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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Liam Gallagher & Andy Bell - Globeandmail.com - 21st June 2005

One of the band's handlers enters the hotel meeting room and asks if I've ever met Liam Gallagher before. His tone is wary. Then he mumbles something about the singer walking out on interviews.

Gallagher's reputation precedes him, to say the least. Over the 12 years Oasis has been at it, Gallagher's public brawls with older brother Noel, troubled past marriage to actress Patsy Kensit and paparazzi-ready swagger have served as a kind of Coronation Street for the Mojo magazine crowd. Compulsory viewing.

The stories are numerous. The singer has walked out on the band mid-performance (as recently as last week in Italy) and insulted audiences. He once flicked cigarette ashes in Mick Jagger's hair at a British awards show.

And early in the band's career, Gallagher was kept in a holding cell on a ferry for being too unruly while travelling to a gig in Holland. He spent the trip standing up as a bucket of his urine sloshed at his feet.

So how does this jibe with the sight of a serenely calm Liam Gallagher in the Toronto hotel? With his two sons and Ontario-born fiancée Nicole Appleton in tow and using the Toronto concert as an excuse to visit family, Gallagher looks like a hip, wealthy dad returning from vacation, smiling in cut-off khakis and updated, Yoko Ono-like wraparound sunglasses.

He's stouter than expected, and at 32, with deepening wrinkles, he looks on the cusp of entering his aging, modish rock-star phase. Once finally sitting down for a brief interview, there's none of the aggressive blankness he's known for. He shocks with his congeniality, even while berating others.

"I'd hate to be in U2 or Coldplay or these other drab bands, where the fans go, 'Oh, there's the record. I'll buy that.' I'm glad our fans expect more. It shows there's passion," he says, expletives removed.

Oasis's sixth studio album, Don't Believe the Truth, is being praised by many as a return to form, even while the title carries on Oasis's penchant for meaningless phrases. And like the band's massive-selling debut, 1994's Definitely Maybe, recording Don't Believe the Truth was arduous. "The spark wasn't there, man," Gallagher says.

The band had tried to record in the same studio as the first album, Sawmills, in Cornwall, with the electronica duo Death in Vegas producing. But it wasn't working. Meanwhile, drummer Alan White, Gallagher's old drinking pal who hadn't shown up for group meetings, had been asked to leave. Recording resumed in Los Angeles with producer Dave Sardy (Hot Hot Heat, Marilyn Manson) and Zac Starkey (Ringo's son) on drums.

The record's not going to reach Definitely Maybe-calibre sales, Gallagher says, struggling to contain himself in his chair. "But totally, 100-per-cent, everyone of us is right behind the record," he adds.

"We take our influence from the greats, man. You don't get that from day one?" The inner swagger is revving. "Who are we going to get it from, Nick Drake or some idiots? We're the Who, the Kinks, the Beatles, the Stones, the Sex Pistols, the early Bee Gees. That's all you need."
But then the criticism is that Oasis remains bent on classic-rock rehash. One theory for this self-limiting sound is that Noel, the main songwriter in the band, who penned such stadium anthems as Live Forever and Wonderwall, basically only had a few dozen songs in him, and that he now has had to cede more of the song-writing to his brother and newer band members Andy Bell and Gem Archer because he has run dry and can't write the way he did in the mid-1990s.

"It's definitely not dry," Liam Gallagher says, quashing that myth. "We've got more songs than we've had ever. The nineties were the nineties, and that is that. And people have got to get over that. We are in a different place. The passion's there, and there is nothing going dry. Noel can write five great songs, instead of a load of . . . others."

Bell, the band's bassist, sitting in on the interview, adds with a much softer voice, "With the bunch of songs that we've written for this album and demoed, we could have easily gotten a Noel album out of it, or a great Liam album out of it."

Noel stays clear of writing songs he feels are too predictable, Liam insists. "And I admire him for that, instead of putting out what people expect him to put out."

"Admire?" It is the most surprising comment in the interview.

At one point Gallagher gives the finger to an imaginary Noel, for remarks the brother apparently made that the singer only wants to tour for the media attention. "For the record, I couldn't give a . . . whether I'm in the papers or not. He's the man that's out, him and his bird."
But then on the subject of brotherly rivalry, the singer adds: "There's no problem, man. There never has been really. People say, 'It's because you don't hang out together.' But why would you want to hang out with your brother? I see enough of [him] on stage."

Indeed, while performing in Toronto, both barely notice the other's presence, only taking musical cues. Swaggering with more of a barrel chest now, Liam rises from his crouched singing position and stands around, idly spinning the cymbals of his tambourine. He also still likes to show off his skill of balancing the cresent-shaped tambourine on his head.

Between songs, he bends down and turns large cheat sheets of song lyrics resting on his stage monitors. There's a line in an older Oasis song about Gallagher forgetting the words. But with his voice in top form, his physically demanding stance on stage, his head bobbing up and down for breath like someone doing the breaststroke on Live Forever, and the sight of a roadie on the side pumping his fist in the air with each line Gallagher sings, the band's performance and their joyous songs become all the more gratifying.

"We're on the ball, man. We go on stage five minutes before we're supposed to because we're into it! We're there before the producer, because we're into it," Gallagher says in the hotel.

"The biggest shock when I joined the band was how on time they were," Bell adds.

Gallagher then jumps out of the chair as he tells a story of how it drives him mad when people are late. This from a father who wakes up at 6 every morning back at home to get his kids off to school.

"I'd have been on the scene before the nineties, man, if it weren't for me ma and dad, man." He's on a roll, time-travelling into classic rock history. "I'd have been in the sixties, seventies; I'd have been a glitter head, the lot, man, but for these . . . people assing around!"

The energy is riling up, more emotion than coherence. It's the side that probably gives him his reputation, but which has also kept Oasis going for all these years.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Noel Gallagher - The Observer - 19th June 2005

Noel Gallagher, we had heard, was a fan of Little Britain, David Walliams and Matt Lucas's award-winning comedy show. So when we were trying to think of someone novel to interview Noel ahead of of Oasis's UK summer stadium tour, Walliams's name cropped up. It turned out that they had met socially a couple of times, but only very briefly - although the comedian had once suffered a nervous encounter with Noel's brother in the toilets at an awards show (as he describes below). For this meeting, they first convened for an exclusive OMM photoshoot with David Bailey, who has shot all the greats of British rock and comedy.

As we were waiting for our subjects, Bailey recalled the previous time he photographed Oasis - for Rolling Stone magazine in late 1994. 'We were waiting for them to arrive and they had a strop and someone rang and said they're not coming. I said: "Fine, another Rolling Stone cover is not going to change my life." When they did turn up, they just argued all the time.'

Bailey had never met Walliams before. 'So he's a comedian?' he asked. 'They're always the fucking worst. They're almost always miserable bastards. The only ones that I've ever photographed that I got on with were Morecambe and Wise.' As it happens, Walliams was charm personified, asking politely: 'Are we doing make-up?' 'Make-up?!' snorted Bailey, half-mocking, half-serious, as he grasped Walliams's arm. 'Don't be such a queen! Make-up!'

He was similarly frank and touchy-feely with the Oasis guitarist when he arrived. 'Are you still arguing with your brother?' was his opening gambit, as if it was only the other day that he last saw the Gallaghers. 'God, he was a miserable so and so.'

'He still is,' said Noel. 'I remember when we came here. You made us stand over there and said: "So you're supposed to be the new Beatles, are you? Well, you don't look much like the Beatles." And I was a bit like, 'Who is this guy?' And then you said: "So which one is supposed to be the genius?" and I said: "I am." And you said: "You don't look like a fucking genius."'

