BY Gregor Muir in Frieze | 01 SEP 96
Featured in
Issue 26

Wibbling Rivalry

Fierce Panda Records

BY Gregor Muir in Frieze | 01 SEP 96

'How do you feel about the fact that Oasis have already attracted a reputation for being Rock'n'Roll animals?' asks the interviewer. 14 minutes later, we get the picture. Basically, Liam Gallagher - the lead singer - is into it. Noel Gallagher - older brother and lead guitarist - is not: 'If you're proud about getting thrown off ferries why don't you go and support West Ham. Get the fuck out of our band and go and be a football hooligan'. Noel elaborates: 'Liam gets off the ferry after getting fucking deported while I'm left in Amsterdam with my dick out like a fucking spare prick at a wedding'. Liam, standing accused of thinking it's rock and roll to get thrown off a ferry, interjects, but Noel shouts him down: 'Shut the fuck up man! Am I going to say this or are you going to shut up! Our manager says, doing your gig, playing your music, coming back and saying we blew them away - that's rock and roll. Not being handcuffed and thrown off the ferry like some fucking Scouse schlepper'.

Noel storms out, but somehow manages to sustain the argument from the hotel bathroom. Liam takes the opportunity to idolise the off-stage antics of The Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones as justification for his getting into trouble. A toilet flushes in the background. Noel returns. 'Bullshit! Because The Rolling Stones got arrested, they were a great rock and roll band - Fuck off!' He goads his brother into creating another 'situation'. 'Why don't you go downstairs and smash the bar up? Why don't you do a Keith Richards? Here you are, throw the TV out of the window'. Liam's not about that. 'What are you about then?' Ermm... At this point, it's impossible not to become endeared to Liam - or Noel who, despite being a bully, is conscientious when he says that Oasis should be judged on their music. However, Liam has the last word when the interviewer asks why, if they don't want to be perceived as bad boys, do they refer to 'white lines' in the lyrics. Noel adopts a conciliatory tone; they're his lyrics. 'That's not about being bad, that's a part of life. We all snort white lines. There are people sat in England right now, in rooms like this, and they've all got their drugs out'. 'Exactly', Liam seizes the initiative, 'and we all get into trouble every now and again'. Essentially, Liam's argument is that drug-taking, no matter how everyday, is in the image of rock and roll. 'You want to be Keith Richards. Admit it', Liam taunts Noel who is otherwise concerned with the music. 'Admit it! It's about music! Admit it! Music!'...

If it's possible to ignore the Oasis-factor for a moment, Wibbling Rivalry boils down to a seven inch single of two Northern men arguing. Recent precedents of extreme, private emotion isolated at source, would include Georgina Starr's Crying (1993), a deadpan video of the artist in tears, and Tom Gidley's Thinking Out Loud: Proposal for a Sound Archive (1993). In a sense, Gidley's imaginary sound archive - photographs of reel-to-reel tapes labelled 'Anxious', 'Confused', 'Excited' and 'Exhausted' - pre-empts a market for bootleg interviews with the Gallagher brothers where they display an emotion other than anger. As a piece of vinyl, the containment of extreme emotion fits as perfectly into the archival framework. Given the availability and comparatively low-cost of CD production, it makes you wonder why Wibbling Rivalry was released on vinyl; an unlikely format. But that's the beauty of it - a disco 45 of a full-blown row, the perfect symmetry between format and subject-matter. While we can expect a wave of similar recordings in the form of home-made CDs, it still feels weird to walk into Rough Trade and ask for an argument. No doubt, any future request will be for 'The Best of Madonna's Answerphone' or 'Jarvis Cocker in the Bath'.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the brothers are going at it with a vengeance. Anxious that there's going to be a fight, the interviewer points out that The Who hated each other. Liam responds instantly: 'That's why we'll be the best fucking band in the world because I fucking hate that twat sitting there'. Asked if he has any recurring dreams; 'Yeah, just the one. I take over the band'.

Gregor Muir is director of collection, international art, Tate. He lives in London, UK.