to me, i would be just like 'is that it?'.

So it was your decision to put the single back and not the record company's?
Oh, it was my decision and mine alone. the record company don't fuckin tell us what to do, never have and never will do. i did get loads of stick from the best though, 'cos they couldn't see what was wrong with it, which to me is quite worrying, that we're not all on the same wavelength.

What about the rest of the album, are you happy with that?
i was really happy with it until recently, but i'm fuckin livid now. i finished my bits three-and-a-half months ago, and then we handed it over to Liam, and in three-and-a-half months he's done nothing. Just concentrated on his drinking habit again. it's just drifting at the moment.

So it's not finished then?
is it fuck, no. all the backingtracks are done and it's fantastic album of instrumentals at the moment. hand it over to the singer and it just slows down and becomes this one really long drawn out, painful process. so to be honest with you i don't know when it'll come out now. it's down to him. something will be out next year, but someone's gonna have to give him a fucking kick up the arse man. it's just laziness, that's all it is, and maybe a lack of confidence.

Have you tried giving him a kick up the arse?
have i? no. i'd literally kick him in his arse. i can't be rational with that boy. i'm either really placid with him or relieve him of a couple of teeth, so...

When the last album Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants was released you said that it went a third of the way to where you wanted to be five years time with the band. How close do you think you are now?
i was doing an interview the other day for NME and they were talking about the last two albums Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants, and they said 'how come you aren't as popular as you used to be?' and i'm just like 'well, i think the songs are better but the tunes aren't as good', if you know what i mean. so it's a case of getting really good songs that are also really good tunes. so it's a case of being more selective with the song writing rarther than saying 'fuck it, heres 10 songs,lets go and make an album' y'know what i mean? and its a lot better now 'cos there's more people writing songs so there's more people to blame when it fucks up.

Are the band writing together now?
nah, nah, nah, nah....i don't do that.

So who's contributed to the new album?
Well i wrote seven, but i don't know if they're all gonna get on the album. Liam wrote four, i think, and Gem and Andy wrote two a piece.

And who has the final say on what goes on?
You never can tell with these lot, it used to be me but now we're entered into this fucking democracy thing. which is why things take for fucking ever now. i used to be in charge of this band, but now people get upset so it's like 'fine, you look after your shit and i'll look after mine', which is why things take forever.

Do all the songs sound similar, or can you tell who's written which song?
No, they all sound quite similar to be honest. the thing with Gem and Andy is they were fans of the band anyway, so it was like 'look your not writing for Hurricane #1 (andy's old band) and you're not writing for Heavy Stereo (Gems old band). you know the drill, y'know what i mean?' and with Liam i taught him how to write songs anyway,so he's gonna write in that style.

And you said previously that it sounds much closer to your debut album than anything you've written since Definitely Maybe. would you still stand by that?
Yeah its in your face. Even the slow songs are fuckin' loud. But i think what i meant by it being closer to Definitely Maybe was the spirit of it all and, up until three months ago, the spontaneity of it all. it was very much off-the-cuff, like 'there's the amp, let's fuckin have it!'. we didn't think about it much, until Liam's now gonna away and thought about it for three months and is disappearing up his own arse i think. but in its spirit it's more like Definitely Maybe because of the lyrical content i think.

Is that because after Bonehead and Guigsey left, you got two new members in so it's almost a new band, and a new lease of life?
Yeah, but i think it's more to do with the fact that we've all had new starts in our life, you know what i mean. Andy and Gem have just joined the band so for them it's a new adventure, and me and Liam have just left a little episode of our past behind so it's just sparked a new beginning really, but even that sounds a little pretentious for my liking, so don't print that man.

So it's been a bit of a regrouping period all round then?
The optimistic songs are very optimistic and the angry ones are very angry, thats just the way i've been feeling lately. there is no middle ground for me no more, for a couple of years everything as alright. now its really good or its fuckin shit. but i'm glad to get back to my extreme behaviour rather than walking around with a glass of champagne, going 'isn't life great?'
Does the group have more of a gang mentality nowadays?
well, I don't hang around with anyone who isn't in the band - apart from Weller, but he's almost an honorary member of our band anyway - but you can be in a gang when your 34? i don't think you can, can you? i dont think you can. no, you can't.

And how has your relationship with Liam been recently?
it was fine until i found out he hasn't done a stroke of work for three months and now i just think he's a lazy cunt and i can't bear lazy people. i can't bear people who sit around all day and pontificate on how great they are but don't go and put it on wax man. it reminds me of a lot of people in Manchester to be honest with you. it's like ''I'm this and i'm that', well alright let me hear it, play it me through the speakers and i'll be the judge of how great you are and it's like 'you ain't got nothin to play me,so why don't you shut the fuck up?'. which is my theory on it all.

And you looking forward to the gigs?
i can't fucking wait to be honest. the band is absolutely fucking rocking. we're playing the longest we've ever done i think. it's approaging two hours and i think we only play four singles. it's a proper fan's set. if anyone's just remotely coming along for a night out then forget it, 'cos you won't hear anything you know. it's all b-sides and album tracks. the encore will be old favourites, but of the 24/25 songs we've been doing, only four or five are singles.

Why did you decide to do smaller gigs for this tour, these are smallest venues you've played since 1995?
Because the only time we've played indoors since then was '97, when we did Earl's Court and stuff like that and we've never play .... we sort of bypassed the big theatres, we went from nightclubs to sort of stadiums. the Apollo's the only venue in Manchester we've never played.

Well, you went straight from the Academy to Nynex didn't you?
Yeah, so we never got to that theatre level anywhere. we never played Brixton Academy, we never played any of them sort of places, so i was like 'if we're gonna mark ten years of the band let's play places we've never played before' and they were like 'you've played everywhere!' and i went 'well we haven't played the Apollo'. you know, you do lose something when you play outdoors becasue you go on in daylight and it's great for the spectacle, bu there's nothing better than seeing a band indoors in the dark and its fucking loud as fuck, proper rocking and sweaty. we've missed that, or i've missed it anyway.

And it works for the band as well....
Of course. i think the last gig we did in England there was about quter of a mile between me and andy who were the furthest apart. it was fucking ridiculous man.

Are you looking forward to playing Manchester again?
I never look forward to Manchester 'cos there's too many peple trying to get on the guestlist. the hour-and-a-half on stage will be mega, but the bit before and the bit after will just be a pain in the arse, 'cos it will just be people who think you recognise but you're not too sure if you do, it's like 'eh remember me, i was in your class in St Mark's? and i',m like 'really?'. but the gigs will be fucking mega, man.'

Cos there was a time when you seemed fed up to the back teeth with Manchester?
Was i ever sick of Manchester? (asking himself) i dont think i was ever sick of Manchester. i mean a lot was made of our Mancunian roots and i just didn't think it bore any relevance to the music, d'you know what i mean. in the early days they used to say we were a Manchester band and we were like 'well what the fuck does that mean?' alright we're a band and we're from Manchester so in that snse we are a Manchester band, but we don't sound anything like the Roses or the Mondays or James, i don't think we sound like any band that came out of Manchester, d'you know what i mean.. we're closer to the Buzzcocks than anyone else. the problem is when you say Manchester band yo just get this vision of fucking maracas and baggy flares.

So you wanted to get away from being a Manchester band, rather than getting away from Manchester?
we just wanted to get away from being tagged as a Manchester born. we were never sick of Manchester. i mean it was where i was fuckin' born man, how can you get sick of the place where you're born? you couldn't. i think it's a shame that we had to leave there 'cos we had to move to London to really smash it, 'd'you know what i mean. i regret that a lot, actually leaving Manchester. i wish i was still living there. but you make your decisions in life and you stick by them.

So you wouldn't ever consider moving back to Manchester then?
I can't. i've got a daughter down here now, so it wouldn't be fair on her d'you know what i mean. but if i didn't have kids i'd be on the train like i shot let me tell you, 'cos i've just about had it with London. it gets on my tits. i was up in Manchester last weekend actually, first time i'd had a walk round since the IRA bombed the gaff. what the fuck are they doing with Piccadilly Gardens man?

They've got a world renowned Japanese architect called Tadao Ando, who's basically building a wall across...
Some cunt wants fucking knocking out on that council. i brought me girlfriend up 'cos she'd never sort of been up before and we'd turn round al these corners and i'd go 'and round here is... hang on a minute it's not fucking there anymore, what the fuck's all that about!' and i was saying 'Piccadilly Gardens is really nice 'cos i used to go there when i was kid when they used to have a fairground there and that!'. then we turn round the corner and it's not there anymore. so they're building a fucking wall across it? that fucking council man, there's too many fuckin' students on it. no offence to the students like...'

And with that he's off again ranting about Keegan 'the jury's still out man, someone needs to give him some cash', his proteges Proud Mary 'im'm like 'Get out on the road' and they're up for it, so 'there's the van, there's the map for the gigs and i'll see you next year somtime' and the latest band he's about to sign to his label 'they're gonna set the world on fire. their not young kids or anything, they're about my age, but musically speaking it's fucking light years ahead of anything. it's like signing The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Beatles and early Fleetwood Mac. in one afternoon. Beta Band eat your heart out man.'They live their lives for the stars that shine. People say it's just a wate of time. They were wrong.