Entertainment Music

Sunday 18 August 2019

'I did a runner on Bono one night’ - Noel Gallagher talks quitting cocaine, leaving London, musical evolution, and a life less ordinary

In an exclusive Irish interview, Noel Gallagher tells Barry Egan about quitting cocaine, selling Supernova Heights, the break-up of his marriage to Meg Matthews — plus ‘running away’ with second wife Sara MacDonald — why he didn't turn into 'an a*******' when the money rolled in, stabbings outside his house, and his take on politics

Noel Gallagher (Matt Crossick/PA)
Noel Gallagher (Matt Crossick/PA)
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Noel Gallagher is smaller in person than he appears on stage in front of thousands upon thousands of people. The smiling Mancunian — who prefigured Game Of Thrones’s Robb Stark as the original King of the North — once quipped: “I said we were bigger than God, but what I meant to say was taller. I believe Jesus was 5ft 7in and I’m 5ft 8 1/2.” Over the next 60 minutes, Noel will be a giant of ragged wit and uncensored repartee.

There was a headline a few years ago apropos of which ‘Noel Gallagher got so drunk with Bono he had to escape’.

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What was Noel escaping from?

“Being f**king drunk!” he shrieks with laughter.

It sounds like a scene from the movie Withnail & I, I joke.

“No! No! No! [laughing] When you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough!” reflects Noel (who in 2000 jokingly told The Guardian that he has three pints of Guinness “and then falls over”.)

The epically charismatic U2 star is probably not the easiest person to say goodnight to. Did Noel have to do a runner on Bono?

“I did do a runner! I was staying at his house [laughing]. But he f***king knows how to throw a party. I’ll say that.”

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Bono and Noel Gallagher celebrating Noel's 50th birthday. Image:Twitter

So does Noel Gallagher. His one-time mansion Supernova Heights in North London has long-since passed into Bacchanalian legend. “You know what? I only had that house for two and a half years.”

Did Noel sell the house when he gave up drugs?

“Yes, is the short answer to that. I had the house for two and a half years and it felt like a f**king lifetime. It felt like I lived in there for a lifetime, for a decade.”

Could anyone just call up to the house?

“Not anyone," he laughs, "But to be honest, though, on more than more occasion you’d look around the room and I’d say to somebody; ‘Who the f**k is that guy there?’.  ‘Oh, he delivered the pizzas here about four or five hours ago’. It was great. Steve Coogan was my answering machine message.”

And Kate Moss was a regular guest. On one occasion when the British supermodel had been staying at Supernova Heights for a couple of weeks, Noel was going in through the gates when four young girls pressed books into his hands and asked him for Kate’s autograph.

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Kate Moss (right) and Noel Gallagher on stage during the 2014 Brit Awards at the O2 Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 19, 2014. See PA story SHOWBIZ Brits. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

“You’re coming round ’ere, to my house, asking for supermodel autographs? Do you not want mine? Well, I’ll tell you what, you’re not going until you have mine. You’re having my autograph now!” the Oasis superstar told them.

“Supernova Heights was great for the time but then there came a point when I thought: ‘I need to get out of this’.”

Where did he go?

"I went out to the country. Unfortunately, the party followed out to the country. And what happened then is, they would just f**king stay forever. It was at that point where I was, ‘I need to get f***king rid of all these people’.”

And how do you that, I ask?

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Meg Mathews and Noel Gallagher were married for four years

“Well, I had to.  It was coming to the end of my marriage [to Meg Matthews, his wife from 1997 to 2001, and mother of daughter Anais] and all that.  ‘They’ve all got to go’.  At that point [clicks fingers], which is incredible... when I think of it now... within two months of that thought, I’m thinking ‘How do I do it? What do I do?’.  I met Sara, and that was the catalyst for everything.  And I was just like ‘Well, I’ll run away with her, then.  That’s what I’ll do’.  And that’s what I did,” he says of Sara MacDonald whom he met in Ibiza. They married in June, 2011 — Russell Brand was the best man — and have two sons, Donovan, born September 22, 2007, and Sonny, born October 1, 2010.

Is the lyric from 2000’s Where Did It All Go Wrong? (‘Do you keep the receipts, For the friends that you buy?’) about the discarded friends from Supernova Heights?

