NME Article

NME: "I See It As Three Albums, And That's It"


That, apparently, is NOEL GALLAGHER's verdict on the lifespan of Oasis, Number One pop group and headline Glastonbury act. In an exclusive pre-Glasters interview, Ted Kessler hears about Noel's wish to give up writing lyrics, leaving the band and his run in with Gilbert O'Sullivan's wife.

The rest of the band have nipped out for a spin in the company car. Down the shops, maybe. Could be on course for a brew a little later in a public house near Newport. Maybe they'll catch a film, if they've got time, or go browsing for fresh literature in the town's comprehensive WH Smith. Whatever, they've got the motor and Noel hasn't.

They've got wheels and he's got the phone. The bastards... "Yeah, bastards," he mutters into the receiver. "Total f--ing bastards, all of them. Some bright c-- thought it would be a good idea if they rented us a car while we make our album 'cos we're stuck in the middle of Wales with f-- all to do. Yeah, like, cheers but that was the f--ing point! We're here to make an album not ponce about in Newport looking in shop windows all day.

"And you should see the state of the f--ing car, man! I tell you, that car has arrived at this studio from every angle possible apart from by road! Over fields, through barn doors, the lot. I dunno. Bastards..."

Noel Gallagher's actually in a very good mood considering everyone's dumped him. He's recently gorged himself on the triumph of Oasis' Number One single, 'Some Might Say', and bathed gloriously in the fulsome praise meted out to his group by their fanbase at a massive gig in Sheffield and also at a smaller more select affair in Southend. But he hasn't got any time to hang around backslapping, pal. No, too many songs to write, too many gigs to play, too many things to do before he can indulge himself that much.

Except he can't get working because those bastards have taken the company car for a spin. So he'll just do this interview and then he'll nip down to the studio and see if he can whack some more stuff down. If new drummer Alan White has bailed out of the shopping/drinking/crashing expedition then he could even lay down a drum track for another song. Hmmm... plenty to do, plenty to do.

But first the NME. Good. There's loads of stuff he wants to share with the outside world: stuff about the new album 'Morning Glory' and Oasis' impending starring role at Glastonbury, stuff about his friends (Weller, Black Grape) and rivals (Bowie, Bon Jovi), stuff about the politics of being the most important man in Oasis, stuff about Camden, and stuff about Morrissey, Tricky and Gilbert O'Sullivan, of course. And he hasn't had a proper rant since he stumbled up to bed a good 12 hours ago.

So what are you waiting for, man. Why don't you start with that much rumoured bust-up in he studio a few weeks ago...

"I did walk out of the studio, yes. We'd put six tracks down, I was working 18 hours a day at the time in the studio and I came back one night and half of f ing Monmouth were in my f ing room. I'm well up for a bit of partying but all these people were there and I was 'who are you and what are you doing in my studio?'. "They said that Liam and Bonehead had invited them. So I went back down to the studio and all these people were running around playing with the guitars. I don't mind but they cost thousands of pounds each so I told them to get out!

"I found the others and I said 'We're here to make a record not National Lampoon's Animal House. I'm off to Jersey for a couple of weeks, go and sort yourselves out'. They freaked but I had to remind them that we were working."

You've done that before, though. Don't they ever think sat you might not come back?

"No, right, there, see, that's it. They know I'll come back. One day I will go and I won't come back, though. I don't see this Thing going on forever, even though tons of people do. I don't see it going past... I see it as three albums and that's it. That's it.

"I don't think I can do any more with Oasis after that. I think a band like us will have run our course after that. There's by so many anthems you can write, you can't write that many really. You've got to step up and change or step back a bit and change. I don't know for sure but I'd say the next one will be last one. I hope not, but that's the plan. I've no idea what I'd do then. Sell shoes probably."

If John Major was to award you an MBE - like Wilson did The Beatles - when you do split up, would you accept?

"Yeah, I would because you could probably flog it. I'd accept but I'd rather he offered me a place in the f ing cabinet. Minister For Rock! They've got a Minister For Sport but who gives a f-- about sport, all that bollocks, running around in shorts and that! F-- that nonsense! I could be the Minister For Rock. Just see myself in The House of Lords falling asleep and dribbling.

"One thing that is good about sport and that's football. And the best thing about football is that United lost the championship because I f ing hate them. We were here watching them lose it and it was a monumental occasion. When I was down in Jersey I stayed at Graham Le Saux's and had my photo taken with the championship medal. F--ing great! It's going to be a postcard to all my Man United mates."

How's the album coming along?

"It's going sky-rocketing upwards. Well, no, but it is going better than I expected. It's going really well. We've done ten songs, written two since we've been here and I think we've actually got more stuff than we need for the album. But it's going well.

"We had (Alan) McGee on the phone about it the other day and he wouldn't get off the bloody thing. He was f--ing wetting himself about it, thought it was bloody amazing. And you know us, we're not exactly short on self-belief but it is much better than the last one. Everyone who's heard it says that as well, and I don't think it's just arse licking I wouldn't want to knock the last one, it's still Top 20, still f--ing selling, but the new one's better."

