The New Cue #25 June 7: Noel Gallagher, Lou Hayter, Sinead O'Connor
7 June, 2021
We’ve got a cracking interview with Noel Gallagher to get your week rolling so we won’t prattle on. Although we will say that this Friday’s edition of The New Cue is for subscribers only. Every other Friday is for our wonderful subs only, because we love our subs. If you want to be in this cherished crew of New Cue gods, then all you have to do is click on the Subscribe Now link below. But if not, read on, we won’t hold it against you. We’re just pleased you’re here.
Ted, Niall and Chris
Start The Week With… Noel Gallagher
It’s twelve years since Noel Gallagher walked out of Oasis. Given relations between him and Liam are still at the name-calling on Twitter stage, fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a detente between the brothers soon. In fact, Noel seems to be relishing life as a solo artist. Chris visited him in his brand new recording studio in King’s Cross recently to talk about the recent Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds greatest hits set, Back The Way We Came: Vol 1, and found him in entertaining form. Lambasting “fat cunt” Boris Johnson, moaning about lockdown, but enthused about the record he’s started working on as an alternative to sitting around listening to TalkSport.
Hello Noel. This place is nice, how long have you been here?
I’ve been here since September. It took two years to build and nearly got finished just before the first lockdown, then everybody went mad for six months and wouldn’t come near the place, so it got finished just before the second one. If I didn’t have this place I would have fucking taken a few people out. Just to be here every day. My missus was going, ‘Are you making a record?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m listening to TalkSport all day.’ ‘What, in the studio?’ ‘Yeah.’
Even if you weren’t doing anything it must have felt like a godsend to have this place to escape to.
Yeah, absolutely. But then again the flip side of that is now I’ve got it I'm always thinking I really should be working and not just listening to the fucking radio. So it's made me start a new record about six months early.
Yeah, as long as I don't finish it six months early. I don't really want to finish it and then sit on it until the live thing comes back. But yeah, I'm writing it and it's gone alright.
How have you found the last year?
I got back from touring with U2 first thing in December and that meant I'd done five back-to-back world tours since 2015. So I was planning on taking until 2023 off anyway. Obviously I wasn't planning on the fucking pandemic. So really, I'm still kind of on schedule. I wasn't planning on doing anything. Like everyone, the first three months was like, ‘Oh this is fucking novel… this is like being on holiday.’ But when the second wave hit it was fucking brutal. My kids have suffered badly. I’ve got a 13-year-old and at that age you're not really sure of who you are and you develop your character through your mates and your everyday life. When you've not got an everyday life your character is being developed by the internet. You can't go out and mix with your friends, all you've got is the phone so you become addicted to it. It's such a powerful thing for young people and we kind of lost him to that for a while.
How have you been with it?
I've struggled with it. Lord knows what it must be like for the majority of people. I live a nice life with a fucking house in the country and all that and it's driven me up the wall. Fucking celebrities coming on the telly and on the radio everyday, ‘Oh this is great, I fucking love it…’ I'd be spitting at the radio going: ‘Fuck off, you cunt!’ Not enough people are saying this is a dreadful thing that's happened. I hated every day of it since the second wave but what annoyed me most about it was in the first wave they were saying there's gonna be a second wave and then when it came they did absolutely fucking nothing to prepare for it. Boris Johnson has proved himself not to be the fucking man in the crisis. Number one, getting it for a start - you fucking idiot. Right at the start of it he’s out of the game for three months. Hang on a minute, where is the fucking idiot who's paid to make the rules? Oh he's in bed because he's ill. Fat cunt.
How were you entertaining yourself?
You do live a bit of a Groundhog Day when you're on tour. It's kind of the same but it's different because you're traveling. You live in the same day but in a different country. This is living the same day in the same fucking house. I think I've seen the same dozen people for a year. I've not seen my Mam for a year. I've had the same conversation with her - first it was every day, then it was every other day, then it was twice a week, then it was once a week, then once a fortnight. It’s just like:
How are ya?
What have you been up to?
Nothing at all.
What are you up to tomorrow?
Nothing at all.
OK. I’ll call you in a few days, bye.
I don’t watch telly but you kind of fall into that because there’s fuck all else to to. I watched all the things on Netflix, you know Tiger King and Don’t Fuck With Cats, but you blast through them in a night. The biggest thing was the drinking. I've had a couple of timeouts from the doctor. Going to see the doctor saying [groans], ‘I've got this fucking pain and I feel like shit.’ He's like, ‘Hmmm, yeah you don't look good. Have you been sleeping?’ ‘Naaa…’ ‘Have you been drinking?’ ‘Yeahhh…' ‘How much have been drinking?’ ‘Fucking shitloads.’ I'm on the go slow at the moment but there's nothing else to do.
Did you write many songs during lockdown?
