What the fuck is a wonderwall anyway?

Irgendwann in den Neunziger Jahren waren Oasis für kurze Zeit die größte Band der Welt. Songs wie „Live Forever“, „Don’t Look Back in Anger“, „Champagne Supernova“ und – allen voran – „Wonderwall“ wurden zu regelrechten Hymnen. Für viele waren Oasis die neuen Kinks, die neuen Clash, die neuen Smiths, für einige sogar die neuen Beatles. Doch mit dem hastig aufgenommenen dritten Album „Be Here Now“ begann die Fassade zu bröckeln. Als Mastermind Noel Gallagher im Jahr 2000 für einige Monate die Band verließ, glaubten viele an das Ende.

Mittlerweile schreiben wir 2009 und Oasis gibt es noch immer – inklusive Noel. Mit „Dig Out Your Soul“, ihrem siebten Album, geben sich die Britpop-Helden ungewohnt psychedelisch. Wird aus den „Manchester Lads“ gar noch eine Art-Rock-Band? Vermutlich nicht. Fest steht, dass Oasis 15 Jahre nach Veröffentlichung ihres Debüts immer noch – oder wieder? – einiges zu sagen haben.

Die aktuelle Welttournee, die sie am 26. Februar nach Wien führt, begann gleich mit einer Schrecksekunde: Bei einem Konzert in Toronto attackierte ein offenbar verwirrter Fan Noel Gallagher und brach ihm mehrere Rippen. Eigentlich Grund genug für den ewig grantigen Bandleader, seine berüchtigte Misanthropie zu vertiefen. Im Gespräch mit Dietmar Petschl gab sich Gallagher jedoch überraschend entspannt und auskunftsfreudig.

Hello, how are you doing?

Very well, how are you?

I hear that some weirdo attacked you on stage and injured you. Is everything ok again?

I’m alright. That was fucking – (calculates) September, October, November – five months ago. Everything is ok now.

Is attracting crazy people one of the downsides of stardom?

No, I don’t attract any weirdos. I don’t think there is a downside to stardom. I have yet to experience one.

Let’s talk about the album. People are saying that „Dig Out Your Soul“ is your best in ages. How come?

I don’t really know. I guess if I could put it down to one thing it’s me not really being so worried about hit singles anymore. Because you see, the single charts don’t really mean anything anymore. Who wants to be on top of the charts, when the charts don’t really mean anything? I was just writing tunes.
In the past I was thinking of singles, first single, what’s the video gonna be like, what’s the fucking stage show gonna be like, can we play it live and so on.
This time I didn’t care, I was just writing with a kind of free spirit really. And that’s what came out.

„Dig Out Your Soul“ almost feels like a concept album or a suite with all the songs segueing into each other – was it conceived that way from the beginning?

No, it just kind of grew. I wrote most of the songs in the studio. So we made a completely different record than we had planned. It just all grew out of one or two songs, which were „The Turning“ and „Bag It Up“. The whole album was based on those two songs really. We were rather surprised at how it turned out – in the past I rarely wrote in the studio. I would write a song and would not record it until maybe six months later – so for that six months I played it over and over again and I would work out deliberately what it was gonna sound like. This time, I wrote most of the songs in the studio, and so we were just making it up as we went along. That was a very exiting experience, and the songs all sound great.

I hear there were some songs you were quite fond of that didn’t make it to the album. How is that?

(Moans) Hm. It’s because Liam is lazy and couldn’t be bothered to finish the singing.

Ouch. That sounds like Oasis is still not a haven of brotherly love.

Oh yeah. Liam and I, we don’t speak the same language anymore. But that’s ok, it still works somehow.

With all the problems you two seem to be having, I was wondering if you have ever considered going solo.

Well, I thought about that a few times. I may attempt to do something by myself next time around, but I’m not sure yet what exactly it will be. I don’t sit down and think well I’m great and it’s all brilliant so I should do it for myself. But it might be nice just to be, just to do something different. I don’t think I’m better than Liam and I don’t think he is better than me. I think he’s got great, ehm, attributes to his – whatever it is he does – and so have I, you know. So it would just be to do something different, not to do something any better at all. Because, you know, what could be better than Oasis? (laughs).

People still measure everything you are doing against those first two albums. Does that annoy you?

Well, It doesn’t annoy me anymore because I’m used to it by now. But if every Oasis album is judged against „Definitely Maybe“ and „Morning Glory“, then everybody else’s new album should be judged against them as well. If we are really still waiting for the next „Morning Glory“ then fucking bring it over U2, Coldplay, Razorlight and fucking Snow Patrol and everybody else, because nobody will beat those albums.

So who will be the next Oasis?

I don’t think anyone could be the next Oasis – but there are bands I like a lot, like Kasabian, or The Enemy. I also like that band from Manchester called Twisted Wheel. So there’re a few good bands out there, but I still don’t think anybody will ever achieve the level of hysteria that goes along with Oasis.

Aren’t you getting sick of having to play „Wonderwall“ night after night? Do you sometimes curse the day you wrote that song?

No! Not at all. I mean, we didn’t play it for a long time because we didn’t feel that we could do the song justice. But sometimes I have to keep my own ego in check and think, well, the concerts are not really about me – so whether I like playing it or not is irrelevant.
It’s like all these people turned up, if they want to hear „Wonderwall“ then I’ll play it. I don’t give a fuck. It’s not something I would listen to at home, but it made me an astonishing amount of money, and, good for that, you know.

The song meant a lot to a lot of people when it came out, and it still does today. How about you? Can you still connect with what you were feeling when you wrote it?

Oh no, I cannot even begin to remember what the fuck it’s about in the first place. I mean, it’s been such a long time ago, it’s taken on – you know, youd’have to ask people who really like it. I don’t know what it means, what the fuck is a „wonderwall“ anyway? I really don’t know, but I can safely assume that I was on drugs when I was writing that, that’s for starters, so I don’t know.

You gave up drugs a while ago now, didn’t you?

Yes, ten years ago, eleven years even.

Yet „Dig Out Your Soul“ is your most psychedelic album to date. It sounds like you were high on LSD all the time while recording it.

(Laughs). Well, I would not make a comment on that.

You have your own label now, Big Brother Records. Why did you leave Sony Music? Did they try to interfere with the music?

No. Well, to be honest, we have managers and businesspeople who look after all our stuff. They advised us that it would be better for us to be on our own record label and to distribute it trough independent labels in and around Europe. I don’t question their judgement. I wasn’t bothered to be on Sony Music or any fucking record label. I look after writing songs, somebody else looks after the business. The reason why we’re not on Sony anymore is because of the business. I don’t get involved. I am busy trying to be brilliant and psychedelic and buy leather jackets and fuckin’ smoke cigarettes. I don’t give a fuck about business. That is somebody else’s job.

You have met many of your idols – I hear some of them are even close friends now. Tell me about it.

My love of, say, Paul Weller and Neil Young and Morrissey and Iggy Pop and Lou Reed and all that, it’s just purely about the music. I don’t give a fuck about them as people. So when I meet them, they’re just the same as me, they are just human beings who write music. I don’t give a shit about their politics, where they live, what haircut they got, whatever. I’m into their music, that’s it.
Their personalities are as flawed as mine. Nobody is a hero, nobody is a genius. Nobody is a fuckin’ saint, and nobody’s a sinner. We are just all normal people who happen to write music for a living. Some people write music that more people buy than others. But that doesn’t make any difference to me. I just like the music, I like the tunes.
It was the same when I met … – I met all the surviving Beatles. I never met John Lennon, but I’ve met the other three, and I wasn’t freaked out at all. I’m into them because of their music, not because of who they are. I don’t give a shit about who they are.

