Oasis were on the brink of massive success and this interview was prior to the release of Shakermaker.
Peom thought that it might be a good idea to interview them after I had seen them at the Old Trout in Windsor. I was over powered by their music and they dressed in a 90's mod style. That's a winner with me! Noel's self-belief and assertiveness for Oasis is so paramount in this interview and I was enthralled by this. It makes intriguing reading, a young man waiting for the big time to happen and fully aware of the antics of the music press. Noel had his head screwed on, he knew what he wanted and how to get it!
My only negative criticism is that he had a habit of slipping into a very negative outlook, which is very tiresome. I still rate Oasis as a band and only the Gallaghers are (were) left from the original line up, even the last album. They made the charts exciting in the 90's and Top of the Pops performances were colourful. That was the last time from a commercial perspective the top 50 sounded fresh.
It’s 7.15pm, and we’re late. We’d arranged to interview Noel Gallagher of Oasis in Brighton and we had this crazy mod romantic idea of hiring scooters for the trip. It was Mad Dog’s idea. A great idea in itself: except that Snotty Dog, and third member of the Peom entourage.
So we tear through swing-doors of the Dudley Hotel in Brighton in our crash helmets. (“Remember the doors of the gaff we smashed?” – the Quadrophenia reference in this piece and not the last.)
The guests and hotel staff in reception stare at us perplexed, among them is Noel. I walk up to him.
“Sorry we’re late, Noel, but Snotty Dog kept falling off his scooter”.
Noel is unconcerned.“It’s alright mate, we’ve only just come back from the sound check”.
“So where do you want to do it?” I asked.
“I think me room will be best , don’t you?”
“Yeah, of course”.
Noel – Oasis started when our kid and the other three decided they were going to form a band. I was away in Europe or somewhere and I came back and me mam said “Oh Liam’s just formed a band” I said “ Do what”, “Singing”. So I went down to the gig that night at The Boardwalk and they were called OASIS and they had four songs. They were pretty awful and afterwards they said to me “Do you want to be our manager?” I said, “Fuck that, I am joining the fucking band. Take those trainers off and get a new bass in. We’re off to the top!” I liked barged me way in and started writing the songs and never looked back since.
We used to practice religiously three times a week, just writing songs. It was weird because once we got a record deal nothing changed; we were acting the same way as we were before. We always thought we were the greatest fucking band in England. We used to rehearse Saturday nights when everyone would go out. We’d be down the rehearsal room like all hours of the night and morning and our mates would be going. “What are doing? It’s Saturday night, everyone’s going out”. But it paid off in the end. Oasis make it look all very simple, but they’ve worked extremely hard. (Young bands start taking notes, they may come in useful)
So where exactly in Manchester do you come from?
Right on the South Burnage, it’s the last part of Manchester before you get to Greater Manchester it’s just like a little shitty suburb where fuck all happens it’s one pub and a chippie and a bookie and that’s it.
Oasis are in the position now that every young band wants to be in. Since October 1993, it’s been all go for Oasis; sell out shows, front covers of nearly all the music magazines and the ultimate teenage dream – Top of the Pops. Of course they couldn’t have got there without that all – important record contract. Bands can spend so much time trying to convince record companies of their potential. So, I asked how did you get yours.
Well it’s quite legendary story this now, but it was at this gig at King Tut’s in Glasgow. We hired a van, at the time we were on the dole and we didn’t have any money, we charged our mates fifteen quid each and there were about 20 of us. When we got to the gig, the promoter said
“Who are you?”
“You’re not playing here tonight”
“Yes we are, we’re playing with Boyfriend.”
“No, you’re not, you’re not down here.”
“Oh it’s alright coz they’ve asked us to play!”
“I’ve only got a licence for 2 bands. I can’t put 3 bands on so you’re not playing”.
