Interview: Former Oasis Frontman Noel Gallagher Discusses His New Solo Album, 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds'
Was there any of that -- internally -- in terms of songs for the new album?
The only thing I toyed with was a song I have leftover and that’s fucking incredible. It’s fucking incredible! I wrote it right before the end of the mixing. And I was like, “Put it on the fucking record.” In the end, I decided this record didn’t need it. And the next record I make might fucking need it. So I toyed with it for ages and then would put it in, take it out. I never got around to recording it, but I would play it for people and they would be like, “Fucking hell, what are you sitting on that for five years?” But in the end I decided the High Flying Birds thing doesn’t really need it.
Would you have to sit on songs for a long time because you don’t have to have a long, drawn-out tour?
Yeah, but I’m not writing contemporary music. I’m writing timeless songs. So I’m not reliant on trends or fashions. Believe you me, this song is like “If I Had A Gun” in the sense that “If I Had A Gun” would have sounded great 15 years ago, and it will sound great today. It’s just one of those timeless songs where you're just like, “Isn’t that great -- he’s a genius.” (Laughs)
As a songwriter, are there any songs out there that you’re like, “That’s the pinnacle, that’s it, that’s the perfect song”?
Of my songs, or someone else’s?
Oh, yeah. There’s thousands of songs that I wish I could have written. “One” by U2, I wish I could have written that. “Yellow” by Coldplay. I mean, I could sit here all day and think of songs I wish I could have written. But you know I’m sure all those people look at my stuff and think, “I wish I had written that.”
The bad thing is that probably not as many people have heard “The Masterplan."
Well, it’s really only in America. In England we put out that B-side album, which was called the The Masterplan and it sold like a couple million copies. So all of those songs in England are really famous. It’s really only in America. Because we never really release singles in America. It was interesting because we used to play all the B-sides at Oasis gigs in England and half the set would be B-sides.
I saw you guys at a Toronto Music Festival. Neil Young was on the tour.
Yeah, he was headlining.
That’s when I started hearing the B-sides, because I'd hear a song and be like, “What album is that from?”
Well, we had a singles culture going then that’s been prevalent since the '60s and '70s. Which says you have to release a single every three months; that was kind of the rule. And for that you have to have B-sides. In a way, it was kind of great because it kept you writing. So it kept you fresh. But the downside of that is really the third album should have been all those B-sides.
Do you think that culture actually works considering what’s happening right now with the music because and iTunes?
Well, because people just download tracks. Eventually, not with all bands or bands like Oasis but eventually, the hip-hop, R&B, Lady Gaga side of it. They won’t make albums anymore because there’s no point to it. They will just make one song every three months into infinity. I don’t foresee bands like me ever doing this, but I do see mainstream going for it.
Let’s hope not.
Yeah, but you’ve got to really want an album. We put this album up on iTunes and the album is a journey for me and I’ve been explaining that journey in the press that we’ve been doing. But if you want an album, you’ll get it. I don’t think it will entirely disappear. I think it will disappear from mainstream culture.
Especially because it’s a lot easier for those artists to just rip one song out rather than record a full album.
Yeah. I mean wouldn’t it be fucking great to just release one single every three months, four tracks a year? What a life. Unfortunately for us, we have to go play live. So when we’re trying to say to people spend $150 to come see my band, they’re like, “What for -- when you have four new tunes?” You’ve got to have something to give them. So it won’t die out completely.
With the new album, did you work on all the pieces of the songs or did you bring people in?
I played everything on the record apart from the drums and the keyboards. So I played everything else. Yeah, I work on all the parts. I’m quite adept at that.
Some of the tracks sound a little bit more orchestrated and less guitar-heavy. What is your approach to those types of songs?
I don’t know. You know that’s something one of my friends pointed out when I was playing it to him and it got to “Record Machine,” which is track 5 and he went, “That’s the first guitar solo.” I didn’t even notice because I was just making a record. The other songs didn’t require a guitar solo. “What a Life,” which is essentially a disco tune, has two tiny guitar bits in it. That’s where I’m at with it at the moment. Usually when guitarists go solo, it's fucking Wayne’s World. But it's just that the songs I wrote didn’t require it. Now the other album I wrote is coming out after this. The Amorphous Androgynous album is coming out next year. That has a lot of guitars in it and a lot of different guitar players, with lots of different styles of guitars. I can only do what I do. Those producers were getting session guys in, and that was guitartastic.