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Oasis Leader Happy To Loosen Grip On Band

Of the Oakland Press

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Oasis’ Noel Gallagher is a reformed control freak.

In the British band’s early, hit-making days of the early ’90s, when singles such as “Live Forever,” “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova” defined a new movement of Britpop, Gallagher was Oasis’ sole songwriter, co-producer and mouthpiece, making headlines for battling with his brother — Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher — and other groups, particularly Blur. Though Liam might balk at the notion, for all intents and purposes, it was Noel’s band.

His grip has relaxed in recent years, however. As credentialed musicians such as bassist Andy Bell (formerly of Ride and Hurricane No. 1) and guitarist Gem Archer (from Heavy Stereo) have joined Oasis, Gallagher has allowed them, as well as Liam, to share songwriting duties, starting with 2002’s “Heathen Chemistry,” and including this year’s “Dig Out Your Soul.”

And he reckons both he and the band are better for it.

“That was a lot of pressure before, everyone sitting around waiting to see what Noel comes up with,” says Noel Gallagher, 41, who’s returned to North America with Oasis after an eventful trip earlier this year in which he injured his ribs and hip after a fan stormed the stage and assaulted him during a Sept. 7 show in Toronto.

“So before, I might come up with five or six great songs and then have to get another four or five together — or just take that much longer to get four or five more great ones. Now I can really concentrate on writing really, really great songs and not have to worry about a whole album of them and the other guys can do their bit, too.”

And with “Dig Out Your Soul” — which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart after its early October release — Gallagher relinquished yet another layer of responsibility, to producer Dave Sardy.

“I have to say this is the first time ever in any album we’ve made that we let a producer take sole control, and we would do whatever he said,” Gallagher notes. “I didn’t have any kind of, ‘Well, I want to make a record like blah, blah, blah, blah,’ but Dave seemed to know where it was going and ... have a very specific idea of the kind of songs he wanted to record.”

Sardy called the result “modern psychedelic blues,” a term Gallagher largely agrees with. Britpop, it seems, never really worked for him.

“All the Britpop thing, that happened completely by accident,” he explains. “I wasn’t sitting around looking at pictures of the Queen going, ‘Aren’t we ... brilliant? Let’s write something about being English!’

“I’ve never written topical songs. They’ve been vaguely timeless, I think. We’re like U2 in that sense. U2 makes U2 music; they don’t make music that belongs in any certain time. It belongs in their time, to them. As soon as they come on the radio, you know it’s them.

“I think we’re kind of in that league, where we just work to our own timetable and don’t worry about having to sound like anything.”

And letting Dave Sardy run things on “Dig Out Your Soul” allowed Oasis’ other songwriters to fit more comfortably into that sound, Gallagher said.

“Gem and Andy (have) said in the past they used to find it a little daunting when I would say, ‘Right, well, what songs have you written for the for the next?,’ ” he recalls. “They used to (soil) themselves a little bit.

“I think they’re more comfortable with Dave now, so they don’t have to come to me. Dave Sardy gets to choose, so it makes everybody’s life a little easier, I think.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean things are easy in Oasis, however.

Even though Gallagher, who has two children from different relationships, feels he’s “mellowed,” the combative edge still remains. In interviews surrounding “Dig Out Your Soul’s” release, he’s taken shots at Radiohead and Coldplay, among other peers — though he recently sang the praises of onetime rivals Blur.

And he can still get testy when talking about his brother, referring to him as “the joker that pretends to be the singer in this band.”

Gallagher is particularly peeved that Oasis was not able to record “two brilliant, really great...songs that he had written for the new album because Liam “ran out of time...He had just 16 weeks to sing 10 songs and only managed to do eight.”

Those tracks — “psychedelic epics” titled “I Want to Live in a Dream in My Record Machine” and “Come On It’s Alright” — are slated to appear on the next Oasis album, which Gallagher says is “already written” and demoed. He compares the music to “mid-era Kinks,” with a thematic united he likens to Neil Young’s “Greendale.”

“It’s very different from what (‘Dig Out Your Soul’) is,” Gallagher says.

When that album will be recorded is up in the air, however. The guitarist expects Oasis to be on the road well into 2009, so he predicts “It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.” And there’s also the issue of a solo album Gallagher is itching to do and has spoken of also starting to record in the New Year.

“I’m going to do one sooner or later — hopefully sooner rather than later,” he says. “I’m kind of hoping Liam might be arrested soon, and then I’ll have time to see it through.”

Oasis, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals and Matt Costa perform at 7 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 13) at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $72.50 and $52.50. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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