So after six hours of arguing and shouting and threatening he let us play for twenty minutes just when the doors were opening. So we went on, there was like nobody in the club. 15 of our mates and that were it. But as luck would have it, Alan McGee of Creation Records had just missed his train from Glasgow back to London, he realised that Boyfriend were playing round the corner and he had an hour to kill.
So he was just going to come in and have a word with that lot and then get off, and as he walked in we had just walked on-stage so he was walking past the stage, this is what he said anyway, he took one look at us and thought THEY LOOK A BIT FUN.
One of the guys from Boyfriend came round to him and said “Ah these guys are from Manchester they kicked us out of our dressing room and drank all our cider and threatened to smash the club “up” and all it did was get Alan more interested in us.
We just did four songs and after we came off stage he came straight up to us and said “Have you got a record deal?”
“Do you want one?”
“Creation” and he offered us a six-album deal and about a week later he phoned us and said, “What was your band called again?”
We were freaked out by it all.
All them years in the practice room, we always knew that we were really good. Even though we didn’t know about approaching record companies. I could never see myself walking into the offices of a record company going “This is my demo tape.”
But Noel hated the role he had taken on as player-manager, it got in the way of the creative process, and whilst out of all the members of Oasis he was willing to take the role as “the responsible one” someone was needed to deal with the business side of things fulltime, especially now they’d been offered a record deal.
So how did you begin your relationship with Marcus Russell, your manager?
That in itself is another interesting story. About 3 years previous I used to go to the Hacienda on a Saturday night and always used to bump into this little guy with a skinhead and chat to him as you do when you’re E ‘ed . I told him I was in a band and he said “Give us a tape, I’ll give it to our kid.” And every time I saw him, he’d say “Give us a tape for our kid.” And then I saw him just after we had the offer from Creation. I was just walking through town. And he says, “How’s the band going?” “Oh we’ve just been offered a record deal from Creation.” And I had this HMV bag with The The’s new album in it and when he saw it he goes “Fuckin hell, you’ll definitely have to get a tape to our kid.” I said “Well, hang on a minute, I don’t mean to be rude or nothing, but who the fuck is your kid” “Well it’s our Johnny innit?” and then it clicked Johnny Marr.
So I gets a him a tape, two hours later I had Johnny Marr on the phone. I fuckin freaked out. He said, “I’ve just heard your tape and think it’s amazing,” So we went out for a drink that night and he came along and brought his manager with him, Marcus Russell.
Were you a fan of The Smiths?
Definitely! Johnny Marr was the man who taught me to play guitar.
What bands made you want to be in a band?
The Jam, Stone Roses, The Smiths and The Beatles. I always used to bash about on this guitar, playing stuff like Hey Jude. Then in 1983 I saw The Smiths and I said, “That’s it! That’s the way I want to play guitar.” Then after that I saw John Squire from The Stone Roses cross them two with Paul Weller and John Lennon and that’s how I wanted to sound.
Did you ever get into dance music?
Up until about ’91 I was blown away by it. ’88 and ’89 were fuckin’ unbelievable years. I gave up playing the guitar and starting messing about with a keyboard and a drum machine because I was so into it. Now it’s gone full circle, there’s no more mew sounds any more. All the chord progressions have been used, all the samples have been used. It’s as boring as fuck now.
Oasis have grown in a very short space of time. From playing The Old Trout in Windsor in May 94 to headlining The Forum four months later. Is it all happening fast enough for you?
I don’t want get too big. I’d love to do Wembley Stadium but where do you go after that? I didn’t think we’d get to this stage here for another two years and in a way it’s fuckin pissed me off. We had all these ideas we were going to be this maverick outcast band from Manchester, being from Manchester everyone fucking hates you anyway. We were going to shove it up them for two years and then we’d spilt up.
Like we know Shakermaker is going to go Top 20 and it’s shit knowing that before it comes out. I’m not going to get excited by that now. It’s sad in a way, once all I wanted was a piece of plastic with some of my songs on it and my name on it. I got that and I thought I don’t feel that special. And I thought I want to get into the charts – and then I got into the charts without really trying and then I thought right Tops of The Pops. It’s really sad , we’ve only had a few records out and I’m bored shitless.
