Lifting the lid on the story of Oasis and the Gallagher brothers is perhaps a difficult promise to make.
Twenty-five years on from when it all started, the Britpop glory-day highs and the break-up lows, the partying, the fall-outs and traded insults, the drugs, the fights, the cancelled shows, the smashed teeth; it has all been well documented.
Not least in Supersonic in 2016, the documentary which charted the band in their halcyon period up to the record-breaking gigs at Knebworth in 1996, the biggest the UK had ever seen at the time. The film followed the band’s meteoric rise and delved into the soap opera that is the fractious relationship between Noel and Liam.
But when it comes to Oasis, the fans will always have room for more.
Now, the band’s former head of security and tour manager Iain Robertson, and the managing director of their label Creation Records, Tim Abbot, are telling their own tales about their time with the band, sharing “the real story (in all its glory)” in a live Q&A show. There will be previously unseen footage and photos, they say, and the chance to hear what it was really like on the inside.
“In the early days there were only about 10 people who were part of the Oasis touring machine, and that includes the band,” says Robertson, a former paratrooper. “There are stories out there from people who… well, not who weren’t there, but… they were there at gigs, maybe in a hotel room, but the day-to-day of this band going through this incredible experience of what was, well, it was all ‘what the f***?’, basically. That was us.”
Robertson was brought in to mind the band after an incident with a fan who managed to get on stage in 1994. Like many others who saw them in their early days, he recalls having that feeling of witnessing something big.
“There was just this animalistic intensity,” he says. “They nailed the audience to the back wall. It was a phenomenon.”
In the wake of Supersonic, he says he and Abbot decided fans might want to hear more about their own experiences.
“Noel is probably the best songwriter of a generation,” says Abbot, who hardcore fans may recognise from the Cigarettes And Alcohol cover. “And Liam at his finest is a rare gem.
“They were absolutely dedicated. They were the hardest working band I’ve worked with. It always looked like chaos, but it was organised chaos. We were a big working dysfunctional family.”
Robertson describes it as as “a ferocious environment, really full on”, but that ultimately the Gallaghers were good men to work with.
“[Noel] always gave the impression he was utterly confident when in reality it was sometimes different.” There was a degree of confidence, he says, but he doesn’t believe it was arrogance, despite how they might come across.
“I’d say [with Noel] it was like a suit of armour, really. With Liam, I think Liam was generally confident but… I’m not sure he thought things through.
“One of the things I love about him is that knee-jerk honesty. We all filter, everyone filters. Liam doesn’t. He’s going to tell you exactly what he thinks. And you’ve got to be a rock and roll star to get away with that.
“Also, what are you going to say when you’re asked the question: are you any good? ‘No, we’re crap?’ Of course not. It’s, ‘No, we’re great’.
Inevitably, both Robertson and Abbot are often asked about their thoughts on the brothers’ relationship. Will fans ever get to see the hoped-for reunion?
“It would be the hottest ticket in town,” says Abbot. “But they’re not getting back together, for the foreseeable future anyway.
“Liam idolises Noel, there’s no two ways about it. He just hasn’t got the tool kit to fix it.”
Robertson says the reunion will never happen. What would he bet? He laughs. “My house.”
“I can only speak from the perspective of being there for a couple of years, but the savagery – and I choose that word carefully – was absolutely real,” he says.
“There’s a lack of understanding there, which is where it comes from. They’re both coming at the world from very different places.
“There were occasions when they’d be at each other’s throats – and I don’t just mean that as a turn of phrase, I’d have to physically split them. And think about it. They were selling millions. What was there to be unhappy about?
“But in the middle of it all there was this anger. Bitterness would be the wrong word, but they absolutely had this real sense of danger. That’s what made them interesting.”
Ultimately, the sense of danger is how Robertson ended up parting ways with the band.
“I’ll be completely honest, in my time with them I made a mistake, I was a little bit too autocratic,” he says. “It was my job to get stuff done, get them from A to B. You’ve got to be somewhere for 8am and they’ve been up until 6am…
“There’s a way of doing it… But with Oasis I’d been briefed: you have to get a grip of this.
