Noel Gallagher - The Masterplan Official Interview Promo CD - 11th August 1998
With thanks to Alan Coleman from The Soapbox forum.
Here's other bits from the same interview as published in the Telegraph on the 7th November 1998.
The flip side of Oasis
With 'The Masterplan', a collection of B-sides, Oasis are set to return to the top of the charts. Noel Gallagher talks exlusively to Paul Du Noyer about the album, and reflects on the group's five-year rise
YOU have always gone for proper songs, you haven't gone down the remix route, or the alternate version.
I've always been a fan of The Jam and the Smiths and they always had ace B-sides. So it was just my upbringing as a songwriter, really - I don't see the point in putting out a single and bringing out six remixes. That to me is just ripping people off. We've done one remix with Brendan Lynch, for Champagne Supernova. It only went to the clubs, it was a one-sided 12-inch.
Were most of these tracks written to be B-sides?
I Am The Walrus wasn't, because it wasn't written by me. Some of them were, some of them weren't. The first one on the album, Acquiesce, came about when all the band were in Loco Studios in Wales and I was living down in Chiswick. On one occasion, I caught the train up, but it was delayed for some ridiculous reason so I got out my guitar and hummed the melody, and I wrote the melody for the chorus in the studio. Everyone seems to think it's about brothers - they think it's Liam singing the verses to me and me singing back to him - but it's more a song about friendship. I don't know why Liam wouldn't sing the chorus . . . he was probably in the pub or something, so I sang them. Those were the days when you were allowed to have four songs on a single. I think they're trying to bring it down to three now - it's a pity because it'll extend some bands' career by five years. ]
Why cover I Am The Walrus?
When we used to go to Liverpool all the time and do these gigs in '91 and '92 we used to support Scousers. And the Scouse bands used to say, "Here's that band who think they're the Beatles" - which was never true actually, none of us ever thought we were the Beatles - except Liam, who thinks he's John Lennon. But these Scousers used to play obvious Beatles songs. I think it was just to wind up the Real People that no-one had ever done I Am The Walrus live, not even The Beatles. So in a drunken state we go, "Therefore, we shall attempt I Am The Walrus." It took us months to work it out, then we went up to Liverpool one night and played it, and everybody walked out after about 25 minutes! It's roughly nine minutes long on the single but we faded it for the album on six minutes 'cos it goes round and round for ever. A lot of people said at the time "Oh it's better than the Beatles' version," to which I thought, "It must be a long time since you listened to the record then." There's just more guitars on it, it's a bit faster and a lot louder. The guitar is shit on it, by the way, 'cos I was drunk.
There's a nice guitar part threading its way through Listen Up.
On the single itself the guitar solo is twice as long as it is on this. Liam was saying it's too long and I was disagreeing with him, because that's what you're supposed to do. If you don't argue with him he gets upset. I must have got my way in the end 'cos we pressed the long version. But this time I said "Let's edit it". So four years after, Liam's got his own way. And the thing is, I was playing it to him the other night and he didn't even notice!
There's an element of "what you dream is what you get" to Fade Away, which is quite a John Lennon-ish thought. That was the idea behind Imagine, that you don't get more than you imagine.
Yeah, that's true. You only get what you settle for. I like that line. I dunno if I got that from a book or something, it sounds too good to be one of mine. I think at the time we were gonna get sued because it sounded a bit like a Wham! song, which I took great offence at. I think it was Freedom. It wasn't intentional. I probably wrote it in Manchester. If you listen to the lyrics they tell you a lot more about the song than I can now. "The dreams we had as children fade away." I suppose it's a song about growing up but at the same time not growing old, if that makes any sense.
It reminds me of Rockin' Chair.
It's another song about trying to leave the place that you are in. If I listen to some of these again I can tell I was probably getting ready to split with my ex-girlfriend, 'cos it's all about packing your bags and waiting for the right moment to get out of there. I always wanted to move to London, it seemed to be the place to be. Every time I came down there, I hated going back 'cos it was "grim up north". After the acid house thing the club scene died, and every time I came to London there'd be 500 different clubs to go to in one night. Everyone was buying us drinks 'cos the head of our record label was off his head at that point, and it was, "I'm gonna move down there and get a flat next to him - seems like the good life to me!"
