The Oasis Archive interview: Nick Amies talks about his new Oasis book Where Did It All Go Wrong?

In a departure from the usual features written by myself, I would like to reproduce the interview I did with the Oasis Archive website recently on my book Where Did It All Go Wrong? Oasis and the Millennium Meltdown 1995 – 2000.

Tell me a little about your professional background and what made you become an author.

authorI’ve been a journalist for over 20 years now and in that time I have worked in jobs that have required me to write about pretty much everything; business, football, politics, you name it… It’s the diversity of the job which has kept me interested and motivated. One day I could be writing a piece on architecture for the New York Times, the next interviewing a Hollywood director like Terry Gilliam for the Economist. But music has always been my main passion and I’ve been able to keep that side of journalism going even when I’ve had a full time job on a news desk. It keeps you sane when you’ve been writing about war and suffering all day to be able to get to a gig, spend some time with one of your heroes backstage and then cover their concert. I’ve been lucky enough to interview many of my idols and then to write about their lives and their music…it doesn’t get much better than that for me.

As for the books, I’ve always written stories, ever since I was a little kid and it was always a dream of mine to write a novel. After a friend of mine read a screenplay I was working on, he suggested I expand on the story and write it as a novel instead. That turned out to be my first book, the Madchester road trip novel “Mersey Paradise”. It was a good experience but I felt I could do better. So I started a second book shortly after, the Britpop love story “She’s Electric”, which I’m very proud of. Writing books is now one of the many side projects I have, on top of holding down a full-time job as an editor, maintaining a relationship and being a father.

Do you remember where and when you first heard of the name Oasis? Was it their music, or did their reputation and press precede this?

It was 1994. I was living in Norwich in the East of England and I was at a friend’s place getting high. We were watching the Channel 4 late night programme The Word and Oasis came on – their first TV appearance – playing Supersonic. I was blown away. Later I found out that they had played the intimate Arts Centre venue in the city the week before that, and I’ve been gutted about that ever since. It would have been amazing to catch them at that time, before it all blew up. Supersonic was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I was a massive Stone Roses fan at the time and waiting for them to get their arses into gear had left me looking for something new. I dug Suede and I was a big fan of Ride but Oasis just felt tailor-made for me at that time. It all made sense. And Liam was just spectacular. When you watch that clip again, just remember that he was barely 21 and on national TV for the first time. He fills the screen. He invades your home. After that I was hooked.

The artwork for the book is obviously inspired by the artwork for the “Standing On The Shoulder of Giants” release, and it fits very well with the title and theme of the book! Was that a stock-photo, and how did you go about finding this?

6144jy0t0elI wanted to design my own cover but using any of the official Oasis logos would have been problematic, what with the copyright issues and such. And you can forget about using photos of the band if you’re a self-published author on a shoestring production budget. So it’s a Shutterstock image which I found in their database and it’s the closest I could find to the shot of New York used on the cover of SOTSOG. I know the fans get where I’m coming from with it but a few people have asked why I have the Big Apple on the cover when the band come from Manchester. I hope reading the book will lead these people to the music if they’re not familiar with SOTSOG, which in my opinion is a sorely underrated album.

There is obviously a very strong British identity in the visual artwork for the first three albums and related singles (designed by Microdot). Later albums seem to deliberately move away from this, sporting a new logo and images locations far from Burnage. Do you have a favourite record sleeve, and what was your feeling on the shift in design?

I have to say that the final album, Dig Out Your Soul, is my favourite in terms of artwork. It’s as much of a departure from the traditional Oasis style as the music inside the sleeve is from their original sound. It’s psychedelic and mature – just as the recording itself is.

As for the shift in design from the Microdot sleeves of the 90s, I just accepted it as part of Oasis progressing. Those Brian Cannon designs are iconic and part and parcel of the Britpop legacy Oasis left behind when they moved into the new millennium. The single cover of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ is perhaps my favourite from that time. Moving away from Microdot, I loved the SOTSOG cover, the first one Simon Halfon did for the band, and the other covers and portraits he did after that really captured the band in that decade out of time, an older version of Oasis removed from the craziness of the years they dominated. Halfon’s style perfectly caught the band as they matured into serious artists and national treasures from the wild upstarts and party animals they were during their heyday.

