November 13th-15th saw the Louder Than Words Festival take place at the prestige of Manchester’s Palace Hotel. The annual music conference saw an array of speakers and content on the music business to writing and performing, as a weekend of artistic appreciation and celebration. Emily Schofield reports…
Friday night’s events took off with the exploration of Paolo Hewitt’s book Oasis: Getting High – The Adventures of Oasis.
In conversation with Mick Middles, Hewitt treated the Louder Than Words crowd to hedonistic tales of the Gallagher brothers, in touring with Britpop’s biggest band between 1994 and 1996.
Having worked for Melody Maker and the NME throughout the 80s, Hewitt has published over twenty books on life in care to music, fashion and football.
Hewitt’s book Oasis – Getting High is ‘an illuminating reminder of how big a band can get’ in an account of the band with an ultimate success selling 70 million records worldwide.
Noel Gallagher himself has praised Hewitt’s account, “Paolo is the only person to speak about what it was like to be on the road with us because he’s been there. He’s been there, he’s seen it, and he’s done it.”
So how did Hewitt gain the trust of the Gallagher brothers? Bonding through similar working-class backgrounds with a love of football and music, Hewitt became accepted by the band with a refreshing sense of humor.
Although the Gallagher brothers have been renowned for their temperamental nature, Hewitt explains, “I got used to them, that dynamic was what you put up with every day.”
Using a camouflage as a DJ Hewitt collected his rock and roll stories. The writer was invited on UK tour with Oasis as the bands inhabitant DJ. Hewitt tells of how this was a great disguise, “They don’t think – oh that’s the writer – shut up! … They just think it’s the DJ.”
Under cover, Hewitt would not emblazon the band with questions and a note-pad and pen. Instead, in a subtle fashion, the DJ would remember interesting quotes on their hedonistic nights, and write them down when he returned home or reached the privacy of his own hotel room.
Hewitt describes Oasis’ quick rise to recognition. The writer recalls attending early Oasis gigs at Kentish Town Forum and Sheffield City Hall. He tells the Louder Than Words’ crowd of Noel’s comments at these paramount shows, “This time last year we were playing to four men and his dog in a pub in Yorkshire.”
The author explores how Oasis where at the forefront of 90s ‘lad culture’. In an explosion of ‘the return of the lad’ with the likes of Loaded magazine taking off in 1994, Hewitt tells of how the masculine group ‘picked that up and responded to that’.
This The Wave writer was interested to know more of the iconic band at the forefront of lad culture, enquiring ‘How much do you think Oasis was born from a 90s ‘lad culture’ and how much did they create or uphold this culture themselves?’
Hewitt’s response was to explain Oasis’ honesty to be themselves,“There’s all these connotations of sexism, but they were just very honest about who they were,” he says.
The author elaborates on how the group were the first band to combine music and football as a reciprocation of the effeminate 80s male (headed by the poetic likes of Morrissey), “Lad culture and masculinity came back around,” he says.
In the creation of a cult following Hewitt explores how Oasis have perhaps been the biggest and most influential band since The Beatles, “They captured the spirit of the time – bands that big have to have something surrounding them… Liam was such a compelling front man,” he tells.
Perhaps due to the captivating nature of Oasis, the future of indie-rock music has remained in the shadows of former glory and we have seen an on-going trend of ‘lad culture’ in rock music.
Oasis: Getting High – The Adventures of Oasis is available now
Words by Emily Schofield