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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Oasis: The Last Great Band - An Interview with Paul Gallagher
Excerpt of Paul Gallagher Interview with Crash Bang Pow (Dec. 2009)
Of the three siblings, perhaps surprisingly it was Paul who became the first of the Gallaghers to own a guitar but when it began to gather dust, an eight-year-old Noel decided to practise on it himself for endless hours, locked away in his bedroom. At least Paul was able to escape the incessant playing of his younger brother: “I never shared a room with Noel but Liam did.” So if nothing else, fans of Oasis have Paul Gallagher to thank for introducing Noel to the instrument that he would later use to craft tunes of such resonance as Live Forever and Wonderwall.
Paul quickly realised that he could not compete with Noel’s talent and so he dumped his interest in playing the instrument himself, deciding to “leave the guitar thing to people who know what they are doing.” When asked if the success that Noel and Liam have since had has ever tempted him to pick the guitar back up, Paul concedes without regret: “No, I never get back on the bus.”
Noel, on the other hand, never got off the bus and continued to practise and improve his guitar-playing and song-writing skills to such a standard that he effortlessly put Liam‘s early violin-playing career in the shade. By the time that Paul got Noel a job at Kennedy’s Civil Engineering he was an accomplished player, who took the silver lining of being on light duties after a JCB dropped a section of gas mains on his foot, by bringing his acoustic guitar to work.
It was during this time, in between handing out nuts and bolts to labourers, that Noel Gallagher composed four of the songs that were to later appear on Oasis’ debut album in 1994. Was Paul aware, even back then, just how special Noel’s early songs were? “Of course. You know a good song when you hear it, then it’s for others to create the snowball effect… and whoosh!”
Yet despite Noel having already written a number of bona fide classics, it would still be some time before anyone else would get the opportunity to hear them. He played briefly in the mid-eighties with Paul Bardsley in a five-piece called Fantasy Chicken and the Amateurs before auditioning to be the Inspiral Carpets’ front man in 1988 at the tender age of 21.
Although Noel, along with Tim Burgess, failed to get the gig and it went to Tom Hingley, the Inspirals offered him a job as a roadie and instrument technician. Was this the biggest oversight since Ronaldinho was offered to Saint Mirren F.C. as a 21 year old? “I'm not sure if you would have seen Oasis if Noel was front man of the Inspirals. Be careful what you wish for…”
By the time that Noel left the Inspirals in 1991 his younger brother Liam had finally begun to show an interest in guitar music, leaving his electro and hip hop days behind him to become a fully-fledged member of the Stone Roses appreciation society: “I think by Liam seeing the Roses at Spike Island, and that Ian Brown to him was just an ordinary fella, it made him believe that he could achieve the same thing and more.”
Paul himself had sampled Manchester’s finest throughout the eighties and stuck to the cigarettes and alcohol when everyone else seemed to be sampling the ecstasy-fuelled hedonism of Madchester through 1989 and 1990: “I seen the Roses at Manchester International 2, Blackpool Empress Ballroom and Spike Island. Glorious days.”
It wasn’t long before Liam found a band of his own when he filled the void left by Chris Hutton by joining Paul Arthurs, Tony McCarroll and Paul McGuigan in The Rain: “Liam didn’t form the rain, it was a band already named. He came in and renamed the band OASIS. Then Noel joined, and the rest.. well you know the rest.”
Oasis played their first gig, still without Noel, in August 1991 at the Boardwalk in Manchester and Paul was there from the very beginning to offer early support to his youngest brother‘s musical career: “I have seen most UK shows since ‘91.”
Having been one of only around 50 people to have witnessed such a landmark performance, did Paul see any early song-writing potential in Liam Gallagher’s first compositions, such as Take Me, Alice or Reminisce? “Liam? No. He's coming into his own now though. He always wanted to be a front-man and leave the song-writing to others. Though now he has the means to do both.”
Within three short years, Noel had joined Oasis and taken on song-writing duties, which culminated in the release of Definitely Maybe, the fastest-selling debut album of all time in the UK when it was unleashed. The release of this album came at a time of otherwise lost opportunity for other Manchester bands. The Stone Roses had become embroiled in legal wranglings with both their record company and former manager and the Happy Mondays had finally ingested too many pills, thrills and bellyaches during the making of Yes Please in the West Indies. Oasis stepped up boldly to grab the mantle and the Roses and Mondays were never quite the same again. “(the success of) Oasis never had anything to do with the Roses demise. And the take off from Definitely Maybe? It was a juggernaut. Nothing could stop it.”