In the event, the shoot passed with much laughter. Then Noel and David left in a big black car for the Coronet in south London, where Oasis were playing a warm-up gig that night. Their interview began in the car and continued in the dressing-room as the band prepared for the show. They talked about Bailey - 'You have to say it's an honour,' said Walliams - and the new Oasis album, Don't Believe the Truth; and laughed about Robbie Williams, Viagra, and much, much more...

Literature; liberal guilt

In the car:

David Walliams: The first time I ever saw you, you were getting into a taxi in Camden. This was probably about 1995. I sort of bowed down and you waved out the window like the Queen, and from that moment I've always loved you.
Noel Gallagher:
I don't remember that.

DW: Of course you don't remember that.
NG: It is the kind of thing I fucking do.

DW: Now, recently I was at the Bafta awards and I saw Johnny Marr and I got his autograph. I was so excited. Who would you get an autograph from? Who would impress you still?
NG: Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

DW: Have you ever met Bob Dylan?
NG: I've never met Bob Dylan but I know Neil Young. We've played with him about four or five times in South America, in Canada and in Paris. He's a top geezer. But Dylan? I don't know whether I'd ever ask him for his autograph or not. I'd definitely go and shake his hand.

DW: Do you know if he knows about you? He probably does, doesn't he?
NG: I'd have thought he'd have heard of the name. Whether he's aware of any of the songs or not, I don't know.

DW: There's absolutely nothing known about the real him, is there?
NG: Well, he's just put out his book. What's it called? Chronicles.

DW: Have you read it? You once said you'd never read a book. Have you still not?
NG: I'm reading a book at the minute.

DW: What book are you reading?
NG: I'm not saying.

DW: Why not? It's not that embarrassing, surely. Is it the Bible?
NG: No, it's not the Bible.

DW: Is it something like The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole or Harry Potter?
NG: No.

DW: What is it? Is it something that won't make you sound cool?
NG: No. It's just my missus, Sara... She's got a very superior attitude to books and...

DW: [sternly]: Tell us what book it is.
NG: [exasperated]: Noo. I'm not telling you what book it is.

DW: Is it a children's book?
NG: No, it's not a children's book. Someone I know was reading this book and I read the back of it and I thought: 'That sounds quite interesting, I'll go and buy that.' And of course I got it back and my fucking superior Scottish girlfriend went: 'That's fucking rubbish, what are you reading that shit for?'

DW: Who wrote it?
NG: It's a guy called ... It's a guy called Dan Brown, I do believe. It's called Angels and Demons.

DW: OK! Well that's all right. What does Sara read then?
NG: Fucking Proust. I don't know.

DW: So hang on. You're supposed to have never read a novel but you know who Proust is.
NG: I know who Proust is but I've never read a book! This is my first ever book. Believe it or not, it is.

DW: What about the Dylan book?
NG: I don't know if I can be bothered.

DW: You'd like it.
NG: Hmm. I might ask for it for my birthday.

DW: You're 38 on Sunday, aren't you?
NG: I am 38 on Sunday. [29 May]

DW: And you're going to be on holiday. Is that right?
NG: I'm going to be in Ibiza.

DW: Is your life so much better than it was 10 years ago?
NG: Yes, because 10 years ago we were broke.

DW: Yeah, but that's not the only thing...
NG: Believe you me, it fucking helps a lot.

DW: Do you feel any guilt about being wealthy?
NG: No. Not at all. None. I was signing on 13 years ago. Absolutely no guilt whatsoever.
Charity and a caravan in Rhyl; Eminem and hoodiesIn the dressing room:

DW: Noel, you didn't feature on the Band Aid 20 record, did you?
NG: We were in LA recording the new album. You kind of get forced into those things, don't you? But there were lots of people in there that we have a problem with.

DW: Who?
NG: The Darkness. Keane. I like Bono. He's a friend of mine. I like Chris Martin. He's a friend of mine. Probably everyone else... I could pick an argument with them.

DW: Were you asked to do Live8?
NG: We can't do it. We've got a gig in Manchester that night.

DW: Would you do it otherwise?
NG: I'm not sure about this Live 8 thing. Correct me if I am wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15-minute break at Gleneagles and sees Annie Lennox singing 'Sweet Dreams' and thinks, 'Fuck me, she might have a point there, you know.' It's not going to fucking happen, is it? Keane doing 'Somewhere Only We Know' and some Japanese businessman going: 'Aw, look at him ... we should really fuckin' drop that debt, you know.' It's not going to happen, is it?

DW: I suppose it's about raising public awareness. Matt [Lucas] and I got involved with Comic Relief this year and it does teach kids that there are people in the world that are less fortunate than us. I don't think you do engage with those sort of issues unless something like music or comedy brings you to them.
NG: Yeah, I understand. If we didn't have 60,000 people in a stadium waiting for us to come and play already... It just can't happen.

DW: Did you watch the first Live Aid on telly?
NG: Yes. I watched it in a caravan in Wales - in Rhyl. And we watched it again on DVD recently, just to see [Paul] Weller really ... with fuckin' no socks on, dancing with no guitar. What struck me was that the boy bands of the day such as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran could all play their instruments. It's so far removed from the bands of today like Westlife and Boyzone, who are utter shit. I am not a fan of Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet, but now there is pop music and alternative music and there is nothing in between the two. I enjoyed Live Aid more the second time around, I think.

DW: When I worked with George Michael on Comic Relief, he said that when they were in Wham! they used to listen to Joy Division all the time. When I asked them if there was a part of them that really wanted to make that type of music he said no. He just accepted that they did one thing and Joy Division did another. Are you always looking out for new influences, or can you listen to another type of music and just leave it where it is? What about hip hop?
NG: I fucking despise hip hop. Loathe it. Eminem is a fucking idiot and I find 50 Cent the most distasteful character I have ever crossed in my life. It's so negative. Eminem's new song about his kid - isn't it the most ridiculous piece of music you have ever heard in your life? I just don't like the dragging women around on dog leads and all that stuff. I'm not fucking having that.

DW: I don't really get it either. I suppose it's a fantasy that some people have...
NG: I'm not saying they're directly responsible but that's how you end up with these fuckin' gangs of youths with hoods stabbing people. I'm not saying they need to sit around listening to 'All You Need is Love'. But kids are so fuckin' thick these days that they are very easily influenced, aren't they?

DW: What do you put that down to?
NG: I think it's a sign of parents being idiots.

DW: How old is your daughter?
NG: She's five ... going on 16. I'm kind of like most dads. I love kids, but I struggle with the responsibility.

DW: Why?
NG: Women have nine months more experience than you do - nine months to prepare for being a parent. A geezer literally gets five minutes: when the doctor comes out and says it's on the way now. Up to that point, I thought: 'There's something going to go wrong ... ', and then all of a sudden you're like, 'You fucking bastard!' So I don't give a shit what time my daughter goes to bed or what time she gets up at. As long as it's not before me, she's laughing. I think broken families do breed broken families, though. I do think my old fella wasn't much of a ... I don't remember him ever being a dad dad. He was too busy working. It was a hard life, man. And I haven't seen him in 18 years.

DW: What did he do?
NG: You'll love this: he used to put concrete floors in buildings, but in his spare time he was a country and western DJ.

DW: So you listened to that music when you were growing up?
NG: I know everything there is to know about Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Crystal Gayle ... You remember 'Don't it Make my Brown Eyes Blue'?

