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POP MUSIC | POP EYE

Long And Winding Road

June 29, 1997|Robert Hilburn

The reason for the tour uncertainty is that the band wants to avoid the burnout that caused Noel Gallagher to leave the tour hours before a concert last September in Charlotte, N.C., sparking speculation that the band was history.

"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, really," Gallagher explains. "We were just over-toured. . . . I think everybody, from the record company to management, was encouraging us to cram everything into 18 months in case we did split up . . . so they could all get their money's worth out of us.

"There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no time to rest and clear your head. That led to people being fed up, which led to arguments and tension. In the end, the atmosphere was bad. Once the band feels down, the crew feels down, and you have every-one walking around with long faces."

Drained, Gallagher called his bandmates together in Charlotte.

"I said we ought to just go home, and someone said, 'You can't do that. . . . You can't just leave the tour.' "

Gallagher's reaction?

"I said, 'Oh no? Just watch me.' I walked out the door and caught a cab to the airport."

Although Gallagher woke up the next day to find news of the "Oasis split" being played like the Iraqi crisis on the front pages of British tabloids, the band's own crisis was pretty much settled by nightfall.

"I met with Liam that day and everything was OK," he says. "But I was ready to walk away if that was what it took to get off the road. If everyone hadn't agreed to take the break, I definitely would have left the band."

About live shows, he adds, "I can see how the Beatles decided to concentrate on the studio. If they had kept touring, I don't think they would have ever gotten to the point where they could do something as substantial as 'Sgt. Pepper.' The touring drains your creativity.

"But I want to keep doing live shows because that's part of the excitement of rock. We just want to spread it out more. When U2 puts out an album, it takes them two years to tour the world. With us, we were going at such a fast pace that we'd go around the world in about nine months, and then go around again. It was just too much."

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