Noel and Liam Gallagher discuss fame, drugs and their third album, in this 1997 NME feature
Do you still plan to have a sabbatical from Oasis after this album?
“Yeah, it’s going to take two years to tour this record. After that I want to sit in my studio for a year and take a year to demo the next one. It’s going to take longer because I’ve still got a bit to prove to everybody, ’cos I don’t think I get the respect I deserve. People think I just sit there and listen to a load of Mott The Hoople B-sides and then write a song. It ain’t like that. I’d like to do something mindblowing, which I think I’m getting near to on ‘…Know What I Mean?’, I want to take that further. It’ll take a year to write it and a year to record, if it all goes to plan. We are, however, past masters at kiboshing the best-laid plans.”
What about cracking America, though, is that still on your agenda?
“It’s not going to go away. I’ll play anywhere if I’m wanted. We’ve sold four million records there but that isn’t cracking America. I’m not really sure I want to. I was looking at U2’s tour dates of America – they’re doing 60 gigs! 60! If that’s what it takes, then they can keep it. People in this band complain about Americans, but you don’t have to talk to them. Just play the gig and fuck off. We’ll go there and play to the people who want to see us, but I wouldn’t want to spend eight months of a year there. I miss England too much. I miss London too much.”
“Oh it’s home now, I’m afraid. Everyone that I know is down here now, even some of my old mates have moved down now. We’ve got a little Mancunian corner of North London. You’ll have noticed it, it’s the area with no hubcaps on the cars!”
What other music excites you at the moment? Have you heard any new groups that you like? “Travis. The Verve are like a new band to me now. I loved A Northern Soul and now they’re back they’re like a new Verve. That single is amazing, I must have played it about 20 times in a row when I first heard it. Wait until you hear the next one, ‘Drugs Don’t Work’! Mind-blowing! I’ve seen Travis four times, and usually I only go see bands once, but they’re very good.”
Have you heard Embrace, the outside bet to challenge your ascendancy?
“I have heard Embrace, yes. The cunt wants to take singing lessons. I like the new tune, ‘One Big Family’, that’s good, but the first one was shit. He was going on in the papers about how ‘When Noel Gallagher hears this single he’ll be in the studio until Christmas.’ Well, I heard it and it’s shit.”
And thereby hangs a tale. He actually meant, “All You Good Good People”, which was originally a limited-edition single on Fierce Panda and which is due for general release later this year.
Some have alleged that its design and chorus bears a resemblance to “D’You Know What I Mean?”.
“Oh really? Well, maybe he’ll have to go back into the studio to sort that one out now. I look forward to meeting them. There’s two brothers in the band, isn’t there? Well, we invented that, mate. It ain’t fair on the other bands, though, because when you read a review of Embrace, Hurricane #1 and Cast you just look for how many times the name Oasis appears somewhere in there.
“I can see why Embrace or whoever feel like having a pop because it’s pushed in their face all the time. When we started, everyone was going on about Blur. We were like, ‘Fuck them cunts! They’re shit!’ I suppose it’s the same for Embrace. I’d like to see them and see what they’re about. ‘Last Gas’, the singing wasn’t much cop and the guitar was a bit heavy metal, but I like ‘One Big Family’, [starts singing] ‘We got family’, it’s good, yeah. We’ll see, eh?”
And with the new pretenders to the throne dealt with, a shadowy courtier appears at the door, points at his watch and raises two fingers ominously. Gulp.
Don’t you ever wish you were anonymous and could leave all this baggage behind for a while?
“No. Imagine if I went to the supermarket wearing a big hat, a wig, a false moustache and I was looking through the Pot Noodles and someone went, ‘Excuse me, aren’t you that bloke from Oasis?’ And you’re in disguise going, ‘Shhrrrupp!’ ‘It is you, isn’t it, what are you doing wearing that moustache?’ How embarrassing would that be? To be like Michael Jackson and have to wear a teddy bear’s outfit and people would still be going, ‘Mike! Oi! Oright?’ I can walk straight down Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon and have to sign no more than 10 autographs. Who wants to be anonymous anyway? I was anonymous for 24 fucking years anyway.”
How are the other three in the band?
“Anonymous. Lucky bastards. Guigsy’s married, I think he’s having a kid. Shotgun wedding, if you ask me. Er, Bonehead’s having another kid. If it’s a boy they’re going to call him King, so that way he’ll be King Arthurs. Imagine that at school!
“Bonehead is a bit gutted now because he’s the only one who lives in Manchester still, but we’re trying to coax him down here. Everyone’s in very good spirits, still the biggest fans of our band.
“Those American gigs were good and reminded us just how much we love playing our songs. Our Kid was great. He phoned me up all nervous and I said to him, ‘If you’re having trouble singing just have some black coffee and it’ll open the muscles in your throat.’
“He phones me up in my room later and goes, ‘I’m really nervous, man, I feel really worried.’ I’m like, ‘It’s good to be nervous before a gig.’ He goes, ‘No, man, not bothered about that, I think I’ve drunk too much coffee, man.’ He thought he’d OD’d on it! Stupid cunt had six espressos one after
Another cough from outside and Noel winks.
“That’s my signal. I’ll have to get off or I’ll miss me train to Paris, and I don’t want to do that, I’m looking forward to our night out too much.”
And with a firm handshake and a final gulp of Hooch, he and his minders are away. Who knows what shape he and his band will be in next time they pass this way? Will they have conquered the world, or will they have imploded? Either way Noel Gallagher will remain a mover, a charmer and a genius. Tiny feet, though.
“Yeah, and you know what they say about small feet.”
Oh yeah. Small feet, big tunes.
Order a copy of Uncut’s Oasis Ultimate Music Guide while stocks last…
The November 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on The Specials, plus Bon Iver, Bob Weir, Shirley Collins, Conor Oberst, Peter Hook, Bad Company, Leonard Cohen, Muscle Shoals, Will Oldham, Oasis, Lou Reed, Otis Redding, Nina Simone, Frank Ocean, Michael Kiwanuka and more plus 140 reviews and our free 15-track CD
Uncut: the past, present and future of great music.