We haven’t even sat down for the interview and Noel Gallagher is off on one.
‘I won’t be walking around with bags of dog shit,’ Gallagher, 47, is huffing to the room.
'But that’s always been his weakness – it’s the chicks, I’m afraid.’ There has been no sign of a new musical project. And I didn’t play the game, and I still don’t play the game.
So, I think he’d think, “He’s all right.” ‘And if I look back at the 24-year-old, he’s all right and all.
These were the fledgling days of Britpop; Richard Ashcroft’s band had yet to acquire the definite article imposed on their name by the aggrieved jazz label Verve, and were three years from releasing the album Urban Hymns, which would sell 10 million copies. Definitely Maybe hit number one in September that year, making it at that point the fastest-selling debut album in British chart history.
Oasis, too, were in their infancy but already had a reputation. The following year they released (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? In 1996 they played in front of 250,000 fans over two nights at Knebworth.
He also agrees that its release was hobbled by circumstance. Yeah, I never realised how ludicrous that Little Drummer Boy song was with David Bowie,’ he says with a snort. Chris Martin is a frontman, but not when he’s playing guitar. What are you playing it up there [on your chest] for? What would 24-year-old Noel make of the 47-year-old incarnation?
First, Archer fractured his skull, then he fractured his leg, which meant the cancellation of a run of tour dates. ‘I believe that if Gem hadn’t smashed his face in and broken his leg they’d probably still be together,’ Noel, who remains close friends with Archer, says. And for all the neverending rumours of an Oasis reunion Noel is defiantly dismissive. ‘But Liam’s got to clear the decks, sort his shit out and start again. I can’t speak for him.’ This far into his solo career, is Noel Gallagher now comfortable as a frontman? ‘Phew,’ he exhales, pausing for an uncharacteristically long time (about three seconds).
‘No, I know,’ Gallagher nods with something like a wince. Because all the things the 24-year-old would want to be doing, I’ve done.
I won’t go into it,’ he says, alluding to an unspecified medical condition, ‘but I [also] got tinnitus in my ear, and I pulled two muscles in the back of my hand. Then my doctor put me on these tablets – I won’t tell you what for,’ he says again, ‘[and] told me that if I didn’t take them I would virtually drop dead. ‘I go to the gym every day – I’m lucky enough to have a gym in my house, so I don’t have to deal with the general public,’ says this multi-millionaire who, it should be noted, is still a committed user of public transport, patron of supermarkets and corner shops, and is a famously generous giver of time and attention to selfie-seeking fans. That’s too undignified for me.” So I’m afraid we had to dig the basement out.’ He laughs, aware of just how ‘rock star’ that sounds.