And indeed, the Oasis juggernaut continued to captivate the musical world for another 15 years, with the British music and tabloid press following every tantrum and triumph blow by blow. One of the most memorable media frenzies came in the shape of the Oasis versus Blur chart battle in August 1995 that was billed as “The Battle Of Britpop” and which even catapulted both bands onto the national news bulletins. How much of this chart battle does Paul think was manufactured by the NME and Damon Albarn? “The times we lived in... The music business needed a North / South battle. I was never and am still not a fan of Blur. They say nothing to me musically.”
To the detriment of great British music, The Roses imploded quickly after the rise of Oasis and in the words of Ian Brown the seminal Manchester group, “George Best-ed it.” Of the former Roses, Brown himself has crafted out a hugely successful solo career but is Paul surprised at the current lack of success of some of his iconic ex-bandmates? “I thought Reni would have released something by now.”
There is no doubting the Roses’ influence on the Gallaghers and Noel calls Spike Island his “blueprint”. He also paid tribute to the Stone Roses by claiming that they “kicked open the door and we nailed it to the wall” and both he and Liam were to later work with Ian Brown and John Squire on singles during their post-Roses careers. Does Paul believe that his brothers will again work with these Mancunian legends now that they are embarking on their own post-Oasis careers? “Noel maybe. Liam? Who knows.”
By the time 1995’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? had sold 10 million copies worldwide, the band’s dynamics had changed and Tony McCarroll became the first of many casualties when the original drummer was replaced by Alan White. Being so close to the band throughout its lifespan, does Paul still see much of that classic line-up who adorned the Definitely Maybe cover in one of the most iconic images of the nineties? “Nope. I aint seen Bonehead for a few years. And Guigsy? Nothing since he left the band. And Tony? No, nada…”
What about Peter Sifter, who owned the second-hand record shop in Burnage and who was famously name-dropped in Oasis’ second single Shakermaker? “I think it’s still going, I dunno. Mr Sifter was a United fan I later found out...”
News of the band’s ‘split’ was finally announced in August 2009 but with such a history behind them, what does Paul feel will be Oasis’ legacy? “Various shows: Old Trout, Windsor, 1994; The Point, Dublin, 1995; Madison Square Gardens, New York, 2005; City of Manchester Stadium, 2005.
Records? All of ‘em. Line ups? All of ‘em.
Oasis is Oasis. People will always have their ‘faves‘. I seen it for what it was: A great band… the last great band.”
When a longstanding band with a discography like Oasis finally call it a day, it is often reason enough for their record company to release a deluge of ‘lost recordings’, scrapped sessions and rare outtakes. Will Oasis fans finally get to hear the infamous Richard Fearless recordings? “Everyone has opinions on different sessions that never seen the light of day. Death in Vegas? Now come on, as much as I like the band, if it was that good it wouldn’t have been scrapped.”
After fifteen years at the top and with Dig Out Your Soul quite probably their best album of the noughties, was it really time for Oasis to end? “You should never leave anything you're happy with to please others, always please yourself. In saying this yeah, I think everyone needed a break. Is it over for good? Who knows… its a long life.”
As of yet, Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell, Chris Sharrock and possibly Jay Darlington are still ‘Oasis’ but should Liam make a clean break and start with a new identity now that he’s the only original band member left? “Liam should call the band whatever he feels. If he wants to continue as Oasis then let him. After all, he started the band.
Then again, you could also say that Oasis haven’t split… Noel left. I dunno… all will be revealed at some point. Like me, we'll all have to wait and see.”
The jungle drums are suggesting that Liam’s post-Oasis project may well release an album as early as this summer and that at least half a dozen songs are already demoed. Although Paul doesn’t have any suggestions for a new band name, he can confirm that they are working on new material: “I have heard some demos…”
And as for Noel, has he stockpiled any of his own songs over the years with Oasis? “I'm sure Noel has hundreds.”
So 2010 looks to be a good year for Oasis fans then, with albums expected from both Liam and Noel Gallagher. A few years ago, the sensible money would have been on Noel to shine without his brother so how does Paul see their fortunes developing without each other? “I think they BOTH will surprise everyone.”
For the full article please visit :Paul Dykes' Myspace Blog
via L4e / thanks to author Paul Dykes
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