The Kinks are there. The Smiths too. There's even a track you can dance to. Noel Gallagher talks us through the tunes on his solo album, and why this is like "the last postcard from the Oasis years".
Noel Gallagher

Everybody's On the Run
It was always gonna be the opener on the album. It’s the kind of track that people would normally end a record on, but I’ve got three of those songs in ‘Everybody’s On The Run’, ‘Stop The Clocks’ and ‘…Record Machine’. So I was forced to split them up, and I thought this would be a great way to kick off, that’s like putting your fucking cards on the table and saying, ‘This is going to be a fucking good album.’ The whole album has got the narrative of escape, hope and love, and it sets the album up as somebody saying, ‘I’ve gotta get out of this situation, or out of this town, or out of this city.’ When I was doing the strings, I said to the girl who does my string arrangements: ‘I want it to sound like Ennio Morricone, and all the string players have to be women,’ and she thought I was a bit of a perv. I was like, ‘No no, they play strings a lot sexier than men.’ She said it doesn’t make any difference, but I said, ‘I need to fucking know that it’s women playing it.’ So we did the strings and the choir in the same night at Abbey Road, which was a bit of a moment.”

Dream On
“This particular track was written just at the end of the ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ sessions in 2008. It was the last week of mixing the album, and me and Gem did a little demo of this song. I think it might have been because Liam had fucked off home and didn’t tell anybody – we were in the studio, like, ‘Fucking hell, what are we gonna do?’ It’s a bit throwaway… it’s nonsense, the words don’t mean anything. But it’s got a great ‘She’s Electric’, ‘Digsy’s Dinner’-esque quality to it. Someone somewhere will go, ‘Yeah, ‘Everybody’s On The Run’ is alright, ‘If I Had A Gun...’, that’s good, but fucking ‘Dream On’? What a tune.’”

If I Had A Gun...
“It’s been bumped as a single twice now! That was gonna be the first thing that anybody heard. I was thinking, ‘People are just gonna go, ‘It’s great – but it sounds like Oasis.’’ It was literally on the day we were gonna shoot the video, and we just went, ‘Fuck it, let’s change it.’ Then I changed my mind again, whenvit was the second single, two days before it came out. It was one that came out on the internet from a soundcheck. But I only heard it a few years after, and I was quite impressed that I had pretty much nailed the arrangement. I didn’t have the words fully formed, but I knew instantly, ‘That’s gonna be great when it’s finished.’ It’s kind of up there as one of the big ones that I’ve done.”

The Death Of You And Me
“The only song I’ve ever written where I kept going back to it and chipping away at it, changing little bits. I came up with the melody and I’d tried it on different instruments: piano, guitar, organ, and it didn’t work. So by a process of elimination we got
to trumpets. I don’t know any trumpet players, so I called Serge, and then Gary, who plays trumpets with Kasabian. Sent it to him, and said, ‘I need three of you, and I want it to sound like New Orleans.’ He went, ‘Oh… right…’ and then we all did it round one real old mic.”

(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine
“This was recorded for ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’, but never got finished. Then it was recorded again for ‘Dig Out Your Soul’. There’s a couple of versions that have been around [the internet] for ages but I thought, ‘If it doesn’t come out now, it never will, and it’s too good a fucking song.’ I guess it’s got a classic Oasis feel to it, but if it was on an Oasis album I think people would’ve dismissed it, like, ‘Oh they’ve done all that before.’ It’s funny how the perception of songs changes because the circumstances in which they’re being released changes.”

AKA… What A Life
“After I made the demo, I was listening it back and thinking, ‘Oh my God. This is disco music!’ It was funny: when I played it to all the lads in the office they went, ‘This is a bit weird’. But all the girls went, ‘Fucking amazing!’ I played it to my missus and she was like, ‘At fucking last, something you can dance to,’ so I was like, ‘Right, I’m gonna fucking run with this!’”

Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks
“Very Kinks sounding; the opening line about the village green is a clue as to where it all came from. I was listening to that album [‘The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society’] a lot on the last Oasis tour. The title itself, people are gonna think, ‘What the fucking hell’s this going to be about?’ Each line is like the scene of a film, it’s really visual. In my head, it reminds me of that scene in The Deer Hunter where the guy gets back from Vietnam, and the girl puts the record on the jukebox in the bar. The second half of the album, from here onwards, has got a separate feel. They’re all darker sounding. It’s night-time music. ”

AKA… Broken Arrow
“Broken Arrow is Neil Young’s ranch. As this one went on, I thought, ‘It sounds like The Smiths, I fucking love it.’ And of course it doesn’t really sound like The Smiths – it only sounds like The Smiths to me. I tried to get Johnny Marr to play on it. I thought he would have put on a really incredible Johnny Marr guitar on it. But I called him, we exchanged messages for a week or two, and when he was in LA I wasn’t, and when I was in LA he wasn’t and it never quite happened. But I love it.”

(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
“The album starts off with ‘Everybody’s On The Run’ and a sense of having to leave where you are to go and find paradise, find out if the grass is greener on the other side. But you end up stranded on the wrong beach, where you end up in paradise thinking, ‘This isn’t really what I wanted. I should be where I fucking come from. I should be where I belong.’ It’s where you’re from is where you’re at, really. Kind of saying the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Subconsciously I must’ve been thinking about all this. The brackets? I don’t know why I put brackets in there, I’m prone to doing that!”

Stop the Clocks
“It will never live up to people’s expectations of it [being written in Oasis]. But again, I thought, ‘If I don’t do it now, it’s gonna be left in the corner, rotting away.’ And it’s too good to be left there. When I was doing it and the choir went on I thought, ‘Yep I like it, it sounds definitive.’ But it was only when we did the chaos at the end, with all the saxophones and the guitar solo that I thought, ‘It’s definitely worth putting on there now, for the last minute alone.’ But I probably won’t ever revisit it. It’s kind of like a gift, clearing the decks for what comes next, the last postcard from the Oasis years.”

This article appeared in the October 8th issue of NME

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