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Noel Gallagher and Sara McDonald (Ian West/PA)

“Yeah,” he nods. “I didn’t see those people for a good five or six years. We’ve since all re-acquainted and become friends again. We were all too up in each other’s faces 24 hours a day.”

What did his mother think of Noel with all that gang?

“I didn’t ask her.  It goes back: once you leave home, mums don’t have an opinion any more.  If she is complaining about shit now, I’ll say, ‘You are f**king aware that I’m 52, OK?  I’m sorry.  Those days are over. Over.’  But you know, parents are parents.  I’ll be the same with my kids.  I’ll be giving out to them when I’m Peggy’s age.”

Will Noel ever make up with his estranged father Tommy?

“I wouldn’t have thought so, no.”

Will Noel be on his deathbed and wish he had reconciled his differences with his father?

“No. No. He doesn’t mean anything to me.”

There were good times like when he used to bring Noel to the football as a kid, I begin and then stop.

“Right,” says Noel with a quizzical look that says ‘Your point is?’

“The bad stuff completely outweighs the good stuff.  OK, he got me into supporting Man City.  Thanks a lot.  That’s the least you could f**king do for me.”

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Family portrait of the Gallagher family in the mid 1970s, from left to right, Noel, Paul, Liam and Mum Peggy Gallagher

Is it true that a Manchester United fan broke Noel’s nose?

“I did get in a City and United fight, yeah, in the late... maybe the mid 1980s in Manchester.  I woke up in a bus-stop [laughing] and the only memory I had before that was that I was not in a bus stop!”

Does Noel ever miss the bad old days of his beloved team Man City in the second division?

“Noooo. Oh, f***, no.  I’ve been there.  I went there.  No, this is f**king unbelievable.”

Is it not too easy now for Man City?

“Listen, we are going to enjoy this now while [Pep] Guardiola is in charge.  He is going to leave soon.  And we’ll clap him out of the f***king stadium. [Clapping] I’ll carry him out on a f**king golden throne and say: ‘Good luck to you man because you’ve given us the best f***king years of our lives.’  And then after that, it will start again.  But I’ll tell you what, the chairman and the owner, Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Sheikh Mansour, are just unbelievable people.”

And if the sheik was to put the club up for sale tomorrow, could Noel not put a consortium together and buy it?

The famous mono-brow raises sufficiently to indicate the answer is definitely maybe not.

"I got asked to buy into it by [former Manchester City player and legend] Francis Lee, in 1996.  I had a meeting with him.  I went down to Maine Road to meet him.  They had this idea.  They were going to give me a squad number because they didn't have a number 1.  It started off as this marketing thing.  We will sign you on paper.  So you have an official shirt and it will say Gallagher on the back.  I said, 'If you're giving me a f**king squad number I'm coming to training!'  Then there was talk about putting money into the club.  And I was like, you know what? I'd rather just be a fan.'"

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Noel Gallagher puts the questions to Pep Guardiola CREDIT: MANCHESTER CITY OFFICIAL YOUTUBE

What was he like as a kid? Could he play?

"Yeah, I could knock it about.  I haven't got the legs any more.  My kids can run f**king rings around me.  I can just about keep up with the two lads."

I return to his beloved ma who famously rang him up to remind him that she didn’t bring him up to say things like that when he told The Observer in 1995 that he hoped Damon Albarn from Blur would get “Aids and die”. 

Did he get many other irate calls from Peggy about things he has said in the media?

“Only the usual, you know, about Liam.” (about whom I have been forbidden from asking questions) “That’s about it.  But it’s like, once you get to a certain age it’s — ‘Mam, I’m not f**king 19 any more!’”

What about his comment in January, 1997 that “taking drugs is like having a cup of tea”?

“Well, I’ve been taking drugs since I’ve been 14. But she wasn’t too blown away by that comment.”

Nor was then Home Secretary, Michael Howard, who was quoted as saying in the House Of Commons that Noel should be kicked out of the country.

“That was one of the best days of my life!  Michael Howard!” Noel laughs all these years on.

