If a song sounds a bit Oasisy but a s**t version of Supersonic, I just bin it off, reveals Noel Gallagher
“I’VE been thrown out of pubs with Paul Weller, hung out with Neil Young and played with Paul McCartney.”Sitting in the live room of his north London Lone Star studio, Noel Gallagher is recalling meeting his heroes.
Fans of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds should not be expecting a nod to the frontman’s previous life in OasisCredit: Matt Crockett
Sitting in the live room of his north London Lone Star studio, Noel Gallagher is recalling meeting his heroes… from Paul McCartney to Bruce SpringsteenCredit: Matt Crockett
“When I first met them though, I was like, ‘F***! I’ve just met one of The Beatles’. I used to have posters of them on my wall. But they’re just geezers, like me.
“Like Bono, he gets so much bloody stick but he’s brilliant. And the stories he tells. I went to his book launch thing with my kids as they’ve known him since they were all babies.
“It was very theatrical. At one point, he was dancing on a table doing opera. Donovan lent in and went, ‘Dad, I think he’s lost it’. I was like, ‘Yes, but he’s amazing’. It was great.
“British people don’t like people who are successful. Simple as that. You can be the nicest guy in the world, but if you’re a f***ing multimillionaire rock star people automatically think you’re a c***. So, if you can rise above that, you’re all right.
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“When I met Bruce Springsteen, he was great. And apart from Bob Dylan, I think I’ve met everyone who I really admire, who is alive. I’ve been so f***ing lucky.
“Like with Johnny Marr. This is the third time he’s played on one of my albums. I say to him, ‘Mate, if you keep picking up the phone, I’m going to keep calling you’.
“But the fanboy thing has worn off with him. They’re not like wizards and they don’t come from another planet. They’re just extra-ordinarily talented guys in bands. Like me.”
It’s the second part of my chat with Noel Gallagher, and the former Oasis star is discussing his brilliant fourth High Flying Birds album, Council Skies.
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Former Smiths guitarist Marr plays on three tracks, including first single Pretty Boy, Council Skies and Open The Door, See What You Find.
“Johnny won’t let you send him the track up front for any of them,” says Noel. “He’ll come down, set up his equipment, talk at a hundred miles an hour about City, cars and music, and then he straps the guitar on, listens to the track for the first time and starts playing along.
“There was a great moment doing Pretty Boy, where I was sitting in the back room with the door open. I don’t sit there and watch him — it would freak me out if someone did that to me. When he hits on a part, we will both go, ‘That’s it’ and he works and works on it. And when I heard what he did to that track, I went, ‘That’s f***ing insane’.”
Produced by Noel with long-time collaborator Paul “Strangeboy” Stacey, Council Skies is Noel’s first album in six years and sees the guitarist again work with orchestral arranger Rosie Danvers on some of the tracks at Abbey Road.
Noel says: “I never tell her what to do — she just comes here and she gets it. The days we go into Abbey Road is always a great thing for me, as a Beatles fan. When I hear the orchestra, and what they do to my music, it’s really moving.”
Noel’s studio is like an Aladdin’s Cave of football and music memorabilia, including an old neon pink Top Of The Pops sign.
He’s excited to have a new record coming out and proud of the music he’s made for it.
“People make up their own mind but, as an album, I think it’s really strong,” he tells me. “It’s the best one I’ve done so far for sure, but what I do hope is that people listen to it as an album.”
Standout tracks include the dreamy Dead To The World, Love Is A Rich Man, the uplifting Think Of A Number, Open The Door and the Talk Tonight-ish Trying To Find A World That’s Been And Gone.
Thinking too deeply
He says: “Yeah, it’s got the same kind of chords. That was written in the lockdown when I was thinking, ‘What’s going to be left on the other side of this?’ Maybe I was thinking too deeply at the time because Brexit happened at the same time.
“Usually, if I’m writing a song and it starts to sound a bit Oasisy, I’ll get to the chorus and go, ‘It just sounds like a s**t version of Little By Little or Supersonic’ and I bin it off.