R-817735-1293478865.jpegHalfon was a good choice to document these years. He’d been a long-time collaborator of Paul Weller’s and started working with the Modfather on art direction as far back as his days in The Jam. As such, through Weller’s friendship with Noel Gallagher, Halfon got to know the Chief, who appreciated his work with Weller and shared his love of The Beatles. But it was through a friend who was hired to shoot the video for ‘Supersonic’ that Halfon and Noel became friends. When it came to choosing an art director for SOTSOG, Noel called Halfon and asked him to do it. He then went on to photograph and design for Oasis throughout the rest of the band’s career.

Why did you decide to focus on Oasis’ career from 1995 till 2000, and not 1994-2000, or up until their very last meltdown (2009)?

The rise of Oasis with their slash-and-burn approach to touring and the momentum which started to grow around the band in the lead up to the release of their debut Definitely Maybe is of course one of the great rock and roll stories – streetwise lads from the wrong side of the tracks making it mega big; it’s one of those classic origin stories. But a lot has been written about that phase, and rightly so. But for me, if you break down the career of the band into narrative sections, the most interesting is the one featured in the book. It starts with the release of Morning Glory, the second album, through the band’s imperial phase which followed when they were untouchable, playing to a quarter of a million people over the Knebworth weekend, and then – when the fame and fortune were at unprecedented levels – they dived headfirst into their third album, Be Here Now, and into a Himalayan-sized mountain of coke. The excess during this period is legendary but there are so many threads running through this story, behind the music and the madness, and that’s what I wanted to write about as much as anything; the press intrusion, the pressures the band were experiencing professionally and personally, the dynamic within the band, the changing musical and social landscape in the UK at the time. These are the things which contributed – along with the massive intake of drugs – to what I call the millennium meltdown. By the end of the 90s, all of this had taken its toll and it was unsurprising that Oasis Mark 1 fell apart before the 21st century began.

Do you ever see yourself writing a sequel to this book focusing on the next chapter of the Oasis history?

I’ve been asked by a few people if I’ll do a follow up and it certainly appeals to the fan side of me to dive back into Oasis history and start digging again but I chose to focus on a particular time period in the band’s career because that had not been done before. Besides, for me – as I’ve said before – the era I cover in the book is the most interesting part of the whole story: Oasis ascending to the summit of British rock before descending to the depths, where – ironically – they were probably at their highest, if you know what I mean. The years between 2000 and the split in 2009 are filled with great music but in terms of incident and precedent, there wasn’t that much to compare to the events that I’ve documented. What would we have? Noel storming off the tour in 2000 after Liam allegedly questioned the legitimacy of his daughter; Liam getting his teeth smashed out in a Munich bar fight in 2002, the divorces, the Spinal Tap procession of drummer’s after Whitey was sacked in 2004? The truth is, up until the split in Paris six years ago, the stories behind the music kinda fizzled out. They made some great tunes during that time but the sensationalism was over.

Did you get to see the band live during the timeframe of the book (1995-2000)?

BHNI saw them headline Glastonbury in 1995 and then on the Be Here Now tour at Wembley Arena in 1997. Both shows were splendidly shambolic for different reasons. At Glastonbury, Liam was more interested in intimidating the crowd, which failed to respond to many of the songs from Morning Glory that no one had ever heard before. At Wembley, they were just back in the UK after the first leg of the BHN world tour and they looked and sounded a bit frazzled. Plus the popularity the band was enjoying by then meant it was like a variety show with all the families and young kids in the stands, especially as it was around Christmas. It wasn’t very Oasis. The danger and menace was absent. But don’t get me wrong – I loved both gigs purely because it was Oasis. I went on to see them another five times in the years leading up to the split and Noel Gallagher nailed it when he said recently that the band got better as the songs got shitter! Late-period Oasis were still a fearsome live act, even if the youthful mayhem had long been left behind by then.

The book is very well researched with a lot of good quotes and references. Did you spend long researching it, and what were your primary sources?

It took about two years in total, although I did nothing on the book during the nine months my partner was pregnant with our daughter. The research itself probably took six months in all. I planned the book out in the themes I wanted to cover and went trawling through the Internet, reading all the interviews I could find, looking for relevant quotes and information which fitted. I contacted a number of people who were close to band but received the same response: there seemed to be an unwritten rule that no-one would speak about their time with Oasis. And the band members themselves rarely talk to authors because they just get too many requests. But there are some exclusive quotes from Noel and Liam in there as I’ve interviewed them both in the past. And former Oasis press officer Johnny Hopkins was especially helpful and actually helped a great deal to fill in a lot of the black holes I had in some of the chapters.