Rhyming Jaguar with motor car . . . I've done that twice now. I'll probably do it again on the next album. It's the only word you can't rhyme anything with, is Jaguar.
Was The Swamp Song a pleasure because you didn't have to write any lyrics?
It was brilliant. But no-one else has shown signs of writing any lyrics. Well, Liam's written a few lately, for his own tunes, which are pretty good, actually. But he wants to put them to my songs, which I'm not having, 'cos we argue enough as it is let alone arguing about arrangements of lyrics. A joint song would be a nightmare, I think. It was originally called, inspiringly, The Jam. But once Paul Weller played on it we thought we'd better change it, 'cos it might sound like we were taking the piss. You know, Paul Weller plays The Jam. Have a great big sticker on the single!
Half The World Away . . .
This is Paul Weller's favourite ever Oasis song. It's Burt Bacharach. I'd always liked the chords to This Guy's in Love With You and somebody showed me how to play it on the guitar, so that's where I pinched the chords from.
Does it date from the time you absconded from the group?
I think so, because we did that and Talk Tonight in a studio in Texas. We were doing our first major American tour, and we'd had a bad gig at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, and me and Liam had a bit of a disagreement about something - probably about what shoes he was wearing. I took the tour float and I fucking off to Las Vegas 'cos I thought, "I'm not being in a band with this lot any more." I kept in touch with our manager, and they found out where I was and persuaded me to come back because we had a big British tour to fulfil. I probably started writing Talk Tonight in Vegas, and finished it in Texas. I've always got a guitar with me when I'm running away, it's always handy to have even if only to sell for something! I remember at the time Liam dismissing Talk Tonight in the press big time, saying it was country and western, or I was singing it in an American accent, which shows how strung out of his head he was.
(It's Good) to Be Free.
I don't know why It's Good is in brackets. Loads of other people used to do it on their records and I could never understand why, so I thought I'd do it, and I don't understand why. If you took that out, To Be Free is a shit title. But I suppose I was trying to make myself look intellectual.
And The Masterplan.
The Masterplan is my favourite song I've ever written. I wrote it in a hotel room in Japan. Sometimes you have a riff and you build a song around that, or sometimes you have a set of lyrics and you build it around that, and I remember just sitting down with the guitar about four or five in the morning, and I swear the thing just came out. Whenever the wife's friends are round at our house - always at half-three, when you're battered out of your head - they go, "Play us The Masterplan! Oh go on." And you completely fuck it up. Why does the lyric mean so much to you? I think everyone knows by now I don't consider myself to be . . . Well, "I'm the best lyricist in Oasis" is the way I like to say it. But to me it sums up your journey through life. The ironic thing about giving this album that title is that it sounds like there was a masterplan. In the bigger scheme of things the masterplan was to be the biggest band in the world, and we probably were for about a year leading up to Knebworth in August, 1996, and six months afterwards. It's all levelled off since then, which is cool because it's taken a bit of the heat off us. But the masterplan was always to make great records. I don't think people make great records any more. They write great songs but don't make great records, or they make great records but don't write great songs. Somewhere in between the two. You can only try your best, can't you?
But because you mention the word "brother" in the song people take it to be about Liam.
Yeah, I don't mean that in the sense that it's Liam; it's like, we're all brothers, aren't we? Brothers and sisters. A lot of my generation have spent their entire lives looking a gift horse in the mouth. I suppose we'd still be back in Manchester if we hadn't just got up and said, Fuck it. If you don't do it by the time you're 25 then it's slipping away from you. All your self-confidence is just about eroded from you when you're 25. The things you want to be in life, if you don't get them by the time you're 25 you think, is this it? There's no harm in taking a chance. Me mam always used to say to me, "God loves a tryer." I said, "Why, has he got a car?" "No, a tryer, not a tyre."