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Noel Gallagher: "You Have To See Us in a League With the Rolling Stones"

On the eve of Oasis' tour with Ryan Adams, the songwriter talks drugs, violence and the secret to his success

November 26, 2008 8:52 AM ET

Oasis are celebrating the holidays by hitting the road for a North American tour, which kicks off December 3rd in Oakland, California. There's much to be festive about: the band put out their finest album in a decade in Dig Out Your Soul and guitarist/songwriter Noel Gallagher has fully recovered from being attacked on stage in Toronto in September.

You've said yourself that you don't really need hits in America. Why do you still tour here?
I like the vastness of this country. In between each city when you're on that tour bus some of the stuff you see is stunning. It just took me awhile to understand the corporate nature of the music business over here. I never really understood why I would have to get up at nine o'clock in the morning, go down and see the guy who owned the local record shop and meet his fucking wife and fat kids.

What do you think the band has offer to an American teenager who is seeing you for the first time?
Nothing. Don't come and see us if you're expecting anything. I can't offer anybody anything apart from the music that's coming out of the speakers. And if they listen to that and they find some meaning in the songs, good for them.

OK, so you're not a spokesperson. What does the band have to offer?
Power. Musical power. Volume. Impeccable shoes. I speak for myself, by the way.

You and your touring partner Ryan Adams are both pretty opinionated guys with healthy egos. Do you get along?
Well, I'm pretty and he's opinionated. I got a lot of respect for the man. He's a great guitar player. He's a little eccentric. He wears stripy socks and platform shoes, but not everybody's perfect. I wouldn't be on tour with him if I didn't like him.

What did you find out about that guy who attacked you in Toronto?
Nobody knows why he did what he did. There's a legal case going on so they tell me I'm not supposed to talk about it. I'm sure the footage on YouTube says enough.

Has that kind of thing happened to you before?
No. I've never been violently attacked. Maybe by my girlfriend a couple of times when I stayed out later than I should've.

How did it affect you, other than...
Other than the fact that I got three broken ribs and I had five weeks off? Do you mean I wake up sweating in the middle of the night and think the guy stood over me? That kind of shit? Oh, no, not in the fucking slightest. It's a meaningless act. Something always happens to me on Oasis tours. I was in a car crash. If it's not that, it's getting fucking busted. If it's not that, it's coming down with some ancient fucking disease that's not been got by anybody for the last 600 years.

Is there something in particular that you'd like to achieve with this tour?
Five million dollars. Besides that, not really.

Have you pulled out any songs that you haven't played in awhile?
Yeah. "Slide Away," "The Masterplan," "Supersonic." We're not going to turn any new people on to Oasis. Oasis is a band that you either get it or you don't. Everybody knows who we are. You have to see us in league with the Rolling Stones now. Everybody's heard of the Stones, everybody knows what they sound like, everybody knows what they do. You either go because you like it or you don't. It's easy.

There was a time when the band didn't seem to be enjoying themselves in concert that much.
Well, I'm not sure about that. There was a few years where I really should've traveled the world with my girlfriend and shit like that but we decided to carry on putting out records. But I love being on stage. It's the one place where there's no bullshit. Don't get me wrong: It looks like I'm having a bad time. But that's because I'm not a fucking asshole that feels like I have to talk to the crowd every two minutes or put on a big smile or run up and down the stage like an idiot. I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it.

What gets you off at a show?
If I'm singing well and I'm playing well, then that's enough for me. Obviously there are nights where you go off stage and think, "Well, that was a bit fucking shit" because there were technical problems. But I can assure you this: I am fucking brilliant every night I go out there. I could give a fuck about anybody else in the band. They look after themselves. But I am always cooking on a solid eight-and-a-half out of 10.

What do you do to do that?
I'm afraid I was born with it. It's not something you go out to Wal-Mart and buy. "Can I buy some brilliance please?" They don't sell that shit over the counter. You either got it or you don't.

How do you get back the high that drugs gave you?
Drugs brainwash you into thinking you can't survive without them. I was never in a mess mentally or physically. I have the constitution of a large ox. If anything, it was the people that I had surrounding me that were very uncool. I never needed to be on drugs. I just wanted to be on drugs because it was fucking brilliant. But then there came a point where I didn't want this anymore. So I wanted to be straight. And then there comes a point where you maybe want to be somewhere in between, which is where we're at now I think.

That you're able to take them occasionally and it's fine?
Well, I wouldn't say I take them at any point. But when I gave them up I gave up drinking and everything. But now I drink like a fucking fish and I smoke like a chimney. I've always been a magnificent drunk. I've been told by hundreds of people I'm actually a better person when I'm drunk.

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Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

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