Further merriment was enjoyed on July 30, 1997 when Noel arrived at Number 10 Downing Street as a guest of new prime minister Tony Blair, and he thought of Mr Howard: ‘I hope you’re f**king watching this now!’

“There were things surrounding my visit to Number 10 that I had never seen on TV,” Noel says looking back.  “There was something on Newsnight where Jeremy Paxman said, ‘These are the kind of f**king people that they are letting into the corridors of power now’ — meaning me! I don’t know what to make of all that episode.  It was just a crazy f**king time.”

You rocked up to 10 Downing Street in a Rolls-Royce, I say.

“Me and Alan [McGee, head of his record company Creation, and the man who signed Oasis in 1993].  Alan had bought me the Rolls-Royce the previous Christmas.”

And you couldn’t drive, I say.

“I still can’t!  I never had a driving licence.  Yeah, we turned up at 10 Downing Street.  It was 1997.  I had only signed off the dole four years previously.  Do you know what I mean?  So, I was like, ‘This is f**king insane!’  Alan used to work in British Rail and all that. We were two working-class guys who conquered the music business.

“I remember him saying to me; ‘They [Tony Blair, etc] really want to meet you’.  I was like, ‘What do they want to meet me for?’ ‘Well, you pretty much helped get them [New Labour and Tony Blair] elected’.  I was like, ‘Yeah, but, I’m not...’ Alan was like, ‘Come and meet them...’”

Did Noel’s pal Paul Weller say to him at the time anything along the lines of how he had been messed about and used by the Labour Party in the mid 1980s with Red Wedge (a collective of well-known musicians like The Specials, The Smiths, Billy Bragg and Weller, who attempted to engage young people with Labour politics)?

“I didn’t canvass much opinion about it.  I said to Alan, ‘All right, go on then’.  I got the invite, we went and that was it.

"Afterwards? I kind of knew we’d get a bit of flak afterwards.  Writers from The Guardian and The Mirror were like, ‘What the f*** is he doing there?’ and that kind of thing.  But I didn’t canvass opinion.  Yeah, Weller had been burned by Red Wedge.  His view of it — politicians — actually holds true today.  He said they’re all c**ts.  You think because it’s people from the Labour Party but they’re all in it; it’s all sleaze; they’re all in it for themselves.  It’s rare that there’s politicians who want to serve their country.  Even that’s f**king suspicious.  It’s very rare.  And I think the same thing now.  I’ve met — and do receive — politicians from time to time.  They’re as bad as each-other, all of them.  All of them.”

Who would he vote for?

“I wouldn’t vote for anyone,” says Noel.  “I was New Labour all the way.  I believed in that.  I believed in that dance he did along the middle of the two parties.  How he did it was f***ing genius.  You know, how to get The Sun onside and get their readers to vote for Labour is one of the greatest magic tricks that has ever been pulled off by a politician.  And that to me was when I was really passionate about what was going on in the country.  Now the extreme or the right wing and the left, they’re all the same. There’s liberal fascists.  There’s right-wing fascists.  It’s on the rise in England.”

Noel, after he came out of 10 Downing Street in 1997, said he thought he going to get a knighthood. Would he have accepted it?

“No, no. I was hoping I’d get a back-hander on the tax bill!”

Bobbie Gillespie of Primal Scream would have had you assassinated if you'd accepted the Knighthood, I say.

“Would he? I don’t think he would” [Laughs]

Would Noel abolish the British royal family?

“What I think about the royal family is, it’s not their fault, those kids who are born into it.  Say, William and Harry, for example, are born into it.  That’s their life.  It’s not the people themselves.  It’s the institution of we being subjects to these people who make a lot of money from land that was taken from ordinary people.  I don’t feel passionate enough where I’d have them all f***king lined up and f**king shot!”

You’ve changed, I tease. In 2000, you said you would have the royal family publicly flogged before you maimed them!

“Well, that was... what? Nineteen years ago!” he laughs.

You also said that the Duke of Edinburgh should lose a leg!

He positively cackles with laughter this time, “That doesn’t surprise me!”

It shouldn’t surprise any discerning followers of popular culture that the man sitting opposite me cackling like a broken drain at Buckingham Palace wrote some of the greatest songs of the 1990s. Songs that are played at funerals and weddings. Songs that have the power to halt time. Songs that changed the world.

