Trouble in Paradise
The scene: Forte Crest Hotel, Glasgow, Scotland, around midnight, April 7, 1994. It is ten months before Oasis' second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, tops out at No. 4 on the Billboard charts, boosted by the hit single "Wonderwall"; ten months before Oasis will win the Brit Awards--the UK equivalent of the Grammys--for Best Band and Best Album.
The brothers Gallagher (Noel plays guitar and writes the songs; Liam sings them), Q magazine's John Harris and a couple of "associates" are scattered around a twin room, eager to discuss all manner of topics: Oasis' debut single, "Supersonic," its creditable self-belief and a snowballing reputation for delinquency, founded on a spate of incidents that began when all of the band members (apart from the ever-wily Noel) were ejected from a ferry bound for Holland.
John Harris: How do you feel about the fact that, already, Oasis has attracted a reputation for being rock 'n' roll animals?
Liam Gallagher: I'm into it, me. But at the end of the day, like he says, I go home and get a clip off me mum. And I do. She clips me round the head and goes, "What are you like, you little tinker?"
JH: Did you get a clip after Amsterdam?
LG: Oh, yeah. I get it all the time. She looks at me and goes, "You fuckin' daft bastard." Know what I mean?
Noel Gallagher: It's a reputation, right, that I . . .
LG: I like the way it's bubbling up. It's reminding me of the Roses all over again. I like tha, me, of the Roses all over again. I like tha, me. I want to get 2,000 people in a nice gaff who are there to see me. I want to be there . . .
NG: Whoa. Hang on a minute. That's not what he's on about.
LG: He is.
NG: He's on about a reputation, about getting thrown off fuckin' ferries. Getting thrown off ferries and getting deported is summat that I'm not proud about.
LG: Well I am, la.
NG: All right. Well, if you're proud about getting thrown off ferries, why don't you get the fuck out of my band and go and be a football hooligan? We're musicians, right? Not football hooligans.
LG: You're only gutted 'cause you was in bed fuckin' reading your fuckin' books . . .
NG: Not at all. Here's a quote for you from my manager, Marcus Russell . . .
LG: He's a fuckin' . . . 'nother fuckin' . . .
NG: Shut up, you dick. He gets off the ferry after getting fuckin' deported. I'm left in Amsterdam with me dick out like a fuckin' spare prick at a fuckin' wedding . . .
LG: It was a bad move . . .
NG: Shut up! Shut up! He gets off the ferry and Marcus says, "What the fuck are you doing?" These lot think it's rock 'n' roll to get thrown off a ferry . . .
LG: No, I don't.
NG: Shut up. These lot think it's rock 'n' roll to get thrown off . . .
LG: I don't.
NG: Shut up, man! These lot thinks it's rock 'n' roll to get thrown off a ferry. Do you know what my manager said to him? He said, "Nah. Rock 'n' roll is doing your gig, playing your music, coming back and saying you blew 'em away." Not getting thrown off the ferry like some fuckin' scouse schlepper with handcuffs. That's football hooliganism, and I won't stand for it. And listen, they all got fined 1,000 pounds each.
LG: We didn't at all. You can stick your 1,000 pounds right up yer arse 'til it comes out your fuckin' big toe.
(When Noel retires to the toilet, Liam is asked about the band's willingness to be seen as "bad luck.") I'm not up for being seen as bad lads, I'm just up for being seen as me. And what happened on that boat, right, is we had a few drinks, right, 'cause I like drinking. I love it. I'm into it.
NG: (From bathroom) You can't drink, you dickhead!
LG: Who can't drink? Well fuckin' where the fuck did it go? It went right in there, and I dealt with it.
NG: (Still in bathroom) Eayere! Wooah!
LG: Shut up! Shut up! I'm not saying I'm proud of what happened, but . . . that's what happened. That is what occurred that night. And it's like what Bobby Gillespie said. He said, "I'm sick of all these fuckin' bands who don't get in situations no more." The last band that did it was the Pistols. They'd go out and something would happen. And that's all it is. That's the way we are--the way I am. I always go out and I meet some . . .
NG: That's bullshit! Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.
LG: Shut the fuck up. What you've been ranting on about is bullshit to me . . .
NG: If you think rock 'n' roll is about being arrested . . .
LG: Rock 'n' roll is about being yourself. And I went on that fuckin' boat, I had a drink; I had too much beer, and I got in a fight and that was it.
NG: Rock 'n' roll is about music. Music. Music. Music. It's not about you, it's not about me, it's not about Oasis. It's about the songs.
LG: What the fuck were the Pistols, then?
NG: Who's talking about the Sex Pistols?
LG: They're the best fuckin' rock 'n' roll band that ever came out. Or one of 'em.
NG: They're not. They made one album.
JH: Would the Stones have done anything without getting arrested and getting people's backs up?
LG: Would they, fuck! That's why they were so good!
NG: (Superindignant) What? 'Cause they got arrested? Because the Rolling Stones got arrested they were a great rock 'n' roll band? Fuck off! Bullshit! Bullshit!
LG: But they had summat else there . . .
NG: They had what? An edge? Is that what you're saying?
LG: A life, you dickhead.
NG: We've got a life! We've got a life!
LG: We haven't if you start going on like that. (Begins to mince up and down bedroom.) Do you want to walk around like that? Like that?
NG: Not at all . . .
LG: (Still mincing) And get on your stage and go like that . . .