Have you ever met any of the band members, and if you were given the opportunity to ask only one question to Noel, Liam and Bonehead respectively; what would it be?

beadyI’ve interviewed Noel and Liam before; Noel when Oasis were still going and Liam when he was with Beady Eye. I’ve also talked to Gem Archer and Andy Bell a couple of times, both as members of Oasis and of Beady Eye. I never met any of the other original Oasis members.

I guess if I had to ask one question, I’d ask Bonehead if he had ever considered getting a hair transplant during the band’s heyday. I always respected the fact that Oasis didn’t give a fuck about having a bald guy, or a fat bloke, in the band. It wasn’t about that to start with. But I also always wondered if he’d thought about getting his thatch thickened when the fame and fortune flooded in!

Here is a question from a forum member on SupernovaHeights, named joladella: In your acknowledgements, you thank Noel’s manager Ray McCarville for explaining, why he and the other former band members usually decline requests by authors. I’d love to know what that explanation was. I guess you might not be at liberty to say, but “… situation which prevents [them] …” (p. 236) sounds intriguing, what situation? Legal reasons? Or just a complicated way of saying they simply don’t want to?

There’s nothing sinister about that, as far as I know. The former band members get so many requests for their involvement in books that they simply wouldn’t have enough time to contribute to them all. As a result, they politely decline all requests. That’s the message I got from Ray.

It seems that very few (if any) of the members who left Oasis over the years – from Tony McCaroll in 1995, up until the final split in 2009 – actually ended on good terms with Noel Gallagher. Who do you reckon is the most difficult being in a band with; Liam or Noel?

tony-mccarrollHmm…If you were kicked out of Oasis or forced to leave, it’s very unlikely that you’d have an objective view of those who were responsible for that, right? And that person, more often than not, is going to be Noel because he’s the boss. If you leave under a cloud, you’re more than likely gonna hold grudges… So I think you have to look at who’s saying what and why in those situations.

I’ve spent time with both brothers and both were absolute gents during the time I spent talking to them; eloquent, intelligent, thoughtful and above all very funny – not quite the surly thugs which many journalists portray them as. But I’ve never worked with, or for, either one of them. I would say that both of the Gallaghers are very driven people – yes, even Liam – and that they can be very demanding of those working with them in the pursuit of what they want to achieve. Neither suffers fools gladly. If I had to give my unqualified opinion, based only on the reports and anecdotes I have read during my research, I would say that the young Liam circa 1994/95 would have been a nightmare at times due to his erratic and explosive nature. I would also say that Noel circa 1997 would probably have been quite hard to be around too as he struggled with his substance abuse and the pressure of being the driving force behind the massive band Oasis had become. But this has to be put into context. Liam was struggling with fame and all the attention he was getting at the tender age of 21 and Noel was being crushed by the expectation of millions of fans and the media which had built him up into a Godlike genius. It’s likely any one of us would be an arsehole to some people in the same situation!

What Oasis songs mean the most to you?

That’s like being asked to choose which of your children you love the most. It’s a very tough question as I love pretty much everything Oasis ever did. But if I’m to attach meaning and memory to songs as a way of narrowing things down, I’d say – in no particular order – Supersonic, Listen Up, Let’s All Make Believe, and Who Feels Love. And that’s only from the period in the book. I’d be here all day if I did it for the band’s entire career.

Oasis_supersonic_sleeveSupersonic because it’s such a statement of intent and it was the song that brought me to Oasis. When that drum intro starts and that woozy guitar line starts jangling, it’s goosebumps all over, even today. “I wanna be myself, I can’t be no-one else” – as Bonehead says in the book, that’s Oasis barging to the front and saying ‘right, we’ll take charge here…This is how it’s going to be from now on.’ And they were right. After that, all bets were off.

Listen Up contains some of the best lines Noel has ever written and Liam’s delivery of the whole song is pure magic. I came to this song when I was questioning a lot of things and it helped me get my world view sorted out. The lyric “day by day there’s a man in a suit who’s gonna make you pay, for the thoughts that you think and the words they won’t let you say” – that just fired me up.

