When an album reaches mythological status, it often seems that there is no stone left unturned, and no nuggets of information from its creation and release that remain secret.
Oasis’ second album, 1995’s ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’, cemented Liam, Noel and co’s standing as the biggest band on the planet, and has passed into legend in the intervening two-and-a-half decades. It also seems that there are plenty more delightful, messy stories still to be unearthed from its creation.
Celebrating its 25th birthday today (October 2), the album is getting the full reissue package, and Noel Gallagher also sat down for a wide-ranging new interview about the undoubted classic, digging deep into the storied creation of one of the most iconic albums ever written.
Heading back to Wales’ legendary Rockfield Studios for the first time since the album was recorded there in 1995, Return To Rockfield saw Noel telling stories of unimpressed sheep, Liam befriending the local villagers, and how the album’s compressed recording schedule meant a lot of the songs on the album technically remain unfinished.
Here are 10 things we learned from Noel Gallagher’s huge new ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ interview.
Noel just listened to ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ for the first time in 25 years…
The writer of ‘Wonderwall’ probably doesn’t need to give himself a refresher on what he’s created too often, but the interview kicks off with Noel revealing that he listened to ‘What’s The Story…’ in full for the first time since its release ahead of its anniversary.
“Often I’ve wondered,” he said, “what’s a fucking 14-year-old getting out of this after all these years, you know when I’d see them at the gigs? What are they fucking hearing? I fucking I understood it today. You know, the words, the melodies. Liam’s voice is fucking on another level on that record. Because there’s nothing, there’s nothing around today that even remotely comes near to it.”
He recorded ‘Wonderwall’ sitting on an actual wall, watched by “a lot of sheep”
Noel was joined by [man from Rockfield Studios] for the new interview, and took a tour around the studios and its grounds. Passing a wall on the outside of the studio, Noel revealed that the recording of ‘Wonderwall’ took on a rather more literal meaning when he put one of the most iconic songs of all time to tape.
“That’s the wall that I sat on that day,” he remembered. “Fucking idiot, playing ‘Wonderwall’.” Gallagher went on to recall that “a lot of sheep were watching me do ‘Wonderwall’. I don’t know who was more freaked out, me or them.
“I remember saying to Owen [Morris, co-producer], I’ve got this song called ‘Wonderwall’, I want to record it on a… wall.” Didn’t turn out bad in the end, we suppose.
The Stone Roses might be to blame for the abandoned first version of ‘Definitely Maybe’
“When we did the first version of ‘Definitely Maybe’ (the album was recorded at Rockfield, before the sessions were scrapped and the album re-recorded in Cornwall), we did it over the hill there in [a] studio which is called Monnow Valley,” Noel remembered. “And the Stone Roses were in [Rockfield] doing ‘Second Coming’.
Two of the world’s biggest and messiest bands recording albums mere yards away from each other was never going to breed a civilised atmosphere, then, and Noel remembered coming to see his old friend Mani at Rockfield to score drugs during the recording process. The time taken for ‘Second Coming’ to arrive, and the fact that ‘Definitely Maybe’ version one remains unreleased to this day suddenly starts to make a little more sense.
Liam brought “a load of fucking idiots” from the local village to the studio for a party…
From a band as fiercely dedicated to big nights out as Oasis, locking yourself in a studio in a rural part of Wales with only each other and a producer for company will take its toll after a while. “I remember we used to be here and we’d be at the desk and everyone would be sat on that couch, and we’d be trying to do something and every now and again we’d have to turn around and say, ‘Will you fucking shut up or fucking go back to the house’,” Noel remembered of the varying work ethics on display during the recording of ‘What’s The Story…’. “We’re trying to work [and] everyone’s arguing about football.”
