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On June 2 at 5:10 p.m. PT/8:10 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live will live stream Noel Gallagher's concert from the House of Blues in Cleveland. Tune in HERE to watch!
Noel Gallagher has made some of the best music of his career (with his new collective, High Flying Birds) since his acrimonious split with brother/Oasis bandmate Liam Gallagher in 2009. And despite the title of his latest album, Chasing Yesterday, he's looking straight ahead, with seemingly little desire to revisit his Britpop past. He's not looking back, in anger or otherwise. But that doesn't stop Oasis fans, even famous ones like Sir Paul McCartney, from speculating and hoping that one day, an Oasis reunion will finally happen.
Yahoo Music recently caught up with Noel during some reflective downtime in his dressing room before his sold-out show at Los Angeles's Orpheum Theatre, during which he chatted about band reunions, his past vs. present, and if McCartney's comment swayed him at all. As Noel marks his 48th birthday today (May 29), we know no better way to celebrate than with this epic interview. Let it rip!
YAHOO MUSIC: So I know you have a new solo album, but I have to ask this. One of your heroes, Paul McCartney, recently said in an interview that he thinks Oasis should get back together…
NOEL GALLAGHER: I did read that, yeah.
So, what did you think of that? That's some pretty major encouragement right there.
Yeah, well, tell him if he writes our comeback single, it's on. Tell him to write an Oasis track and then we'll talk. I'll just put that out there.
How do you feel about this near-constant clamoring for an Oasis reunion, even after all these years?
It's flattering. It's funny, in the sense that it really does sum up the British psyche, that when we were together the press couldn't wait for it to f---ing implode, and then when it did implode, they can't wait for it to be back together again. I think from a fan's point of view it's flattering that people still want it, and then if I'm taking a real overview of it all, I think it's sad that it's needed. Because there are no other bands out there for anyone to focus their attention on every week. If we go back to '94, when we broke, nobody mentioned anybody reuniting — because we were the big s---, and that was it. We didn't need anybody else, didn't need the Beatles anymore from the '60s or the Pistols or any of that, you know? Our generation had its own thing. This generation doesn't have it, so they harken back to the last one. It's nice that they're talking about my group, my songs, but…
Why do you think this is the case?
It's all because of the Internet, because you can Google nostalgia quite easily… Enough generations grow up looking back, so nobody's looking forward, you know? My fear would be, is it gonna take for all of us to die, for the next generation of youth to get something for themselves? Is it gonna take the fact that [the legends have] all gone, they're all dead? But I believe someone must be around the corner, because there's not a great band to come along for a long, long time now.
Do you really believe that? No one?
There are good bands and some of them write good tunes, but when I mean great, I'm not a barometer of greatness and I don't define greatness, but we all know that thing. It's not in the records, because records are subjective. It's just a thing, and there's not been a band with the thing for a long time. People make great music, people write great tunes and do great gigs and all that, but really who's got the f---ing thing? The magic? I don't see it.
I suppose you have it…
Nah, I don't think I've got the magic. I think I had the magic, but I'm too old for magic now.
So, there will be no Oasis reunion, I assume?
No. I'd do it if I needed the money. If I was broke, I would do it. And I'd be quite frank about that. But I've got no need to do it. I couldn't think of a good enough reason. We could sit and debate and you could throw reasons at me, but musically, what would I want to do that for? I'm not really interested in what fans want. I'm not bothered about that. If you didn't see us [before], then you didn't see us. I've never seen Nirvana. So f---ing what? The world's not gonna end. Lots of people never saw the Beatles or the Sex Pistols, and it didn't make a f---ing bit of difference to music, do you know what I mean? I wouldn't do it. I don't need it for the glory; I get enough of that. I don't need the money. I don't need the f---ing hassle. I just don't see a reason. The only reason I would ever do it is if I was broke, or maybe if Liam was broke… And I would f---ing stand in front a room of a thousand people of the press and I would say, "This isn't for musical reasons. I'm broke, so I need to do it." And if Liam was broke and he was destitute, then I would f---ing help him out.
OK, let's change the subject for a second. Since we are discussing nostalgia, what's the first album you ever bought with your own money? And how did it affect you?