Let’s All Make Believe is again a song which came to me when I was at a low point. There were a lot of false people around me at the time and I needed to make a change to get out of that situation. Then a true friend did something amazing for me and through his sacrifice, I made a life-changing decision which I have never regretted. I’m here doing what I do, living the life I have because of that and because of that friend. The song really resonates with that period but beyond its meaning to me, it’s just a beautiful song and, in my opinion, one of Liam’s best ever vocals.

Who Feels Love is probably derided by many because it’s a bit cod-psychedelic and it comes from the period of the millennium meltdown I write about where Noel had to start again from scratch in many ways. But for me, it’s a really uplifting piece of music and has such a light atmosphere to it that I love to kinda float along with it – which is something you don’t expect from an Oasis track. And it reminds me of the love of my life, so there’s that too!

What is your take on the ‘Be Here Now’ album? From its initially raving reviews, to its backlash of people returning it to second hand shops; did you opinion on the album also change?

oasis_be_here_now-ad_11078I remember that I bought a knock-off cassette from a night market in Thailand shortly after it was released and the quality was unsurprisingly a bit dodgy so I didn’t really get the full experience until later but I loved the ambition and the sheer weight of the tracks at first. Once I got a CD copy, I really got into it. It really was a soundtrack for that summer for me and my friends. I’ll admit though that I had a period where I skipped a lot of the tracks on Be Here Now. I also admit that I may have been swayed by the criticism it’s got over the years. But I’ve rehabilitated it and I play it quite regularly, although my opinions of certain songs are forever coloured by the negative associations. I love D’You Know What I Mean?, My Big Mouth, It’s Getting’ Better (Man!!) but tend to tolerate rather than celebrate songs like Magic Pie, Fade In-Out, and even All Around the World. There’s a great song in there somewhere but it’s just too long!

If Oasis were set to release a new retrospective release of any format; what would be on top of your wish-list? A Noel Gallagher penned autobiography? A coffee table book of pictures? Noel’s demos from Mustique, or a concert film from the pompous Be Here Now tour? You decide!

There’s a long-mooted Knebworth documentary and concert film floating about somewhere which would be a great historical as well as musical document of those times. I’d love to see that. An autobiography from Noel would also be an essential read, especially if he really went warts-and-all on the dynamic within the band and his relationship with Liam. But this idea which has been talked about, to do a feature film on the band’s story? No way. Who could play the Gallaghers better than themselves? No actor I can think of. It would be like fucking Stars in Their Eyes. “Tonight Matthew, I’m gonna be Liam Gallagher…” However, if someone wanted to pay me to write the screenplay, I’d be on it like a shot.

What’s next for you? Any new projects you’re working on?

I have a whole graphic novel series sitting around in various computer files and parts of my brain which is so massive in its depth and scope that it kinda scares me! There’s so much there. I’m afraid it’ll never see the light of day because it’s really fucking good, to be honest! It would take a really committed artist to bring it all to life and I haven’t found that person yet. I’m still looking. So that project’s just sitting in the shadows, watching me, whispering my name every day…

Other than that, I already have plans to do another non-fiction book, this time on Happy Mondays. I want to work with an old and very good friend of mine on this but we have to wait until his current projects are completed before we can start. Plus I need a bit of a break after Where Did It All Go Wrong? Once the promotion of that has slowed down, I’ll start the research on the Mondays book and we’ll take it from there.

Related content:

I also gave an interview on WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG? to Phonic FM’s Britpop Revival show as part of their great Manchester special in September. It’s worth listening to it all but I come on at the 52′ 30″ mark if that’s all you’re interested in. Click on the image below to go to the show on their Mixcloud page.

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WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG? Available to buy on Amazon and Lulu.com NOW

coverimage_lulu 2After exploding onto the British music scene only two years previously, Oasis played the biggest free-standing gigs the UK had ever seen over two nights at Knebworth Park in the summer of 1996. Playing to a combined crowd of 250,000 people on what would become the defining weekend of the Britpop era, Oasis made good on their many claims that they were destined to be the biggest band on the planet. What happened next is a rollercoaster ride through the wildest excesses of rock ‘n’ roll; from the highs of mega-stardom, mass adoration and tabloid ubiquity, to the lows of drug psychosis, mindless mayhem and a media backlash. WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG? charts Oasis’s journey from the mid-90s euphoria of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? to the turn-of-the-century comedown of Standing on the Shoulder of Giants; from the all-conquering Knebworth shows through the cocaine blizzard of Be Here Now, the madness and chaos of their 1997 world tour and out the other side.

