Noel Gallagher: ‘England becoming a difficult place to be’

Ex-Oasis star Noel Gallagher has never been one to mince words, and his new album “Council Skies”, released Friday, sees him in a reflective mood on what he sees as the miserable state of Britain.

“The government needs to get its shit together,” the 56-year-old told AFP during a trip to Paris.

“England is becoming a very, very difficult place to be. It’s tough times for people.”

Gallagher wrote the songs for his new album during the Covid-19 lockdowns — a period that he said was good for his creative process but triggered his deepest frustrations with the world.

“The people who dealt with it best were artists, since they could create something, so in that sense good came out of it,” he said.

“But I hated all the masks and all that. I think the whole thing was a gross over-reaction by governments around the world, brought on by the neurosis of fucking idiots on the internet.”

Gallagher could not help but smile at his view of the dark absurdity of recent history.

“Since then, well, the world has not recovered and probably never will. And we just wait for the next one,” he said with a chuckle.

– ‘Fans that suffer’ –
British society is reeling from the combined impact of the pandemic and years of political chaos.

Brexit has also made it more complicated and expensive for the country’s artists to tour the European continent.

“Instead of spending two weeks in France, I’ll be doing 10 days in the whole of Europe, just doing capital cities — it’s the fans that suffer,” Gallagher said.

But aside from the grumbles about the state of Britain, the songwriter is in a buoyant mood thanks to the new album, his first in six years, and an imminent international tour of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

He is particularly enthusiastic about the new song “Easy Now”.

“I imagined the audience and the reaction when I was writing it. It’s reminiscent of what I wrote in the 90s, and as good as what I wrote in the 90s I think.

“I knew it straight away, you could just feel it.”

There is also an unlikely all-star moment on the record with the song “Pretty Boy”, which features Johnny Marr of The Smiths and is remixed by The Cure’s Robert Smith.

“I don’t know Robert Smith at all, but I got his email… I thought: he’s not going to like Oasis or me,” Gallagher said.

“But I sent it anyway and it turns out he fucking loves it. I was like, wow.”

Marr, however, is an old friend going back to the days when Oasis was an unsigned band trying to get attention around Manchester.

“Johnny was the first person outside the guys in the band who showed any interest in us at all. No one in Manchester gave a fuck,” Gallagher said.

“He’s got the holy spirit in him. He’s a great guy.”

– ‘Cursed’ guitar –
For Gallagher, coming to France is always a reminder of “the catastrophic night” when Oasis broke up live on stage at the Rock en Seine festival in 2009, following a furious fight between Noel and his brother Liam, the band’s other frontman.

The guitar that was collateral damage during that fight was recently auctioned in Paris for 385,000 euros ($411,000).

“I bought that guitar in Paris, in Pigalle somewhere — I never liked it, it was fucking horrible. If one guitar had to be sacrificed…” Gallager said.

“The guy bought it off me smashed to bits and I never thought he’d put it back together, but he did, so good luck to him,” he said. “It’s a shit guitar, I never wrote a single song on it. It was cursed.”