Producing albums is easy

Noel Gallagher. Photo: PA Photo/Lawrence Watson
Noel Gallagher. Photo: PA Photo/Lawrence Watson

“Costumes? What costumes? You’re looking at it,” says Noel Gallagher, pointing to his de facto uniform of brown shoes, dark jeans and blue bomber jacket, zipped up to the top.

He might be about to go out on tour, but he’s adamant there is not going to be a ‘show’.

“I often say when people tell me they’re coming to see me, that there’s nothing to look at. There’s plenty to listen to, but there’s nothing to see.”

Gallagher’s argument is that he’s been doing what he does for more than 20 years, taking into account his 18 years as guitarist and songwriter with Oasis. “I occupy a space about the same size as this rug,” he says, pointing to the small square of fluffy fabric on the floor of his publicist’s office, “and that’s it.

“Anything more is like a workout. I should be able to do what I do sitting down, smoking. If I break a sweat during a gig, I need to rethink the whole thing.”

He is, of course, being slightly disingenuous, but then with a quote machine like Gallagher, you get the impression the absolute truth never gets in the way of a good soundbite.

The 47-year-old is hugely entertaining company, taking in everything from football and his beloved Manchester City, other bands, record producers and, among many other topics, Blur’s recently announced comeback. “It’s very exciting, isn’t it? I know Damon [Albarn] and Graham [Coxon] are very excited,” is his verdict on that one.

There are also impressions - his Bono is worthy of Spitting Image - lots of swearing, and the kind of tales that suggest Gallagher, should his song-writing ability one day dessert him, could make an equally fruitful living on theatre tours with a one-man show.

Few interviewees relish interviews as much as he does, and no subject is out of bounds - in fact, the only barrier to discussing something, is time running out before gets round to it.

“What can I say? I’m Mancunian, and we love to talk,” he says, before reeling off a tale about the day former Smiths guitarist and fellow Mancunian Johnny Marr joined him in the studio to add a guitar part to Gallagher’s current single, Ballad Of Mighty I.

“We chatted for nine hours about nothing before we did anything, and when he left at the end of the day, my engineer Paul Stacey, threw himself into a chair and screamed.

“I asked him what was up, and he said, ‘It’s just exhausting, listening to you talk all day, I can’t take it’.”

His forthcoming album, Chasing Yesterday, has been finished since July 14 last year, he says, with typical accuracy.

“I’m bored shitless of it all, so I need to see the whites of the audience’s eyes again, get on the road and get some room service. More than anything, I’m tired of cooking at home,” he says.

The delay in release was caused by the reissues of Oasis’ first two albums, Definitely Maybe, 20 years old last year, and its follow-up (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

“I produced the album myself and finished it really quickly, so I just had to wait in the queue ‘til those reissues were done and dusted. It won’t happen with the next album, which I’ve already started writing,” he says. “And I’ll tell you something else for nothing - producing albums is easy.

“I had a hangover most of the time while making my album, I was out three nights a week, and I still managed it. Those American idiots are charging us a fortune to produce records, but the whole thing is a sham. It’s easy. Producers are taking artists for mugs.”

He has just as much respect for visual designers, who are constantly updating him on how the lights at his forthcoming arena shows will look.

“I say, ‘Obviously you’re a creative genius, and I don’t mean to demean what you do, but I do know it’s costing me £250,000 and that I won’t see it as I’m facing the wrong way?’ Maybe I can get a mirror on the back wall of the venues, so I can see what’s happening too...”

Chasing Yesterday, the follow-up to 2011’s self-titled debut, sees Gallagher move further away from the euphoric, anthemic template he perfected during his time in Oasis.

“I said at the time of my first solo album, it was essentially the last Oasis record, even though it came out under my name. It felt like a full stop at the end of my time in that band.

“I had no idea there was going to be a saxophone solo somewhere down the line. Or psychedelic jazz,” he says, referring Chasing Yesterday tracks The Right Stuff, and album opener Riverman.

The latter has a great deal in common with Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album, particularly Shine On You Crazy Diamonds, which Gallagher played to his saxophone player to illustrate the sort of sound he wanted.

“The Right Stuff on this new record is as far from Supersonic [Oasis’ debut single] as you’re likely to get,” he says. “But it’s not a contrived move. Every time I’ve tried to make a contrived musical move, it’s ended up absolutely terrible, because I haven’t believed it.

“You could say this new album is the dawn of something new, but it’s more where I am now. Will I ever use a sax player again? If the song requires it, then yes. And I know I’m going to make another album soon, so I’m not overly serious about the whole thing.”

Having sold more than 70 million records with Oasis, and more than a million as a solo artist, Gallagher doesn’t need to work. And, as he points out, he’s reluctant to put too much of his personal life in his writing, through fear it would be “more boring than a James Blunt song”, meaning he doesn’t have any demons to work through.

So why does he carry on?

“I love the work,” he says flatly. “I absolutely love the work. Me and Paul Weller are cut from the same cloth, in that respect. I love writing. I love making records. I’m not interested in anything else - how much it sells, or me being better than anyone else.

“When you’re in a band and you want to rule the world, then that attitude’s great, but I just love the idea that a song didn’t exist two days ago, then I sit down and write it, and all of a sudden it exists. I love interviews, too.

“I hate the photographs, but they’re a necessary evil,” Gallagher adds. “And I loathe the videos, so I’m trying to wriggle out of them at the moment.”