Noel Gallagher in Dubai: the full interview
The Oasis man tells Rob Garratt about Liam, Damon, reunions and wealth 4 Comments
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The year 2012 was a pretty good one for Noel Gallagher. After walking out of Oasis in 2009 after one too many fights with frontman/brother Liam, in late 2011 he launched solo album Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Going in straight at UK number one, 45-year-old Noel spent the bulk of last year on a 150-date tour which was swiftly upgraded from theatres to arenas, embraced with open arms by the press and public as British national treasure. But Noel’s taking 2013 off (and 2014 too if he can ‘get away with it’) aside from a few dates – including one at Atlantis on Friday March 15. When we spoke to Noel ahead of the gig he was on sparkling form. Told we only had ten minutes with the legend, he spent over an hour sharing his trademark blend of quick-fire wit, stark self-depreciation, eyebrow-raising arrogance and raconteur rants. And there was nothing we couldn’t ask – Liam, Damon Albarn, reunions, illegal substances, personal fortune – so we asked it all.
[Noel is playing the guitar when we call]
Hi Noel. Working on some new songs?
I’m always writing. I’ve got lots of songs, more songs than I know what to do with. If somebody put a gun to my head tomorrow and said ‘I need four albums by the end of the week’, I could probably do it.
Would they be any good?
Two of them would. Two of them would be just really good – the other two would be [very] brilliant.
As a songwriter you’re one of your harshest critics. Why do you think nothing you’ve written has captured the public imagination as much as those first two albums? [Definitely, Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?].
The third album didn’t really have any hit singles on it, and neither did the fourth one, and then by the end of that people had moved on. But we kind of turned it around after that. The last two albums we did were pretty good, the last three maybe, I can’t remember what order they went in now. I don’t really sit and think about it a great deal. I lost interest in writing, I couldn’t be bothered. After Morning Glory I’d done enough, I wanted to live a little and spend some money, and become an [addict]. The rest of the band really wanted to be working the whole time because they didn’t have a life outside of the band. Poor them.
Are you surprised how well the world has embraced your solo record?
Well yeah, because you can never really account for those things. I knew that the record was good, but the pages of iTunes are filled with great records that never sold a single copy. I’m surprised I got to where I am in such a short space of time. It’s kind of spoilt it a little bit: I was expecting a little bit of a trip from small clubs to theatres, to maybe one day in the far off distant future getting to play arenas. And it happened overnight and I was kind of thinking: oh right, I’m just back to where I was with Oasis really.
It must be a harder gig having to carry the whole thing on your own.
I don’t think about it. I don’t look in the mirror before I go onstage and think ‘I’m going to give these people a show’. What I’ve got is the songs, and that’s all I’ve got. And I think people understand that. People aren’t coming to see me. I don’t do [anything], I haven’t got any moves, I’ve got nothing to say, I’ve got no manifesto, I’m not remotely interesting, what I do is [play] songs that people like to sing. That’s it.
You were recently voted one of the wittiest men in Britain [in a survey by the Leicester Comedy Festival]. Is there an element of persona there, a Noel Gallagher act you feel you have to put on?
I wouldn’t like to think so. I hope not. What you see is what you get: I don’t dress like a rock star, I don’t have a rock star’s haircut, I’ve never worn a leather anything other than a leather jacket. Okay I can be a bit funny interviews and [stuff] like that, but really that’s meaningless. When I go home at night I’m not practising black magic – you know what I’m doing? I’m putting the kids to bed and doing baths and fights and tickles and taking them to school and going to the supermarket and buying fish.
We’ve been told you’re going to play a lot of Oasis stuff in Dubai.
No, no, no, no – it’s not true. I’ve got to do some big charity thing in London, and I haven’t played for a while and I didn’t want to just go onstage and play because it would be a bit [rubbish]. So it’s like ‘let’s do a warm-up gig somewhere’, and there’s nowhere warmer than Dubai, I’m told. But I’m not playing any more Oasis songs – in fact I’m playing less than on the last tour.
So six or seven Oasis tunes?
I think there’s… [counts] six – or seven – yes, six or seven, that’s correct. But it’s not the ones you would imagine, if you’re not an Oasis connoisseur, oh dear. I’ll do ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, I mean who wouldn’t? But it’s mainly my High Flying Birds stuff, a couple of new songs, and some obscure Oasis B-sides.
Two new songs? Is there a new record in the pipeline?
No. I write all the time. I never sit down and think ‘today I’m going to write a new album’, I just write as a hobby, whenever I get ten minutes I’m always [messing] about on this guitar here and if a line for a song pops into my head I might write it down. And then there’ll come a point where somebody will say ‘you’ve not made a record for four years’ and I’ll cobble together all the songs that I’ve got. [Now] there’s nothing, there’s no plans. I am really, really enjoying resting on my laurels at the minute. My laurels are [very] comfy.
So what will you be doing?
I’ll be watching football, I’ll be going on holiday, and I’ll be making the most mundane of tasks last a full day. I can make going to the dry-cleaners last an entire day, and the dry cleaners might be 150 yards from my front door. You might find it hard to believe, but I am bone-idle lazy. I might have to be wheeled to the studio in a wheelbarrow kicking and screaming. When I’m doing music and I’m on the road I love it. But once I’m home it’s very difficult to go back out on the road. But the money will run out eventually, I’ll have to.
Run out? You once said you had £87 million [Dhs480 million] in the bank.
Maybe in pence. I’ve never had 87 million of anything, I’ve not got that much money. When you read figures about how much money people have got, it seems like the papers just times it by three. But I’ve got enough money, I’m not greedy.
You’ve said before there could be an Oasis reunion if someone offered you enough money. How much would it take? For a full tour? Say, three nights at Knebworth?
I don’t live that far, I could probably get there and back in 40 minutes... For the sake of headlines all over the press, I’m not going to answer that because it would just be nonsense. Look, it’s not going to happen in 2015 [the 20th anniversary of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?] because the boys in the other band [Beady Eye] are all flat out busy, they’re making a record at the minute so they’re going to be on the road until 2015 you’d imagine. And I probably will have been coerced into doing something by then. I wish people would give it up – it’s not going to happen, for no other reason than we’ve moved on. That’s not to say it won’t happen in 25 years time, or 20 years. And where did this mythical date come from anyway? Why not 2017? Why not 2014? Why not celebrate the release of Definitely, Maybe – never mind Morning Glory. I understand people are interested, and The Stone Roses have done it, and Led Zeppelin have done it, and blah, blah, blah.
Speaking of which – we had The Stone Roses out recently. It seemed like Liam stole the headlines, did you know he was out here?
I did know he was out there, yeah – he has to ask my permission to leave the country.
Are you guys talking?
No. How exactly did he steal the show? Run off with a guitar amp or something?
He was just stood in the VIP area, but it wasn’t all that subtle.
It’s the kind of thing he does, he needs the reassurance.
Right, we’ve got some readers’ questions here. @GaryWorkid wants to know: Is it true you moved out of Ibiza because of James Blunt?
What did he do to wind you up?
He didn’t. He just moved there. I can’t have that.
Okay. @southend4ever asks: are you bringing the family out for a free holiday at Atlantis?
No, I’m sad to say the boys are at school so I can’t take them out. But seeing what they’ve got – they’ve got underwater suites, right, where you look out the bathroom window and you’re looking under the sea? – they’re going there eventually.
Will you be spending much time here?
In and out I’m afraid, I’ve got things to be getting on with back here. Not music or anything exciting, just mundane [rubbish]. I’ve got to pick something up from the dry cleaners, and I’m having a fan heater fixed, so I’ve got to be back here [laughs].
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