As part of Radio 2’s ongoing ‘In Concert’ series, Noel Gallagher dropped by the BBC’s Radio Theatre last night to perform an acoustic 14-song set that featured a heavy dose of Oasis B-sides.
Prior to the performance, the High Flying Bird sat down with host Jo Whiley to answer “the best five questions sent in by fans and the listeners of BBC Radio 2”. Or, at least that was the plan: the host bent the rules a little bit by putting the 48-year-old to task on a number of subjects, ranging from The Stone Roses reunion, Coldplay’s new album, and, er, his favourite flavour of ice cream (hint: it’s not Neapolitan).
But what did Noel think? Here are the best moments from the Q&A.
Jo called him “Noel Gaga”
To his credit, Noel didn’t bat an eye.
He’s not keen on the Gallagher’s new pet dog
After comparing his wife, Sara MacDonald, to Braveheart (because “when she blows, she gets really Scottish… oh wow, you’re gonna pull a dagger out now?”), talk turns to the latest addition to the Gallagher household: a Jack Russell rescue dog, called Tommy. “I’m having nothing to do with it,” says Noel. “I don’t wanna have a relationship with him, because I’m not a dog person – that’s not who I am, you know what I mean?”
Jo then asks him if he likes any other kinds of animals. “We’ve had a cat for years, but I was never fussed about him until now, because he keeps himself to himself. We’ll both sit on the couch going: ‘[Tut], dog.’ It’ll probably be gone [the dog] at the end of next summer.” Hope the RSPCA weren’t listening.
What’s blowing his mind musically
“Do you go to record shops?” asks Jo, tentatively. “God Lord, no,” is the aghast reply.
His source of music comes instead from a few “cosmic, out-there DJ fellas” who send him 10-track compilations of music from the ‘60s and ‘70s that leads him to discover further music from that era. Any modern tunes taken your fancy, Noel?
“The last thing that I thought was great was that Foals record – I seen them on [Later… with Jools], and it was really great.”
Talk then turns to Coldplay’s new record, ‘A Head Full of Dreams’, which Noel guests on (‘Up&Up’).
“Have they got an album out? I hadn’t heard” he says, dryly. “But the new album will definitely cement their place as the 13th greatest band of all time – they’ll be happy with that.” He then offers the judgement that his feature will gift the album “the credibility and gravitas [that] can only do wonders for their record sales.”
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Reflecting on Oasis’ demise
Asked about the hardest moment in his musical career, the answer wasn’t too surprising to hear.
“Leaving Oasis – that was a horrible night [in Paris, 2009]. I knew that it was going to be a decision that would follow me around – there’s still not a day where I don’t read something about us getting back together – so I knew what I was getting myself into. [It was the right thing to do], definitely. What Oasis had in its future was to do bigger tours and generate more money, which is great. I wasn’t planning on going solo, but it was such a mess that I was happier off [doing that].”
“I wish – this is all in hindsight – that we hadn’t broken up. That we all agreed we’d all do different things, and then one day we’d all get back together – but it all got vicious, and I wish it had been handled differently. But I don’t have too many regrets.”
His current relationship with Liam
“It’s difficult for people to understand that to be in a working relationship for 20 years with someone you’re so close with is really difficult. And there’s a whole mess that’s gone on around it. But I’ve no doubt that, one day, it’ll be all OK again.”
Will he be seeing Liam at Christmas?
That’s that settled, then.
His favourite flavour of ice cream
“I’m not really big on ice cream… but mint viennetta, that’s alright, innit.”
He had this thought on mint chocolate ice cream, though: “Mint and chocolate in the same thing? It’s like Lennon and McCartney!”
The Stone Roses’ stadium gigs next summer
“I’d love to see Ian Brown sing ‘Champagne Supernova’,” he laughed after Whiley asked him about the Roses’ huge shows at the Etihad next summer. But is he going to join them on stage?
“Nah. If they asked, then yeah, but I’m not planning on going to the gigs. I didn’t really go to the last ones. If they’re going to make a new record, then I’ll go see them do that – but I’ve seen them before, so… nah.”
Would you have ever made it without Oasis?
Good question. Noel?
“Would we really be living in a world where ‘Live Forever’ had never been written? Or ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’? Those songs would’ve been written by someone else. I may not have been as great [had he always been solo], a bit lower-level: Liam took it and made it what it was – he was one of the last great rockstars.”
Oasis’ lost acid house demo
His DJ, Phil Smith, has the only copy. “It doesn’t sound too bad… but it doesn’t sound too good either.”
New High Flying Birds album
“It’s gonna be great. I’m attempting to write in the studio for the first time – and I can’t believe I haven’t done [that songwriting method] until now. It’s so exciting, because you’re discovering the music each day you go in there. By the end of January I’ll have nailed about six songs I hope – it’s very eclectic: guitars, beats, blah blah.”
So there you have it: an update on the new record, ruminations on Oasis’ break-up, and a détente with his cat. Vintage Noel, really.