Reclining on a couch backstage before a show in Toronto, Noel Gallagher looks relaxed, happy and content.
Partly it’s because he’s feeling good about his beloved Manchester City doing well in this year’s Premier League (he tours with a club flag that’s hung first in the dressing room and then onstage) but mostly because he’s completely in charge of his life.
He has more money than he’ll ever spend (he later tells the crowd that Wonderwall “made him so f-ing rich”), a solid family life (save for that “thing” with his baby brother) and the ability to make as much of whatever kind of music he wants without having to worry about it being commercially successful.
As usual, Noel had a few things on his mind, expressing them in the ways only he can.
Alan Cross: You’re leaving London?
Noel Gallagher: As a family, we just got to a place where we got “You know what? F*** this town.
AC: Where are you gonna go?
NG: Wot? You want me to give you the address?
AC: If you like…
NG: Well, it’s a huge manor house in the middle of the countryside. I’m not going to tell you what it’s called, but it’s f***ing massive. It’s almost as big as Yorkshire. It’s got a black front door and very big gates. Have you seen Batman’s house?
NG: Well, Batman’s house in the films is like where our nanny’s gonna live. And that’s not even a nanny for the kids. That’s the nanny for the cat.
AC: So go big or go home.
NG: Mate, I was in Oasis. That was our mantra.
AC: Let’s talk about the new EP, This is the Place (due September 27). Why are you doing an EP instead of an album?
NG: Because I had the material and I had an album out last year. (Not quite: Who Built the Moon? came out in November 2017, but never mind.) And I didn’t want to put out an album this year because then I wouldn’t be able to put one out next year. And I wanna put one out next while when I’m sitting in my manor house, smoking in a smoking jacket with a fez on discussing the world’s problems with the cat.
AC: I would love to see you in a fez.
NG: I’ll give you a link to a website.
AC: Releasing an EP has nothing to do with the idea of the album supposedly dying because of streaming, does it?
NG: For an artist like me, there will always be an album at some point because they’re signposts in your life, of how you got there, and where you’re going next. Because I run my own business, I can have these ideas. Like I’m on tour and I want to put out some new music because the set was getting a bit stale… The album won’t be dead for me. I realize that there’s a very select group of people who will buy an album and listen to it from start to finish. People want tracks 1, 6, 5, and f***ing 9, d’you know what I mean? I do it! I’m not saying I listen to all of Paul Weller’s f***ing albums all the way through from start to finish. You will listen to them and eventually pick the tracks you like. That’s just the way of the world.
AC: The sound of this new EP is a little different for you. Why?
NG: The band I’ve got has got three girls in it, two of which are French–very exotic women–I’m trying to exploit them, I think. When I was writing, I wasn’t thinking “I’m not hearing some 50-year-old white guy singing this. This needs a f***ing cool French chick in hot pants singing this s***. I’ll just back her up.
AC: I thought it was because you were spending too much time watching old Top of the Pops shows and listening to INXS and U2.
NG: Me and Sara (his wife) stay in every Friday night and Top of the Pops is always on. I’ve also been getting really big into the 80s lately. I think between 1979 and 1987 is a great f***ing era of pop music. Talking Heads and Blondie and that New Wave thing going on which went into U2 and INXS and all that. It’s an era I’d never really taken much notice of. The more I listen, the more inspired I feel.
AC: But Noel. A scissor player in your band?
NG: She’s an artist in her own right and she did the French spoken word on my last album. We were performing it on live British national television and in rehearsals for that, I said to her “Can you play the tambourine?” She said, “I can’t play the tambourine.” I was like, “Anyone can play the f***ing tambourine.” Then I said “Shakers?” And she’s like “I’m not shaking anything.” I said, “You’ve gotta do something!” “I can play the scissors.” And I was like “You can do what?”
AC: Definitely Maybe is 25 years old this year and then next October, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory turns 25.
NG: Imagine that. Those two albums less than a year apart.
AC: What have you got planned for those two records?
NG: I don’t know. It’s been a bit of a struggle coming up with something for this one because I think this is the fourth time Definitely Maybe has been out now. There’s nothing in the vault. Morning Glory is the demos. There were no demos. We just went in and did it, so I don’t know what we’re going to do about that. But somebody somewhere will come up with an idea and it’ll be s***. Then I’ll come in and take a little bit of that and add something else to it and claim it for my own. Which is what I’ve usually done.
Our time up, Noel reaches for a Fender Stratocaster that had been leaning against the couch.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s a replica of a 1974 maple Stratocaster like The Edge used to use and put it out with Fender. It had his name on it, but I scraped it off. But don’t f***ing tell him.”
Noel Gallagher’s new EP, ‘This is the Place,’ will be available across Canada on September 27.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.