Feature excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
"It's far and away the best record since 'Definitely Maybe,'" declares a confident Noel Gallagher. "I'd probably say the whole thing will be an eight out of 10."
There are few, if any, releases in the U.K. that generate the level of hype and anticipation afforded to a new Oasis record, and with album number five, "Heathen Chemistry" (Big Brother/Epic), due in the U.S. July 2 and a day earlier internationally, Gallagher is as bullish as ever.
"It's a f***ing great time for guitar music," he says. "I love the Hives. I love Soundtrack of Our Lives and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The Doves record is a special record, and there are not many of them that come along. There are maybe half a dozen special records every 10 years. Our first album was special."
But eight years on from the release of "Definitely Maybe," the question is whether the band's new set can put it back on both commercial and critical track.
With sophomore album "(What's the Story) Morning Glory" in 1995, Oasis achieved the biggest-selling British record since the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." But subsequent albums, "Be Here Now" (1997) and "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" (2000) were poorly received in the press and failed to come close to the sales of "Morning Glory."
"The thing that makes 'Morning Glory' so good is the exact thing that makes 'Be Here Now' so bad," Gallagher concedes. "It was a party atmosphere in the studio but not a drug atmosphere -- we were just having a laugh. By the time we got to 'Be Here Now,' we started to think about it too much and thought that we could just carry it off because it was us."
With "Heathen Chemistry," Oasis decided to get back to basics and shoulder the load itself. "The main difference is we produced it -- just us and an engineer. Not having a sixth opinion always helps. Not having somebody justifying their $100,000 salary helps. Not that I think anybody who's co-produced in the past has not been worth that; it's just that sometimes they don't know when to leave it alone."
The first cut off the album, "The Hindu Times," entered the U.K. sales chart at No. 1, and it debuted on the Music & Media Eurochart Hot 100 Singles at No. 3 following its release April 15. Sony has slated a second single, "Stop Crying Your Heart Out," for release before the album bows in July.
Oasis appeared at the first Japanese MTV awards in February, and will be on tour throughout Europe until the end of July. The band will kick off a short North American tour Aug. 2 in Pompano Beach, Fla., and plans to return to England for a pair of Manchester shows Sept. 14-15. A Japanese tour and another North American visit will follow, with touring duties set to conclude Dec. 10 in Mexico City.
"The plan is always the same," Gallagher says of the U.S. "If it blows up, we're there; we're quite prepared to go and do the f***ing legwork. But if it doesn't, it doesn't. It's very simple: You go where you sell records. Our American audience has always been cool, but it's a huge fucking place. Texas is 20 times the size of England. If you put that into perspective, you just about get an understanding of what it takes."
Excerpted from the June 29, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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