Noel Gallagher talks online bootlegs, bust-up with Liam

Got a computer you want to sell? Noel Gallagher might be interested
Got a computer you want to sell? Noel Gallagher might be interested (Image credit: Torben Christensen/epa/Corbis)

With Noel Gallagher's debut solo LP, High Flying Birds, set for release on 17 October, the singer-songwriter and guitarist is talking about a revolution. Only this time he's thinking of joining one, not starting it - the digital revolution, that is. Hey, better late than never.

During an interview with Mojo, Gallagher, who is known for working on song ideas during soundchecks, had no idea that fans were hanging nearby and secretly recording him. To his horror, he discovered bootlegs of his unfinished songs on YouTube - in some cases, fans were even contributing their own ideas for the tracks.

"Some were written on the last [Oasis] tour," he said, "when I used to feel them out by getting my acoustic guitar and strumming them after soundcheck, because you sound like Jesus in a big arena. A year later someone comes up to me and says, 'Have you got a song called If I Had A Gun?' [I said] 'Yes... Why?' There wasn't even a demo of this.

"Turns out some kids have been taping the soundchecks on mobile phones and posting them up on the internet. I haven't got a computer and I'm completely oblivious to it all, so I check it out and there are kids on YouTube finishing them off! I'm thinking, They're covering my songs before I've written them? I need to keep an eye on this shit."

Somewhat predictably, the topic of conversation turned to the backstage fight with his brother Liam that led to Noel walking away from Oasis. "There was a bit of kung-fu," Noel said, revealing that the final straw came not when Liam threw a plum at him, but took a swing at his brother's head with a guitar. "It could have taken my face off," Noel said, "so I may have smashed it to bits."

On the subject of High Flying Birds and whether he approached the songwriting any differently than he has over the years, Gallagher said, "I never think about how a song compares to other stuff, as long as I'm getting across what I'm trying to. Singers think about what they're singing. I'm not a singer. Guitarists think about what they're playing. I'm not a guitarist. I'm a songwriter."

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.