DW: Beautiful, isn't it?

How to write a classic song

DW: When do you think you wrote you first great song?
NG: 'Live Forever', in 1993. That changed everything. Before that everything sounded indie.

DW: You've written standards and that's something not many people get to do. By that I mean that a busker could sing 'Wonderwall' and it would still sound great.
NG: We call them one of 'those' songs and I have been lucky enough to write a couple of 'those' songs.

DW: What would you say those ones were?
NG: 'Don't Look Back in Anger'. 'Wonderwall': that's virtually every bird between the ages of 30 and 36's favourite fucking song.

DW: Do those songs come really quickly? When Matt and I write sketches the best ones are the ones we write really quickly. The worst are the ones we labour over and re-write and re-write.
NG: I've played 'Live Forever' so many times, but when I get to the guitar solo I still think, 'Fucking hell, that's pretty good, that.'

DW: I think 'Let There Be Love' from the new album might be one of 'those' songs.
NG: I'm not too sure about that one. It took me seven years to write that song. I kind of didn't want to put it on to the album as it's a ballad.

DW: I prefer your ballads. I'm not so much into the rock thing.
NG: They're easy to write. I have got half a dozen great slow, huge songs, but I kind of get bored of playing them live.

DW: How easy was it to let other people in the band write songs? You've only written five for the new album.
NG: I never sat down and decreed that suddenly everyone else was allowed to write songs. The door was always open. But for the first 10 years, everyone else was completely uninterested. I do think it is important that everybody feels that they are contributing to the direction of the band. I used to get pissed off with people going 'what a fucking wanker!'

DW: You started working on this album with Death In Vegas as producers. Were you going to make a more experimental record?
NG: I didn't want to go into the studio without a producer. When I've co-produced I've got sick of being sat at a mixing desk and the rest of the band being sat on the couch behind you being half-pissed. I thought: 'I want to be in a band. I can't be arsed being a producer any more.' Liam hates producers but he had worked with Death In Vegas on one of their records. So it was like something out of Star Wars - we had to get Liam to think that asking them to produce the record was his idea.

DW: But you scrapped those sessions?
NG: We just didn't have the songs at the time. Richard [Fearless of Death In Vegas] said that 'It's all about the vibe', but I knew the vibe would only last us about six weeks. We called a meeting to tell him, and when he walked into the pub, Liam said: 'Oh, is that my phone?', and walked off. I had to tell Richard we were going to call it a day. Told him that we needed to write some new songs - and then we weren't able to re-convene. But there's something there for a box set or something.

DW: Are you the natural leader and decision maker?
NG: I always assume that role. I'm solutions provider for this band. Liam drives it. If we were in a car, Liam would be driving and I would be reading the map. Gem, the second guitarist in Oasis, pops into the dressing room, and brews Noel a cuppa.

DW: How does he take his tea?
GEM: Two bags.

DW: Two bags?! I bet there is a bit of sugar in there as well. You're so working class!

Brotherly love

DW: You talk about your brother with more fondness than I imagined. I have only met him once and that was in the toilets at the NME awards. He came up to me talking in riddles. I couldn't work out whether he was being nice to me or horrible. At the end of it I was quite scared. Did he say anything to you?
NG: No. He's like that. He was out the other night going: 'This night is like the Passover.' He's going: 'I am you, you are me. This is like the last supper.' The other guy there was going afterwards: 'Fucking hell, this guy is a bit special, isn't he?' I thought: 'Yeah, he is, isn't he? There's another word I could use for him ... '

DW: He sounds like a holy fool. What about being the reincarnation of John Lennon, or is that just bollocks?
NG: He did once say that to me. In my mam's front room. He was talking in a Scouse accent for three days. He told me I should refer to him as John and I was like, 'I just prefer cunt, man.'

DW: Was he being genuine?
NG: No, he was just winding me up. But you say that he could have been possessed. I don't know. We kind of get on. We are the only two original members left in the band since it started. To go back to the car thing: he is always trying to drive the car above the speed limit and I'm trying to get us to where we want to be without getting killed. That's where the friction comes from.

DW: Was there a low point in your communication with each other?
NG: We were never really big communicators anyway. We're northerners. You know what they're like. They suffer in silence.

DW: Do you open up to each other emotionally?
NG: This is the closest I ever got. Over lunch in Paris two days ago. There's about 20 of us there, including people from the record company. I'm eating my French onion soup and out of the fuckin' blue, he's shouting: 'Noel! Noel! Have you ever had Viagra?' I said: 'No, I'm only 38, have you? 'Yeah.' 'When?' 'I fucking snorted a line once.' All the crew have stopped eating and are going ...

DW: 'Fucking hell.'
NG: What a weird thing to say. He's tucking in to his steak. How does the brain send a message to the mouth and go: 'I am going to ask our kid if he has ever had Viagra'?

DW: Ricky Gervais told me there's a story that Liam thinks Spinal Tap are a real band. Is that true?
NG: Yeah, he thought they were real people. We went to see them play in Carnegie Hall. Before they played, they came on as three folk singers from the film A Mighty Wind. We were laughing and he said: 'This is shit'. We said: 'No, those three are in Spinal Tap. You do know they are American actors?' 'They're not even a real band?' 'They're not even English! One of them is married to Jamie Lee Curtis.' 'I'm not fuckin' 'avin that,' he says, and walks off right up the middle of Carnegie Hall. He's never watched Spinal Tap since. He'd seen the film and loved it and thought they were a real band.

DW: I bumped into Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys the other day and told him I'd be interviewing Noel Gallagher. He said I should ask you some Smash Hits-type questions. Like, where do you buy your clothes ... what did you have for breakfast?
NG: OK, well, what did I have for breakfast? A bowl of All Bran with raisins in it, that I put in myself.

DW: Are you on a kind of health kick now? No drink and drugs?
NG: I drink. I haven't done cocaine - any hard drugs - since 1998.

DW: When was the last occasion?
NG: It was half-time in a game in the World Cup in '98. My house in the sticks had became like a fucking Rolling Stone's house - just full of people for days on end. I woke up in the afternoon from the night before and instead of having anything to eat, I had a can of Red Stripe and a line of charlie. And I had a massive freak-out and went 'That's it'.

DW: And you gave up completely at that point? You weren't going to get hypnotised by Paul McKenna [to cure your addiction] or anything like that?
NG: No.

DW: What do you make of Pete Doherty? At the NME awards Matt and I were asked: 'Pete Doherty: hero or zero'? I said: 'Let's just say hero - it's less controversial.' But then I thought I should just say: 'hero if he kicks drugs.' Would you like to see him kick drugs or do you think people would be less interested in him if he stopped taking drugs?
NG: I'd like to see him make a great record. If he makes a good record, he could sprout fucking wings ...

DW: Did you like the Libertines?
NG: I bought the Libertines albums and I thought they were a good band - but not one of the new crop have made a bona fide great fucking record. Razorlight, Franz Ferdinand ... I've seen them all and they blow me away, but not one of them has made a record that not only gets the cool kids in Camden going but also the fucking squares in Ipswich. When Definitely Maybe came out, it was right across the board ...

DW: When was the last time a new British band made a great album?
NG: I think that [Coldplay's] Parachutes is a masterpiece, although I didn't at the time.

DW: What changed?
NG: I listened to it more. And The Last Broadcast by the Doves is beyond 11 out of 10. I was obsessed by those two records for a while. But I only buy something new if a friend's recommended it.

