Five minutes cooling off in the car could have saved Oasis

NEW TUNE: Noel Gallagher tells the Herald of his regrets at that break-up, getting old and how not to dress

Chris Wasser

It's midday at a plush hotel on London's Marylebone Road when Noel Thomas David Gallagher makes his entrance. In a moment, the 44-year-old rock star will take a seat and answer any question I throw at him. That is, after he's finished criticising my choice of clothing.

"He's dressed as a waiter," says Noel to his manager. True, I'm wearing a white shirt and black trousers. And there's a notebook in my hand. So the cheeky Mancunian requests a cappuccino. It's a teaser for what's to come.

The elder of rock's most famous brothers is a top bloke; warm, amiable, and often hilarious. A cocky swine, mind ("Did you see us at Slane? How good was I?"), but as the chief songwriter and lead guitarist for one of the biggest bands of all time, I suppose a little arrogance here and there is to be expected.


Today, Noel has three things to do: rehearse, get a haircut, and speak to yours truly about everything and anything from the past 20 years.

It's been two years sine the infamous Oasis split, yet it's the bitter feud with his brother that continues to make headlines.

Only a day after this interview, it was announced that Liam was suing his brother over comments he'd made regarding the band's cancelled V Festival appearance in 2009. The case has since been dropped.

There is no clear explanation for how the end came to be.

We do know is that it took place backstage at a festival in France -- five minutes before Oasis were due to headline. It may or may not have involved flying guitars and a, er, plum. Whatever the case, Noel is, technically, the one who walked out on the band. Does he regret how it ended?

"Yeah, of course," he says. "Not at the time. I was like, 'f**k this, I'm out of here'. Too much violence, d'you know what I mean? Slagging each other off is one thing -- violence is another.

"In hindsight, it would have been great if this was a kind of side project, because 2015 is coming up which would have been the 20th anniversary of Morning Glory. We could have done a new album, and we could have played that album in its entirety and done it all over the world and it would have been f**king amazing.

"Looking back on it now, the coolest thing to do would have been to sit in the car and take five minutes. We only had three gigs left. We could have had f**king five years off. They could have gone off and done their thing, I could have done mine, we could have all reconvened and life would have been great. But that's the benefit of hindsight."

Former bassist Andy Bell reckons Noel's depiction of the break-up (it all started when Liam requested to advertise his clothing range in an Oasis tour programme and got annoyed when Noel asked how much he'd pay) is nothing but a pack of lies.

"Well, Andy's entitled to Liam's opinion," says Noel, "and I'm quite prepared to let him have the last word on it."

Has he spoken to Liam since?

"No," he replies. "He called me once when me mam was taken ill.

"But it was in the middle of the night; just a message on the answering machine. But no, I haven't spoken to him.

"He always hung out with Gem and Andy and their wives and their kids, and they were kind of a contained unit," he continues.

"I've got a completely separate life so, it's no big deal. It's only a big deal for people like interviewers who say 'oh, isn't it sad?'" Noel shakes his head and laughs.

I ask if he misses his brother.

"Well... if I go by the last time I saw him, no, I don't miss the violence and the verbal f**king sh*t that goes with all that. I don't miss that"

And so to the music. Noel's new solo album, High Flying Birds, is thankfully worth the wait. It's everything you'd expect, only... better.

It was "easy", he insists.

His description of his second solo effort -- a yet-to-be heard collaboration with British electronic artists Gaz Cobain ("literally the most unique man in the music business") and Brian Dougans, aka The Amorphous Androgynous, sounds even more interesting.

That will see the light of day next year and is apparently the "farthest out" he's ever been. It would be great to sell a million records, he admits, but Noel is under no illusion that he'll have the kind of success he had with Oasis.

"I'm never gonna be in another band or do anything that ever remotely even gets close to that," says Noel. "I wouldn't be that f**king lucky to have that twice in my life. Thank God I was the lead guitarist and wrote most of the songs. I'm not doing this to compete with that, or whatever the other boys are doing. No good can come of that."

Indeed, the "other boys" now call themselves Beady Eye. Noel believes that Oasis were the "last great, traditional rock'n'roll band" and that their debut album, 1994's Definitely Maybe is up there with the Sex Pistols' Never Mind The Bollocks. Or so he says.

The conversation turns to age. He looks after himself, he tells me. He still smokes and drinks (much to his wife's disgust), but getting older isn't something that bothers him.

"After all I've done, it's f**king great," he smiles. "I'm not sitting here thinking 'I really missed the boat there in that music game, me -- I could have been somebody'."

Given a second chance, is there anything he'd change about his time in Oasis?

"If you can even imagine this," he answers, "I'd have enjoyed it a little bit more. I had to write all those songs, d'you know what I mean? So as much as I was enjoying it, believe you me, the other four were enjoying it more because there was no pressure on them. But I wouldn't change a f**king thing".

As Noel and I shake hands and I agree to improve my wardrobe, I ask him how he'd like to be remembered.

"I'd just like to be remembered," he replies. "That's the great thing about music -- if you're in a big band, the songs are immortal, which means you're immortal."

Noel Gallagher plays Dublin's Olympia Theatre on October 23. High Flying Birds is released today