Oasis were formed in Manchester in 1991 when Noel joined his younger brother Liam’s band, then called The Rain.

They released their zeitgeist-defining debut album Definitely Maybe in 1994 and the following year (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, which became one of the biggest selling UK albums of all time, and one of the best.

In 1996, Oasis played two nights at Knebworth to an audience of 125,000 a night.

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Noel Gallagher at the 1997 Brit Awards.

The writing was soon on the wall for the group with their 1997 album Be Here Now, a creative low followed, matched in 2000 by Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.

In August 2009, Noel left the band after a row backstage in Paris with Liam. He would go on to form Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Warm and witty in person, a storyteller as fine as Noel Gallagher is engaging company to while away an afternoon with.

Does he still have the two cats Benson & Hedges?

“No, Benson & Hedges went back to the cattery. My cat is called Boots.”

I heard a rumour that Noel was a massive fan of MasterChef. Is this true?

“I wouldn’t say I’m a massive fan! [Laughs].  But every time there’s a new series of MasterChef, there’s always this thing where I always seem to have 12 weeks off where I can sit and watch it.  So, I missed The Wire and f**king Breaking Bad and all that because I was away on tour, but, for some reason, I’m always around for MasterChef.  We do like it as a family.  The four of us will sit down.  The kids love it.”

Does Noel cook?

“Do I f**k. [Laughing] No!  That’s what I got f**king married for! (Laughing).  I don’t cook.  Sara could run a restaurant, she is that good a cook.  I mean, when she goes away I won’t starve.  I mean, I can cook.”

Noel tells the story of he and Sara looking at a house in London a few years ago whereupon the estate agent mentions that there was a flat at the end of the garden that could be converted.

“I’ll have that as a creative space.  And Sara said, ‘For what? What do you want a creative space for?’.  ‘To write songs’.  And she said, ‘I’ve never seen you write any songs’.  I was like, ‘Are you being f**king serious?’.   ‘Well, I’ve never seen you write any’.  ‘But you do accept that I do write them?’.   ‘I’ve just never seen you write any!’  I still to this day don’t have a f***king studio.”

"But I have finally got my wish.  It is a proper recording studio."

Is he writing songs over dinner?

"At the dinner table I'm constantly drumming on the table."  He'll tell her he is thinking up a song. "She'll say, 'Really?'.  I have perfected the art of listening to her whilst humming a melody. She used to be, 'You're miles away. What are you doing?'."

Does U2’s Adam Clayton still live on your street in London’s Little Venice district.

“Yeah, he’s on my street. He’s my neighbour. He lives about five doors down. We’re just about to move out to Hampshire,” he adds. “We didn’t want the kids growing up in London.”

Paparazzi?

“No.  We’ve had two stabbings outside our house in the last while.  I live as you can imagine in quite an affluent area.  At one end of the street is one housing estate and the other end is another housing estate, and they are currently at war.

“One guy was multiple stabbed in the middle of the f**king day and an air ambulance had to come and land in the middle of the street and all the streets were taped off.  Anyway, our lad is 11 and is now coming to go to secondary school and we were just saying it would be too f**king stressful if he is on the Tube and he is coming home and he is being mugged for his phone.  So we decided that we are going to go out to the country and put them to school in the country.  We’ll just commute into London.”

The famous monobrow still wobbles when he laughs. Which is a lot. He is a mystic Manc giving glimpses into how he arrived at the happy place he occupies now. Compare the sublime new single This Is The Place (“It’s about the journey of life, and finding a place”, he explains) to the warp-speed drug-paranoia of Gas Panic from 2000: ‘My eyes are dead and my throat’s like a black hole/ And if there’s a god would he give another chancer/ An hour to sing for his soul’.

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Noel Gallagher performing with Oasis in 2000

How does Noel look back on the man who wrote that?

“Well, I’m not a drug addict any more. So, that’s the main difference.”

Was Noel too working-class and too cool to go to the Priory, the celeb-tastic private mental health hospital in London?

“I don’t think I was too working-class. I don’t think I was too cool. I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to do it,” he says, meaning to go to the Priory.

