Noel Gallagher On His Album Who Built The Moon?

31 December 2017, 15:00

The former Oasis legend has taken Radio X’s John Kennedy through his third solo album that sees the songwriter re-invent his sound, image and method of working.

Who Built The Moon? is the follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed LP Chasing Yesterday, and will be released on Friday 24 November 2017 on the Sour Mash label.

The album has been recorded over four years with producer, DJ and composer David Holmes in Belfast and London and is described as a collection of “instrumentals, imagined soundtracks and cut and paste experimentation”. The record also features guest appearances from Paul Weller and Johnny Marr.

Noel Gallagher came into Radio X to take John Kennedy through the album track by track… it’s a revealing, hilarious and in-depth dig into the man, the music and the scissors.


“There’s an alarm clock halfway through the song… I’m not sure why but it felt right, it felt like a wake-up call to people who have been listening to my music for the past 25 years. I’ve got to say, people who’ve been following what I do, they shouldn’t be too surprised. The Right Stuff and Mighty I and What A Life… were kind of not what you’d associate with what I did in Oasis. And of course working with Goldie and the Chemical Brothers in the past… but it makes me think there’s a new generation of Oasis fans who’ve come along, who are not aware of that. Like 15 year olds who’ve come along with an idea of what you should be, who’ve clearly watched Supersonic recently and have probably all got Union Jack guitars and all that, bless ‘em. It’s a great way to start the record, it’s going to be a great way to start the gigs.”


“Of all the things that I’ve read, the one thing that was never played to me in the studio was Ricky Martin. She Bangs. There’s the phrasing of the word She, that’s it! I understand people have got mundane jobs and they’ve got nothing better to do, commenting on stuff. It’s got a bit of Diamond Dogs in there, some Roxy Music doing Canned Heat, it’s got The Ice Cream, it’s got Plastic Bertrand. But when you’re making up stuff in the studio, and the clock’s ticking… it’s a way of working that I thought I’d never be into. This is pure expression, this is not thinking at all. It’s David jumping out of his chair, saying Do that again! It’s a real collaboration. He’s all about vibe, and I’m all about the songs, it was him going out there and me pulling it back, it’s a combination of both our styles.”


“We were listening to Sly Stone at the Isle Of Wight, which was the inspiration behind that. That came out of some other odd soul records. David is a fantastic DJ as we all know, he’s got a deep collection of records. I had the guitar riff and he’d pull out something and say, try it like that. When we moved to London, these two girls arrived at the studio, that did all the backing vocals. They came in, South London girls. I said to one of them, Do I recognise you? Are you famous? She said, No darlin’, I’ve been on The X Factor! Usually if I’ve written a song, and it’s not in my key, I pull it down. That’s as high as I’ve ever sang in my life and I can tell you we won’t be doing it in that key live!”


“[David] had found this thing from a jazz gig in the 50s and it was a French woman saying, please stay in your seats. the act that you came to see will be on shortly. The tone was right, but we couldn’t clear the sample, so we had to get someone to do something. He knew Charlotte [???] and she came to the studio. She did her thing - nobody speaks French, so I didn’t know what she was saying. I said, We’d better check - how well do you know this woman? I had to get one of the girls in the office, to get their mum, who was a French teacher, to translate it. It’s about the end of the world and I don’t really do that. The last line says, ‘Hold hands, this is the end of the world’. If I could change one thing on the record, I’d get her to re-do that and say ‘This is NOT the end of the world’.”


“We were working on another tune and it has that pulsing thing. We didn’t like the tune we were doing, but we liked this pulsing thing. He said, What is it saying to you? And I said, Blondie. He said, Let’s write a tune like Blondie. The guitar solo - I instantly knew that whatever I played would get knocked back. Because I can only play one way. He said, Play something you can dance to! I mean, who says that?”


“The first two verses are a message to my children. About be careful, chasing fame, money, drugs, that sort of thing. David said, just put it out there, just write as many verses as you can, like Dylan. I wrote so many verses for that song, It was really long at one point, and I said this can’t be nine minutes long, so we edited it down. It’s gonna challenge perceptions of what it is I do. The challenge for me is on the tour, how do we get Be Careful what You Wish For and Half The World Away - that couldn’t be more different - to work in the same night and everyone goes home happy?”


“Of all the tracks on the album, this is the most traditional rock-pop thing that I do. I love this track live, it sounds like the Pistols live, there’s a bit of a nod to the Stones in there, The riff is very West Coast LA - sounds a bit like R.E.M. to be honest. I think it’ll be a live favourite for a while."


“I reckon in the long run, people will adore this record because it’s got more records than the other two, for sure. But you know there’s still people who want to live through 1995, and that’s great. But we lived through 1995, and that’s kind of what we did then, it’s not what we do now. I must say to them if you’re in any way mildly disappointed by this record, then the next few years are not going to be fun for you. Because there’s no going back from here.”


“David was like, it needs a guitar thing and some lift towards the end. When someone says that to me, I call Johnny Marr! He’s one of my oldest friends, he’s very gracious with his time. Not a lot of people know that he’s got a guitar shaped phone in his house, that only I have the number for - when it rings, it glows red and white, he knows it’s me. He picks it up and says ‘The Boy Wonder. What can I do for you?’ I’m afraid, Batman, it’s that time again. It still blows my mind that he would even come and help us with a track.”


“I kind of wrote the verses over a couple of days… then I got to the chorus. And David Holmes made me write EIGHT choruses for this song. Every one I wrote, he just said: Oasis. Next one: that’s High Flying Birds. Another one: that’s a cross between Oasis AND High Flying Birds. It just kept going: That’s the Beatles. I was in another studio and I thought, I can’t do this any more, I think I’ve come up with a great chorus. I thought this doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever done. So he’s gonna love it!”


“Wednesday was one long song, about four and a bit minutes, and I thought it was too long. Where the first interlude was, but there was a definite bit where we could have cut it into two. If Man Who Built The Moon is the epilogue, Fort Knox is the overture, and this is the bit where you’re walking out of the cinema as the end credits are going up.”


“I was doing a radio session in Ireland and no more than a few days earlier, I’d written that song in under two hours. I hadn’t played it to anyone. So I was sat with headphones on and the sound in the room was so amazing that while the engineer was messing around with this mike, I just started singing it for myself. I forgot all about it, fast forward the album’s finished, the inevitable question: have you got any bonus material? I said, We didn’t record any B-side material. Then someone in my office, Said what about that song you did that day in Dublin? The one about the water? He got in touch and they said Oh yeah, we recorded it. My jaw hit the floor - what’s special is that I’m singing it for myself. I listened to it and thought, It has to go on the album because I want to play it live.”