Noel Gallagher: ‘Even towards the end when Oasis was quite dark, it was still exciting’
He may have been beaten to this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize by alternative rock band Wolf Alice, but Noel Gallagher’s still got plenty to smile about. Speaking to GQ ahead of the ceremony, a notably relaxed, chipper Gallagher reflected on what a brilliant year he has had, on how “fantastic it is to be halfway through a world tour and still feel good about it”.
“Getting my record out and going on tour has been great, and still feeling like I’m doing something that’s worthwhile and a little bit challenging too,” he said. “Seeing all the old people at the back of my audience and all the new people at the front, that’s been great.” This same tour, where Gallagher and his band, the High Flying Birds, have played the album that earned him the Mercury nomination, “Who Built The Moon?”, across the world, has been documented for Gallagher’s first ever official book. Due for release in November, Gallagher was quick to point out that this is “a photography book, not a book, book”, made up of photographs taken by former Manchester City photographer Sharon Latham.
Was it Latham’s affiliation with his much-loved football team that sealed this particular book deal? “It all came about because she called me and asked, ‘Can I come on tour with you and take pictures?’” Gallagher told GQ. “I’ve known Shaz for such a long time – I love her – and I said yeah, of course. So she came and followed us around and then halfway through the tour she showed me some of the pictures. The show that we do is visually stunning now, or it is when you get to the big arenas, and so we decided that we should put it out.”
How does Gallagher find touring now compared to the Oasis years? “Well, when we toured as the biggest band in the world, I couldn’t put it into words how incredible and new it was. Somebody might do that one day, in another book, but I can’t. Each year you were getting bigger it was crazy. And even towards the end when it was quite dark, it was still exciting,” he said. “So you can’t really compare the two. I loved being in Oasis, I’m glad that I left, and I love doing what I do now, so long may it continue. They are just two completely different things and I love them both.”
Ever the straight-talker, Gallagher was as honest about his fellow Mercury Prize nominees as he was about the book being an intended stocking filler. “I don’t really listen to a lot of contemporary music, I’ve got to say. I don’t really like a lot of it. It just doesn’t reach me, you know? I’m 51,” he said. Even the shortlisted albums haven’t made it into Gallagher’s earphones. “I don’t listen to them [the other nominees], to be honest,” he admitted. “Obviously I know Lily [Allen], I know Florence [& The Machine]… and I couldn’t tell you who else is nominated. I don’t say that to diss anyone, I just don’t listen to modern music.” He might not have the faintest clue who they are, but GQ couldn’t help but notice that when Wolf Alice picked up the prize, Gallagher, smiling and clapping, looked genuinely gracious. Pleased for the young band, even. It seems that with or without an award to take home, right now nothing's going to stop Gallagher from flying high.