They swagger. They pout. They spout hyperbole with the cocky assurance that befits their status as Britain’s Next Big Thing. ”We’re the greatest band in England,” says Oasis guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher, 27. In this case, the hyperbole fits. With Oasis’ first album, Definitely Maybe, a power-pop confection equal parts Beatles, Kinks, T. Rex, and Sex Pistols, the pale-faced mop tops from industrial northern England have landed a flurry of magazine covers, awards, and the honor of the fastest-selling 1994 debut album in their native land.
Now comes the hard part: America. Despite the heralded new British Invasion, the catchy ”Live Forever” has broken the top 10 only on the modern rock chart (No. 2). Fortunately, in addition to being confident, Oasis is realistic. ”The British press said, ‘You’ll crack America,”’ says Gallagher. ”But we’ll probably never go gold there. It doesn’t matter, as long as people keep going to the gigs.”
What also matters, he insists, is justifying the hype. ”It might sell a few hundred records, but if the album’s no good, that’ll stop. Our whole focus is on the music.” And though his brother Liam, 22, the group’s singer, agrees in theory, he can distract with his, er, high spirits. At a recent awards show, Liam reportedly heckled winners, refused to pose with fellow nominees Blur (”Your band’s full of s — -,” he scoffed), then fought with Noel, who told Liam, ”You’re just a f — -in’ pop star.”
At least for today. Oasis’ biggest challenge is to avoid falling into oblivion a la such former British NBTs as Happy Mondays. And trying to match the overwhelming critical praise (including many best-of lists) with sales. (Definitely has sold a modest 100,000 copies since its September release.) Because, unlike many of its fame-fearing American brethren, Oasis is willing to embrace mainstream acceptance. ”I can’t stand sniveling rock stars who complain about being famous,” sneers Noel. ”Why not just work at a car wash or a McDonald’s? There’s no point in starting a band unless you wanna be famous.”