Days Between Stations: Rants in Their Pants (01/98)

My favorite Oasis album is Wibbling Rivalry, a 1995 interviewer’s tape that found its way to the public via bootleg. It tips off with the interviewer addressing the Gallagher brothers: “How do you feel that already you’ve attracted the reputation of being kind of rock ‘n’ roll animals?” “It’s a reputation, right?” says Noel. “And I like the way it’s bubbling up.” He sounds deservedly mindless; Liam comes in like a bishop, mean enough to frighten bats. “It’s not about getting thrown off fucking ferries,” he says, referring to an incident their manager had been bragging about. “That’s part of it,” Noel says confidently, and then the first bomb–Liam, I mean–goes off. “If you think rock ‘n’ roll–” “If you think rock ‘n’ roll–” “If you think rock ‘n’ roll–” Noel is trying to get a word in, but he’s not interrupting. It’s as if Liam is into the repetition for its own sake, like Van Morrison: “If you think rock ‘n’ roll–” Or into the pauses, like James Brown: “If you think rock ‘n’ roll–” He’s gritting his teeth so hard, your mouth hurts.

“If you think rock ‘n’ roll,” he says, at last emerging from the cave of his phrase, “is about get­ting arrested…” “It’s about being yourself,” Noel replies reasonably, and that really sends Liam over the edge. “NO, IT’S NOT!” he says. He snaps off his words as if pronouncing a death sentence on rock clichés: “Rock ‘n’ roll’s about music. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about Oasis.” He gets tougher by the minute–“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”–the usual after-the-show interview now life­ and-death and the interviewer indistinguishable from his tape recorder, that is, completely forgotten. “Because the Rolling Stones got arrested, they were a great rock ‘n’ roll band? Bullshit!” Noel offers a mild demurral, and again Liam is hammering his rhythm: “Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Let’s talk about music!” Noel tries to get a word in about how, well, rock ‘n’ roll is more than music, all sorts of stuff comes with it, like, say, drugs: “That’s just being in a band.”

“That’s not being in a band,” Liam says, and now he is devastating, cutting through mystification with a scythe: “That’s part of fucking life.” “You’re up for that,” Noel says. “People are sat, right, in England, right now, in flats, across this country, whether it be Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, in rooms like this,” Liam says, biting every word, the momentum building slowly, like a great speech, so that your heart stirs: “They’ve all got the drugs out! That is no big—that is a part of life.”

I’ve played this little bootleg far more times than I’ve played any real Oasis album, because on Wibbling Rivalry you can’t get out of the way, you can’t deny that something is at stake–and that Liam Gallagher will do whatever he has to do to get it across. Find me that on Be Here Now and I’ll lis­ten to it again.

The same vehemence runs through David Lee Roth’s autobiography, Crazy From the Heat (Hy­perion), like a train. Here he is, smilin’ Dave, the man who, no matter what he has or hasn’t done since Van Haien went on without him in 1985, will always have “Jump” in his pocket–the man who, in his glory days, wore stage suits once perfectly described as looking as if a whale had thrown up on them–here’s the happy-go-lucky Mr. “Just a Gigolo” himself, talking about interviews he’s done that begin, “So, you are a Jew?”

Nobody ever said to Mick Jagger, “So, Mick, you’re Episcopalian, aren’t you?” Nobody ever took Jimi Hendrix aside and said, “So, Jimi, you’re a Baptist, aren’t you?” Much less start off the interview that way.

Every step I took on that stage was smashing some Jew-hating, lousy punk deeper into the deck. Every step. I jumped higher ’cause I knew there was going to be more impact when I hit those boards. And if you were even vaguely anti-Semitic, you were under my wheels, motherfuck­er. That’s where the lyrics came from, that’s where the body language came from, that’s where the humor came from, and where the fuck you came from. All equally as important. You want to know the ingredients? Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.

I love that “and where you came from”–why you listened. I love knowing why, finally, I’ve nev­er listened to “Jump” without grin­ning, without feeling more alive, even when it’s only two seconds running under the end of Melrose Place every week. I love it that David Lee Roth can prove his argument with his music far more than I hate the fact that Oasis can’t prove their arguments with their music. Maybe the point is that Liam Gallagher’s rant is on the record and most pop singers never get anything half as powerful down on tape.


Interview magazine, January 1998


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One thought on “Days Between Stations: Rants in Their Pants (01/98)

  1. So did GM deliberately mix up the names of LIam/Noel? As a jape about their interchangability and lack of individual distinction? Or did he just fuck up?

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