“I woke up one morning and said: ‘That’s it’.  I gave up smoking by accident.  I just didn’t have another f**kng cigarette.  It wasn’t,” says Noel adopting cringe-inducing Alan Partridge-style voice: ‘Today I am going to attempt to give up smoking’. [Similarly] I’d had enough of drugs.  I think at the time I was thinking that I’m going to give up drugs for f**king six months and see what happens.

“I wasn’t planning on such a major lifestyle change.  But after about two weeks I was like I f**king much prefer this!  Much prefer it.  And then... I have looked back.  It doesn’t bother me.  I can sit in a room full of people doing f***king mountains of cocaine — it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.”

You haven’t turned into a just-say-no preacher-y bore, I say?

“No.  Not at all.  I could sit with people smoking and all that.  You just know that when the coke comes out the night is going to take a shit turn.  It’s always like fun and games and once someone gets the coke out then all of a sudden it’s ‘Well, it’s time for me to go anyway, because this is now boring’.”

Has he written songs on cocaine back in the day and listened to them back and thought it was complete gibberish? 

“Yeah. But I’ve written songs on coke and it’s been complete gibberish and it has been f***king amazing. Supersonic [from 1994’s Definitely Maybe album], for instance.  Do you know what I mean?  Then I’ve written shit like a lot of Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants [the forgettable 2000 album] where I had nothing to say.  And I was literally trying to make the words rhyme because we had a tour booked and we had to go on tour.  But that’s part of it.”

Does Noel still think Eminem is an idiot?

“Er, he is one of those guys that goes into rehab and then they sing about it for the next 20 years.  ‘You did a bit of f**king coke.  You had a drink.  Haven’t we all’. [Claps hands]

“I have never felt the need to be one of those f**king people.  It’s boring.  But writing songs about drugs is as boring as writing songs about coming out the other side of drugs.”

The title track off the new Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds’ EP This Is The Place, he says, “started off as a completely different other song that I was doing with David Holmes [who produced Noel’s last album Who Built The Moon?].  I can’t stress how different it was.  I didn’t like the song.  David loved it and wanted to put it out.  It didn’t sit right for me.  But I always loved the vocals and the verses but I could never get the chorus right.  So, it’s gone through loads of twists and turns.  And where it has ended up now, f**k I think it is amazing.”

What is This Is The Place about?

“What’s it about?  What’s the key lyric? ‘The road is long and I keep losing my way.’  I guess it’s about the journey of life, and finding a place.  I like to visualise everything.  So, in my head, it is going to be the first song in the set, and in every town you’re going to say ‘This is the place. Where we are tonight.’  So, it is a song about being in the moment,” he explains, “and how it came to be called This Is The Place is I had the chorus up until the line that said 'this is the place' and I was thinking, ‘What could go there?’.  I was going to bed one night and the Manchester poet Tony Walsh’s book This Is The Place was beside my bed, "and I was like: ‘F**king hell.  It fits.’ And I called Tony the next day and I said, ‘Am I right using this title?’. He was like, ‘Absolutely, mate.’” 

The title is taken from Walsh’s poem/ode to Manchester, after the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, in which 22 adults and children were killed, and also left 120 injured.

“The track has a Hacienda vibe,” he says.

When I heard first I was thinking Thieves Like Us, vintage New Order.

“A lot of people have said that about Black Star Dancing as well,” Noel says in reference to the previous single. “One of the tracks on the new EP sounds like the Smiths, not early Smiths but like vintage Queen Is Dead-era Smith.  There is another one which is just a groover, which Tony Walsh is going to be reciting some poetry over the top of it.”

Kind of ‘Oh! Take me back to dear old Blighty’ from the title track of The Queen Is Dead?

“It’s more like...Tune-wise, it’s just a feeling which is like The Smiths to me.”

Sail On from the previous EP has a feeling of being free to it.

“Listen, that song I recorded for Chasing Yesterday [his 2016 solo album] and it has actually blown me away the reaction.  I had that lying around and I thought, ‘That will do. The fourth track on a f**ing EP. That’ll do.'  But as soon as people heard it was like, ‘F**king hell. This song!’ I was like, ‘Really? It doesn’t even go any where.  It is amazing what people think.  It is one of the very few times when my instincts have been wrong about a song.  I was just like, 'It’s f***ing not great.  It’s alright.’

