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Sunday, April 15, 2012
Interview: Noel Gallagher Talks to AZ Central
He spent two decades as the main creative force behind the most successful U.K. rock act of his generation, writing such modern pop classics as "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova" while ceding the spotlight in concert to Liam Gallagher, his younger, more front-man-ish brother.
NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 18.
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams St., Phoenix.
Details: 602-534-5600, livenation.com.
But ask Noel Gallagher if he felt any pressure to top what he'd done in Oasis when launching his own band, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and the pride he was always so quick to express when it came to Oasis would appear to be unshaken by the breakup.
"Well, no," he replies, a bit taken aback. "You could never do that anyway, which is one of the reasons why I didn't start another band. Once you've been in a band like Oasis, what's the point of being in another band? You could never really achieve a millionth of the success Oasis had, d'ya know what I mean? Particularly in England. It would be virtually impossible. Well, it would be impossible."
Hearing him say things as cocky as "Once you've been in a band like Oasis, what's the point of being in another band?," you can't help wondering if his reputation for unbridled arrogance is based, in part, on how those words are destined to appear in print. In conversation, it's hard to miss that he's often just playing the role of the blustering rock star for a laugh. That doesn't mean he isn't confident or proud of what he's done. Or even arrogant. But there's a playful charm that doesn't always translate. And speaking of translate, there are certain things that lose all sense of being said by Gallagher if you attempt to change the way he says it. It's "innit," not "isn't it," d'ya know what I mean?
He quit Oasis in the summer of 2009, the same day they canceled a festival gig near Paris, posting a statement on their website within hours of the cancellation. "With some sadness and great relief," he wrote, "I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer."
It was two years later when "The Death of You and Me," a bittersweet ballad with obvious echos of the Kinks' best work, arrived. His first single with High Flying Birds, it went Top 20 on the U.K. pop charts, followed in October by a self-titled full-length debut that topped the U.K. charts on its way to going double platinum.
Asked how he feels the new album compares to, for example, "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?," the 1995 Oasis masterpiece that won a special Brit Award in 2010 for the best British album of the last 30 years, he chooses not to take a side.
"Well, that's all open to conjecture, innit?" Gallagher responds. "There will be some people who will say it's the best album I've made. There's some people that say Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds are better than Oasis. Who's to say? I can't, can I? I'm too close to both of them. But this is now. Oasis was then. And I don't even know what's gonna happen in the future. I might get to the end of this tour and be (expletive) bored of being solo. I might join another band or start a supergroup or just (expletive) sit at home and smoke some cigarettes."
It seems worth pointing out that there's a second solo album he's already started in collaboration with the Future Sound of London, using their alias of Amorphous Androgynous.
"Well, yes, it's recorded," Gallagher replies. "But it's not mixed. And whether it'll ever see the light of day or not, I don't know. There's a lot of work left to be done. A lot of work. I just did my bits in the studio and left it up to the Amorphous Androgynous to artistically direct it. And unfortunately for everybody, they've not finished it."
In the meantime, he's touring the self-titled album, whose sound is sure to speak to anyone who ever cared about Oasis. Asked if he would call it a continuation of the music he was making with Oasis, he'd prefer to sit that judgment out as well.
"I'm just kind of writing songs for a living," he says. "I don't make calculated moves, like 'This is gonna be a continuation of Oasis' or 'It's gonna be completely different' or 'I'm gonna do some jazz' or 'I really want to explore this reggae kind of thing.' I write songs, I record them and I put them out."
But having put them out, does he see that they sound a bit like what one might expect Noel Gallagher to write at this point?
"I know what you mean," he responds with laugh. "(Expletive) brilliant."
One major difference between the new album and Oasis is the number of guitarists. He's the only one on the High Flying Birds album, allowing for more space in the recording. It's different live, though, with touring guitarist David McConnell fleshing out the sound.
"People are not coming to your shows to listen to the record," Gallagher explains. "They might as well put headphones on and watch you mime it if that's what they want. The record is 1,000 takes and 1,000 edits over a three-month period. We try to nail it every night but I personally have never subscribed to the fact that we have to make it sound like the record. Some some of the songs sound a lot better live. They've got a lot more energy. There's more guitars and it's a bit more electric, a bit more 'Wow' and in-your face."
As to his new position as a front man, the guitarist says, "I'm comfortable enough that I don't get nervous. I don't walk out there with any trepidation. But I don't think I'll ever feel fully at home. I mean, I was 20 years as a backing vocalist and lead guitarist. I'm not gonna suddenly shed that skin in eight months. But I don't feel inhibited. I'm not Mick Jagger, put it that way. But I can engage an audience. I'm lucky in the sense that what I'm really good at is being me. There's nobody better in the world at being me. I'm very confident in that (expletive) fact. So if you come to see me, you're coming to see an expert."
Gallagher is not the type to take his duties as a front man lightly.
"I don't want somebody walking on stage who looks like he'd rather be somewhere else," he says. "This is rock and roll, baby. This is for heroes and rock stars, not the (expletive) guy next door."
Of course, part of what makes him a rock star is the fact that he wrote all those songs for Oasis. And he's not about to put them out to pasture just because he couldn't bear to go on working with his brother.
"Why would I throw away 20 years of music to start again?" he asks. "They're my songs. I don't give a (expletive) what people say. What, would you rather go see Paul McCartney and have him not play anything by the Beatles because the (expletive) Beatles aren't together anymore? Please. Come on. (Expletive) grow up. D'ya know what I mean? I've always looked at the live thing like this. As long as I get to play what I want to play, then I'll play what you want to hear. So out of 20 songs, I'm playing 13 or 14 new ones. And then, if you want to hear some Oasis songs, yeah, I'll play some."
As to whether he sees himself playing those songs with Oasis again, he declares it a moot point.
"If you're asking me now? I just don't see it," he says. "I close my eyes and I don't see it. And I listen to my heart and I don't want it. So there's no point in even talking about it."
Asked if he's spoken to Liam, who's formed his own band, Beady Eye, since the breakup, Gallagher says, "We texted over Christmas, stuff like that. Beady Eye are off being the best band in the world and I'm doing my thing and there we go. That's it. But it's not like we were together for a year and made one album, then split up and people are going, 'Oh man, I never got to see them.' We were together for 20 years. We made 10 (expletive) albums. If you didn't see us, tough (expletive)."
And yes, that last part sounded charming, too.
Via L4e / source: www.azcentral.com
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