Cast away on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Noel Gallagher is to reveal the secret of his relationship with his brother, Liam, and to mount a sturdy defence of the 1990s, the era of BritPop and New Labour.
He will also comment on his use of drugs and on his status as a songwriter, explaining ruefully: “Put it this way, I am not as revered by the press as Thom Yorke or Damon Albarn. That is just a fact.”
Assessing the impact of Oasis, the band he set up with his brother, he says: “On our day we were great. People are there now at my concerts that weren’t even born then and they are crying at Oasis songs. All all over the world people are still in massively in love with that band – and none more so than me.”
On the subject of the rows with Liam that eventually caused the breakup of the band, Gallagher, 48, explains: “The way it worked was, when were not slagging each other off, that’s when were telling each other that we loved each other. That’s it. Clearly there was a point where he was the greatest singer in the world and it was great. It just so happens that the two of us we like to call a spade a spade. But it was very sarcastic mud-slinging.”
Gallagher tells presenter Kirsty Young that the pair had got on well as children in Burnage, Manchester. “He was an irritant though, because we shared a bedroom. When you are 10 and your brother is five it is a lifetime away and so I never hung out with any of his friends, but, yeah, we got on.” In the band, their sibling status was a mixed blessing, he adds. “You can gain some strength from being in a band with your brother when everyone else is a stranger, but as time goes on it becomes your achilles heel because you know how to push each other’s buttons.”
Gallagher, who has played solo and with his band High Flying Birds since 2009, confesses that in 1998 he realised the last three Oasis albums had all been created “on drugs”. “Not all of Oasis were on drugs though. Just effectively me and Liam,” he says. A move out to the country was followed by “a moment of clarity” when he found a stranger in his kitchen the morning after a party and decided to give up drugs.
“I have good willpower. It was one of the greatest things I have ever done,” he says, explaining he met his second wife, Sarah MacDonald, shortly after this.
Choosing the music of many of his heroes, such as David Bowie and the Smiths, to take to the desert island, Gallagher says he still regards the Beatles as “the greatest thing in music that ever was”.
Contrasting his heyday in the 1990s with the “gloomy, dark, fractured times” of the 70s and 80s, before the arrival of the “modern man”, Gallagher tells Young that people “have to admit” the Britpop era was great.
“What people are refusing to accept is that the 90s were brilliant. Think about that time, with Thatcher being ushered out and New Labour coming in. And Oasis, Blur and Pulp all those bands in the top five all the time. They were great days.”
He selects Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as his Desert Island Book, explaining it is the only book he has ever read..
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