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Interview:
"Oasis: Supersonic," 6 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Since emerging in 1994 from the U.K., Oasis has cloaked itself in more than a bit of mystery and attitude.

Outspoken and frequently feuding, brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher still turned their band into the biggest thing both in and coming out of Britain during the mid-90s, and they remained newsworthy -- albeit often for talking smack about each other -- until Oasis' disillusion in 2009. But there was certainly a minute when it lived up to Noel's ambition to be "the biggest band in the world."

The revealing new documentary "Supersonic" -- which screens for one night only on Wednesday, Oct. 26 -- chronicles Oasis' glory days, the two and half years that saw it release two huge albums, "Definitely Maybe" and "(What's The Story) Morning Glory?," score a batch of hits and make headlines in both the music and tabloid press. It culminates with two triumphant August 1996 headline shows in Knebworth, England, for combined crowds of half a million.

Director Mat Whitecross created the two-hour film with unprecedented cooperation from the Gallaghers, who gave him some of their most candid interviews ever. He also tapped other band members and insiders, the Gallaghers' mother and older brother and others in the Oasis orbit, and he had access to a wealth of unseen archival footage and memorabilia. The result is an epic that sheds welcome light on one of rock's most important but carefully camouflaged bands.

Whitecross, 39, is "a massive fan" of Oasis who was tapped by producer Simon Halfon for "Supersonic" -- but first had to have a nerve-wracking meeting with Noel Gallagher. "He's one of those larger-than-life characters, certainly in this country," Whitecross says by phone from his home in London. "I figured if this film never happens, if nothing comes of this I'd at least have gone in and had a chat and shook his hand. He said, 'We want to make this film but we don't know what it is. Can you tell me what this film would be?' So I was thinking on my feet, but we connected on an idea."

Whitecross' idea, in fact, was to focus on Oasis' lightning ride to the top rather than trying to tell the whole story -- which, he notes, "You can't tell in two hours in any department. With most bands, the early days are the really fascinating bit, and Oasis managed to achieve so much so fast; Two and a half years to get to that scale is kind of unprecedented. (Noel) said, 'That doesn't sound right to me. That's too fast,' but I said, 'Believe me, it's true. I've been on Wikipedia...' And he started kind of rolling his eyes, 'I had no idea it was that quick.' And from that point on it was like, 'OK, that's a great way of focusing our attention' and we went for it."

Despite the Gallaghers' penchant for attacking each other, both publicly and privately, Whitecross' interviews display a warmth between them that even the director didn't expect. "One of the things that was surprising was how warmly they spoke of each other and spoke of each other's achievements," Whitecross says. "Very early on in the first session I pulled out a bunch of footage that had come in from backstage at 'Top Of the Pops.' In the film, you can instantly see the love and connection the brothers had back then, and I used it as a bit of a prompt -- not that I didn't want them to get digs in at each other and all the usual things we associated with them, but I wanted them to try to remember what it was like back in the other days rather than just filter through the problem. And they both seemed quite touched by seeing that footage."

Whitecross was both pleased and relieved that both Gallaghers were happy with "Supersonic." "They really liked it," he says. "They didn't have any control over the film, so it was a brave thing to do to trust us wtih telling the story. It could have been a very different film, much more negative, but we were trying to make a film that was truthful. We screened it for them, separately, a couple of times and the notes they came back wtih were very smart, and they said I didn't have to use them if I didn't want to, which, again, was brave. And generous."

Whitecross says he'd love a crack at telling the rest of the Oasis story at some point, too. "Liam is keen for doing it, and I'd be up to do it," he says. "It'd be a tricky one. It'd definitely get messier and have a bigger cast of people. But it would be easy to illustrate because once you become big, once you're a stadium band, people are more keen to stick a camera in your face. So there'd be plenty to work with. I"m up for it if anybody else is."

"Supersonic" has spawned all sorts of predictions and speculation about an Oasis reunion, which Whitecross is confident will happen -- on the Gallaghers' own terms, however. "The tricky think is the more people put pressure on them, the less likely it is to happen," the director explains. "But the way Noel talks about the fans at the end of the film is something he comes back to again and again. He's very generous about their contribution, and I think he would do it for (the fans). Noel has never said no, but he makes jokes about it. Liam says, 'Come on, let's get back on the road! He's keen to do it. The reason it hasn't happened earlier is they're in a position of luxury. They're both rich men. They don't have to be chasing the opportunity to try and get back together. So hopefully if they do come back it'll be for the right reasons and because they both want to do it."

"Oasis: Supersonic" (Rated R)

Wednesday, Oct. 26. One night only.

7 and 9:30 p.m. at the Main Art Theatre, 1128 N. Main St., Royal Oak. Tickets are $15. Call 248-542-5198 or visit landmarktheatres.com/detroit.

7 and 9:30 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $10 and $8. Call 734-668-8463 or visit michtheater.org.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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