NG: Not at all. You think it's rock 'n' roll to get thrown off a ferry, and it's not.
LG: I don't think it's rock 'n' roll.
NG: That was your quote, you prick! It's rock 'n' roooolll! It's rock 'n' rooool!
LG: I was laughing about it. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm into it. Now I'm out of that cell and I got out of that piss bucket. I laugh about it and I think, "Yeah, fuckin' good, man." It happened. That was reality, mate.
NG: We're not a bunch of boxers. Are we? The band is about music. It's not about getting thrown off fuckin' ferries. (Exasperated) Why don't you go downstairs and smash the bar up and say you're the singer of Oasis?
LG: 'Cause I don't want to. If I did, there's nothing would stop me.
NG: Then why don't you go and make a scene, then? Why don't you do a Keith Richards? Throw the TV out of the window!
LG: I don't want to do that. If I wanted to do it, I'd just go like that and do it. But I don't want to do that. I'm not about that.
NG: What are you about?
LG: I'm about being . . . I'm about going down the fuckin'. . . I'm about . . . (takes long slug of gin and tonic) That's what I'm about.
NG: Right. That's what you're about. I'm talking about our band here.
LG: That's what I'm talking about.
NG: No you're not. You're talking about you. Our band is about tunes. He's just said, 70 percent of what people are writing about is the music. Right. I'll take the 70 percent. The 30 percent, you can go and fuckin' blow it.
LG: Sit down, man. Sit down. You're getting into a state. You've had too many G&Ts. Sit the fuck down.
NG: The thing is, you're not a spokesman for the band.
LG: Are you?
NG: Yeah, I am.
LG: You might be in your little world, but as far as I'm concerned, if you think what I'm saying is bullshit, I think what you're saying is fuckin' bullshit, man.
NG: Fine. You don't speak for the band.
LG: You don't speak for the band.
NG: I do speak for the band.
LG: I speak for the band. I'm speaking now for the band. And I'm into it. I'm into all that fuckin' shit. (Referring to Noel) He's teetotal. He's a fuckin' priest. He was born to be a priest.
NG: No. The difference is, I don't get caught.
LG: So what you're trying to say, right, what you're trying to say . . . you're trying to say that I'm out in a pub, yeah, I have a few beers, yeah, a situation arises and I'm supposed to go like that (makes suitably effeminate gesture)?
NG: What pub? Where?
LG: Anywhere! The boat is the same thing.
NG: It isn't! 'Cause you're with Oasis! You're with the band!
LG: Nah, nah, nah. There's no rules. Show me the rulebook. 'Cause if you've got a rulebook, what you're saying is complete and utter fuckin' (picks up tape recorder and holds it to mouth) bloooarskybluh!
NG: You walk into hotel foyers, and you get everybody at it and you go "Psssst." Knocking on people's doors . . .
LG: I'm having the crack. It's not doing anyone any harm. That's me. John Lennon used to fuckin' burn about, doing little mad things.
NG: Do you know John Lennon?
LG: Do you know him?
NG: I don't, but do you?
NG: Well, you must be pretty old. How old are you? 21?
LG: No. About fuckin' thousand and five fuckin' one.
NG: You're 22.
LG: I'm 21.
NG: Right. And remember, I watched you being born, and I don't even know John Lennon. So shut the fuck up about knowing John Lennon.
LG: Well, what are you trying to say, then? You want us to be teetotal and walk around and go like that (more mincing)?
NG: Music! Music! Music! Music! Music! It's about music!
LG: You want to be Keith Richards. Admit it.
NG: Let's talk about music. Let's not talk about you being a hard guy. Let's talk about music! Let's talk about music!
LG: You're getting hung up about a situation that occurred on a boat!
JH: Let's go back to where we were, people saying, "I go on Oasis' bus, and you can't move for drugs and they're up all night . . ." You're up for that?
NG: People are sat in England, right now, in flats across this country, whether it be Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham. London, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield . . . in rooms like this. And they've all got the drugs out. That is part of life.
LG: Exactly. So shut the fuck up, man! You're just contradicting yourself, you've had too many drinks. I don't want to go on about how I am a hard fucker. I'm in this band to make music, but that thing'll come along with it. It always does.
JH: The Who hated each other as well.
LG: Yeah. Well, I hate this bastard.
JH: Is that what fires this band up?
LG: Yeah. That's what it's all about. That's why we'll be the best band in the world, because I fuckin' hate that twat there. I fuckin' hate him. And I hope one day there's a release where I can smash fuck out of him, with a fuckin' Rickenbacker, right on his nose, and then he does the same to me, 'cause I think we're stepping right up to it now. There's a fuckin' line there, and we're right on the edge of it.
JH: How often do you argue like this?
LG: Every day.
JH: And how do you manage to go onstage with each other?
LG: I've got a mike stand, right, and that's what I'm into, what I'm about. I'm not going to fuck off because he thinks my views are too outrageous or whatever. I've got my vibe and I go to that mike stand and I do my business. He stands in his fuckin' corner, he does his little riffs and his little dance--let him do that. I'll do my bit, the drummer does his bit. That's what it's all about. Five people, not one.
JH: Do you have any recurring dreams?
NG: Yeah, just the one.
LG: (Menacingly) I take over the band.
Oasis is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, April 16, at Mesa Amphitheatre, with the Spinanes. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
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