He refuses to give Dig Out Your Soul the hard sell. "Listen," he says, "before you've heard our new record, I could make it sound like some fucking rock opera. I could make you believe that each song is about a schoolboy that wakes up in the morning and this is the story of his life and blah blah blah. And you would fuckin' buy it. But if you ask me about my record, I just go, 'I don't fuckin' know. It's the same as the last one.'" Besides, millions of fans want to hear the old hits, and that's fine. Noel doesn't have much patience for contemporaries like Radiohead who evolve from one clangy experimental phase to the next. "Yeah, well, they went to university," he says. "We're just working-class boys trying to make a living. They're middle-class boys worrying about pushing an envelope somewhere, and all that carbon footprint and all that bollocks. Every time there's a polar bear on his tiptoes on an ice cube in the middle of the Antarctic, you know whose fault that is? Rock stars'. That's their fault. Any time there's food running out somewhere 'Let's do a gig. That'll sort it out. Let's do a big fucking gig. Let's fly everybody in from all over the world and pontificate to poor people about how they should be saving the planet.' Go fucking kiss my ass. It's very easy to just say, 'We're going to become difficult now and challenge our audience.' I like my audience. They paid for my swimming pool. I'm not fucking challenging anybody."
If that makes him a mossback, he doesn't care. "I'm into rock and roll," he says. "That's what I listen to. I like a certain period of dance music and hip-hop, the early stuff, when I feeland this is my opinionthat hip-hop had more of a social conscience. Now it's all about the bling and who's got the biggest car and all that fucking shit. And that doesn't speak to me. I'm pretty much into everything from the blues to the Sex Pistols, with the Jam and the Stone Roses and the Smiths thrown in. If music doesn't speak to you, what are you supposed to do? Pretend to like it? Fuck that. I like the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, and the Stones. Bite me."
At the end of a rehearsal, Noel pulls out a collector's edition of Dig Out Your Soul and shows it to the band. It's 12 inches tall and wide, like the turntable classics of yesteryear, and it's stuffed with lyric sheets and psychedelic art and all the other eye candy that's vanished in the age of the download. Noel's an unstoppable joker, but here on a ratty couch he holds the artifact in his hands and gazes at it, silently touching the cover with the tips of his fingers. He might be a 13-year-old kid in Manchester, or he might be an aging rock star who's content with his place in the universe. Oasis will always be prone to the grand gaffe, but he doesn't worry about that. "I don't know how much money I've got, but I said to the girl who runs the accountant's office, 'Give me a call when it's time to fuckin' curb my enthusiasm,'" he says. "Or as we say in England, 'Give me a call when I'm down to my last four million.'"