Noel Gallagher announced the release of two new albums yesterday and Liam Gallagher called him a SHITBAG. This kind of behavior is only one of the many excuses people have used in the past to delegitimize Oasis as a crap band of egomaniacal luddites, a symbol of aggravated antagony to modern music. Meanwhile, others have dismissed them as mere “Beatles ripoffs” — all the while failing to acknowledge that Oasis gave them the permission to do so by simply acknowledging their love for the Beatles. But, hey, real talk: Not all families get along, and everyone loves the Beatles. If your favorite songwriter hasn’t ripped them off properly at some point in his or her songwriting career, I promise you they are far more of a crap songwriter than either one of these guys.
Some people choose to believe that I am not a sincere Oasis fan, but an instigator. Because, apparently, saying that “Don’t Look Back In Anger” is one of the greatest songs ever written is the kind of thing people say when they’re looking to start a fight with Animal Collective fans. There is a sense that I am expected to qualify that statement with some sort of caveat — like, it’s one of the greatest songs ever written by a Britpop band or it’s one of the greatest songs ever written by a band that features a dude who never totally sorted out that unibrow thing — but no. It is simply one of the best songs ever written on one of the best albums ever.
Did I ever tell you about the time I showed up at another band’s CMJ showcase and performed the entirety of What’s The Story (Morning Glory) from front to back in a genuine homage to this album? I just realized I never did.
Two years ago, I got a phone call from my old friend Mike Kinsella. Mike and I have known each other since I played in Texas is the Reason and he played in Joan Of Arc; we toured together when I played in New End Original and he played in Owls. Currently, he makes pretty amazing acoustic guitar-based music as Owen. This is kind of why he was calling.
“I just agreed to play CMJ in New York,” he said, “but I don’t know if I wanna go up there by myself and play my sad-sack songs in the middle of all these loud rock bands.”
I told him that he was great, that he shouldn’t have to worry about that, and then asked, “Do you want me to play with you or something?”
“Yes!” he said. “But I don’t want to play any of my own songs. I want to just show up to the show and play What’s The Story (Morning Glory) in its entirety.”
When it was established that he wasn’t kidding, I asked him why.
“Because it’s actually a perfect album,” he replied. “I’m not trying to be ironic here.”
Of course, there was a catch: The show was in two weeks, and because of our geographical differences, there would be no rehearsal. Mike and I needed to put a band together, learn an entire album on our own, and then show up to a sold-out show and perform it for the first time ever in front of everyone.
“Of course I’m in,” I told him.
The next two weeks were a blur. My friend Chris Daly — who played in Jets to Brazil, and with me in Texas is the Reason — signed on to play drums. Mike enlisted Paul Koob, from Joan of Arc, to play bass. It wasn’t long before the depth of this album really started to sink in: Despite its simple exterior, these songs were actually somewhat difficult to transcribe! Even more intimidating, I forgot that Noel Gallagher is kind of a shredder. It didn’t occur to me when I signed up for this that I was going to have to learn a few guitar solos, and I was going to have to practice them for hours before they felt natural to play.
On the night of the show, I walked into the Bell House with a bandage wrapped around my middle finger. There was a bit of a shredding accident: My finger had been sliced open from playing the guitar lead to “Don’t Look Back In Anger” for too long, but most guitarists will tell you that’s why they invented Krazy Glue.
Besides the four of us and a few friends, no one knew what we were doing that night. Not the audience, not the other bands, not the record label for whom Owen was ostensibly showcasing. We just went on stage, without any introductions, and played “Hello.” The audience seemed to think this was hilarious, and they went with it. Then we played “Roll With It.” The audience seemed to think this was even greater, so they sang along. Then we played “Wonderwall.” I’m pretty sure this was the first time people started looking at each other like, “What the fuck?” By the time we finished “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” a few members of the crowd appeared to be genuinely upset.
But here’s the thing: this was one of the greatest things I’ve ever had the chance to do as a musician. One idea, two weeks, no practice, and ten of my favorite songs ever. It’s awful if the audience couldn’t feel the love that we left on that stage that night, or if the label was mad that Mike didn’t feel like playing the industry game. But sometimes, playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band means making a few enemies. Sometimes, it even means calling your brother a SHITBAG on Twitter.
Two of my favorite moments from that night:
“Wonderwall” — There’s a moment, at 1:42, when Mike laughs in the middle of a lyric after hearing Chris totally nail the drum fill. Like the rest of us, he is hearing this for the first time, and at 3:54, he turns to Paul and points to Chris to say, “That was awesome!”
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” — Because of that shredding accident, I couldn’t play the lead at 1:40, so I improvised and made Mike laugh. I did, however, go on to play the solo that injured me — with three fingers instead of four — and I’m proud to have (basically) pulled that off. It was manic and fucked up and exactly the way it needed to be.