When Oasis debuted in America in August of 1994 with the LP Definitely Maybe, the Manchester band came out with guns blazing. The quintet brimmed with an arrogance that the world was theirs for keeps. Five records in, while recording current LP, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, founding members Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs and Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan split the group to spend time with their families. But upon recruiting guitarist Gem Archer (of Heavy Stereo) and bassist Andy Bell (of Ride), main man/songwriter Noel Gallagher brimmed with optimism for Oasis’ future.
In the last few months, things have gone awry. Though words between Noel and singer/brother Liam have been well documented in the British tabloids in the past, this time, the band’s future was brought into question when Noel left Oasis’ world tour in May in Spain, issuing a statement he would never tour outside Britain again. Meanwhile, Liam was forced to face a very public split from his wife in the papers. And finally, the band came under intense scrutiny after pulling out of the Danish Roskilde Festival, and recent tours in Europe ended in disaster, with the band walking off stage at two separate gigs after being pelted with garbage.
With the future of the band uncertain, Noel Gallagher took time out at Britain’s Reading festival to discuss Oasis’ tenuous future.
So, what is going on with Oasis?
We had a bit of a fall out in Barcelona. Not about anything particularly important, but we decided that for the good of the tour I would go home and they’d get a replacement to stand in. After that, the gigs we’ve done in England have been great. But you know we’re not really sure what’s happening next year or the year after, so as soon as we know what we’re gonna do, we’ll let everyone know. We’ll put everybody out of their misery. We’re just concentrating on doing these gigs [Reading, Glasgow, Leeds], then going on holiday and then living that thing we call life for a little while — and then seeing what we want to get back into it.
Have you worked on any new material?
I wrote two [songs], just after I finished the last record. I wrote another one the other day but it’s got no words, so that’s half a song. So I’ve got two and a half songs. Apparently, the rest of the guys have got over fourteen, which I find very hard to believe. Liam’s been writing for a while. I’ve heard a couple of his tunes, and they’re alright.
What do your new songs sound? Are they different or along the same lines?
Well, we’re not experimentalists. We’re not into space jazz, you know what I mean? We’re into rock & roll music. What we do is what we do and the sooner people work that out. . . I mean, we’re never gonna make an experimental, electronic record because we like playing Les Pauls through loud amplifiers. That’s the end of it. It’s rock & roll music, man. That’s what we do.
So this rumor about Oasis not touring anywhere else but Britain, does that hold for America as well?
I love touring. I absolutely love it. It comes across in interviews that I don’t actually like touring, but playing is fantastic. Meeting the people that you play your music for is great as well, and it’s just that the vibe on this particular tour for a six- or seven-week period was so fucking awful that I didn’t want to be around it anymore. So I went home.
But then there was the announcement that you weren’t going to tour outside Britain anymore.
Yeah that was a typical management company statement.
So that’s not the case then?
Well, I’ve done the America tour, so they got it and I think that last American was one of the best things we done ever in America. I thought it was fantastic. I thought all the gigs were great.
America’s not off the list entirely then for you, then?
Not for me.
So what’s going on with your side project, Tailgunner?
We had a single out Monday [in Britain]. I don’t know how it’s doing in the charts as we speak but, yeah, Tailgunner are on tour, again, with another drummer. I’ve got plenty of stand-ins knocking around the British music industry at the moment. So I’ve got a stand in doing me drummin’ in Tailgunner, and I had a stand-in in Europe doing me guitar bits [for Oasis]. I spoke to Mark [Coyle], who’s the main man behind Tailgunner and they’re up for recording another album pretty soon. And I don’t know whether I’m playing drums on it or not.
Do you have any other side projects?
Not at the moment. I might be signing a group for my record label [Big Brother] in a few weeks.
What are they like?
Can’t tell ya . . . They’re English. And they’re more like the Rolling Stones than the Black Crowes, if you know what I mean. They’re from the North, somewhere very near Manchester.
Are you on speaking terms with Liam at the moment? The relationship has been portrayed as rather rocky in the British press.
I was out with him on Sunday. I went out with him on the booze and that, and everything’s cool. It’s just that our fall-outs seem to be a bit more public than other people. We’re two very separate, sarcastic people and there’s nothing we like better than getting into a bit of verbal tennis, if you like, but it doesn’t mean anything. I wouldn’t be going on stage with him tonight [at Reading] if I wasn’t his fucking best mate.
It was well reported you were upset about your first gigs back with the band at Wembley. What happened?
Well I thought the first night, the Friday night, was great. The second night was awful. It was one of the most awful experiences I’ve had in my fucking life. Liam hadn’t been to bed the night before and I found that very disrespectful to the audience. Subsequently, that gig got reviewed and it was said to be one of the best performances by a British band in like God knows how many years, which makes me think that maybe I’m going a bit fucking mad and I don’t know the state of my own band any more.
Is Oasis still very much your band? How’s it going to work if they’ve written fourteen songs and you’ve written two?
Well that’s what I’m trying to say. We don’t know how it’s going to work or if it’s going to work. We’re just concentrating on doing these gigs and going on holiday and hopefully reconvening and sorting it out like proper fucking adults do. We’re not children, you know what I mean? Not like saying, ‘Well you said this about me and I said that about you, and you done this and you done that and blah, blah, blah.’ It’ll be nice if we could sort it out like adults do.
When do you think that might happen? Do you guys have a timetable?
No, we don’t. Oasis doesn’t work to a time schedule.
So holiday lasts until whenever you feel like it then?
Well, yeah. Rock & roll’s not about conforming to the clock. A clock is too time restricting. If it’s gonna happen it’ll happen when we feel like. Who’s to say when we’re gonna feel like it? I don’t know.
How did you feel when they started throwing stuff at the band in Europe, and you weren’t there? Were you watching that from afar?
I found it funny, actually. That’ll fucking teach them to send me home [laughs].
When that was happening, were you speaking to the band by phone?
No, we’re not really sociable animals. We don’t hang out outside unless we by accident bump into each other at other people’s gigs or something. We’re not in ‘Summer’s End, Buddhist cult’ man, where we’re all on the same vibe. We’re five completely different people, who live in different parts of the country almost, and we get together for things like this and we do our shit and then we all go our separate ways and it’ll be same for this weekend. We’ll be doing our shit and we’ll be going our separate ways, and then somebody, usually from the management, will make a phone call, and we’ll all get together and we’ll all sit down and hopefully like adults we’ll all be able to sort it out.
A few years ago you thought you could take on the world and Oasis was going to be together forever. Do you see the band together in a couple years from now?
You do when you’re young, don’t you? And [then] there’s other things that come into your life. We’ve all got kids now.