DW: When was the last time that happened?
NG: Some bloke was trying to force me to fucking get the Robert Plant album today. He was going: 'It's really, really great', and I was going ... [laughter].

DW: When was the last time someone brought something into your life that you thought was amazing?
NG: There's a guy called Edgar Jones. He used to be in a band called the Stairs back in the Eighties. A mate of mine recommended it. It fucking bent my head, man. It's probably one of the best records I have ever heard.

DW: What's his voice like?
NG: He sings like Fats Domino. He's a white soul singer.

DW: Oh really? Like Rick Astley!
NG: What about you?

DW: I buy a fair bit. Do you download music?
NG: No, I don't.

DW: I do and it's great in a lot of ways, but bad in others because you end up not listening to enough. When I was younger I used to save up, buy an album and listen to it for about two months - and I think that was a much better way to enjoy music.
NG: You have to go to the shop and physically hand over the cash and then get on the bus and you read the sleevenotes and the lyrics before you get home. I'm against people downloading music. It's a sign of the times, but it's not the way I feel ...

DW: Do you have any guilty pleasures? Do you like acts you shouldn't like? Do you like the Pet Shop Boys?
NG: I kind of like 'West End Girls'.

DW: Do you often find yourself dancing around to an Erasure song?
NG: No.

DW: What are your feelings about Abba?
NG: I love Abba. 'Waterloo', 'SOS'.

DW: You're not bothered about what's supposed to be cool, are you? What about the Bee Gees?
NG: I love the Bee Gees, but only the pre-disco stuff. From '64 to '69, I've got all their albums.
Laughing matters

DW: [Suddenly] Do you have a Little Britain DVD?
NG: Yes, I do have a Little Britain DVD.

DW: So who do you prefer? Little Britain, The Office or Phoenix Nights?
NG: This is the great thing about British comedy, right. I'm sure this goes all the way back to Fawlty Towers, when you think: 'This can never be bettered.' Then there's The Fast Show. You think: 'That is the funniest thing ever, I cannot laugh any louder than that'; and then The Royle Family comes out and then you go 'fucking hell, man, that is the funniest thing I've ever seen'. And then comes The Office and then Little Britain.

DW: The Office is the last truly great thing. That'll take some beating. Do you and Liam go around [imitating the Little Britain characters] going 'I'm a lady!'
NG: Liam hasn't got a sense of humour, fucking full stop. Like with Peter Kay. If you're a northern guy about our age, all the reference points are spot on - you can't not like him. We were on the tour bus one night and somebody put [a] Peter Kay [DVD] on and I thought: 'This is going to be a fucking disaster.' There's a few Mancs in our crew and everyone was laughing their heads off. And Liam's just sat there going: 'He's a fucking fat cunt, fucking shit, fucking fat idiot.' So he gets up to go to the bog and someone goes: 'Why doesn't he like Peter Kay?' Because he'd been to the NME Awards when Liam won a trophy for being hero of the year - and Liam wouldn't go up and fucking collect it. He had on this big white fur coat. So Peter Kay brought his trophy over to him and went 'Ere you are lad'. And as he walks off, he goes: 'Me mam's been looking for that coat.' Fucking uproar! I was laughing like fuck.

DW: Do you have a stylist?
NG: No. Never. I remember once being in a shop in Camden and I bumped into a girl who said she was the stylist for Sleeper. And I was going: 'But they're scruffy cunts! Did they ask for that kind of look?' 'Oh yeah...' That's the lowest - if you cannot dress yourself.

DW: But today you had your picture taken by David Bailey. Did you not have a long think about what you were going to wear?
NG: No.

DW: You're that cool.
NG: It's not for me to say if I'm cool or not.

David Walliams: You're never afraid to slag other people off, but do you really hate them? Do you hate Robbie Williams, say, or just his music ?
Noel Gallagher: He's actually been involved with some good records, but he followed us around for a year. A full fucking year of shit jokes, bad clothes and no fucking crisps left in the dressing room when we came off stage. He was Liam's drinking buddy. It was like Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle. [Noel stands to imitate their dancing.] It was like [their song] 'Diamond Lights'. It got on my tits in the end. At the time of Morning Glory, he walked up to my manager and said: 'What are we doing after the gig?' We? Well, we might be going for a curry. You might be tagging along.

DW: He obviously likes you. There's nothing wrong with that.

David Walliams: Was it a proud moment when Liam was photographed with [the cartoon character] Spongebob Squarepants [at a recent film premiere]?
Noel Gallagher: I'd rather not comment on that. It'll cause absolute fucking bedlam.

DW: It's one of the best shots of the year ...
NG: He's always going on to me about his song [on the new album] 'The Meaning of Soul'. I said: 'I've seen the meaning of soul. If you holding Spongebob Squarepants' hand in a magazine isn't the meaning of fucking soul I don't know what is.'

· Oasis start their tour at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 29 June


Gem Archer - The Age - 19th June 2005


Oasis may not be setting the trends any more, but they do seem to have found their way back to a bit of form at last. Guitarist Gem Archer speaks to Guy Blackman about the new album, and life with those brothers.

Gem Archer is an affable man, cheerful and talkative, a salt-of-the-earth type with seemingly no trace of pretense or conceit. He searches during long pauses for the right words to express himself, he doesn't ramble on, and he says "you know", "I mean" and "you know what I mean" a lot. With these kinds of conversational tics he looks for understanding and approval in the listener, which is a little surprising considering that for the past six years he has been the rhythm guitarist in Oasis, a band famous for not giving a flying f--- what other people think.

Gem is a nickname, taken from '70s Scottish soccer player Archie Gemmell, and is pronounced with a hard G (Archer hates being called "Jem"). He joined Oasis in 1999, when original rhythm guitarist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs left after a series of violent altercations with brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, the band's two fractious frontmen.

During the recording of Oasis's poorly received fourth album Standing On the Shoulders Of Giants, lead guitarist and songwriter Noel had imposed a drugs-and-alcohol ban in the studio, to keep famously indulgent singer Liam away from temptation. Arthurs, however, ignored the ban and went so far as to pour wine on Liam's head while he was asleep. When Noel turned the tables and did the same thing to him, Arthurs became furious and quit, with his best friend, Oasis bassist Paul McGuigan, following shortly after.

The Gallaghers were casually dismissive of this exodus, with Noel commenting "it's hardly Paul McCartney leaving the Beatles". The British press, however, had a field day speculating who might be chosen to replace the huffily departing guitarist. Names as distinguished as the Smiths' Johnny Marr and former Jam/Style Council leader Paul Weller were bandied about, so Archer's eventual selection seemed to come out of nowhere - not least for the man himself, whose own hardly famous band Heavy Stereo had just been dropped after a flop album for Creation Records, the same label that originally signed Oasis.

"We'd done some gigs with Oasis, and I'd met Noel around town," Archer explains. "When we were supporting Oasis, Noel was always around - 'Hey, you want to check me guitars out' - and Liam would just march straight into our dressing room before we'd even hung up our jackets. That was the vibe, it was all great, but then my band got dropped by Creation.

"I'd been out of the loop for a while, I'd been staying at my mother's house because she was pretty ill at the time, and I got a call out of the blue from Noel saying, 'You wanna join?' It was as simple as that, mate."

Archer believes he was chosen more for a shared attitude and approach to life than for any special technical prowess, although the Gallaghers repeatedly referred to him, somewhat pointedly, as "professional" in the months after he was hired.

