Noel Gallagher knows that interviews get him in trouble. “I can’t help but offend people,” he says. “I’ve got a certain turn of phrase and way with words, that when written down, they look bad. They look fucking bad. But I live with that shit. It’s a constant tightrope, but I just walk it every day . . . I’m probably one of the only fucking people you will speak with in the flesh where you don’t get a list of things not to talk about.”
That is certainly true. During the course of a 30-minute phone interview with the 44-year-old former Oasis guitarist, we talked about his new group Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the possibility of an Oasis reunion, Radiohead, drugs, Amy Winehouse, Mumford & Sons and a lot more. Earlier this week, we wrote about Gallagher’s upcoming album and tour. Here’s more from our chat.
What do you think about Radiohead?
They’re an odd bunch, aren’t they? They’ve been making the same record since Kid A. But this needs to be said. I don’t own any of their records, but every time I’ve seen them live, they’ve fucking blown me away. It was like, “Wow, fucking listen to that! How do you fucking make that shit come out of those speakers?” It’s fucking amazing. But have I ever had a moment where I fucking sat down and thought, “Do you know what this calls for? This calls for ‘Paranoid Android!’ Get it on!” No. I’ve never had that moment. Give me “Mony Mony” or “Runaround Sue.” Something you can sing to.
How about Mumford & Sons?
What’s the first big song they had? I love that. [Hums “The Cave.”] I don’t know what the fuck it’s called. I haven’t heard anything that sounds as good as that. I don’t mind them. A lot of fucking people hate them in England. I think it’s the waistcoat and facial hair. I don’t mind them. I think that guy’s got a good voice . . . I wish had written that song. That’s the biggest compliment I can pay whoever wrote that.
Is there any chance that Oasis will ever reunite?
Liam has said that the idea makes him vomit and it would never happen, so I don’t need to add anything to that. I don’t need the fucking money, but I think it’s a shame that songs like “Champagne Supernova,” “Rock and Roll Star,” “The Importance of Being Idle” and “The Shock of the Lightning” will never be played again. In a stadium. That kind of fills me with sadness. The money is kind of irrelevant.
There’s bands that say, “We don’t want to get back together. We’d have to make a new record.” Why? Fuck a new record. No one gives a shit about your new record. Play the fucking old ones. The Led Zeppelin guys are like, “There will have to be a new record.” Really? Yeah, because that would be fucking great, wouldn’t it? Play fucking “Whole Lotta Love.” Get over it.
So, you’re saying there won’t ever be a reunion? Most groups say ‘never ever’ and then 10 years later, they do it.
I’m saying that the singer has said “Never ever.” So we’ll leave it at that.
Do you talk to the guys at all?
I speak to Gem and the drummer Chris, but I never really hung out with them anyway. I was more of a loner. They always had their own . . . they always hung out with each other, and their wives and girlfriends are all friends as well.
Do you speak with Liam at all?
Do you like the Beady Eye album? Have you heard it?
I haven’t sat down and heard it as an album, but I’ve seen stuff on the telly and I’ve heard pretty much most of it on the radio. I’ve obviously not sat down and listened to it as as an album, but I’m aware of all of the songs, and it’s all right.
The Kings of Leon are going through a rough patch right now. It’s just hard for brothers to be in bands I guess. They canceled their tour and their singer might be going to rehab.
Well, I can’t speak for them, but I’ve never been in a band with people who weren’t . . . I mean, I’ve always had Liam. I’ll never know what it’s like to be in a band with just guys. I don’t know whether or not it’s difficult. But people deal with it in different ways. I took a lot of drugs in the 1990s, but it never really got a grip on me like that where I was like, “I fucking need to go to rehab.” I’d literally done all the drugs that I’d had. There was none left in London. I’d done them all. And I was like, “Right, well, that fucking was interesting. Okay, we’ll I’ve done that now. Can we buy me a bike?”
But people deal with things differently. There’s three things that are really hard to deal with: drugs, alcohol and the worst one is success. Because with success comes with a lot of real subtle things that you can’t see and you can’t feel and you can’t talk to and you don’t know what they are, but it comes down to pressure pressure pressure pressure pressure pressure pressure.
Do you think that explains Amy Winehouse?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to say. It’s got to hit solo artists worse because they’re on their own effectively, and she’s only a little girl. But success is a fucking weird thing because you suffer so much to get it and when you get it you try to fucking hold onto it for dear life. And it’s a fleeting thing, you know what I mean? Add all that and you still have to be creative and all that shit and then drugs and alcohol become involved. It’s fucking tough, man. It’s hard.
You guys were so young and you got so massively big so quickly.
Yeah, each individual is different. We come from a very tough part of the world. Then I had people following me around with cameras and people sticking dictaphones at me. That was like paradise, if you had fucking seen where I was born and what I had to to through go get there in the first place. That was like, “Fucking bring it on! Give me more. What? I get free drugs?” It was fucking unbelievable! “And free clothes! And what’s this check for? You get money! Fuck me, this is unbelievable!”
But some people are not cut out for it. Take Keith Richards, for instance. What a fucking pirate. The guyhas lived it. Fucking rotten. He’s lived it large and he wrote a book about it. Then there’s people like Janis Joplin who didn’t fucking make it. Success is a weird thing. Not fame so much. Fame is bullshit. But success and how people around you perceive it and how you perceive it.
• Noel Gallagher: ‘I’m Not Technically Proficient Enough to Attempt All Kinds of Music’
• Beady Eye’s Liam Gallagher and Andy Bell Say Everything Is Different Now
• Photos: Oasis Live at the WaMu Theater, Seattle, WA