Revealing that the rest of the band would “come in and out when they were required” to add their parts onto Noel’s skeleton recordings of tracks, inevitable boredom would catch up with Liam and co. Describing an “eventual fallout,” one of many historic Oasis bust-ups, Noel remembered: “Liam had brought a load of fucking idiots back from the local village, and I’m like, ‘I’m here to fucking made a record, which I haven’t actually written yet. So if you want to do that kind of fucking shit, do it somewhere else – don’t do it here.’”
Only the songs written pre-Rockfield on the album have a second verse…
It’s well known that ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ was written in a lightning fast 12 days. Booking Rockfield for six weeks, the band only used three of them, one of which saw them scatter across the country after a fight put a stop to proceedings. “I remember it just being really really fucking fast,” Noel remembers, “and half the songs hadn’t even been written when I got here.” He explained: “If you listen to the record, it’s split into two halves. Half of the songs have got a second verse, they were all written before I got here, and the rest of the songs are just the first verse twice, and then maybe a third time. That was me getting in here and going, ‘You know what? Fuck it.’”
New drummer Alan White hadn’t even met half of the band when they went into the studio
Across the interview, Noel discussed the perceived unprofessionalism of the studio environment, remembering the rather intense introduction new drummer Alan White got when entering the world of Oasis.
“Everyone always goes on to me about the sound – ‘Oh, the fucking sound on that record’,” Noel said. “And I’m like, ‘I can assure you that going in there, nobody had an idea of what they were doing’, ’cause nobody had heard the songs, because we didn’t do any demos.’”
Not only had White not heard the songs that would make up the album before he laid down his tracks, then, but Noel doesn’t even think “he’d met half the fucking band.”
He added: “When you think about it now, it’s a mad way to make one of the biggest albums of all time.”
The band weren’t too taken with the studio’s live room and its “amateur house of horrors fucking bollocks”
‘Roll With It’ is the only song from ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ that was tracked live in the studio, with the rest laid down on an acoustic guitar with a click track by Noel. Far from the luxury they’d be surrounded by on future albums, Rockfield’s, uh, rustic surroundings and questionable cleanliness made the band give the live room a wide berth from then on.
“I remember being set up in there and there being loads of dead flies,” Noel remembers. “‘Fuck this shit, amateur house of horrors fucking bollocks.’ “Dead flies everywhere. I was like, ‘This is not how I thought it was going to be.’”
The band were expecting the album to be hated upon its release
“It didn’t get one good review, I don’t think,” Noel remembered of the critical response from journalists upon the release of the album. “I think we were waiting for that,” he added, saying that journalists at the time, as well as the band’s record label, were “expecting ‘Definitely Maybe’ part two”. “I was expecting it to be not well-received.”
“[Journalists] had to second-guess everything after ‘Morning Glory’, because they’d got it so wrong,” Noel said. “That’s why when ‘Be Here Now’ came out, which isn’t a great album, it got 10/10 everywhere. It didn’t get one bad review, because they didn’t want to be made to look like dicks again.”
Noel would “never have finished” ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and ‘Wonderwall’ if he’d known what they’d become
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and, in looking back on some of the album’s biggest hits – which have since become some of the most recognisable songs ever written – Noel says he would have struggled to let them go if he’d known the impact they would go on to have.
“If I’d have known then what I know now about just what ‘Wonderwall’ would become, or ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, I’d never have finished those songs,” he says. “I’d still be fiddling around with [them].”
“Five year plans” after ‘Morning Glory’ allegedly laid the groundwork for Oasis’ downfall
Despite already being one of the biggest bands around when going in to record their second album, Noel says there was “no master plan” around the recording and release of ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’. “It was just getting in there and doing it, you know?”
“As soon as Creation [Records] and Oasis started to make plans, it was fucking over,” he added, “cos it was like the five-year plans”.
“When [1997 third album] ‘Be Here Now’ came out, there’s a five-year plan for everything and meetings round boardroom tables that were bigger than fucking Halifax. But here, at this point, we were just a big, successful indie band who were going to not lose the momentum of what we created, and that was it.”