Along with Andy Bell (one-time guitarist for early '90s shoegazing poster boys Ride), who was roped in on bass, Archer entered a world of touring, media obsession and fan hysteria unlike anything he had known before. Critics have routinely panned every Oasis album since their first efforts Definitely Maybe (1994) and What's The Story Morning Glory (1995), and each subsequent release has sold somewhat less than the one before, but even a decade past their prime, Oasis are still one of the most bankable and iconic bands in pop music history.

For Archer, 38, the decision to forego his own bandleading ambitions and back up the Gallagher brothers was not a difficult one. Former Melody Maker journalist Mick Mercer once wrote that Archer has "a voice to rival Bruce Springsteen at his best", but the guitarist is happy to save his singing for the shower these days.

"Heavy Stereo was my band, and like any other band, when you're in it, it's the best band in the world," he says. "But Oasis to me actually is the best band in the world - like in italics, you know what I mean? To get to play guitar in a rock'n'roll band to this many people, to sell this many records, it's kind of indescribable really."

What surprised Oasis critics and fans alike, however, was the way formerly sole songwriter Noel Gallagher came to welcome musical contributions from his newly inducted bandmates. Standing on the Shoulders Of Giants did feature

Little James, a saccharine ode by Liam to his then wife Patsy Kensit's son with Simple Minds' frontman Jim Kerr, but 2002's Heathen Chemistry was the first Oasis album to include songs written by anyone other than a Gallagher.

Archer admits he was apprehensive about contributing songs to a band who helped formed the soundtrack to British life in the 1990s. "It was a daunting time, especially when we were gearing up towards making the last album," he says. "I still get a little bit of a flashback when I see one of my tunes in the set list, but there's also Morning Glory or Wonderwall or Don't Look Back In Anger. These are tunes that are everybody's nowadays. I think they are, safe to say, classics of our time."

The memory of Archer's over-awed first gigs with Oasis has diminished over time, as has that petrifying day in 2000 when Noel stormed off a European tour after Liam said something unpleasant about his then wife, Meg Mathews. Archer was suddenly promoted to lead guitarist and had 24 hours to learn every one of Noel's trademark solos before a gig in Barcelona. At the time Noel declared he was retiring permanently from the touring band, but he was back in the fold within six months.

These days, Archer feels like his role in Oasis is a stabilising one, and the band's website describes him as "the rock on which Oasis is built". "I suppose we all do have roles because bands need a dynamic," he muses. "In any team, in any office, in any school there's a dynamic. I'm just a calm kind of geezer. I mean, I'm passionate, but it just shows itself in different ways. 'The rock on which Oasis is built' - I wouldn't like to lay claim to that rock. I just get on with it, you know?"

The new album, Don't Believe The Truth, is Archer's second as a fully fledged Oasis member and, as with every new Oasis album, it is being hailed in record company PR as the best thing they have done since their mid-'90s heyday. "It's been 10 years since Oasis made an album that truly changed the musical landscape. Don't Believe The Truth is that album," trumpets the Oasis website, oddly enough damning the last three records to insignificance, despite hyping them in exactly the same way on their release.

"We're more proud of this one than of any album since Definitely Maybe," Noel told NME in March, toeing the familiar line. "We stuck it out, we stuck to our guns and we pulled it off."

Also in keeping with tradition is the way the Gallagher brothers have been trashing each other in print in the lead-up to the album's release. Their heated altercations over the 14-odd years of the band's existence have become the stuff of

legend, from Noel going at Liam with a cricket bat in 1995 during sessions for What's The Story Morning Glory, to the fist fight in 1996 that saw the first of many Oasis break-ups gloatingly reported in the UK press. So infamous are their arguments that in 1995 a bootleg single, comprised of taped excerpts of them having a go at each other, actually made it into the UK charts.

This latest round of insults has been as crude as ever. In a May interview in Mojo magazine, Liam called Noel "a smug c---" while Noel branded his younger brother "a f---ing idiot". Less than a fortnight ago they had a public falling out in Brussels when Noel realised Liam was drunk on stage and performing badly. "He still gets on my tits, and vice versa," Noel said to journalist Iain Shedden a few days later.

But according to Archer the brothers are getting on better than they have done in a long time. "At the minute it's great, you know," he says. Mind you, that was before Britain's Sun newspaper revealed that Liam had stormed off an Italian stage mid-concert on Wednesday.

When Noel and Liam do fire up at each other, the best thing to do is to stay out of the way, Archer says. "It's blood, you know. If the argument's about music, then you can say what you gotta say, but if it's blood, then it's nobody's place, really. You don't know what's from the past, what's from now. That's a different dynamic in itself, two brothers in a band."

Generally, though, there is a sense that Oasis are a somewhat less turbulent proposition now than ever before. Noel at 38 (he is five years older than his brother), especially, seems to have settled down. He lives with Scottish girlfriend Sara MacDonald in the rural Hertfordshire village of Chalfont St Giles, collecting guitars and sneakers and keeping out of harm's way. He claims not to have taken any drugs except lager and cigarettes since 1998, after an amphetamine-induced panic attack gave him pause for thought.

It may, however, be less a change of heart and more the years of hard living finally catching up with him. "Up here, in me head, I feel great, but I'll take the Les Paul off and ... me f---in' back," he told Scotland On Sunday last month. "There's a self-pity that comes with approaching 40. When you're 24 you're immortal, but hangovers last two days now, and when nine o'clock comes, you turn into a stupid, tired old man and look forward to bedtime."

For all their aches and pains, Oasis aren't yet ready to be put out to pasture, although Don't Believe The Truth isn't quite a return to the form and chart dominance of their youth. It's immediately recognisable as Oasis, with the band sounding raw and powerful thanks to producer Dave Sardy (who also took care of Jet's Get Born), but the bottom line is that Don't Believe The Truth contains nothing as anthemic or memorable as Oasis' mid-'90s hits. Press reaction has been cautiously favourable, but hardly ecstatic, and it seems the band has received a stay of execution rather than a full pardon for the last decade of musical misfires.

The album topped the UK charts on its release a fortnight ago and this week debuted on Australian charts at number 3, but it was roundly trounced in both territories by Coldplay's much more anticipated third album X&Y. Released in the UK a week after Don't Believe The Truth, X&Y immediately knocked Oasis from the top spot and enjoyed the best first-week sales in British chart history since, ironically enough, Oasis' grandiose 1997 opus Be Here Now. In Australia the two albums were released at the same time and X&Y reportedly quadrupled Oasis's sales.

Coldplay singer Chris Martin has always been gracious in his professed admiration for Oasis (despite Liam describing Coldplay - and U2 - as "f--ing lightweights" in the recent Mojo interview), but there's a definite sense that the musical guard changed quite some time ago. Newer bands such as Franz Ferdinand and US group the Killers also cite Oasis as a formative influence, but their nimble and spiky new wave sounds seem light years removed from Oasis's monolithic '60s rumble.

Archer, showing just a glimpse of the arrogant fire more characteristic of his monobrowed bandmates, is unconcerned with whether Oasis still have a place in the current musical climate. "You know, Oasis is just Oasis," he says firmly. "There's a lot of bands that hopefully got some inspiration from us, cause that's what it's all about, innit? But as far as fitting in - we fit out, really. We're just us, and hopefully that will continue, and people will still buzz on it, and hopefully they will fit-out too."

As if pleased to have come up with a new Oasis catchphrase, he repeats himself with finality. "We fit-out. There you go."

