But they're not, so they didn't. In spite of the drugs, in spite of the notorious fraternal friction between Liam and Noel, in spite of the fact that your average American rock fan probably isn't even aware of recent albums like Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis have become unlikely evangelists for the art of persistence. They're no longer part of the Sony empire, but this October the band is releasing an album, Dig Out Your Soul, on its own label, Big Brother. They've hired a new drummer, Chris Sharrock; the other two "new" members, guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell, have been with the band for nearly a decade.

More crucially, there's been a chemical-philosophical shift: Noel and Liam, two of the high priests of rock-and-roll excess, are experimenting with—dare we say it—moderation. Over the years Liam has developed a reputation for being wildly confrontational—with the press, with photographers, with almost anyone. "I am a cunt," he says. "I can be the biggest cunt in the world, but I can also be the most spectacular person ever made. Depends." These days he's working at being the latter. At the time of the rehearsals, Liam has not had a drink in three weeks. "This is a new me, man," he says. He's getting up at six every morning at the cottage on Hampstead Heath that he shares with his second wife, Nicole Appleton, going for a strenuous run, and then spending the day taking his two sons, Gene and Lennon, to and from school and playdates. "Top kids, both of them," he says. "I prefer going out with them than to hang out with fucking rock stars and celebrities. They're all dicks, man." Twice a day he eats grilled or steamed salmon with spinach and "loads of fucking garlic," and it must be noted that years of hard living seem to have done no damage to the celebrated grandeur of his cheekbones. "Well, I've got good skin," he says. "I get it from Mrs. Gallagher."

Noel—who also has two children, 8-year-old daughter Anais and 1-year-old son Donovan—gave up drugs 10 years ago after one too many panic attacks. "The one drug I was heavily addicted to was cocaine, and there comes a point where you're just like, Man, this can't go on any longer, because it'll fucking fry your head," he says. He's sold his house in Ibiza, figuring it makes no sense to have an outpost in the dance-club Sodom of Spain. "You get to a certain age where you just look ridiculous being fuckin' out of it all the time, you know what I mean?" he says. "I used to go to nightclubs like the Hacienda in Manchester in the eighties, when the rave scene was kicking off, and you'd see people who were like 40 there and you'd just think, You look fucking stupid. I guess we've had our go at being the epicenter of youth culture, and it's now time to leave it to the kids."