In the first three months I think I wrote more songs in that period than I would ever have done which is where the idea of the Best Of came from. I don’t think it'd be coming out if it wasn't for lockdown. It was a chance to get in the studio and do some some songs that I'd nearly completed that I thought were alright for a Best Of.
And how about the songs for the next album?
Luckily I've got this place finished so all the stuff that I'd written I'm kind of in the process of putting it all together. I'd say I've got about four or five new tunes which are all in the demo stage, but they’re really good, really varied as well. So creatively it's been alright.
Are the two new songs on the best of, Flying On The Ground and We’re On Our Way Now, a good indicator of the next High Flying Birds album?
It's leaning to be more acoustic, actually. There will be more acoustic tracks on it than I would do and the reason for that is that I did those EPs the year before last and I was in that frame of mind to something electronic. If I hadn't done that, my next album would have been like those EPs. So that's given me a thing to react against. It's more acoustic and a lot slower paced and bit more atmospheric. It's good, though. Really good. There's some bangers on there as well.
What’s it like looking back over ten years as a solo artist?
It doesn’t feel like ten years. I was reminded about two weeks ago of a quote I gave to a journalist. This journalist that interviewed me at the beginning had asked me what was it going to be like and I said, ‘I've only got one plan and that's for it to be ever-changing.’ I wanted the lineup to be forever changing, I didn't want to be in a set band. I forgotten I'd said that and actually, when I think about it now I've kind of stayed true to it. So in that sense, I'm pretty pleased with it. Right. I’ve got to go for a piss.
OK, cheers Noel.
Back The Way We Came: Vol 1 is out on Friday. Sky Arts broadcast Noel Gallagher: Out Of The Now on Thursday 10th June at 9pm
An Album To Blow Your Mind
As recommended by synth pop chanteuse Lou Hayter: Jazz/folk vibes from ’70s outfit’s first, and last, album.
Air (Embryo, 1971)
“My friend put some of these tunes on a tape for me when I was a teenager -Mr Man, Realise and Baby I Don’t Know Where Love Is. I loved them straight away but didn’t ever see the record around and I think it was really pricey. But every now and then I would hear Air again somewhere and always loved them when I did.
Fast forward about 20 years and my friend Rob Butler reissued the album on beautiful gatefold vinyl on his reissue label Be With. When I listened to the rest of the album I loved the other tunes too. The singer is called Googie Coppola and has the most beautiful voice with this vast range. She’s one of my favourite singers along with Minnie Riperton.
The band is her and her husband Tom and [producer/keyboard player] Jan Hammer is also on the album. It's bit like Joni Mitchell in places. I’d maybe describe it as 70’s jazz/folk but that doesn’t really do it justice. I think as a band they just have their own sound so the only way to convey it is to listen to it. It’s produced by Herbie Mann and it’s the only album they ever made. It’s really special, one of those records I sit down and listen to properly rather than having on in the background. It always moves me.”
The Story Behind The Song
How we birthed a classic
Nothing Compares 2U, by Sinead O’Connor, 1990.
In a 1990 interview with Adrian Deevoy for Q, Sinead O’Connor explained the background to her mega-hit from earlier in that year, and why the tears in the video were all too real. Since Sinead’s been in the news recently, Adrian generously thought of us (again).
“By the time 'Nothing Compares 2 U' happened I was almost in a state of shock. I was zapped mentally. I wasn't eating properly, just drinking coffee and smoking hundreds of cigarettes and getting totally stressed out... man, I just didn't know how to deal with the fame and the American fans and the horseshit British press. "Shoeless Sinead" and all that bollocks.
“I was never prepared for what it did to me. I couldn't have been prepared for that kind of success. Let's face it, what other record has really done that? I thought it might do OK? But not this.
“At first, it was very hard to sing it. I found it very difficult. Technically I'm not a great singer. I can sing my own stuff but I have trouble with other people's.
“But he (Prince) must be pretty happy, the amount of money he's made out of me and I'm very happy with the amount I've made out of him. We're extremely different people from different ends of the earth and he really is raving mad, bonkers. But then, so am I. So is anyone who does this for a living. How could he not be bonkers? I think it must be very difficult for him to have any perception of what life is like for real people. I should imagine life is very difficult anyway for a person with just one name.
“Before we did the video I was fairly fucked up already. I was under enormous stress, I'd just split up with my manager (and former boyfriend, Fachnta O'Ceallaigh) literally two days before we made the video. So, my life was really falling apart. It was all quite apt. I felt pretty ghastly. Also, it's a pretty heavy song. 'Don't Worry Be Happy', it isn't, you know?
“The tears were real. Too fucking real. There's no way that I'd do that if they weren't real tears. John Maybury, who made the video, was going to thank the plate of chopped onions at the awards and I'm glad he didn't because everyone in the room, including him, was in shreds when we made that. We were all in a terrible state. It was very upsetting. That was the first take, and it all came out. Every time I've done a video since I've cried but we can't really have another video where I cry, can we? People would start to become suspicious.”