Are you happy with the image of Oasis and the way the press have portrayed you?
Because we’re not part of any scene, the press have to got to offset you against something, that’s the way British journalism works. That can’t just say this is Oasis, take it or leave it. It’s got to be they’re like a cross between the Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses.
When we started the NME hated us, so the MM decided that they were going to love us, so when the NME started loving us, the MM said “Oh, we hate this shit.”
A guy from the NME was with us for three days, I’m not slagging him off, he was dead cool, he got into it and all that but in this interview, he’s got this quote from me saying “Glastonbury’s the only place where you can paint your face like a panda and get away with it because if you did it in a pub round our way someone’d stab you in the throat. He said that to me. I just sat there and said I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. When I saw it in print two weeks later and I was supposed to have said it I thought “Why don’t you just interview yourself.” But it’s the game, there’s nothing you can do about it.
At the moment the NME in particular are looking for something that isn’t there. It’s like gossip columns. I was supposed to have beaten up twelve crusties single- handedly in the Camden Underworld one night. But I’m sorry but I wasn’t there. I was in Ireland. But our kid just plays up to it all the time.
What about the image Liam has in the press?
Liam is all mouth and no trousers. He gets all upset about what the press say but I say to him “Look, you’re the one who says you’re going to bottle some journalists, you’re the one who says you like fighting.”
I couldn’t give a flying fuck mate. I don’t care if people throw a bottle at him, as long as it hits him and not me. I’m only interested in music. I’ve got the band to worry about. I do all the meetings and all the interviews. I write all the songs and all the lyrics and when they do a sound check, they just sit there and they’re like four guys from Manchester. What are they going to do themselves? Except get pissed and get into trouble.
Do you feel responsible for them?
I feel responsible for them, but anything else it’s just their tough shit. What I worry about at the moment is that it’s over riding the music, but you’ve got to wait for the press to get bored with it and go a bit deeper.
We decided to close the interview as time was pressing. We left Noel in his hotel room to do another interview, this time with Spiral, a Spanish music magazine.
Brighton’s a great city with a number of cool venues to see a band in – The Zap, The Pavilion. But the venue Oasis were playing tonight was definitely not one of them. Just a square concrete room with a stage at one side of the room and a bar at the other – WHICH SHUT AT 11.
Oasis came onstage at 11. This is why we were here, this why we wanted to do a piece on Oasis. Because put simply they are a Fucking great band. Even with the poor quality PA they sounded good. Oasis are not the most original band around at the moment. But who cares? It’s entertainment that matters.
The crowd was healthily young – obviously too young to be part of the experience of the bands that influence the sound of Oasis. But this is the best sort of crowd – energetic and enthusiastic because they are going out and getting into music for the 1st time.
Oasis end their set with a heavy version of I AM THE WALRUS (John would be proud) and Liam is belting out the GOOO GOOOO G’JOOOObs. Liam for the record is wearing dark glasses and a rather far-out colourful cagool. Noel walks off before the song ends.
Why do you walk off first when you do your last song, I am the walrus?
It’s just that the first couple of times we done it we couldn’t work out an ending, So I’d stand there nodding at them to end it and they’d be looking all dazed, so I just put down me guitar and said see you later Bye. Let them sort out an ending themselves. When we first started doing that song at the end when we’d do small gigs with no dressing room.
I’d put my guitar down and walk off and go to the bar and then it was like “HEY THIS GUY’S REALLY COOL MAN. HE PUTS HIS GUITAR DOWN AND GOES TO THE BAR AND WATCHES THE BAND FROM THE FRONT. IT’S LIKE SAYING WATCHING IS ACTUALLY BETTER THAN BEING IN THE BAND!” Nah, not at all, there’s no dressing room mate.