When Noel Gallagher first played rough demos to producer David Holmes earlier this year, Holmes told him they sounded like finished versions. “Which was a shock to me because I hadn’t even started,” Gallagher says. “He said, ‘You should finish that record, but if you want to make a record with me, we should do one from scratch.'”
The former Oasis guitarist admits that when he first entered Holmes’ Belfast studio to begin recording High Flying Birds’ upcoming album Who Built the Moon?, Holmes asked him to not come with any songs or even ideas, opting instead for a few guitars and effects pedals.
Speaking to Rolling Stone at a Los Angeles listening party last month, Gallagher admits that for 18 months, he and Holmes spent more time talking and absorbing music than recording. “The whole thing was born out of conversation and playing records,” he says. “Him saying, ‘I think that you should do stuff like this’ and he’d play some obscure fuckin’ French jazz shit. And I’d be going, ‘Wha? Really? Ooh la la.'”
The musician would record brief snippets of music before Holmes would stop him occasionally and say, “That sounds a bit like Oasis.” “I’d be like, ‘Fuckin good, though, right?” Gallagher says. “‘Well, yeah, but try something different.’ I’d fuck around for another hour-and-a-half and he’d say, ‘Starting to sound like High Flying Birds now’ and I’d say, ‘Equally as fuckin’ good, right?’ ‘No, but try something different.’ And eventually, something different would come.”
Gallagher also discussed how Kanye West influenced album opener “Fort Knox,” an ambling, psychedelic instrumental track. “On the day that Kanye released that track ‘Fade,’ it fuckin’ blew my mind,” he says. “And I go into the studio and I’m going, ‘Wow, have you fuckin’ heard this Kanye track?’ … I’ve always loved that track by him called ‘Power.'” Holmes suggested he write a track like that. “And I’m like, ‘What? fuckin joking, are ya? I’m no rapper.’ He had the idea of, ‘Let’s pretend we’re doing a track for Kanye and we’re going to send to him.’ And as it was going along, I was going, ‘This is amazing. He’s not getting this.’ So the reason why there’s no singing on it is we had this idea we were going to send it to Kanye and then [throws middle finger in air] fuck him.”
On new song “It’s a Beautiful World,” Gallagher recruited French singer Charlotte Marionneau to record a spoken word verse. Gallagher wanted “an announcement,” but was unable to clear a 1950s French jazz sample of a woman commanding everyone to stay in their seats at a show. They told Marionneau to “say anything.”
“She’s doing her thing in French,” he says in the video below. “None of us in the studio can speak French so we don’t know what the fuck she’s going on about.” Marionneau sang a “list of the end of the world.” “I was like, ‘Aw fuck, I don’t really agree with any of that,'” Gallagher, who rewrote some of the lyrics, admits. “The people who were blown away the most was my French record label who were like, ‘You know you’re going to be really famous in France.’ Fantastique.”