Don't Believe The Truth is out now. Oasis play Festival Hall on December 1.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Noel Gallagher - P3 - 9th June 2005

Part 1: http://www.savefile.com/files/253732
Part 2: http://www.savefile.com/files/253787

Thanks to 'noels_left_eyebrow' from the Masterplan forum for the upload.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Noel & Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer & Andy Bell - Prosieben - 7th June 2005

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Noel & Liam Gallagher - The Daily Telegraph - 4th June 2005

Online Link

Back in anger

Since their Brit-rock supernova lit up the world, Oasis have been on a downward spiral of drugs, divorce, punch-ups, walk-outs and, frankly, mediocre music. Ten years on, the Gallaghers are back to their swaggering best. Craig McLean meets an older, wiser Noel; Liam, meanwhile, is still just Liam.

Liam Gallagher is most emphatically Not 'Avin' It. How can Radiohead's OK Computer be the Greatest Album of All Time? 'No way, I'm not 'avin' it,' he spits as he strides around a north London photographic studio. Then he thinks he has the answer. It was Thom Yorke who cast all the votes, e-mailing them in, bash, bash, bash. 'No wonder his eye's f***in' cabbaged - all that computer voting.' And now Liam is miming someone with a lazy eye typing away like Frankenstein. Oasis laugh like drains.

It is the morning after the night before. Channel 4 has just broadcast the results of its poll to find the 100 Greatest Albums. It's another cheap marketing exercise dressed up as Sunday evening entertainment, a pointlessly subjective ranking of the usual subjects. But it's got Oasis all riled up. 'No Dylan!' Noel Gallagher splutters. 'Alanis Morissette at number 16!' he squawks in visceral outrage. 'I was embarrassed that Definitely Maybe was above [the Beatles'] Revolver.'

At 9.20am the phone had rung in the mews house in Marylebone, west London, that Noel shares with his PR girlfriend, Sara MacDonald. It was Paul Weller. He was, it seems, Not 'Avin' It either. 'How come you got two in there and I only got one?' an incredulous Modfather asked of his old mucker. Oasis had Definitely Maybe at six and (What's the Story) Morning Glory? at 15. The Jam's All Mod Cons limped in at 60. 'No Wildwood!' Weller raged. 'I'm not 'avin' it!' 'Don't blame me!' Noel shouted back. 'It was nothing to do with me!'

Then it was back to OK Computer. 'How,' Noel asks rhetorically of the small group of musicians and band associates gathered in the studio, 'can a record that I don't have, and that no one I know has, be the greatest album ever?' He hangs his mouth open, holds up his hands and furrows his caterpillar eyebrow at the illogicality of it all. He sniffs.

Welcome back, Oasis. Liam and Noel Gallagher, it's good to have you here again. We've missed you. Missed your arrogance, certainty, opinions and abusive verdicts on your contemporaries. The poetry of your hooligan swagger. The haircuts. The sunglasses, indoors, at night. The swearing (from here on, it should be assumed that any quote was originally delivered peppered with umpteen f***in's, many a f*** and the occasional C-word). And we've missed you making good records.

It has been a decade since Oasis released a decent album. After the dizzy days of Britpop and 1995's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? - the band's second - it has been a long helter-skelter decline. In a way, after their epochal 1996 Knebworth shows ('the Woodstock of its generation, although not as socially significant,' Noel adjudges reasonably) the only way was down. They have lost members, wives, weekends, entire American tours on account of bad behaviour (from Liam) or walk-outs (by Noel). For perhaps the most iconic and revered British band of the past 30 years, they have made as many poor albums as they have good ones, three apiece - and that's only if we let them count as an album the tremendous round-up of early B-sides, The Masterplan.

Noel Gallagher, chief songwriter and band leader, is well aware of this, and the reasons why. 'Be Here Now [1998] was made in a blizzard of cocaine and KFC,' he will blithely admit. 'Standing on the Shoulder of Giants [2000] was made in a haze of downers, coming off drugs, downers and alcohol.' By that time Liam and Noel were the only remaining members of the original line-up. Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs and Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan had recently left under a cloud; their first drummer, Tony McCarroll, ejected back in 1995, had sued for a share of royalties and secured a £500,000 settlement in 1999 - 'a bargain,' Noel mutters. (McCarroll's replacement, Alan White, lasted until January 2004 before he too was sacked.) Things were so bad that Noel wanted to name Standing… after one of its particularly maudlin tracks: Where Did It All Go Wrong?. Naturally, the record company wasn't so keen.

Liam, in one of his more idiot-savant moments, just didn't get it. 'Where's it all gone wrong?' he asked his elder brother at the time. Noel was gobsmacked. 'What's gone wrong? There was five people in this band last week. How many are there now? Two! That's what's f***in' gone wrong!' (For comedy's sake, that swear-word needed to remain.)

But now, finally, in 2005, Oasis are back with an album that's mostly great. Don't Believe the Truth is everything you want from an Oasis album: short, zippy, singalong rock songs. It clocks in at a pacy 39 minutes. The 'silent' wing of the band - guitarist Gem Archer and bass player Andy Bell - are, five years into their membership, contributing fine songs. And Liam, too, has written three numbers that stand toe-to-toe with those of his once-dominant elder brother.

Previously, Liam's offerings were less convincing: Little James from Standing on the Shoulder of Giants was his tribute to his then-stepson James, the child of Patsy Kensit and the Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr. It was suitably nursery rhyme-ish: 'Live for your toys/even though they make noise/have you ever played with Plasticine/Even tried a trampoline?' On 2002's Heathen Chemistry three Liam songs met Noel's critical standards. Songbird, his light but affecting tribute to his current girlfriend, the former All Saint Nicole Appleton, was even allowed to be a single.

Of course, on Don't Believe the Truth the lyrics are the usual mix of bluster and doggerel; musically, it's still meat-and-potatoes rock'n'roll. The first single, Lyla, is the latest in a long line of Noel 'steals', this time from the Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man. 'Oh, totally,' Noel says. 'I make no bones about it, I'm not here to blag [trans: con] anybody that I'm an original artist. I'm here to get people shaking their arses in a gig. He who has the best record collection makes the best records, man. That's the rule.'

Noel knows his limitations better than anyone. He might never again be able to write a song as skyscrapingly aspirational as Live Forever (completed in 25 minutes, in the span of an episode of Coronation Street). But he is back writing thumpingly infectious and hypnotically primal ones.

'I had to write Where Did It All Go Wrong? to get to the point now where I can write [the new album standout] Mucky Fingers and go, "Wa-hey, it's back!" ' Noel says. 'That's all part of the story. It's all part of the life of Oasis.'

Wheeler End Studios are 15 minutes outside High Wycombe in the affluent Buckinghamshire countryside. A farmhouse turned recording complex, it was once the property of Alvin Lee of the late-1960s blues-rock band Ten Years After. Since 1998 Oasis have leased it as their semi-permanent base. When they are not using it, they let their mates - Weller, the former Stone Roses singer Ian Brown - use it 'for free. I couldn't be arsed running it as a business,' Noel says.

He has a house five miles away in the village of Chalfont St Giles. He and his former wife, Meg Mathews, had sought rural seclusion there as a means of escaping the druggy lifestyle associated with Supernova Heights, their notorious party house in Primrose Hill, north London. When they split up eight months after the birth of their daughter Anaïs in 2000, the divorce judge let Noel keep the country home. Mathews now lives in Camden with Anaïs; Noel has regular and amicable access to his daughter, now five. (As well as the Marylebone house, Noel also owns a cliffside house in Ibiza. Previous owner: Mike Oldfield.)

