Noel Gallagher spoke to entertainment.ie about Morrissey and Marr and the songs from his new album ‘Riverman’ and ‘The Ballad of The Mighty I’. You’ve spoken before of how new song ‘Riverman’ was inspired by a night out with Russell Brand and Morrissey in LA. Do you see Morrissey much?
No, no. He’s come to my shows and stuff like that, and I’ve met him at awards ceremonies and I’m on speaking terms with him. He’s a good friend of Russell’s, and Russell will show me the emails he sends to him – and I swear to god, these emails between the two of them are artistic. They’re fucking so funny. I’ve not got his number or anything, but he’s great. One of the last times I saw him, I happened to be in the bar at Claridge’s and he was sat in there. My wife was in another part of the hotel, and she fucking loves him. I said to him, ‘Can I go and bring my wife? She’d love to meet you!’ and he goes [Morrissey impression] ‘Hmm. Is she nice?’ I said ‘What? Yeah, she’s gorgeous!’ and he said ‘Hmm. Go on then.’ (laughs) He’s a fucking brilliant man, I love him to bits.
Have you read his autobiography?
Yeah. It’s great. It’s better than great. As he refers to [Rough Trade label boss] Geoff Travis, standing in his dressing room in the corner ‘like an untouched sandwich at a buffet’ – I think there might be a little teardrop on the page from me laughing so much. He’s fucking great, though. He’s one of the greats. I was listening to The Smiths this morning, actually. And Johnny as well, the pair of them.
Which brings us nicely to Johnny Marr’s guitar-playing on the album track, ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’.
He was supposed to play on ‘What a Life’ on the last record, but I ended up playing it. I called him, and he was actually at the Oscars when I called him. I said ‘Alright Johnny, I’m doing this fucking thing’, and he said ‘I can’t talk, I’m at the Oscars’. ‘Fuckin’ hell, what are you up for?!’ (laughs). He’d just done some soundtrack and he was up for one with Hans Zimmer. So this time, I was doing the track and there were specific bits that he plays on.
Producers used to always say this to me, making Oasis records – ‘We kind of need a Johnny Marr thing there; can you play a Johnny Marr thing?’. I’d be like, ‘Can I play a Johnny Marr thing? I can fucking get Johnny Marr, but I can’t play like him – are you fucking insane? He’s one of the greatest guitarists ever.’ So this time, there were these gaps and luckily enough I’ve got his phone number. I speak to him quite regularly, and I sent him this track. It just so happened that there was a week spare that we did it, and it was fucking great.
He was there for six hours and we can both talk the back legs off a donkey, so it was amazing anything got done. As Johnny left the studio, my engineer slumped in the chair and went ‘Fucking hell.’ I went, ‘What?’ and he said ‘I’m just exhausted listening to you two for six hours! Talk about fucking…. , guitars, football and Manchester and fuckin’…’. I was like ‘Really? Were we talking a lot?’. He said ‘Fucking neverending. I’m amazed anything got done!’. (laughs) He’s a dude, man. He’s fucking great. Top man.
It’s a great song.
Thanks. When I wrote it, I said to Johnny ‘Let me send you a demo’ and he said ‘No no, let me just react to it on the day.’ When we got to the studio, he said ‘Fuckin’ hell, it’s so awkward!’ and I went ‘I know’. (laughs) Currently, that song sounds fucking appalling in rehearsal. It’s all played live in the studio by white guys, but it doesn’t sound like it – but when we’re in rehearsals, it sounds like a load of white guys trying to play disco music. It’s not the best at the minute. But if we can pull off ‘What a Life’, we can do anything.