Liam Gallagher spent a couple hours on Twitter yesterday, and over the course of five tweets, one letter at a time, he spelled out one word: “OASIS.” He followed that up with something even more concise, for those not following along:
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) April 24, 2014
Needless to say, this led to mass speculation that Oasis would reunite. Bookies immediately stopped taking bets on the band headlining Glastonbury in June (until yesterday, you could get 33/1 odds). “This is not a conspiracy,” wrote Mish Way at Noisey. “There is a goddamn Oasis reunion happening. I can feel it in my bones.”
The bookies were probably wise to stop taking bets; they’d be wiser still to change the terms of the wager and open the books again. I’d give 2/1 odds that Oasis will headline Glastonbury, but 1000/1 odds that Noel Gallagher will be part of that performance.
See, Liam Gallagher has long claimed ownership of the name Oasis. It was his idea to change the name of his band from the Rain to Oasis in 1991, months before Noel joined. When Oasis split up in 2009, Liam said that he and former Oasis bandmates Gem Archer and Andy Bell had written half of a new album, but they hadn’t yet decided what they’d call the project. “We’re not using [the Oasis name] at the moment,” said Liam, “but if we don’t come up with something else by the time we’re ready to release the album it’ll be Oasis. I’m not going to call myself something ridiculous just for the sake of it.”
That band finally did release music under the moniker Beady Eye — but the fact that Liam considered using the name Oasis without the involvement of Noel suggests he’s not uncomfortable with such a notion. If anything, he’s become more comfortable with it over time — after initially refusing to play any of Noel’s songs with Beady Eye, in July 2012 Liam added two Noel-penned classics to the Beady Eye setlist: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” and “Morning Glory.” In October 2012, former Oasis guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs told the NME, “I’m sure Liam would [reunite Oasis] in a shot tomorrow. But you’ve got to listen to what Noel says.”
That’s still the key. The last time Noel spoke on the subject — November 2013 — he told Rolling Stone:
There is no band. So, no, I won’t be getting involved, anyway. If there is a reunion, I won’t be in it … I don’t think there’s any unfinished business. I don’t think that we left anything unsaid, do you know what I mean? It’s like, if you’ve seen [Oasis], then good for you. If you didn’t, then that’s fucking tough shit. I’ve never seen the Beatles. So there you go.
The second half of that quote is the soundbite, but the first half contains the vital information: If there is a reunion, I won’t be in it.
Here, Noel is claiming no ownership of the Oasis brand — he’s not getting in the way of an Oasis reunion, he’s just not taking part. (It’s a smart move on Noel’s part: He’ll reap tremendous royalties from any Oasis reunion, and this way, he doesn’t have to compromise his position, risk embarrassing himself, or lift a finger.)
Another clue comes in the form of a Liam tweet from February 28:
IT'LL BE ME AS IN LG THAT THROWS IN THE TOWEL NOT SOME ROADIE FROM THE 80s X
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) February 28, 2014
That “roadie from the ’80s” is one Noel Thomas David Gallagher, who roadied for Inspiral Carpets before joining Oasis. Here Liam is saying, “Noel can’t say when Oasis is over. It’s my band, and only I can say when it’s over.”
But Noel can choose not to participate. And that is the choice he will make. When Oasis is playing Glastonbury on June 28, there will be no massive singalong to “Don’t Look Back In Anger” because there will be no Noel Gallagher on that stage. He’ll be making an album with Damon Albarn, collecting checks, half the world away. Bet on that.