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A Day in the Life: Noel Gallagher

By David Challenger
CNN
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Editor's note: Many people have fantasized about a perfect job. CNN's "Day in the Life" examines people earning a living doing what others dream of.

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- It's hard to imagine it's been more than 10 years since Oasis first became one of Britain's most acclaimed bands -- a rough, tough and uncompromising bunch of lads from Manchester who helped return British guitar pop to the mainstream fold.

Yet here they are in Hong Kong, at the tail-end of a 12-month world tour, on the eve of a sell-out gig.

The band has just arrived from Singapore ("Flew first class with Singapore Airlines -- f-----' spectacular," enthuses guitarist/songwriter Noel Gallagher) and are preparing for the show.

The logistics of organizing such a long tour are mind-boggling, and even after 10 years, Gallagher's not sure how it's all put together.

"We have management, and an agent, and separate promoters in each country that do everything. Maggie (their tour manager) liaises with our travel agent back home, and I notice we stay in a lot of Four Seasons hotels," Gallagher says.

"But apart from that, it's still a matter of great confusion for me how it's all organized."

What's not confusing for Gallagher, however, is his ability to read a city map.

After arriving in a new place, he almost always makes an effort either the day before or after the gig to explore his surrounds, otherwise "there's no point going unless you get a feel for these cities," he says.

"We have a day off tomorrow, so I'm hoping to see a bit of Hong Kong before we take off."

Even so, Gallagher admits that after a year, touring can become arduous.

"The first six or seven months or so are great, but the last bit can be a bit of a grind," he says.

"Southeast Asia can be tough, as the jet lag from Britain is more extreme. In Europe, it's much easier as everything happens at the same time of day, whereas in Asia, it differs between countries. Sound checks, etc., start at different times, there's always unfamiliar people around, and you're in a different city one day to the next.

"But in the end, it's what you make of it. I could be critical of touring for hours, but that'd make me sound like a boring old bastard who should just give it up.

"This is my 20th year on the road (including the time Gallagher spent as a roadie), and I've been on tour every one of those years. So that in itself is the answer. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't do it, because I sure don't need the money," he says.

Touring for such long periods must also be demanding on the body, and despite the band's well-known rebellious streak, Gallagher tries to keep some sort of balance.

"I always have a healthy breakfast. The days of bacon and eggs are gone, and I usually try and get a good night's sleep before the day of the gig, otherwise you start doing stupid things when performing" he says.

"On the other hand, we have tomorrow off, so I'll probably be up all night on the piss. I certainly drink a lot more on tour, though hardly ever when I'm back home."

Such a revelation is hardly surprising. According to Gallagher, the band's alcohol list backstage (commonly referred to as a "rider") includes "lots of Guinness, lots of beer, lots of red wine, lots of vodka, and one bottle of whiskey."

Before the show, Gallagher usually spends the afternoon doing interviews, then heads to the venue for a personal sound check -- usually at about 4 p.m., followed by a full band sound check.

The group then either stays at the venue or returns to their digs, depending on how far the venue is from their hotel.

"If we're on at 9 p.m., which is common, our tour manager usually insists we be at the venue by 8.30 p.m. at the latest. So often it's best to just stay put," Gallagher says.

"If so we just hang out and use the time writing our song list for the show. Then Liam comes in and crosses off the ones he's not keen on for that night."

Gallagher has the luxury of a guitar technician, who looks after all his guitars prior to the show by setting them up, re-stringing, and tuning them.

"Before we became very f-----' wealthy young men, I used to use Epiphone guitars," Gallagher explains.

"But they're really a poor man's Gibson, which is what I now use. I don't have a deal with them, as I don't go in for that sort of thing. But I did design a guitar for Epiphone once."

After the gig's complete and the fans have left, Gallagher says the band often relaxes backstage with friends and road crew by having a few drinks and talking about the show.

A show that, one presumes for a band as established as Oasis, will prove rather lucrative?

"Well, we make more money in the UK, simply because more people come to see us in concert than here in Asia. To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what we'll get for tonight's gig," he says.

"But let's just say that when we get home from a tour, I receive a sheet of paper with loads of figures on it.

"And when I look at the net total I'm being paid, I never think 'hmm, that seems a bit low'. Instead, I laugh, and think 'outrageous'!"


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Noel Gallagher: In the end, touring is what you make of it.

SPECIAL REPORT

FACT BOX

• The global unemployment rate remained unchanged in 2005 at 6.3 per cent
• In 2005, of the 2.8 billion workers in the world, nearly 1.4 billion did not earn above US$2 a day
• Each day, an average of 6,000 people die from work-related accidents or diseases
• About 4 percent of the world's GDP is lost yearly through work-related accidents and sickness
• Toxic substances kill 438,000 workers yearly, with asbestos alone causing 100,000 deaths

Source: International Labour Organization

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