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The Innovators: Noel Gallagher

Was there a point when you said, “Oh no, this is going under right now. I hope it recovers?”
I suppose when Bonehead [Paul Arthurs, former guitarist] and Guigsy [Paul McGuigan, former bassist] left in the same week while we were mixing Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. The first single hadn’t even been released and I was like, “Well, fuckin’ hell. Yesterday, there was a band, and today there’s me and Liam.” If we were in the middle of some time off, it might have been, “Well, what do we do?” But, we were already committed to a load of gigs that were sold out, so we had to get it together to go and do it. Had we been at the end of a tour and people left, maybe we would have considered it differently. When Andy [Bell, bassist] and Gem [Archer, guitarist] joined and we went out on the road, the plan was just to complete the tour and then see what we all felt about it, but immediately it was like, “Fuckin’ hell, man! This is gonna work.”

Do you think the band is actually better with this lineup?
Well, to say it was better would be doing the original lineup a disservice, ’cause we were fucking great in the beginning. We were the best nightclub rock’n’roll band in the history of fucking nightclubs. I prefer this lineup to any of the others, but it’s not for me to say which has been the best one. It’s not really fair.

Throughout your career you’ve been very critical of your own work.
I think the word honest is what I’d use, not critical. I’m honest. I can see it for what it is. Sometimes I sit and write songs and record them and for the length of time that it takes to listen to the final mix, I think that it’s fantastic. I suppose some of them don’t stand the test of time.

I’d guess you feel that people do not necessarily have to like each other to be in a band together. You see the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and Smashing Pumpkins either reuniting or planning to, and obviously there’s a lot of tension between some of the principals.
I think that the most tension comes from the cash runnin’ out. It’s like, “Fuckin’ hell, I’ve got no more money left. Maybe we should get the band back together.”

So you don’t see that happening with you guys for a while, do you?
Well, we would never split up — for the simple reason that we would have to come back. We may take a hiatus, but there’s no point in saying, “Today we’ve called a press conference to announce that Oasis have split up.” If I wanted to go off and do other stuff, it wouldn’t mean that I’ve left the band. Because then you’d just have to call another press conference to announce that you’re going on a fucking comeback tour.

With Oasis having sold out Madison Square Garden, it almost feels like you’re on a comeback tour.
I’ve gotta say that, in America, we’re really knocked out by the amount of people that have turned up and the way that the new songs have been received. I think the first album [Definitely Maybe] especially has already risen to iconic status, and it’s a record that young people must have.

Now, I know you’re not a big fan of hip-hop —
Is anybody?

Well, some of our readers are. Oh, really?

But have you heard The Grey Album by Danger Mouse?
Yeah, it’s shit. I was embarrassed for him.

You didn’t think it worked?
No, it was just a pretty atrocious attempt to try and make the Beatles hip-hop. I bet Paul McCartney loved it. And if he could find any way of convincing Yoko Ono, it’d be in the fucking record shops now. Hip-hop is shit at the best of times — don’t involve John Lennon in it. What’s next? A hip-hop version of Highway 61 Revisited? I’ll personally slap that cunt if he does that.

Interview by Doug Brod