Who was telling you the song was great?

“The girls in the band.  Then it went up on the internet, and everyone was saying, ‘Oh, people are going mad for it.’  I was blown away actually by it.  It’s funny, isn’t it?”

Do you normally listen to other people’s opinions?

“Not before the fact.  When I’m making music, I don’t play it to anyone until it is finished.  Maybe ...if Weller lives around the corner from me and he is around, ‘What you working on?’, I’ll play it to him.  I don’t play it to anyone until it is finished.  I don’t like canvassing opinion.  I think as an artist it has got to come from you.  After the fact if people say...because what will happen if you play somebody a f***ing song six weeks before it’s finished, when they hear it finished they’ll say , ‘Oh, I preferred the other version.'  I’m just like ‘Grrrrr!’ [Laughs] So I don’t play it to people until it’s finished.”

What is the plan for the next few years musically?

“When we finish this U2 tour in Australia in November, I’m in the process of building a recording studio in London.  So I plan in being in the studio for most of next year."

Would he ever consider staying off the road and just doing a lot of studio stuff?

"Well, I don't know.  If I physically can't get out on the road, I don't think I'll ever stop writing.  Now I'm going to have my own studio that might become a place that I can't drag myself away from.  But now?  No - because I always write a song and I always think 'I can't f**king wait to play that live.'

Is there a sound on the new songs he’s after?

“The new stuff that I’ve written can sound anything like from The Young Fathers to an electronic version of The Kinks to...”

It isn’t predictable…

“On This Is The Place EP there are three very different styles.  I haven’t arrived at this place, I didn’t come up with the stork.  Usually when I over-think things they end up shit.  It’s just that the songs now I have a core of people that I go into the studio with who are great and [clicks fingers] any idea can come up!  I’ve got this engineer and he’s f***ing amazing.  Any idea that I can come up with, and I can play it to him, and I can say, ‘Right, this sounds like Oasis, can we get it to sound like....f***king, I don’t know....New Order?’ And he’ll come up with a way that will make it sound contemporary.  So, that’s where I’m at the minute.  But with the new stuff.... anything from Can to Young Fathers to the Kinks to the Stone Roses.”

Is it the kind of songs Noel could never have done in Oasis?

“Oasis encompassed four songwriters towards the end, me, Andy, Gem and Liam.  We were all vaguely going in the same direction, but this wouldn’t have been got past.  What A Life would have got f***ing past.  You know, I had to argue for about four months for F**kin’ In The Bushes to be on Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants [from 2000].  That’s like, that is a no no.  But, no, I wouldn’t be doing Black Star Dancing if I was in Oasis.  I wouldn’t be there now.  I just didn’t put the f***ing guitar down one afternoon and switch my Marshall amp off and then get into electronic music.  Arriving at Black Star Dancing has been like a five year or ten year stretch or whatever it is of song-writing.  And when they say that to people in interviews, they’re like, ‘It’s so different.’ It’s not that dissimilar to What A Life [his High Flying Birds classic from 2011].  But What A Life is more rock because my headspace was still there then, now I’ve got it so far out of my system — rock music — that the guitar in the studio is one of the last things I pick up.  I’m writing on the bass at home.”

The groove of Black Star Dancing is incredible.

“That’s writing on the bass. When I started to pick guitars on stuff it sounds too melodic, too emotive.  That was the good thing about working with David Holmes.  He who would just say, ‘There’s too much emotion in it. We need to get right back to the root notes of this kind of thing.’  I guess what’s going to happen in the next couple of years...  I’d say that working with David was a catalyst for some huge change.  Huge.  He made me realise that, you know, ‘Why have you got guitars on everything? Why do we start there? Why don’t we just start with the bass?’.  I never realised what a great bass player I was until I met him.” [Laughs.]

What is the biggest misconception people have about Noel Gallagher?

“About me? I don’t know. I don’t read enough about myself to worry about that kind of thing.”

Does your wife...? I start to say before The King of The North interupts.

