Noel Gallagher has released a new album, Chasing Yesterday, which means there’s a media onslaught of witty commentary courtesy of the sometime songwriting force behind Oasis. The interviews are to promote Chasing Yesterday, but these days, the elder Gallagher garners more interest for his banter than his music. This is not to say that he hasn’t always been bitingly clever or eminently quotable, or even that Chasing Yesterday is not worth talking about. In fact, Chasing Yesterday, contrary to its title, has some gems in the form of the Johnny Marr-featured disco-flecked “Ballad Of The Mighty I,” the smoky, space-jazz number “The Right Stuff,” and the David Bowie-esque “Girl With X-Ray Eyes.”
But it’s more interesting to hear about Gallagher’s debauched night out in Los Angeles with his running mate, Russell Brand, and Morrissey, or to hear him rip on Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, or the possibility of his collaborating on music with onetime nemesis, Blur’s Damon Albarn. Gallagher’s website and Facebook fan page contain a hilarious missive that he penned, titled “Tales From The Middle Of Nowhere Vol 3: The Good, The Bad, And The Bubbly.” A tour diary of sorts, the occasional entry picks up where Gallagher’s 2012 Huffington Post U.K. column left off during tours for his debut solo album, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Vol. 1 of these posts originally started on the last Oasis tour.
For all his multi-millions, the self-assured Gallagher continues to use public transportation in London, his town of residence. Living right in the middle of the city, there is a good chance you’ll bump into the family man at the local grocery store, or a better chance of that at the corner store. He’ll never say no to an autograph or a selfie—but he might jokingly ask for a fee. During a 20-minute conversation, Gallagher says “fuck” in various forms 26 times and inserts a “do you know what I mean” at the end of every third sentence—deleted here for the reader’s ease.
The A.V. Club: You’ve had the same sense of humor and outspokenness from the start. Previously you were perceived as obnoxious and now you’re considered clever. Why do you think that perception has changed, particularly in America?
Noel Gallagher: The thing is, people often make the mistake of taking me as seriously as they think I take myself. When somebody puts a tape recorder in front of me, I’m sorry, I’m in a ludicrous situation. When somebody says to me, “Tell me your thoughts on Maroon 5?” To me, that’s a stupid question asking for a stupid answer. I’ve never taken myself too seriously. If I did, I would have grown facial hair by now and I’d have a tattoo and I haven’t so fuck all y’all is what I’m going to say.
AVC: Have you ever considered writing lyrics in the same manner as you speak? You could be writing Morrissey-like lyrics.
NG: Unfortunately there’s only one Morrissey. I write lyrics from the heart. I don’t think they’re one thing or another. They just fit the tune. I never put myself up there as a fantastic lyricist. I don’t care about lyrics. The music always comes first. That’s what you hum on the way to work or to school. The words, who gives a fuck about the words? I’ll tell you who care about words. Singers. That’s all they give a fuck about.
AVC: These days, artists have as many producers on their album as there are songs. You produced Chasing Yesterday yourself, but before that you searched for a sole producer.
NG: I’ve always done that thing where the album is a project and you share the responsibility with one person. You end up having a relationship with that person. I know now it’s not the done thing in the music business with major record labels. We’ll work with that guy and then we’ll work with that guy, maybe mix that guy, maybe we’ll marry those two things together and see if we can get a shit fucking song out of it. But that’s not the way I work. I work in a very traditional, old school kind of way. That’s the way I enjoy making records.
AVC: Do you think of the album as a whole instead of singles?
NG: I’m afraid I’ll always be an album artist. That’s just the way I was brought up. Most of the big acts today, they’re not known for their albums, they’re known for their singles. The music of let’s say Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna, Beyoncé, fucking Christina Aguilera, all that pop stuff, you’re not meant to listen to 11 songs like that in a row on an album. Quite frankly, you’d commit suicide, wouldn’t you? You’re only supposed to listen to one song at a time in the car on the way to the fucking supermarket. I’m not sure anybody can sit through 50 minutes of that kind of music. Fucking hell. I’d have to take out the entire mall, wouldn’t you? I would.
AVC: It’s not an easy task to make an album sounds like a cohesive whole with multiple producers.
NG: We used to call it the music industry, right? The music industry was great because it was full of musicians and people who loved music. Now, we should call it the record-selling industry. What they’re passionate about is fucking selling records and that’s it. Nobody gives a shit about music. Nobody.
AVC: But no one’s buying records, so that can’t be a goal.