How does it differ from the last one?

"I think the sound of 'Definitely Maybe' was a bit one-dimensional, everything was the same tone and wack it up to ten and off we go. There are a few songs on the new one that could've gone on 'Definitely Maybe' but overall I think there's a lot more variety in the songs and a lot more going on generally."

Do you do much singing?

"I do sing several, er, numbers. And I sound pretty good, too."

How does Liam take it?

"On the chin. No, but I like to sing. I like to sing a few songs on every record we make. There's one that I sing which is the first I've ever done with a full band. It started out as an acoustic number but I made them play it as a proper band song. Well, bribed them, actually, but..."

Why don't you take a little holiday? Why the rush to play more gigs and record all the time?

"Ha! Thing is, I've always thought that, as a fan myself, you get all these bands who get a bit of success and then they go and have a year off! Why?! There's all these bands who go, 'Oh, we're having a year off to get our heads together, to find some f ing perspective or something', and then they come back and they find that music's moved on so much that the place that they left has vanished and gone forever.

"So my plan was always that once we got to some place we'd just keep at it while we were on a roll. I mean, I'm only 28, I can take a year out when I'm 38. Plus, we get bored after a week or so. What are we going to do? Lie on a beach, watch f--ing telly? I don't think so. We either put out loads of records and do loads of gigs or we couldn't do it at all. Who wants to be a myth? It's either put up or shut up with our band."

How's the new drummer?

"Oh, f--ing hell! Brilliant, man. He does it all in one f--ing take, do you know I mean? Alan White, he's alright - as he's now known. When we got rid of Tony (McCarroll) we didn't have a replacement drummer and everyone was going, 'You idiot, what are you going to do about the album?' because it was just before we were meant to start recording. And I was the only one who'd heard the songs because we don't do demos or any of that shit and I knew, well, I like Tony: as a geezer but he wouldn't have been able to drum the new songs. People can say, 'Oh you didn't give him the chance', and I didn't, but, well, call me a c if you want,"

You were reported as saying once that it was you five or nothing, though.

"No, no, no, no, our press officer said that. I never said that. 'Oasis exist as a unit.' Do they f-- , man! Everyone's dispensable! Too f--ing right, might even fire meself one of these days. "

Are you looking forward to another messy Glastonbury?

"Too f--ing right, but shame about The Black Crowes. You can't get much worse than Black Crowes as a support, can you? Apart from f--ing Suede or someone like that, but The Black Crowes are pretty bad enough. Still, eh, what an act to follow! Ooooh, the pressure's on boys! Personally, I'll be trying to catch some of these new bands I haven't seen yet. I'll be stood by the NME stage with me arms folded, scratching me chin, going 'mmmmmmm...'

"I'd like to see Elastica, never seen them, and I've seen Gene once, they were... sort of alright. I'd like to meet some bands, too, but they're always scared of us. You put your hand out to shake their hand and they look at it as if it's got one of those joke electric buzzers. It's like, 'Pleased to meet you, got to go and mow my lawn now, mate.'

"But I am looking forward to seeing Roger Daltrey And Friends, the cheesy c--! Apparently, Gilbert O'Sullivan is playing. He is! I've just been down in Jersey for a week and I was walking around the town centre and this young girl comes up to me and asks for my autograph and she says, 'I'll see you at Glastonbury'. And she's only a kid, so I say, 'Are you going?' And she says, 'My dad's playing. Yeah, my dad, f--ing Gilbert O'Sullivan!' l "I was, like, 'That old c--?' And her mum grabbed me arm and said, 'Easy, that's me husband!' Maybe he's one of Daltrey's friends, poor sod."

Would you blow Glastonbury out for Bon Jovi if he said come and co-headline with me for three nights?

"He did, actually. We turned him down. Turned loads down, actually. Turned down Bon Jovi, turned down The Rolling Stones at Wembley, turned down the David Bowie world tour. The only thing we're committed to is the REM show.

"We could've done them, too, I think everyone expected us to do The Stones shows, and I personally wanted to but it would've held up the album too much. But the Bon Jovi show, well, nah, it's not worth the humiliation. I like him as a bloke, but his group... and as for Bowie, well, 20 years ago maybe but not now. He's just an old git."

That's what some say about your mate Paul Weller, though.

"But he's a good old git. People think he's some deep god, but he's a moany old bastard. He's like Victor Meldrew with a suntan. He's a nice bloke, I love him like the day is long and he's so honest. Too honest maybe. But I was shitting myself when I played with him on The White Room, bricking it. Still, must've been as bad for him as it was for me. It was probably an honour for him to play one of my songs for a start, let alone do it on TV.

"The weird thing is that because we've got so many young fans, they were coming up to me asking who that old bloke playing with us on piano was! We're going, 'That, right, that's f--ing Paul Weller!' They're going 'What does he do?' Then you realize these kids are II, 12 and they've never heard The Jam. So you put them on your knee and go, 'Let's go back to 1976, there you go!' "

Have you heard the Black Grape stuff?

"F--ing great! Bonkers! Have you heard that song? I hadn't heard it before Top of The Pops the other night, but I was sat there with my hand over my mouth. I couldn't believe it! It's such a great record because the music's so f--ing out there. I thought he must have been singing live because of the vocals and that, but he wasn't. What a performance! Them and Pulp, I mean Pulp were brilliant. That 'Common People' should've been a Number One any week. The lyrics are hilarious, I think he's a top guy."

What have you been writing about?

"Same old shit, really. I want to give up, actually. I hate writing Lyrics. Hate it, hate it. Don't like it at all. It's a problem. When we came up to the studio I had all these songs written and they were all arranged, they all had melodies but I just found myself repeating myself over the things I wrote on 'Definitely Maybe'. It's becoming a pain in the f--ing arse, so, if there's anybody out there who's got some lyrics they don't want, give them to me. Feel free."

You sounded a little miserable on the B-side of 'Some Might Say', 'Talk Tonight'.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm a miserable twat sometimes. See, all the stuff on 'Definitely Maybe' was written when we didn't have a record deal and I wasn't writing with anything in mind, I was just writing. But now when I write sometimes I think of what all the people in brackets are going to read into it. I know I shouldn't but I can't help it. Now we're a business thing we're not as happy-go-lucky as we used to be."

Do you feel under pressure?

"Yes, I do. But it's only internal pressure because of the standards that I set, it's nobody else that puts me under pressure. I don't give a f-- if anybody likes it, I don't care if it gets slagged off. That's not why I'm in it. Any journalist can pick holes in the new record if they like but the thing is that it won't come out of the studio if I'm not happy with it. You lot could love it, McGee, our kid, anyone, but I have to like it, too. Otherwise you'll never hear it. Once it's in the shops you can rest assured that I'm happy, you can slag it off then because that's what people do, innit?"

What are you listening to at the moment?

"'Stanley Road', obviously. 'Common People' by Pulp. Black Grape. 'Staying Out For The Summer' by Dodgy. I'd like to hear the Tricky album because I met him the other night and he was trying to get work off us. He was going (adopts heavy West Country accent) 'we should work together us because we've both got the same enemies!' I was going, 'F--ng speak for yourself, I haven't any enemies, everybody loves me, mate!' It was at the Massive Attack show and he was saying we should be doing some stuff together, I said, 'Sure, if you've got the stuff, I've got the razor blade and mirror.' But he meant music, unfortunately. I'd love to hear this Bjork song called 'Definitely Maybe'."

You mean 'Possibly Maybe'.

"So we can't sue her? Oh bollocks. I haven't been listening to that much contemporary music for ages and ages. Too busy making me own."

Where are you living?

"Camden, but not through choice. I'd rather not be there but we had to get out of Johnny Marr's house because he sold it, the f---ng bastard. How dare he sell it, where am I going to go? So I'm in Camden, even though I don't really want to be there. But it was me birthday the other day and I was walking up the street and I bump into f--ing Morrissey! And I'm thinking, 'I've slagged him off in the past and he's going to fill me in here!' He's about six foot, f--ing enormous and I'm only a skinny c-- drug addict and he's going to kung-fu kick me in the chest! I thought he was going to batter me!

"So we walk past each other and sort of go '...Alright, Alright. And we stopped and had a bit of a chat. And it was alright until he went, 'Do you live around here?' So I tell him where and then he notices I've got this huge bag of booze and he goes, 'Are you having a party?' And I go 'Yeah, it's my birthday' and I was thinking to myself, 'Oh God, I can feel myself inviting him to my party, oh no!' And you know what it's like when you can feel yourself inviting someone along somewhere when you know you shouldn't? It would've freaked me mates out if he'd turned up.

"But I could feel the words coming out anyway, I'm thinking don't do it, don't do it but I'm saying, 'Why don't you come along?!?' And he goes, 'Well, what time should I be there', so I go home and start thinking I'm going to have to call the f ing thing off. Nothing for it. Next thing this card appears through the letterbox from Morrissey saying, 'Sorry, I can't make it, but give us a ring if you want to go shoplifting'.

"He was alright considering I'd proper slated him. I would've nutted him if it had been the other way. Maybe. Yeah, nice bloke. Sarcastic little c-- but I can dig that...

"On I go now, please? I'm dying to play some guitar, man, dying. Yeah, loads to do now those bastards have pissed off in the car. Loads. So, can I go please?"

Seems like a fair request from the little guy with the big eyebrows, so we bid him farewell and good luck with his 'Morning Glory'.

The next time any of us see him will probably be onstage at Glastonbury on Friday night, or failing that you might see him standing cross-armed by the NME stage checking out the opposition. If you do see him and your name happens to be Gilbert O'Sullivan, please introduce yourself. Noel would love to catch your act.


NME; 24 June, 95
author: Ted Kessler

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