The guitar interview Oasis fans have been waiting for has arrived; That Pedal Show's Mick and Dan sit down with Noel Gallagher in his Lone Star studio for nearly two hours of gear and songwriting talk. No bravado – this is Noel the songwriter, and the musician who is still very much in love with his craft, his heroes and loud tube amps.
So we get to see the key guitars he wrote Oasis's biggest songs on – including those gifted by Johnny Marr. But Noel goes deeper into the realms guitarists love to wade in, revealing why he hates guitar in his monitors but also the more humble habits we've never heard about before. Small things that make him just like a lot of us; he doesn't really understand compression pedals, loves the BOSS DD-3 and can't be bothered to mess with the presets on his Strymon pedals.
"I don't even need a pedalboard, I don't know why I've got one – but I have got one," laughs Noel, who used very few in his Oasis days and now has a Hologram Microcosm alongside Strymon classics and some old favourites including a Kingsley Page boost and Keeley Compressor. But when it comes to pedals like the Microcosm and Timeline, he doesn't mess with the settings.
"One thing I love about this Strymon stuff and these big pedals; I f*****g love a preset," Noel declares. "I can't be arsed getting my own sounds. Some guy slaved over that in Utah for 16 months to get that sound. I'm not gonna take a bit of top off it – have a bit of respect for that man!
Noel really isn't into sound design on pedals that will do it for you.
"I've written the song, is that not enough? I've got to come up with my own sounds now?" he adds. He's got a point, and his solo career has seen him move from the Bigsby waggling occasional singer to the centre of the stage where his focus has had to change. But he's still keen to study what others are doing with their gear.
"I love presets and I love nicking other people's settings," Noel adds. And we admit to taking note of the position of his always-on Keeley Compressor controls (similar to ours as it turns out). "What I think is not shown enough on these [guitar] YouTube videos like the Andertons ones and yours [TPS], you never say what the settings are on the amp… you can list every valve known to man but where's the treble? List every mic you want… but where's the presence?
This has fueled him to take advantage of opportunities around his own guitar heroes – behind their backs. "I did a thing recently at the Royal Festival Hall for Peter Blake's 90th birthday," he adds about the event where he played alongside The Who. "A couple of nights before that Mesa/Boogie amp turned up from Gibson [Noel gestures to the California Tweed combo in the studio]. The guy came in and said, "There's only two in the UK– one is for you. And I get to the festival hall and there's one of these amps. Pete Townsend has got the other one. So I said to [my tech], 'Go and get his settings.' He had to wait until his tech wasn't looking to write them down."
It wasn't an isolated incident either. Oasis once shared a bill in Paris with Neil Young, and the temptation to take a close look at another hero's rig proved understandably irresistible.
"There's nothing you can say about him that's adequate enough to express what a punk rocker he is, and Oasis were opening up for him," begins Noel. "After his soundcheck, me and Gem [Archer, guitarist] just went, 'Can we get onstage to have a look at his guitars?' They were literally all just lying besides his amps. His guitar crew were amazing and just said, 'Oh yeah just look at the pedalboard'. It was like a junk shop of stuff.
"But I'm forever trying to nick people's vibes. I haven't got the patience for it. Now I've accepted over the last maybe five years that, hang on a minute, f*** this – I'm a writer. I write, that's what I do. I'm not slaving away worrying about it anymore – I just get someone else to. That's why I've got another guitarist."