Never Mind the Bollocks, by the Sex Pistols. It still [influences me] to this day. If you listen to the sound of [Oasis's debut album] Definitely Maybe, it's kind of a bit like that… it had a profound effect on me. I wouldn't call myself a punk — I was just too young to know what it meant, really, the manifesto, the f---ing political side of it, blah blah blah and all that — but the Sex Pistols' album is timeless, utterly timeless. You could put it on now and it would still sound like it's gonna be recorded tomorrow. In any era, if that album dropped on your desk in the morning and it was by a band you never heard of, they would f---ing rule the world. It would rule the world.
Well, when the Pistols reunited, speaking of reunions, not everyone was into that…
Look, I'm not against reunions. I'm not against them at all. I went to see the Stone Roses; I saw five of their gigs. Three of 'em were all right, two of them were great.
How do you feel about the Kinks supposedly reuniting? Like you and Liam, the core of that band was two brothers who didn't always get along.
Great! I can't f---ing wait. I cannot wait. I know Ray [Davies], and I'm so glad that I'll get to see them. It's a pity the bass player's dead and they left it too late, but I'm so glad, because we don't see enough of Dave Davies and he's a genius and I want to see him before he dies, or before I die. Hopefully it'll be great, you know. I guess with reunions, you have to be clear about why you're doing them. Like the Stone Roses thing, they kind of said they were gonna make a record, and they never made a record and it's kind of all petered out. If they had just come back and said, "We're f---ing doing it for the money," everyone would go, "Great! Here's some money."
Stone Roses' reunion at Coachella two years ago did not go over well…
I suppose [it would be like] if the Jam ever reformed; they were a huge British act that was never big in America, so I don't know. The Roses were a huge band in Britain, and for them it's justified going back because they never got to play stadiums to 100,000 people… So for them, it kind of was unfinished business. Oasis couldn't be any bigger than we were. We couldn't be any bigger. If we were to announce tomorrow we were gonna do a comeback tour, it could only be as big as the last one. And the last one was f---ing humongous. We couldn't be any bigger, so there's no point [of Oasis reuniting], do you know what I mean?
You were quoted once as saying America hated Britpop. Do you really believe that?
Did I say that? When did I say that, was it recently? Well, none of us were very successful here. [Oasis] were the most successful of all the Britpop bands, I suppose, which is understandable, because we were the least British out of all the Britpop bands. Do you know what I mean? Like, Blur and Pulp were very British, very English, and we were a bit more American, really, in the sense that we were more rock 'n' roll, I suppose. Yeah, maybe the charts hated us, but the people didn't.
What are your best memories of the Britpop era, or of the 1990s? And do you miss it at all?
The '90s? For me personally, just because I've done it all now, nothing is gonna happen to me in the next five years that hasn't already happened to me in my musical life. But from '94 to 2000, it just f---ing exploded, and each week was different than the next, and each week we sold another million records, and you became a different person because you were then more of a rock star and now you are famous in f---ing Taiwan. It was just this great explosion, whereas now I've been world-famous, so unless they invent moon travel and put people on there, there's nothing else left to conquer, is there? But I like it now. I like the serenity of it all. I like the peace and quiet of what I do now. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the chaos and the power of being in a young rock 'n' roll band then, because it was truly better than any drug you'll ever have. And then to add drugs on top of that? Just wow!
If you say nothing new is going to happen to you musically, in the next five years or whatever, what keeps you going, then? What makes you want to keep creating and putting out solo material?
Because I always manage to have a backlog of about 15 songs that I didn't get around to recording, so at the end of this album I flick through my f---ing notepad — or iPad now, I'm so modern. All the titles, all these finished songs, there's always about 15 songs, and I don't wanna die with anything left in the can. So even when I'm on tour, I'm always working to get back in the studio, because if I don't record these songs then they'll never get recorded, and I think some of them are pretty good. It's been an endless cycle of that since as long as I can remember now, always having half a dozen to a dozen songs completed but not yet recorded. And I'm bound by some mythical force that I must record them. And when I record them, I want to go play them, and then another tour gets booked, and then the cycle starts again, and it's all great. I really enjoyed my last tour because it reminded me in a tiny little way like starting Oasis, because I didn't know what was gonna happen. So now we've arrived here, and I'm liking it. I like being in control of it all. And I like where it's going and I like the pace it's going at. It's nice.