Although reviews of the new Oasis album, Heathen Chemistry, have been generally positive, a number of pundits have inferred (or outright shouted) that the album’s biggest fault lies in the band’s decision to include nearly a half-dozen songs not carrying a Noel Gallagher songwriting credit. With songs from brother Liam and the newest Oasis members (bassist Andy Bell and guitarist Gem Archer), Heathen Chemistry is the first Oasis album with so many non-Noel compositions, a direction the guitarist neither endorses nor disavows for the future.
“There are no ground rules within the band,” says Noel without a trace of irony. “Nobody gets a set quota of minutes on the record. I will say that all their good songs have got to be better than my shitty ones.”
Perhaps the biggest story on Heathen Chemistry is the fact that the Gallaghers made the album without having to rope off the studio and call in a referee. Noel says that his evolving relationship with his brother is less troubled for a very common reason.
“I’d love to be able to reel off a story of redemption and all that shit, but it’s all about getting older. The little things become less important. When you’re young, the shoes you wear are extremely important. When you get to my age, you don’t give a f--- about anything. If we’d never made a record, I’d still be in a band with Liam, because he’s great, and it’s always exciting.”
In certain critical circles, it has been suggested that Noel should consider his solo options. Although his battles with Liam have been the stuff of rock legend, Noel has absolutely no interest in leaving Oasis for loner pastures.
“It’s completely irrelevant; I’m in a band, and that’s the end of that,” he says adamantly. “I have no designs on being the next Richard Ashcroft [lead singer of the disbanded Verve], believe you me. I don’t mind trying to take the Beatles’ crown as the best band in the world, but do not f--- with the King: there will not be another Elvis Presley. There’s no point in going solo if you can’t be bigger than Elvis and you won’t be. So there.”