Noel Gallagher - The Courier Mail - 15th November 2006
AS A twenty-some-thing oik in Manchester, Noel Gallagher remembers using some of the money he had little of to buy Nirvana's In Utero album.
One song made his blood boil: the unfortunately prophetic I Hate Myself and I Want to Die.
"I remember thinking 'Here's this f---ing yank who's got everything I want'," Gallagher recalls of Kurt Cobain.
"He was in the biggest band in the world, he's critically acclaimed, revered by fans, he's a f---ing multi-millionaire. That was everything I wanted in life, he had it. And the c--- wants to kill himself. I started thinking, 'How can that be?'."
Gallagher, who had started writing the songs that would become Oasis' seminal debut Definitely Maybe, suddenly got the inspiration to write Live Forever.
The ballad became the band's signature tune, recently voted the best song ever by Q Magazine readers in the UK.
His lyrics became the antidote to Cobain's suicidal misery.
"At the time I had nothing, I was living in a council flat, I had nowt," Gallagher says. "I had one guitar, I could barely pay the rent on the rehearsal room, I didn't have a job but we kept it going. I still loved getting up every day because it was a pleasure to be alive. Live Forever just came out."
Fast forward to 2006 and the twenty-something Gallagher is now a thirty-something multi-millionaire who is the songwriting force behind one of the biggest rock bands in UK history.
He's got everything he thought Kurt Cobain was wasting . . . except Courtney Love. "I'm still working on that," he jokes, "but she won't have it."
Gallagher is on the phone to spruik an album he didn't want to release – Oasis' best of Stop the Clocks. You see, Oasis had left their label Sony BMG in the UK, but the company were going to release the album regardless, so Gallagher stepped in to, as he puts it, stop it being sh--.
"They're within their rights to do one," he says, "We got wind they were going to do one so we figured it's best to be involved, choose the tracks and the artwork and all that f---ing bollocks. But it's frustrating, we'd rather be working on new stuff."
Stop the Clocks features precisely no new tracks, resisting the recent trend for artists to throw a couple of new or previously unreleased songs on their "best of" albums.
"Best ofs aren't about new music," Gallagher says. "When you buy a best of, not by a classic band but by new bands like Supergrass or Blur or Manic Street Preachers, there's always two songs at the end that are so obviously new songs that have been lying around the studio – let's stick that on the best of and they're so obviously not the best."
Two unreleased songs, Stop the Clocks and The Boy with the Blues were mentioned by fans as possibilities to make the compilation.
Gallagher says the songs exist but were never going to make the best of.
Instead the best of features Liam and Noel Gallagher's pick of their songs – tellingly nothing from their critically mauled Be Here Now album and a large smattering of tracks from their debut and follow-up What's the Story Morning Glory. There's also four B-sides from that era, only two tracks from their recent "comeback" album Don't Believe the Truth and one track each from Heathen Chemistry and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.
"This album is not for the Oasis generation, as they're called," Gallagher says. "If you're an Oasis fan you've probably got all these songs anyway. This album is for kids in 10 years time who will maybe get an introduction to Oasis the way I got into the Beatles, through a best of. Then there's plenty of other material they can discover for themselves, as opposed to the band going 'Here's all our best music'. There's songs like Rockin' Chair, D'Ya Know What I Mean, Listen Up, Fade Away, Headshrinker and all these B-sides that should have been on there, but people can discover those on their own."
Stop the Clocks is a best of, not a "greatest hits". There is a difference.
Indeed, there's not only eight singles left off Stop the Clock, but three UK No. 1 hits.
"There's another seven or eight songs that should be on there. But that would have meant stretching it to three CDs and I thought that was a bit f---ing sh--, really," Gallagher says.
"Two CDs is enough. It would have been nice to get it down to one CD, to get 12 killer tracks on one album but unfortunately I've written too many killer tracks."
Not that Gallagher isn't quick to point out which singles he automatically nixed from the potential tracklisting.
"Roll With It, All Around the World. Stand By Me, Sunday Morning Call. Quite a few really. But I wouldn't be surprised if a 'greatest hits' album is on the way very, very soon. The record label owns all the rights to our music. I've got a couple of record labels myself. I'm thinking if I run a record label I'd go 'Hmm, I can still milk this Oasis thing for another album'. There's eight singles not on it. I wouldn't be surprised if there's an Oasis 'greatest hits' imminent."
While rifling through the Oasis vault recently Gallagher says he found a "f---ing immense" live version of Some Might Say and a demo of Cigarettes and Alcohol he has "no recollection of recording".
His iPod contains only one Oasis album in full – Don't Believe the Truth – but plenty of demo and unreleased material.
Any chance of an anthology series, like his beloved Beatles?
"I don't know how these things work. Sony Records is going down the toilet mate. They own it all. I'd brace yourself if I was you, the barrage of any old sh-- is coming.
"There's a full unreleased album of Definitely Maybe, the one that was scrapped, plus a full unreleased album of stuff from Don't Believe the Truth that was scrapped because of, well, various reasons. Well, it was sh-- really."
While they're in nostalgia mode, Oasis will also release a tour documentary Lord Don't Slow Me Down filmed on their Don't Believe the Truth tour between 2005 and 2006.
"Swarthes of it are from Australia, actually," Gallagher says. "What's it about? I have no idea. There's lots of me f---ing about in it. Me swearing and playing guitar, signing autographs.
"People are expecting me to big it up, the people who made it. You see band documentaries and they're really exciting? This one seems f---ing boring to me but who am I to say? I'm in it."
The band are also in hibernation, and will begin negotiations for new record deals outside the UK.
"As for offers I don't know, my manager deals with all that, but I'm sure there's been millions and millions been offered," Gallagher states.
There's also no word on a new album, but Gallagher is not concerned.
"We had 11 songs leftover from the last album. Out of those seven were pretty good and four were great. I'm certainly not panicking. We could release an album now without even going into the studio to be honest. But there's no hurry. We only got back off that tour in March. F--- that. I'm not even interested yet to be honest. I haven't spent the money I made yet."
Stop the Clocks is out on Saturday through Sony BMG.