Buy WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG? on Amazon

Definitely Maybe – Oasis (review)

British guitar music had taken a backseat to United States grunge in the early 90’s as it sought to regroup after the failure of shoegazing bands to capitalize on the phenomenal but brief success of the Manchester-led dance rock genre in the late 80s. Bands like Blur had taken the first steps back into the consciousness but when Oasis released Definitely Maybe, they kicked the door in, dragged the plaid shirted usurpers out by the scruff of their necks and packed them off to the airport.

This was a record with guts, anger, humour, and social commentary (albeit hidden in obtuse, druggy lyrics). Few opening tracks by a debut band can rate with the swagger and belief of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” while the first three singles – “Supersonic,” “Shakermaker” and “Live Forever” – encapsulated the band’s range, a perfect showcasing triptych. Laconic, comedic and emotional guitar-driven pop was back and when fourth single “Cigarettes and Alcohol” was released, all bets were off. Oasis were already the biggest band in the world in their heads. Now everyone else would start to believe it too.

Commendations

From the opening track to the throwaway epilogue of “Married with Children” – with perhaps the greatest comment on the music they were replacing: ‘your music’s shite, it keeps me up all night’ – Definitely Maybe is a chin-out strut down the alleyways of Britain’s rock heritage. Much was made of the band’s love of the Beatles but Definitely Maybe is much more than a Fab Four rip-off and it’s lazy to suggest so.

Liam Gallagher’s fondness for the Sex Pistols is clear on his vocal delivery on “Bring it on Down,” while, at the other end of the scale, “Digsy’s Dinner” in almost musical hall in its jauntiness.  Re-recorded on the behest of Creation label boss Alan McGee who said the first version lacked the ‘attack and immediacy’ of Oasis concerts, the band decided the only way to replicate their live sound was to record together without soundproofing between individual instruments. With Noel Gallagher overdubbing the guitars in post-production, a powerful yet cohesive and proficient onslaught was created. This can be heard best on the rumbling, ominous “Columbia” and the balls-out yet beautiful “Slide Away” – one the band’s best and most underrated tunes, described by Liam Gallagher as ‘a rocking love song.’

Oasis were the antitheses of Nirvana’s ‘I hate myself and want to die’ philosophy and this positivity in the face of hardship that the band espoused is most keenly felt on the luminous “Live Forever” and the nihilistic soundtrack to the party at the end of the world which is “Cigarettes and Alcohol.” Whatever mood you’re in, however your day is going, there is a track on Definitely Maybe which will not only match it but will speak to you, counsel you and assure you that everything will be alright. This is a debut album which convincingly and authentically covers every emotion and many of life’s common stories in about an hour of music. It was a remarkable achievement and a high point that Oasis tried and failed to reach again during the following 15 years of their career.

Next Steps

Unless the Gallagher brothers put their differences aside or run out of money (or both), it’s unlikely that we’ll ever hear these songs played live with Liam on vocals and Noel on guitar beside him or be blessed with any new material from Oasis again. Those who lost faith in the band towards the end may say this is no bad thing. But putting Definitely Maybe on and turning it up loud not only reminds me what we’ve lost but also makes me thank God that they managed to get out of a council estate in Manchester in the first place.

First published on: Puluche.com

An Audience with The Chief: Noel Gallagher (2003)

Getting an interview with THE CHIEF isn’t as easy as it sounds. Missed flights, cancelled gigs and ‘the’ incident involving an ashtray and Liam’s teeth, have all contrived to cancellation upon postponement of this interview. NICK AMIES finally catches up with a talkative and seemingly chipper Noel in Munich.

It was turning into the journalistic quest for the musical Holy Grail. What does a mag have to do to pin NOEL GALLAGHER down for an interview these days? Granted the first time he stood Disorderly up, it wasn’t really his fault. Brother Liam’s penchant for boozy brawls had once again led to cancelled dates and, consequently, promotional duties. Then they get it together to come back to Germany and we’re back on for Düsseldorf. Three hours before Disorderly was due to chew the fat with The Chief, the beleaguered Sony rep calls with news that the band entourage had arrived safely – minus Noel. Liam was refusing to take on the press in place of his brother and so all interviews were off. Hell hath no fury like an editor scorned, so after chewing up many a record company lackey, NICK AMIES grabbed his rail pass and headed for the scene of the crime – Munich – in a last ditch attempt to get the answers before OASIS left the country.

