After forming Oasis in 1991 with his brother Liam, Noel Gallagher scaled massive heights, selling millions of records before acrimoniously — and very publicly — leaving the band in 2009. But it’s with his post-Oasis collective, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, that the British rocker has grazed more unorthodox pastures.
The group’s third album, Who Built the Moon? (Nov. 24), is its most experimental yet, incorporating French pop, ambient soundtrack cues and hip-hop into his trademark Brit-rock anthems. A recent performance of album track “She Taught Me How to Fly,” for instance, featured a woman snipping a pair of scissors in time as a sound effect. (“I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen,” says Gallagher.)
The 50-year-old shares thoughts on his new direction, Kanye West’s influence and, of course, what he has to say about Liam’s recent music.
B: For Moon, you collaborated with producer David Holmes, best known for his soundtrack work. What did he bring to the table?
NG: He got me to try different things. David can’t play any instruments — his thing is all vibe. My thing is all songs. Anything that sounded like stuff I had done before, he would dismiss. It was a fantastic way to work.
B: How did Kanye West inspire the lead single, “Fort Knox”?
NG: I was in the studio the day Kanye put out “Fade.” We were like, “Fuck, that’s amazing,” and that led us to talking about his song “Power.” And it was just like, “We should do something like that…” That’s how a lot of the tracks started.
B: Your brother, Liam, recently put out his own album, As You Were —
NG: Hang on a second. Did you say “his own album”? Not sure he can claim ownership of it. He didn’t fucking write it.
B: During interviews to promote it, he often talks about you.
NG: Look, I’m here doing my thing, right? He’s over there. He’s also doing my thing. He’s promoting his record. And mine. And I’m fucking grateful for that.
B: Have you heard the album?
NG: I heard [the single] “Wall of Glass,” and the one that sounds like Adele being strangled by a premenstrual bear. Whatever that one’s called.
B: Do you think guitar bands will ever again be as massive as you guys were with Oasis?
NG: With guitars, I find people in modern bands wear them as opposed to playing them. And you’re just like, “What happened to rock’n’roll?” None of it is sexy. The Rolling Stones were sexy, right? Oasis had a bit of swagger, you know what I mean?
B: What about Shawn Mendes and Ed Sheeran, who are guitar-centric?
NG: Shawn Mendes, I don’t know who that is. I struggle with Ed because I’m not a fan of his music but I like him as a guy; he’s a good guy, man. But that whole loop-pedal acoustic thing? It’s like jazz or whatever. But really, when you break all that shit down, if you have a great song, you have a great song.