Rock Journalist Paolo Hewitt was for four years at the centre of Oasis’s inner circle and his two accounts of life with Oasis, Getting High, takes the band’s story from childhood to Knebworth, the second, Forever the People chronicles the start of their decline, the Be Here Now Tour.
Paolo is in Manchester this weekend talking about life with the band at the Louder than Words festival taking place 13th-15th November. About Manchester spoke to him about his time with the band.
Paolo began writing for Melody Maker back in 1979, moving to the New Musical Express in 1983 and going freelance at the beginning of the 1990’s moving more into book writing.
Twenty one titles so far, including two on Oasis which brings us to the story of how he first became involved with the band. They first came onto his radar when he read an interview with Noel which predicted fame and fortune for the band before a decline and losing their money. that sounds interested thought Paolo and he went to one of their early gigs, seeing them twice in London and getting invited to the after show party at the Astoria.
There meeting Noel briefly and with Noel interested that Paolo had written a book about the Jam, two months later he got a call asking him to put round to Johnny Marr’s flat in Fulham which Noel was renting at the time, and they clicked, their love of football and music forming an immediate bond.Paolo was invited to DJ during some of their gigs and the relationship grew from there.
“They thought that they were going to be the New Stone Roses”, he tells me but once What’s The Story…came out, it propelled them into a stratosphere that maybe they were on prepared for.
He remembers them playing in 1995 at the Sheffield arena and after the concert, Noel said to him that it felt incredible that just a year earlier they had been playing in a pub in front of four men and a dog.
That year was incredible in the story of rock music which emerged with a bang after a decade of mundane music, Oasis arrived, bringing a new excitement to the scene, culminating in those two gigs at Knebworth.
“You hadn’t seen a band like this ages”, says Paolo, “they acted like a band, they performed as a unit, and this incredible noise came off the stage when they performed.”. Added to this was the fact that they wanted to talk about football and write sounds for the Manchester City Fans.
Paolo says that in his opinion they should have split up at the height of their stardom that summer of Knebworth.It was almost like they had got to the top too quickly, he was telling, he adds that on subsequent tours when theybfelt they were not playing to their best ability that the convention would always return to the early days and the stories. Playing to 40-50 thousand a night, day in day out saw the fun go out of the shows. It became simply a business.
Paolo remembers a gig in Australia, Liam had gone out with his bodyguard and become involved in an altercation with a fan. The next day the press were all over them and the band were very unhappy. Guigsy suggested that they all calm down by having a game of football in a airplane hanger
Much of the energy came from the volatile personality Liam and his relationship with his brother says Paolo but both Guigsy and Bonehead were the scaffolding of the band. There are bits in the book when Bonehead was getting really concerned about Liam’s behavior and worries that he was going off the rails.
But it is the relationship between the two brothers which obviously attracts much of the attention.Liam felt that the band had to have an attractive and outgoing lead singer, while Noel thought the most important component was the musicianship. This created early tensions between them but in effect both elements helped create Oasis’ success.
They was, says Paolo, a real respect between them, despite all the tensions, both onstage and off. Liam understood how good Noel’s songs were and Noel recognizes the importance of Liam being upfront.
Looking back today twenty years on from that heady summer, it is difficult to understand the impact that the lads from Burnage had on the country and the world. That generation of musicans had grown up in the eighties and had failed to be really excited by the music they had heard so had gone back in time further for their influences.
It was of its kind says Paolo, reinterpreting the music of the sixties, it was a great time.
Paolo Hewitt will be talking at this weekend’s Louder than Music festival at the Palace Hotel Manchester