“I gripped a bit too hard. Some of them appreciated it, but Liam didn’t.”
It came to a head in Paris, says Robertson, after Liam had done an interview with a DJ there, alongside Eddie Izzard. Izzard, who speaks French, quickly charmed the interviewer, he says, “and Liam went off, toys were thrown out of the pram”.
Robertson continues: “It was very easy to light the blue touch paper. Afterwards, we were driving off and he threw himself out of the car, and so I threw myself out after him.” He says this as if it is the most normal thing in the world.
“It resulted in Liam – and I never expected this – punching me. I could deal with it. But that was it.
“Noel was lovely [about it]. He is lovely. When you get past the game, because it is a game, when you get Noel there’s a real kindness there, there really is.”
There are no hard feelings though. Robertson clearly has a respect for Liam.
“The question I get asked most is, ‘Is Liam really that much of a d**k?’ I really think that misses the point,” he says.
“What Liam is, is a bona fide rock and roll star. You expect your rock and roll stars to be different.
“There’s an intensity there that can be difficult to be around, unpleasant sometimes, difficult to manage. And that was a part of my job; you find yourself apologising on numerous occasions to a number of people. But he is a proper rock star.”
“They were the last two great rock and roll stars to come out of Britain,” says Abbot, who has also worked with Robbie Williams. “They might be worth millions or whatever, but they’re normal people.
“I was never into the celebrity thing but I observed it. A lot of people got caught up in the wave. But Liam is just himself. Noel is as he was.
“They might have all the trappings of wealth and celebrity, but that’s not the core. They connected with people, with the country, because I think a lot of people saw themselves in them. Well, not everyone, obviously. But a lot of people. It was, these kids off the estate have done well. They were seen as these oiks from t’up North at first, but who spoke street wisdom.”
He continues: “We had a working relationship that was unbelievable. It was f****** hang on to your hats. They had two great albums. I actually think Be Here Now is not a bad album but it did become corporate, too much money, it became deluded. The cocaine use, the celebrity. And you know, Liam didn’t go to finishing school…”
What Liam did have, what they both did, was humour. The Gallaghers were always headline gold.
“Noel and Liam were the kings of the soundbite,” says Abbot. “‘Cocaine on my cornflakes!’ What a line. Who’s not having that one?”
Oasis and cocaine were synonymous in the ’90s, and people always ask about the band’s drug use, he says. Who doesn’t want to hear more about the time Noel apparently took cocaine in a Downing Street toilet reserved for the Queen?
But the Q&A show “won’t be a kiss and tell” says Abbot. “It’s for the music lovers, really”.
But they will share their favourite anecdotes, taking fans “behind the velvet rope”, says Robertson.
He tells the story of the time Liam met John McEnroe.
“We were in the bar and John and Liam had come together, and John knew who Oasis were. Back then in America, that was a big thing. And John told Liam he’d written a song and – no irony at all – he did this a capella performance. ‘Was it out, was it in’, it had tennis references. Liam’s jaw just dropped open.”
Robertson also recalls a hairy moment with Shaun Ryder.
“We played the Hacienda and the Hacienda was a tiny space, the stage was really small.
“Shaun wanted to watch from the side and Noel had said, under no circumstances do you let Shaun Ryder on stage. He wasn’t happy about it. He told me I wouldn’t leave Manchester alive.
“But he’s mellowed now, I think.”
But his favourite moment is one in which he found out about Liam’s washing habits.
“We’d stopped somewhere in Europe and Liam was outside playing football, bouncing the ball against the side of the bus. Bonehead [Paul Arthurs, the band’s guitarist at the time] was trying to get some sleep inside.
“Bonehead gets up, gets into a row with Liam. He asks what time we’re on and can he just get to the hotel room because ‘I want a bath’, he says. And Liam just stopped: ‘What do you mean, you’re going to have a bath?’
“‘I just want to go back to the room and have a bath.'”
“Liam just looks at him: ‘You can’t have a bath. Oasis don’t have baths.'”
:: RYSG Management and Promotions presents Oasis: The Real Story (In All Its Glory), with Iain Robertson and Tim Abbot, is on at the O2 Academy Sheffield on Friday