Noel Gallagher talks Oasis, past and present

by Chris Riemenschneider

Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

9 December 2008


Of all the excuses Oasis has doled out for canceling gigs, at least the one that made headlines in September can be easily verified.

“Just go to YouTube - it’s there for all the world to see,” guitarist and bandleader Noel Gallagher said, referring to the Sept. 7 attack by an audience member who rushed the stage during a concert in Toronto.

The online clips show Gallagher getting tackled from behind with linebacker-like force and landing awkwardly on his stage monitors. Don’t look for the British rocker to make any more excuses, though, on the current tour with Ryan Adams.

“I’ve been given the all-clear and everything’s healed,” he said in a phone interview before the tour kicked off last week. “I’m back to the way I was before.”

Indeed, Oasis’ new album, “Dig Out Your Soul,” offers the same Beatles-&-Stones-copping sound that made the band famous in the mid-‘90s, which is to say it’s their best album since their heyday. Likewise, Gallagher showed the same flashes of arrogance and inhibition that have made him one of rock’s great characters - and the same contempt for his brother, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher.

Q. What do you remember about the incident in Toronto?

A. I don’t remember a great deal about it and, of course, I’m not able to discuss it much because there’s a legal case going on at the moment. Anything I say can be used against me. But I really don’t have any recollection of it. I was just playing away in my own little world. I had my back turned, and the next thing I know it was total chaos all of a sudden.

Q. Any lingering physical or mental effects from the attack?

A. No. It was two months with three broken ribs and five bruised ones. Mentally, no, not at all. I’m not that fragile upstairs.

Q. Is it true Liam tried to kick the crap out of the guy?

A. Yeah, you can actually see that on YouTube, too. It’s very embarrassing.

Q. So he does like you.

A. No, no. Of course, he doesn’t. We have a mutual understanding in that department. Nothing has changed there. At best, we have a hostile relationship. At worst, it’s nasty. I can live with that, though.

Q. One thing that has changed: Liam is writing more songs (three on the new record). Is it a case of you letting him, or him insisting on it?

A. Yeah, I don’t like that term “letting him.” I’m not letting anybody write songs. It’s our band. It belongs to the four of us. Going back to the early days, everybody was required to write songs, but it just so happened that I wrote more than everybody else, and mine were better than everybody else’s.

Q. How do you rate Liam as a songwriter?

A. He tends to write a lot of ballads, which is quite annoying. I’ve got to say, though, if I didn’t like them, I’d say so. But I generally think his songs are pretty good. The best thing about him is his music. The rest of him I could live without.

Q. You guys get a steady balance of criticism and praise for not trying to reinvent the wheel from album to album. Do you consciously follow the same formula?

A. I genuinely don’t care what people say. I write my songs on guitar. I can’t write on keyboards. I do what I do. I don’t analyze it. Other people do, and I don’t care what they say about it. When we first arrived on the scene, and everybody was saying I was the greatest songwriter since Lennon/McCartney, I never believed it. And then in the middle bit, when they said it wasn’t happening for me, I didn’t believe that, either.

Q. You’ve admitted you were in a creative rut around 2000’s “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.” What happened?

A. Yeah, I personally had a great lack of inspiration around me. That particular album, we were kind of doing it for the sake of it. There’s some good stuff on it, but when it was time to go make another record, I didn’t want to be bothered. If I had that time over again, I’d have resisted making that record. But in the grand scheme of things, you’ve got to go through some of the (expletive) to get to some of the stuff that’s good. You can’t be brilliant all the time. Even the Beatles had some (expletive), you know?

Q. Can you credit some of your turnaround to you guys mellowing out a bit and avoiding a lot of the excess?

A. Oh, yeah, definitely. Liam would try to convince you that he hasn’t mellowed, but he has. We’re all fathers now. If that doesn’t change your life, then you’re a bit of an idiot. But all the stuff that goes on outside of what’s on the stage is kind of irrelevant anyway. All the scandals surrounding “Definitely, Maybe” and “Morning Glory,” you can’t remember any of it now, can you? What you’re left with is the music. So as long as you get that right, who gives a (expletive)?

Q. Oasis fans definitely demand those old songs at shows. Are you cool with that?

A. I love it. I only get to do it every three years or so, so it stays fun. I also particularly like playing the songs from “Morning Glory” because that album kind of annoys me a little bit. We only spent 12 days in the studio recording it. It’s really a bunch of demos. I think those songs now sound way, way better live than they do on record.

Q. I understand you became a Ryan Adams fan after he covered your song “Wonderwall.” What did you like about it?

A. That song is essentially a blues song, and he kind of found something in it that I never knew existed. Like the point I was making before about that album, “Morning Glory.” Ordinarily, I’ll have put songs on a demo a year before and make constant changes to them until we put them out. That song was just captured in an embryonic state. I maybe would have gotten to that version he made if I had a year to work on it. He found something I thought was really quite moving.

Q. Do you have a favorite album or song of his?

A. Well, he’s made so many (expletive) records and written so many songs, where do you start with him? He’s doing stuff on tour with us that he did on that Nashville album (2000’s “Heartbreaker”). He’s doing those but in more of a rock style, and they sound great.

Q. Ryan has a reputation for being a bit of an ego case and troublemaker. Any worries that could be a problem on a tour with, um, Oasis?

A. No, no, no. You’ll find that most rock stars who are known like that are not really like that. A lot of them just get nervous around journalists. I’ve always found him to have a bit of nervous energy. I think people who come off like that are trying to mask something. He’s actually sort of a shy American rock star.

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