Noel GallagherLive on stage, Noel Gallagher appears a mighty giant, the chief hod carrier in the Oasis wall of sound. At one with his axe, he effortlessly brings the focus away from the intimidating force of nature that is Liam and towers above the captivated audience on wave upon wave of major stadium-honed riffage. From the heaving pit of the crowd, the man is a guitar-playing Goliath, an idol of modern rock’n’roll, carved from the very granite of Britain‘s musical heritage…

On level ground, the man is what can be best described as wee. Not short as such but compact and slight and…dare I say it…more than a little unassuming. But what is gigantic is his presence. Gallagher Senior ambles into the room, dressed modestly for a millionaire in army parka and Lacoste polo shirt and turns the place into the court of a king. His handshake is warm and genuine, despite the fact that I’m the last on the list of interviews that have kept him away from other things for the best part of the day. Surprisingly relaxed, he opens with the sharpness of mind that the world has come to expect from this intelligent and misunderstood man: “There’s a bunch of geezers outside with violin cases. We did pay the promoter, right?”

<!–[if gte vml 1]> <![endif]–><!–[if !vml]–><!–[endif]–>This has turned into a bit of a quest for me. Cancelled gigs, missed flights and rapidly reorganised schedules to get to Munich – I was beginning to think it was something personal.

Noel Gallagher: You were meant to do this on Sunday? Yeah, I missed me flight. Heheheh…

I was at the gig in Düsseldorf on Sunday and the crowd were totally into it. How do audiences in Germany compare to others around the world?

NG: Well, I never compare them because they’re all different…the Australians, the Swiss, the fucking miserable Dutch…but that was a particularly lively German crowd, I must say. These aren’t small gigs we’re playing here. There’s this idea that we’re big in Britain and nowhere else. We’re fucking insanely huge in Britain but we’re big all over the world.

One of the strangest experiences I’ve had since living in Germany was the time I was overheard speaking English in a train by this guy who came over and started singing “Some Might Say” at me, doing the full Liam impression but with a thick German accent. That’s a pretty good indication of the fans commitment here…

NG: That’s what I mean. It’s like that all over. This is where the America question usually comes up. I don’t need to sell my records there to be a big band. If they don’t want to buy Oasis records then that’s their loss. I’m not going to waste my time.

So you won’t be doing a Robbie Williams and aiming the next Oasis album specifically at an American audience.

NG: I haven’t actually heard the record you’re referring to but I know enough to know where you’re coming from. If that’s what he’s doing with his record then that’s up to him. I wouldn’t know why anyone would want to do that.

I think the huge amounts of cash paid to him requires some return and breaking America would be a good way of doing that.

NG: For a start, there’s no way he got paid that much. Maybe half…There’s not even 80 million in the record industry to give to one person, I can tell you. I heard a rumour that someone was offering me 35 million.

Any truth in that?

NG: I sincerely fucking hope there is!

This is not the first time a band has had to reschedule a concert but in your own experience, when it happens, do you feel you owe the fans more when you come back?

NG: Nah. This is rock’n’roll not a fucking charity handout. I don’t care who you are, why you’re here, what drugs you’re taking, who you’re sleeping with, what you expect…If you buy the ticket then you’re going to get the show we put on. And if you don’t like it, you know what you can do.

So, back in Munich, the last time you were here the international press had a field day over the incident at the hotel. Why do you think the press continue to lose the plot over everything that happens around the band?

NG: You mean the stuff that happens around Liam? It’s all about alcohol and stupid little boys in bars…and it sells papers. The press say they love to hate us but that’s bollocks. In reality they love to love us. The sad thing is that when they look back over 2002, what they will remember Oasis for is not the fact that we sold over 3 million records last year or that I nearly fucking died in a car crash, they’ll remember Liam getting his teeth smashed in.

I read an interview you gave last September where you made several references to shrugging off the bad boy image, does it frustrate you when Liam or the others get themselves into situations like that?

NG: Yeah, it does. You can’t keep that up at 35. I see myself having another five years in the band and then I’ll do something else. I think it’s sad when you’re forty and you’re still pretending to be a gang. I’m not going to be doing this when I’m 41. Only the Rolling Stones are doing it and they haven’t done anything good since 1971. I can’t see myself doing that. As for Liam in spandex, leaping around like Mick Jagger, I think he really is sad enough to still be doing that when he’s middle-aged. It’s like REM…kick it in the fucking head, man.