“But when I got to the chorus of Easy Now, I thought it was f***ing great. This is great. I love the song. But when I got this one, I was like, F***ing hell, this is going to be great. I will never get bored of that song. It’s so beautiful.”
Title track Council Skies is “about trying to find beauty on a council estate” and Noel originally wanted a collage of striking council estates in Manchester before settling on the old site of Maine Road, former home to Noel’s beloved Man City and also home of an old council estate.
He says: “We got [legendary music photographer] Kevin Cummins to do the photos because he’s local and it was on a weekday at the local school on the estate.
“I got dragged into the school by the teachers and paraded around the school, like an artefact. I had me pictures done with the kids. But it felt like a good idea.
“Maine Road is symbolic — it’s where I grew up and where Oasis played their  seminal gigs.”
Thinking about which young band could be the next Oasis, Noel says the music industry has changed so much now that there might not be a new band that comes up the same way.
“They’re too obsessed with YouTube rather than going to gigs to find the next big thing,” he says.
“I know people in A&R and all they care about is YouTube. There’s this lad Andrew Cushin and he’s good. But the first thing the business people said was, ‘He’s not on YouTube’.
“But if we had asked a load of kids in 1993 what was going to be the next big thing, they wouldn’t have come up with Oasis. Not a chance. People don’t know what they want.
“You would have never earmarked a load of f***ing guys from a council estate. One of them bald and two f***ing brothers always arguing.
“You’d never say they were going to change the world. And that’s what I mean. You can’t ‘focus group’ that — it just explodes out of nowhere.”
Unfortunately for fans, it doesn’t look like an Oasis reunion is on the cards.
In yesterday’s interview, Noel quashed fans dreams for a reunion, declaring: “Liam is full of s**t. He knows as well as I do that he doesn’t want it.”
He’s also not a fan of a new “lost” Oasis album generated by AI.
He says: “Someone sent me those Oasis AI songs — well, it was called AISIS. And I thought, ‘What’s the point of this?’ It’s as pointless as the people who make it. Then people are showing me Ringo Starr singing She’s Electric and Freddie Mercury singing Don’t Look Back In Anger. If that’s how you spend your lunch break, f***ing good on you.
“But there’s no soul to it, no feeling. I’ve seen that thing where lyrics are written by AI. And they are f***ing worse than mine. But I have no doubt that in the next ten years, record companies won’t employ songwriters — they’ll employ machines to write for the next f***wit popstar that comes along.
“I guarantee you that record labels are working on the technology. They’ll be churning that f***ing s**t out and all music will end up the same. You won’t know who’s singing.”
In yesterday’s interview, Noel quashed fans dreams for a reunion, declaring: ‘Liam is full of s**t. He knows as well as I do that he doesn’t want it’Credit: Getty
Noel’s High Flying Birds kick off their tour in Seattle, with UK dates in July.Credit: Getty
What about the Abba hologram shows? Is it something he’d consider when he’s too old to tour?
He says: “Anais (his daughter) went to the Abba show — she said I should go. Apparently, it’s amazing. And I do like a few of the tunes — ABBA Gold is amazing.
“Each band to their own but for me when it’s done, it’s done. The way the music business is now, nothing can die — nothing that sells can ever die. I have no doubt they’ll be working on it for David Bowie or The Beatles, but for me, when I can’t talk any more I’ll go away.”
Tonight, Noel’s High Flying Birds kick off their tour in Seattle, with UK dates in July.
Noel says: “We start in America, which has worked well, because it’s all seated there — you can really get into what you are doing as a band.
“For the big gigs in the summer, I’ll play all the new songs first before it goes dark.
“By the time I get to the winter arena shows, we’ll have nailed the show and the production.
“It was a conscious decision to add the big production last. My management think I’m crazy but my biggest gigs are in England. And the biggest production is in England. So, by the time we get to England, we’ll be flying.
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“But the gig I’m most looking forward to is Dublin with the Happy Mondays, which in another era, would have involved fatalities.”
Council Skies is out today.
NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS