Noel Gallagher - Musician - July 1996
Noel, of course, knows he's right. He knows it when he stops and restarts his solo acoustic version of "Wonderwall" in the middle of the first verse because some joker is shining a flashlight into his eyes. He knows it when his acoustic version of "Whatever" morphs into a bright-eyed "Octopus's Garden" (at soundcheck, it turned into "All The Young Dudes"). He knew it the night before when a sold-out crowd in the jaded music town of Seattle held lighters aloft and sang every word. And he knew it the night before that in Vancouver when, after someone threw coins, the band left the stage only four songs into the set -- end of show.
In the summer of 1994, when Oasis sat down with Musician for their first American interview, just before releasing their debut Definitely Maybe, they were feeling most self-assured, and songs like "Live Forever" and "Slide Away" backed up those feelings. But, we asked, what if America just doesn't get it? "If they don't get it, then we come back, and we come back, and we come back again until they do fookin' get it," shrugged Noel. "Our music doesn't belong to England or to any particular time or place. I know that if Definitely Maybe doesn't get them, then the next one will. And if not, then the third one. Oasis will be where it's meant to be."
Two years later, Noel Gallagher is sitting in rainy Seattle. "It's too bad 'Live Forever' and 'Slide Away' didn't get the exposure they deserved," he reflects, his face widening into a big cheeky grin. "But we came back with 'Wonderwall' and 'Champagne Supernova' and, lo and behold, yet again, I was right! It's a pisser being right all the time -- it bores the tits off me!"
It's been a big year for Oasis -- disrupting Engladn's Brit Awards ceremony (where they also won Best Album, Best Video and Best Group); seeing the very band who inspired them to form, the Stone Roses, break up; and, not least, becoming certifiable rock stars in America. With (What's The Story) Morning Glory? sitting in the Billboard Top Ten, a sold out tour in progress, and a promising gang of new English bands arriving in their wake, Noel Gallagher, Oasis' songwriter and driving force, sat down with Musician to take stock.
Musician: First of all, the Stone Roses.
Noel: Yeah, we're all shocked. I feel sorry for the fans because so many people believed in the band -- I know we did. Actually, a lot of our road crew used to work for them -- we're all from Manchester so we heard about it before it came out in the papers. It's too bad.
Musician: How about Pulp's Jarvis Cocker invading the stage during Michael Jackson's performance at the Brits -- is he guilty or innocent?
Noel: Totally innocent, man! Jarvis is a star! I mean, all he did was get up on stage and get his belly out, but in England people thought it was so shocking. It's not as if he cracked [Jackson] on the head with a baseball bat -- which is what I woulda fookin' done if I'd gone up there.
Musician: You were quite misbehaved yourselves at the Brits -- swearing, mock shoving awards up your ass, calling Michael Hutchence a "has-been." Have you taken heat for this?
Noel: Oh yeah. The music press thought we were great, but the national newspapers said we were a disgrace to our country. Which is fine by me, because our country is a disgrace to us.
Musician: You're still doing your solo acoustic sets live. Any friction from the rest of the band?
Noel: Plenty of it, but who cares? Everybody knows it's all about me [laughs]. It's just a nice break in the set, it gives people's ears a rest.
Musician: You've been touring constantly, and that can take its toll on a band. How does Oasis keep it together on the road?
Noel: We've never known anything else. We were always on the road, even before we got signed. Having time off is what would probably destroy this band. We had a month off recently and it was like [sighs], "What are we gonna do?"
Musician: Spend some of your money perhaps?
Noel: Yeah, but what on? I've got everything I want. I could only go and buy two of everything now -- that just gets boring.
Musician: The first time we spoke, you seemed pretty intent on becoming the biggest band in the world.
Noel: Well, we're certanly not the biggest yet -- we're in the top five. But to be the biggest, you've got to be big in America. So it's good to see people outside of England digging the music. The best thing about it is when we go back home and all these shitty little indie bands who hate us back in England actually have the audacity to come up to you when you're out in a club. They say, "How's it goin'?" and I say "Great." And then they go [affects empathetic voice], "Tch, you know what, man? I'd really hate to be in your position, man. I mean, your life must be really hard." And I'm thinking, what? You sell two fookin' records in Gloucester, and you're telling me you'd hate to be in my position? I've got a fookin' Rolls-Royce and a fookin' bastard mansion, and an airplane and you'd hate to be me? Ha, not as much as I'd fookin' hate to be you, you daft cunt -- living in a fookin' squat with your bird and a fookin' dog! Yeah, being a multi-millionaire is a big, bad pain in the ass, man -- you wouldn't want to wish that on anybody.
Musician: There was a lot of talk in both the American and the English press about whether Oasis would be the one British band that finally breaks through in America. Do you feel as though you've won a race of sorts?
Noel: No. The English press actually put a lot of pressure on us. And if it didn't happen, we'd have been considered a failure. We never said' "We're gonna go out there and conquer America." All we said we'd do is just go there and play and if it happens, it happens. And now all these badns are saying, "It'll be easy for us to go to America now because you've opened the door." I'm saying, "No, you've got it all wrong, mate." It doesn't fookin' work like that, man -- you've got to be good. Americans aren't interested in fashion -- they'reinterested in music. If you've not got good songs, forget it.
Musician: You've mentioned guitar lessons recently?
Noel: I've been learning a bit off my mate [Paul Weller]. I'm getting better, I feel. I'm really a rhythm guitarist -- I never wanted to be a Slash. I wanted to be Bonehead, but he can't play lead guitar to save his fookin' life. So it was like, "You can't play lead guitar? Well, I suppose I better do it then."
Musician: Alan White replaced Tony McCarroll on drums last year. How did you find him?
Noel: I was up at the Manor when Paul Weller was recording Stanley Road and got to talking with his drummer, Steve White who, it turns out, had a younger brotherr who also played drums. I asked Steve if he was any good and he said, "Well, I taught him myself." So that was that. I was really down to my last straw with Tony -- he was really pissing me off. I mean on a song like "Wonderwall" Tony would never in a million years have been able to drum like Alan did.
Musician: I certainly don't recall Tony ever using brushes.
Noel: Yeah, to fookin' sweep up, maybe!
Musician: What are your plans for the next album?
Noel: I'd like to get away from the wall of sound guitars. We did Morning Glory in 15 days. We were in and out -- a track a day. So I'd like to do, like, a track a month on the next album. We'll record each track as we normally would but then we'll hang the drum kit from the fookin' ceiling, stand outside in a cardboard box playing the guitar part and shit like that, just to see what it sounds like, then piece it all together and see what we come up with. I'm hoping for a cross between Revolver and the White Album -- that would be ideal.