Still it seems that the papers are usually more interested in your private life than they are in your work. Does that bother you?

Unfortunately, these are the times in which we’re living. If I was to let stuff like that get me down, I’d be in a fucking mental asylum, because there’s shit like that all day every day. I don’t care what they write about me, I genuinely do not care. I don’t listen to critics either. You know I don’t care when they say my records are like this or that, you know. That does not bother me in the slightest.
You know, I get off on stage tonight in front of 8,000 people, and that’s what’s real. If I go on stage and I feel that I have not done the best I can on stage, then that will upset me. But that lies in my control, I can change that tomorrow night, you know what I mean. Anything that’s out of my control, why would I give a fuck about that?

You have been on tour for more than five months now. Before a concert, don’t you sometimes think you would much rather stay at home and watch the telly?

(Laughs) You know, at the end of this tour, we’ll have a year off, so I look forward to that. But then when I have a year off, I look forward to being back on stage, so it’s quite an easy existence, you know. On the night of the last gig of the world tour, I put the guitar down, and then I’m not in a band for a year. I don’t see Liam, I don’t see Gem, I don’t see anybody, I don’t give a fuck. I listen to music, I write music, I play with my children, go on holiday and do all that normal stuff that everybody does. And when somebody calls me and says „Right, it’s time to make music“ – then off we go again.

Your little son just turned one. Do you get to see him much?

Not if I’m in America, no, but we get weeks off, and I managed to be round on his birthday. I was also around for Christmas. You can’t ask for more than that.

Does having children have any influence on your songwriting?

No, no, no. No, it doesn’t even enter my head to write a song about my children. Who would want to listen to that anyway?

So how do you write your songs? Do you struggle, or do they come to you easily?

The good ones write themselves. Songwriting to me is still a magical process. I just pick up the guitar, and sometimes, a song just arrives out of the sky – bang, and it’s there. And another time, I pick up the guitar and I can’t even fuckin’ play it. You know, I’m amazed by all, which is why my songs are never depressing. I really enjoy writing music, and it’s not a job to me. I don’t have a room where I’m going to write, I don’t say on Wednesday and Thursday I’m going away to write some songs, ’cause that would be like a job. I just wait for them to find me. And sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.
When I wrote „Rock ’n’ Roll Star“ – most of the first album, really – when I wrote that, I knew it was fuckin’ brilliant.
Also most of the second album. The songs that have not lasted well, like great chunks of „Be Here Now“ and most of „Standing on the Shoulder of Giants“ I was very unsure of at the time. They still don’t do it for me. But the last two albums, „Don’t Believe the Truth“ and „Dig Out Your Soul“: As soon as I wrote „Mucky Fingers“ or „Lyla“ or „Let There Be Love“ or „Shock of the Lightning“, I knew they were great songs. I’m thankful for that, but I don’t know how I did it. And I don’t want to know. I don’t write songs about myself. I don’t sit and look in the mirror and say: Who are you? Let’s write a song about you and your feelings. I don’t give a fuck about that. When I’m writing lyrics, I purposely make sure that I can make them as vague and as ambiguous as possible. So that when somebody listens, they think, hey, it’s about me. That’s what all the great songs are about: They’re about nothing. The great songs are about days of the week and the fucking weather. I mean, „Yesterday“, that means everything to everybody. „I Am the Walrus“ means fucking nothing.

After almost twenty years with Oasis, do you have any regrets?

We should have taken a year off after we played Knebworth. Instead of going straight into the studio to record „Be Here Now“, we should have skipped that album and taken two years off and gone and done some living. I just carried on working, but to be honest, my heart wasn’t in it. That’s it, that’s my only regret. Oh, and I used to smoke Benson & Hedges, and now I smoke Marlboro Lights. I wish I’d still smoke Benson & Hedges.


  • Fotos: Danny Clinch
  • Issue: 02
  • Keywords: Music