<!–[if gte vml 1]> <![endif]–><!–[if !vml]–><!–[endif]–>Ever thought about going solo?

NG: Man, if I say anything about that it’ll all be like, ‘Oasis Split’ drama. What I’m saying is that I don’t want to be some sad old git, giving it large when I’m forty. I’d prefer something a little more dignified…more along the lines of Neil Young.

Okay, I’m falling into that same tabloid trap now…let’s get onto the music. What’s next for Oasis?

NG: Don’t expect too much. There’ll be another album but I don’t know when. After this tour, I’m going to go home and have a normal life. These shows we’re doing now should have been done in the summer. We’ve rescheduled these dates twice now and to tell you the truth, I need a break from the band and a break from music. We should have finished in Melbourne at the end of the summer but what with one thing or another we had to come back here. So I’m up for a rest. The others will probably go back in the studio, they don’t need me around anymore to do that.

The thing that impressed me most about the gig on Sunday night was the fact that the whole band were so tight and the sound was amazing despite the fact the Philipshalle resembles a tarted up abattoir. Things appear to be going from strength to strength with the latest line-up…

NG: Someone just told me that we’ve been together since 1999, two more years and it’ll be longer than the original line-up. The thing is that we’re all very talented musicians. We all know we can do it and that makes a difference. With Gem and Andy on board, especially Andy…we’re all very good at what we do. I’m no Jimi Hendrix but I know that I could play guitar in any band in the world. And that comes across when we play live. So, you could say we’re quite…adept.

Do you still have the enthusiasm for touring now there’s children and family at home?

NG: I fucking…I was about to tell you a lie there…I absolutely love touring but the people who you have to tour with do my head in after a while. But it would be weird to put out a record and not tour it. If we didn’t tour, that would mean that I’d have to give up music and I’m not going to be doing that. The ideal situation would be to tour once every three years.

I heard that Andy recently played a gig with his old Ride mates…will you be advertising for a new bass player anytime soon?

NG: No, I spoke to him about it and he said it was fucking awful.

Did you go to the gig?

NG: In Oxford? I would’ve done if I’d known about it. It was quite near my house. I remember Ride supported us once…

Isn’t that the time you said that you were glad they were just the support?

NG: What I think I said was…I was standing next to someone and said “It’s a good job we’re better than them”. Ride were a top band though.

I haven’t seen the film yet but did ‘Live Forever’ make you feel nostalgic or uncomfortable? You seem a lot more sorted personally these days.

NG: I’ve seen it. I had to approve it. Fair play to the lads that made it, they’re great lads and I have the utmost respect for them but they didn’t mention that it was a film about Britpop when they came to see me. They told me that it was a documentary about Britain in the 90’s. I wouldn’t have got involved if I had known. Suddenly it was about Britpop with a Union Jack on the cover with all these people saying how important it was for Britain. Albarn and the like…What it really was all about was people saving their careers. We were the only band that never were Britpop. We were just playing the music we always had and have done for the past ten years. And we still get grief for it. We are the only band in Britain that never went trip hop, we’re the only band that don’t have a producer because we do it ourselves…

<!–[if gte vml 1]> <![endif]–><!–[if !vml]–><!–[endif]–>The review I read said that Noel and Liam were the only entertaining things in the movie.

NG: That’s why we were so different then and so different now. It’s all a laugh to us…It’s pure comedy. It’s like playing to 125,000 people when you haven’t been to bed the night before and everyone going “wow” when really you’re just a fat alcoholic having a laugh.

And one last question: Kevin Keegan – saint or sinner?

NG: The fucking Messiah! Last time I went to Maine Road, there was Robbie Fowler and Nicolas Anelka on the pitch. What more can you say?

Ever fancied doing an Elton John and getting involved in City?

NG: There was some talk about it back in the 90’s when everything was going fucking mad. I had dinner with the chairman but I didn’t get involved, no.

And with that, the long and winding road was over. A rather cringy self initiated photo opportunity and a mad flurry of signed CD sleeves and then he was gone, leaving me craving a cigarette like some recently laid groupie. Four months, two cancelled appointments and 8 hours on a train for twenty minutes of chat – I can truly say it was worth it.

Noel Gallagher – a true gent.