NG: For me, personally, the goal is to make records that I like. Where am I today? In the middle of Holland, in the middle of Holland, in a place called the Utrecht, which I’ve never heard even fucking heard of, and the gig’s sold out. That’s why I do it. If people buy the records as well, that’s a bonus. But, I make records that I like. I don’t make records to sell records.
AVC: What is your take on the “Blurred Lines” verdict?
NG: I’m not sure what on Earth they’ve been sued for, if I’m being honest. An American journalist said to me it’s because of the rhythm of the track. Now if that’s true, and you can copyright rhythm, then all of reggae is fucked, all of dance music is fucked. All I can say is somebody has got some shit lawyers.
AVC: What is your perception of the impact of music on your kids’ generation?
NG: My two youngest are too young. My daughter, like all young people—the songs are only a vehicle for the performer. She would say, “I love those guys,” but she doesn’t love the music, she loves the idea of them. She’s already coming into the light. She’ll text me once or twice a week and say things like, “Who are the Stone Roses?” And I’m like, “Ah, well, okay, the light’s gone on.” Between the ages of 13 and 15, it was all One Direction and this that and the other. Kids have to be kids. You can’t expect someone to pop out of the womb and at 4 years old ask to fucking listen to the White Album.
AVC: Do you want to once again have the impact on the world that you had with Oasis in the ’90s? You didn’t seem very comfortable with the whole phenomenon.
NG: I didn’t realize what had happened until it was all over. I’m only realizing now. I was out onstage last night in a place called Düsseldorf in Germany—in the middle of fucking nowhere—and I’d say the first three rows of the crowd could not have even been born when Oasis put out their first single. So, I only really realized it maybe 10 years after it happened. To be honest, it’s never going to happen again. It’s never going to happen for me. It might never happen again in rock ’n’ roll, particularly in England. The music goes on regenerating, you know? I play songs that are 20 years old, the kids go fucking berserk, kids who are like 15, it’s an amazing thing. It’s all about the music anyway. It couldn’t happen to me now what happened to Oasis then, I wouldn’t be able to deal with that—I would be able to deal with it, but, I don’t think I would enjoy it.
AVC: How come the other members of Oasis went with Liam after the band broke up as opposed to following you?
NG: I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m assuming they all wanted to write some songs and if anybody comes to work with me they don’t write a fucking single note. I wouldn’t have asked them anyway. I spent 20-odd years in that band, I wouldn’t then leave, take the band and somehow still be in a band, that would just be weird. I wanted to go it alone and do my own thing.
AVC: You’re looking trimmer and healthier than ever. How do you stay fit?
NG: I have a wonderful wife who looks after me when I’m at home. If it wasn’t for her, god, I might look like Elton John. When I’m on the road, I’m left to my own devices and I do the best I can. I do have a gym at home. I do eat the right things.
AVC: Are you on the treadmill?
NG: No, I don’t do running, that’s for fucking squares.
AVC: You can walk on a treadmill.
NG: Walking? That’s even worse.
AVC: Do you think you’ll ever stop drinking?
NG: Oh god no, unless the doctor tells me, no no no no. Why would I want to do that? I’m not a heavy drinker anyway, if I’m being honest, particularly when I’m on tour. I don’t drink at home. When I go out though, I fucking go out. If I’m getting fucking dressed up and I’m going out with my wife, we are not fucking coming home until somebody sends us home. We would do that twice a week, now it’s probably twice a month. Everything slows down when you’re older.
AVC: What kind of places do you frequent?
NG: All over the place. It depends what’s going on in London. If there’s a show happening or if there’s a party going on or it’s just a Thursday night and we want to get away from the kids. We phone a few people and out we go, see where the night takes us, not any one place in particular. There’s hotel bars, that’s the main thing really. But normal bars, that would be a fucking nightmare, very unenjoyable and deeply unrelaxing.
AVC: You did say at one point, 20 years ago, that you didn’t think you could ever stop taking drugs.
NG: If you’re in a situation with the same 15 to 20 people and everyone’s doing it, then you’re doing it. One by one, slowly, everybody bows out of the game. I was quite early on the bowing out of it, I’ve got to say. I couldn’t take drugs anymore. I couldn’t see myself doing that as a 47-year-old. Liza Minnelli was fucking taken into rehab yesterday at 69 for substance abuse. I mean, fuck off, 69 years of age and still fucking banging out the gear? What? No. Fucking hell. No need. No need for it.