The year 2000 was a tumultuous one for the Gallagher brothers. Preceding the Noel/Meg split, Liam and Patsy Kensit separated after three years of marriage and the birth of a son, Lennon. About the time their divorce was finalised, Nicole Appleton (previously engaged to Robbie Williams) became pregnant. Liam and Nicole's son Gene was born in July 2001. Further complicating the domestic picture of the younger Gallagher is the existence of a third child, Molly, now seven, whom he fathered with the sometime singer Lisa Moorish. She reportedly became pregnant a week after Liam married Patsy. She also has a child with Pete Doherty, the ex-Libertine and paramour of Kate Moss. If the ever-watchful tabloids are to be believed, Liam is not happy that while he pays £2,000 per month in child support to Moorish, Doherty's enthusiasms for crack and heroin are preventing him paying his share.

In comparison with the dizzying biological/celebrity circus surrounding his younger brother, Noel's personal life is calm. He lives quietly with MacDonald, a Scottish former public schoolgirl. Where Liam is hassled daily by paparazzi who shadow his every move and know how easily provoked he is, Noel says photographers have realised that his life and habits are boring and of little tabloid merit.

His relationship with his ex-wife - whom he met when she worked at his former record label, Creation, and about whom he wrote Oasis's biggest song, Wonderwall - is one of the few things he won't talk about. When I ask him if reports of Mathews receiving a £3 million divorce settlement are accurate, he replies that he 'doesn't want to get into' such topics 'because my daughter is old enough to read. It's such a long time ago, and it's not an issue in my life any more, and I don't want my daughter to read about her mam. That's water [that's] way, way under the bridge. Suffice to say things are pretty good. As for my daughter, f***ing hell, man: if I ever lucked out once, it's having her. She's one amazing kid. She's five going on 20 - she calls me her old man! She's showing an interest in music, which is good, and drawing and apparently writing stories - her teacher tells me she's got a very vivid imagination. And I love her to bits. But that's enough of that.'

Oasis did much of the spadework for Don't Believe The Truth at Wheeler End. The album's fresh, easy-rolling feel belies its difficult birth. Early on Noel had decided he didn't want to produce the new album, as he had done with the previous two. The responsibility had been onerous. First Oasis tried to work with the edgy dance duo Death In Vegas. But after three weeks Noel realised that the new songs weren't good enough. There was another stint in a Cornwall studio, but that didn't work either. The confusion within Oasis was evident in their muddled, lacklustre, grumpy headlining set at Glastonbury last summer.

But rumours of Oasis's death were exaggerated. Last autumn they took the radical (for them) step of recording in Los Angeles. A new producer and a new environment gave them the jolt they needed. They ended up with enough songs for a double album. Whittled down to a single disc, the limber, urgent likes of Turn Up the Sun, The Meaning of Soul and A Bell Will Ring make for a thrilling listen.

Noel has sunk into a sofa in the studio's control room. In polo shirt and denim jacket with a badge proclaiming his love for the fabled Liverpool band the La's, it's a crinkled-but-crisp-looking 38-year-old who is pointing out his home-from-home improvements. He ripped out the studio's guts and installed all the retro-looking recording equipment he has collected over the years. New floors were laid, heavy soundproofing doors hung, various awards (Brits, NMEs) poked away on a shelf, assorted plastic Yellow Submarines stuck on the walls. In the loft Noel stores his guitar collection. Two of them - a Gibson Les Paul Standard that once belonged to the Who's Pete Townshend, and a Les Paul used by Johnny Marr on the Smiths' album The Queen is Dead - are gifts from Marr, who was an early mentor to Noel.

How many guitars do you have altogether?

'Ninety-eight… 99.'

You haven't.

'I have.'

He is aware how Spinal Tap this sounds. He says, 'I have been known to say, "Don't even look at it." But since I gave up being a professional drug user, I've always got to be addicted to buying something. And guitars are my vice. And vintage Adidas trainers.'

Do you still buy them, too?

'Like a lunatic.'

How many pairs?

'Don't know. Hundreds… even my girlfriend's girlfriends come round and go, "You've got a problem." I'm like, "Think how bad I would be if I was Kylie Minogue! I'd be mental!" '

He doesn't wear the trainers, just collects them. 'I don't know what it is about my personality,' he says. 'Me missus reckons it's because we were skint when we were younger. I used to stand and look in guitar shop windows and sports shop windows, and I could only wonder about buying stuff like that.'

Noel, Liam, 32, and their elder brother Paul (a serially unsuccessful band manager) were born to working-class Irish parents and grew up in the Manchester suburb of Burnage. Music and football (they are huge Manchester City fans) were a large part of their childhood, but they were also teenage tearaways, with Noel famously admitting to a misspent youth involving petty burglary (car stereos a speciality) and common-or-garden drug dabbling (glue, cannabis, mushrooms). Their father, Thomas, was reportedly a drinker and was physically abusive. Peggy finally left him shortly before Noel's 17th birthday. Neither Noel nor Liam has had much contact with him since.

After leaving school Noel worked in the building trade before landing a job as a member of the road crew with the Manchester band the Inspiral Carpets. He toured the world with the 'baggy'-era outfit. Returning from an American trip in 1992, he found that his younger brother had formed a band. Recognising that, in his absence, 'Our Kid' had developed a unique and powerful singing voice and an undeniable rock'n'roll presence, Noel said he would join the band on the condition that he was in charge and that he wrote all the songs. So Oasis were born. Two years later they would find instant success with their scorching landmark debut single, Supersonic. Acclaim, fame and riches would start flooding their way.

A decade or so later, now that he has - as he will freely reveal - about £15 million in the bank, Noel can buy as many trainers and guitars as he likes. And cars: he has got rid of the chocolate-brown Rolls-Royce given to him after the success of (What's the Story) Morning Glory? by Alan McGee, the Creation Records boss who discovered Oasis performing bottom of the bill in a Glasgow club in 1993. Now Noel has a Range Rover and a 1966 black convertible Mk II Jaguar with 70 miles on the clock. But he still can't drive. When he was 17 and all his boy-racer mates were getting lessons, he was 'more interested in learning how to play Stairway to Heaven'.

It's a sober, cheerfully honest and thoroughly entertaining Noel sitting here on this bright late-spring evening. The last time I interviewed him, in a Glasgow hotel room, he very obviously conducted a drug deal right in front of me. Admittedly, that was 1994. Tonight, over the course of six hours he will smoke two Marlboro Lights and sup one cup of tea; he still likes a drink, but not even a beer will pass his lips even though we will eat a curry and watch the Chelsea/Bayern Munich match. Liam was supposed to be talking too, but at the last minute it was decided Liam would not be talking after all. Why?

'I don't know,' Noel shrugs. 'It gets on my tits to be honest. I don't think he can be arsed. And there's no point in the pair of us being interviewed together 'cos he just interrupts me all the time.'

But the battling brothers are getting on better than ever before. Again, it had to bottom out before it could improve. Noel walked out of an Oasis tour in Barcelona in 2000. 'That was the one time I came really close to quitting. It was just rowing for the sake of it. Just really nasty rowing. He said a couple of things that concerned… his niece, my daughter. Not that he means any of it, he's just a nasty drunk. But I thought, "I'm not putting up with that", so I nutted him. It got pretty ugly fairly quickly. I thought, "I'm not singing harmonies with that prick any more." '

Noel flew to his house in Ibiza for a few weeks. At his manager's urging he rejoined the band to play stadium shows at Wembley, Murrayfield and in Ireland. At the Wembley show I attended, Liam was drunk, buffoonish and more interested in getting girls in the crowd to show him their boobs.

Then Gem Archer and Andy Bell - who had been part of the live band, but at that point had yet to play on an Oasis album - asked when they were going to start recording what would become Heathen Chemistry. Noel said it wouldn't happen; then he thought about it. Oasis only had to make two albums to fulfil their record company contract. 'So my plan was to go back, do these two records and then [say], "Sod off the lot of you." But as it's happened, Liam's songwriting has taken over from his ego-trips and he's into it more.'

Is writing a safety-valve for Liam's madness?

'I don't know what it was, but it seemed as soon as all that shit hit the fan, maybe he started writing 'cos he thought I was gonna leave. I dunno.' It seems that Noel has never asked Liam about this. 'But it's certainly done him the power of good. Because he concentrates more on being a proper member of the band, rather than just standing outside the band, spitting: "It's all shit [spit], you're all shit [spit]." But whatever happened in his head was great 'cos we've only had one major bust-up since then, and that was over music, not petty, stupid nonsense.'
Has he cut back on his drug intake? 'I don't see him do any drugs any more. I haven't actually seen anybody… I haven't done any gear [trans: cocaine] since 1998. It was during France '98 - panic attack. I thought, "That's it, I'm not doing it any more." '

From the moment the band exploded into the spotlight in 1994 it was the combination of Liam's undiluted essence du rock'n'roll and Noel's golden way with a tune that marked out Oasis as different. They were straight-talking Northern lads with the common touch, exerting a magnetic pull over a generation; little wonder a newly elected Tony Blair was so keen to have them onside. They were football, street fashion, gang culture, hedonism, consumerism, the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and the Pistols rolled into one intoxicating whole. This engendered a fanatical following among their (largely male) fans, one that saw them through the fallow years - earlier this year, before anyone had heard a note of new music, they sold 330,000 tickets for their forthcoming UK shows in only three weeks.

Even America has gone mad for the 2005-model Oasis. The US has long taken a dimmer view of the younger Gallagher's wild behaviour. He outraged an entire television nation when he swore, threw a can of lager into the crowd and dribbled on to the stage of the MTV Awards in New York in September 1996; a week later came another 'Oasis split' rumour as Noel abandoned the tour in North Carolina. Most recently, in late 2002, the band had to cancel their last US shows after a cocaine-fuelled Liam lost his two front teeth in a brawl with some estate agents while on tour in Munich (total payments to German prosecutors for Liam's bail and fine: £210,000). And yet, and yet… this year Oasis sold out New York's Madison Square Garden in an hour, and are also playing LA's legendary Hollywood Bowl.

Noel can't quite believe it himself. But he's biding his time. He knows it could all go belly-up. He knows what his brother gets like during the course of Oasis's grinding world tours. 'When it's all going swimmingly, I can see it in his eyes: "Right, this is going too well, it's getting too boring, I'm gonna start shaking this up." So he'll start picking fights, or he'll headbutt a fan, or he won't turn up for a gig, professing to have a sore throat.' Noel, meanwhile, will just be getting on with his thing: 'drilling the band so it's like clockwork to them. Me and Liam are polar opposites.'

Does he perhaps take after your dad (an absent and abusive alcoholic) and you after your mum (a tough matriarch)?

Noel smacks his lips. 'That's exactly right, yeah. Yeah, that's it. Wait till I tell me mum that.'

Oasis have been quietly taking care of business: their own label Big Brother has been buying back from Sony the rights to their back catalogue, a future revenue goldmine. They have wound up Definitely Maybe, the company that looked after their concert activities, and started a new one, the Noise and Confusion Touring Company. 'That sounded a bit more apt.'

Noel reckons the line-up has finally solidified. 'I think if anyone left now, we'd quit.' He's hopeful that Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr's son and the drummer on much of Don't Believe the Truth, will soon join the band permanently. But he's aware that if the familiar Oasis antics start up again, Starkey might think 'sod this' and go back to his 'middle-aged' day-job with the Who.

Meanwhile Noel is keeping a watchful eye on the tabloids, aware of the likelihood of someone trying to stoke up an Oasis vs Coldplay war - as their albums come out on consecutive weeks, it would be easy to bill it as a rematch of the Blur/Oasis battle that made it on to the News at Ten in the silly summer of '95.

'I know Chris Martin quite well,' Noel says. 'The irony is that we're all massive fans - well, not massive fans of Coldplay, and I'm sure they're not massive fans of Oasis. But I buy their records and they buy ours. So I think we should be all right. Chris summed it up properly. He got a message to me: "There's no reason why soft rockers and hard rockers still can't be the best of friends." And I called him up and said, "Well, f***in' ditto." '

Other than that, there's the satisfaction of knowing Oasis have made a career-revivifying album. It couldn't have come at a better time. With their contract now completed, Oasis are the subject of some sort of record company bidding war. In 1994 they signed an initial deal for £47,000 for six albums. Reportedly this time they could get £15 million for three albums.

'It's not something I want to get involved in.

I know we don't need a record deal in England 'cos we've got Big Brother. The only thing a label in England can offer us is money, and we don't need any of that. We've got our own studio so we can finance our own records. For the rest of the world it would be essential. But I leave that to [our manager]. He's got to earn his 20 per cent somehow. But it's liberating to sit here today and know I haven't got a record deal. I like that.

'When people ask why this album took so long, I say, "Because we're lucky," ' he shrugs. 'I would fight anyone in the street to have three years to follow up Morning Glory. We rushed Be Here Now. We went on a huge tour, all fell out, then we came back. Instead of taking a year or two off, and basking in all the glory of all the records we sold and all the money that we made, instead of buying big houses, we went straight back in the studio. I'm definitely taking another three years before the next one.'

Four weeks later, Oasis play their first show since the Glastonbury debacle. It's at the Astoria, a 1,600-capacity venue in central London that is, for Oasis, tiny. The band are in cracking form. Turn Up the Sun and Mucky Fingers already sound like worthy additions to the canon. When they play Champagne Supernova, Rock 'n' Roll Star, Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger the crowd's roar almost takes the roof off. Liam wears daft half-length trousers but, being Liam, he gets away with it.

The finest of Liam's three contributions to the new album is Guess God Thinks I'm Abel. It's about Cain and Abel, with Noel cast in the Cain role; in the Old Testament, Cain kills Abel. The opening line of the song is, 'You could be my lover'. Noel is gobsmacked by how good it is, slightly weirded by that first line, and bewildered by the thought of how Liam might have come up with the song in the first place. 'I can't for the life of me believe he sits down and reads the Bible and thinks, "I'll write a song about that," ' Noel says. Liam, after all, once said he has read only one book in his life, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

In the north London studio, I had asked the singer about Guess God Thinks I'm Abel. Where had the inspiration for it come from?

Liam looked at me with his big-lidded, soulfully belligerent eyes and shrugged. 'Dunno. It just came.' Then his eyes lit on Gem Archer sitting across the table. The guitarist had plucked a kiwi from the fruit bowl and was teaspooning its green flesh into his mouth.

'What's that?' Gallagher junior asked. He had seemingly never seen a kiwi fruit before, and now couldn't believe the hassle involved in eating one. It's hairy? You need a teaspoon? You've got to scoop sticky stuff out?

Liam Gallagher snorted. He didn't care how much vitamin C there was in a kiwi fruit. 'I'm not 'avin' that,' he said, and reached for a good old-fashioned banana.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Noel Gallagher - Channel 4/4music Presents Oasis - 3rd June 2005