Noel Gallagher on working with Johnny Marr: “He’s the G.O.A.T.”
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The pair have long been friends and collaborators – with Marr contributing to Oasis‘ 2002 album ‘Heathen Chemistry’ as well as playing on The High Flying Birds‘ ‘Ballad Of The Mighty I’ in 2015 and ‘If Love Is The Law’ from 2017. They teamed up again for three songs on Gallagher’s new album ‘Council Skies’, namely lead single ‘Pretty Boy’ along with ‘Open the Door, See What You Find’ and the title track.
“Sadly, we’ve never sat down to write a song,” Gallagher told NME for the latest in our In Conversation series. “We’ve talked about it for a while. For the three tracks that he plays on, I had the idea that Johnny would be able to play something great on it – I could just hear it and knew it.
“With ‘Pretty Boy’, it’s so linear and gets to that point where it just motors along. I knew it needed something. I didn’t get loads of people to try it, I was going to ask Johnny to do it from the off.”
Gallagher went on to explain how Marr’s contributions always come from a place of instinct, rather than instruction.
“It’s a funny thing with Johnny,” said Gallagher. “He doesn’t get you to send him the track, he turns up, plugs his gear in, puts his guitar on, stands in front of the speakers and says, ‘Right, let’s hear it’. As he’s hearing it for the first time, he plays it. I wouldn’t tell him what to play, I wouldn’t be so cheeky.”
The song ‘Pretty Boy’ then went through a further transformation when remixed by The Cure’s Robert Smith – an experience that Gallagher said he found quite surreal.
“It wasn’t until I played it to a few people when someone said, ‘That’s one of Oasis, one of The Smiths and one of The Cure on the same fucking track’ and I was like, ‘That’s far out! What a mad idea!’,” he said.
Elsewhere in the interview, Gallagher laughed off the idea of ever receiving any royal honours – claiming that “if I get the gong, you can pretty much say that they’ve been devalued” but that he “wouldn’t mind being the Duke of Manchester”.
He continued: “What would it give me the right to do? Without question, Johnny Marr is being fucking elevated alongside me. We would be The Dukes Of Manchester. Write that down – that’s a fucking premise for a TV series, that. Two Mancunians driving around Manchester, solving local crime in a fucking Gregg’s bakery van.”
Gallagher added: “He’s the G.O.A.T.! He elevates my songs. Sometimes it’s really subtle and sometimes it’s really great. I’m so privileged to have his phone number. I say, ‘If you keep picking up the phone then I’m going to keep phoning you’ – but he’s into it.”
The recent interview with NME also saw Gallagher discuss the making of his new album, the flaws on every record he has ever made both with Oasis and as a solo artist, the AI-generated Oasis album, working with The Cure’s Robert Smith, Brexit Britain, the Britpop reunions of Blur and Pulp and his thoughts on modern rock and The 1975.
As well a having a new book about his guitar collection on the way, Marr will kick off a UK summer headline tour next month in support of his fourth solo album, ‘Fever Dreams Pts 1-4‘. Visit here for tickets and more information.