“....does my wife know what I’m like?” [Laughs]

“I’ve never really given a shit what people think about me as a person.  I don’t f***ing care.  Me when I close the front door and I’m in my family life, that’s when I have a responsibility to the people that I live with, and I share my life with, as long as they know who I am.  That’s it.  When I go out, and strangers you meet, I don’t give a f*** what they think of me.  You can meet somebody in a street and you can be having a bad day and they can say ‘Can I get a picture?’ And you go, ‘No, you’re alright mate.’  Then they can push you and you end up having a f***ing argument.  And that person will walk away going, ‘I met him once. He was a c**t.'   Do you know what I mean?  So, you can’t afford to think about things like that.”

Does it make it more difficult to write lyrics when Noel now has a few quid in the bank and flies private jets?

“Initially, I struggled with that after (What’s The story) Morning Glory [released in October, 1995].  Because I had nothing to write about.  I had nothing that I could write about with any... All I knew then was private jets and f***ing supermodels. You know?”

How did he stop himself being a complete arsehole then?

“Oh, I don’t know. Probably something to do with being Mancunian and Irish!” he laughs. “I don’t know. I don’t know!  I struggled with it for a while, because Definitely Maybe [August, 1994] was so who I was — living in the city in Manchester.  Moring Glory was like the come-down album for that.  I was a bit more considered.  After that, I struggled for a while.  I didn’t know what to write about that I had any authority on, apart from having a lot of money and a f***ing....”

Does Noel regret not taking a break after the second album?

“The only thing that I regret is that all the b-sides from all the singles from Morning Glory should have been the third album, but I was in such a purple patch that everything I wrote was f**king great for about three years.  And I should have, or someone at Creation should have said, The Masterplan? What are you f**king doing?  If you think of Talk Tonight, The Masterplan, Half The World Away, them four songs alone make up a bulk of a third album and it would have been a different story.  That’s the only thing I regret musically.  I don’t regret anything else. Life is too short for regrets.”

Do the songs from the past evolve with age as Noel himself gets older as a songwriter?

“Oh yeah. Let’s take Don’t Look Back In Anger.  That’s become a hymn now.  You know?  My instinct was a few years ago going out on the road was ‘It’s too rock. I need to bring this back.’  So I started doing it acoustically and it has took on another life of its own now.  But now my instincts are telling me, ‘Maybe it needs to be a bit more rock.’”

Would he allow Charlotte Marionneau play scissors on it?

[Laughing] “Charlotte has got very much a time and a place.  I’m not sure the time and a place would be on an Oasis track.”

What’s your funniest Oasis story?

“Oh, f***king hell.”

What about the Brit Awards in 1997 when you and Liam meet Jay Kay out of Jamiroquai and Liam started scat-singing to him in the toilet?

"What’s that tune he had out?" Noel asks as I prepare for him to break into Cosmic Cowboy. "There’s loads of Oasis stories!"

Is it true the day after Noel left Oasis in August, 2009, Lars from Metallica texted him to say: You’re either incredibly stupid or incredibly brave.  Has Noel felt either of those emotions?

“No. That’s coming from a drummer.  Do you know what I mean?  I know Lars quite well, actually.  I see him from time to time, and hang out with him.  I can understand where he’s coming from.  He’s not going to leave Metallica and they f***ing hate each-other, that band, do you know what I mean?  Oasis never truly got on.”

But you never brought in $40,000-a-month therapists like Metallica did in 2004 to help with the bad blood in the band (as seen in the Some Kind of Monsyer doc)?

“No, no, no.  But my point was: I came to the verge of quitting twice and the music was always enough to make me go back.  When it came to the night in Paris, I thought, ‘I’ve done enough now.  There’s no f***ing point.’  But, yeah, Lars was one of the first on the phone to say I was either an idiot or a f***ing genius.”

Do you really have an out of body experience in Paris?

“What out of body experience?” laughs Noel. “Out of body experience? What year was this? I told GQ? Oh, I was probably having a f**king laugh.  I don’t know!  I don’t remember having an out of body experience!  I did write Don’t look Back In Anger when was in Paris.  I suppose that’s as cosmic as it gets!”

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will release ‘This Is The Place’, a new EP, on September 27. The title track from the EP and accompanying video are available now. www.noelgallagher.com/

Sunday Independent

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