* interview with
gem, liam and noel *
An insight into the working process of a rock 'n roll juggernaut, Gary Crowley caught up with the Oasis clan and chatted with Noel, Liam and Gem about new album, 'Heathen Chemistry' Listen to the interview in full or dip into edited highlights below.
This is the first album with Gem and Andy on board, how would you sum up the influence that they've had on Oasis and the making of this album?
Noel: "A lot easier because, in the past, when we've been recording albums, if - for whatever reason - you'd be going up the wrong path with one song and you'd turn and ask for a second opinion, he'd (Liam) usually burp and open another can of lager and Bonehead would fart and go and skin up and that'd be pretty much it and it'd be like, 'well, I suppose I better do it myself then.' Now with Gem and Andy everyone's got an opinion. It's a lot less of my input and a lot more of everyone else's."
How easy has it been for you Gem, slotting in to what these guys do because, obviously, they've got such a history...?
Gem: "It's the easiest record I've ever been involved with. It's the songs and the voice, y'know. It just flies down really."
You've produced this album yourselves, why was the time right for that?
Noel: "We've always produced our own records, it's just someone else always gets the credit for it. I think that every band produces their own albums it's just that whoever, whether it be band's managers or their record companies, would rather have somebody there who's got a proven track-record of making hit records.
"We don't operate by them rules: we've got our own studio; we don't need a DJ; we don't need a remixer; we don't need anybody to come in and say, 'well, this is the backing track but when I've finished with it it's going to sound like this..' - y'know. We'd rather do it ourselves because it's more fulfilling for you and then when you finally go and play them songs to like 50,000 people, then you think, 'well, yeah, we got it right and it's not down to anyone else.'
"If it sells 10 million that'll be fantastic and I'll go and celebrate that for the next two years y'know. But, if it doesn't I'll still be as happy because we've done it on our terms and I know for a fact that we've made a great record regardless of what other people think."
There are four rising songwriters in the band now, what's been the knock-on effect for you?
Gem: "Every band I've been in, I've been the songwriter, so now to end up in one where you're hearing all these tunes come out is dead inspiring."
What are you all like in the studio?
Noel: "Say, for instance, one of my songs... I'd sit in here and do all the bits that I had in my head and, once it gets to the point I didn't have anymore ideas, it'd be like, 'right, anybody else?' And, usually, it would be Gem would go, 'right, well, I want to play this.' Or Liam would be like, 'we should do it like that...'"
You chose 'Hindu Times' as the first single, what make that one the first one out of the traps for you?
Noel: "It took a long time to nail that song. It was written last... I've got at least five separate versions of it that we all thought were finished and we kept going back to it.
"The vibe of the song as an instrumental was fantastic and we thought, 'well, that definitely sounds like a first single.' So then I decided to write a song around this instrumental and thought that I'd got it finished on a couple of occasions and just sort of scrapped it and went back, went back. I just believed in it so much that I wasn't just going to give up on it, y'know."
Liam: "It's a perfect rock 'n roll tune, y'know what I mean?"
Where did the title for 'Hindu Times' come from?
Noel: "It's a real newspaper and I was doing a photo shoot for the 'Hundred Greatest Guitarists Of All Time' for GQ and there was a stylist there with a rack of clothes and I was like, 'well, you just wasted two hours of your life love 'cause I'll dress myself...' After I'd done the photo shoot I was waiting for something and I was looking through the T-Shirts and there was one that just said the Hindu Times, so I stole it.
"Some of the songs for the album started off as instrumentals and we have to give them titles so we don't forget what they are. So, instead of calling them Instrumental 1, 2, 3 and 4 we just give them titles and 'The Hindu Times' was the title for the instrumental and it just sort of stuck. There was a bit of concern over the title of the song from the younger members of the group... but, once it was explained to them that it was just a newspaper they were like, 'oh, well it's alright then.'"
What's the story behind the album title?
"Well, again, I'd love there to be some really cosmic thing behind it. I've tried a couple of times already in interviews to dress it up but I can't bullshit the interviewers and again, it came off a T-Shirt that I bought in a second-hand shop. We all believe in something, right, but we don't practice. I think that's the true description of a heathen and the album is the sound of the chemistry between the heathens."
'Songbird': tell us the history, the inspiration for that song Liam?
Liam: "Just having a wonderful time. I just went for a walk with me acoustic, sat under the tree, nice sun and that you know what I mean? Wrote it in about ten minutes."
Is it a case of you choosing the song or the song choosing you?
Liam: "Yeah, I'd say so. I have melodies, I get melodies non-stop. It's just that I don't play guitar much, I'm limited to what chords I do. So, I go, 'I'm not quite happy with it Noel...'
"Before we go any fuckin' further, I'm never gonna' write an album of fuckin songs. I'm never gonna' be a guy who goes, 'oh, I've wrote 40 songs..' I'll probably write about 20 and I reckon that'll be me done. But they'll be 20 important ones."
You've always been the singer, what does it mean to you to have this talent to write songs?
Liam: "I just do it to keep myself happy, I do it to entertain myself. And, if I entertain myself enough then, hopefully, people might get entertained to."
How has your and Noel's relationship evolved over the last few years? The great thing about Oasis has always been that electricity...
"That's still there man, but not so much. We've grown up a bit, got
kids, know what I mean? The band's more important to me than it has ever
been and I think the same for him. We're in a better place. When it was
all going off between me and him, I wasn't in the place I wanted to be
and I don't think he was."