Noel Gallagher: 'I travel the world, play my tunes, but I do take my Yorkshire tea with me'
Young fans might not queue around the block to buy albums any more, and stars like Adele might be pulling rank on the sales front, but Noel Gallagher isn't bothered. He explains to Andy Welch why the glory days will always be his.
Around 2006, when music sales started to nosedive, the industry's focus shifted. Once upon a time, artists and record labels made their money from album sales; touring was merely a way of promoting records. Now though, with ticket sales showing no signs of slowing down, artists release music in order to give themselves an excuse to tour.
The way Noel Gallagher approaches interviews, however, suggests he both releases music and tours the world solely as a means to sit down and air his views.
It seems he loves talking to journalists - a stark contrast to the many singers who view it as a chore - and no subject's off limits, from the smallest small-talk to issues of global terrorism and migration. His tactic, talking to whoever will listen, works too. In its first week of release in the UK, his most-recent album, Chasing Yesterday, was certified gold (signalling sales of 100,000-plus), while his concerts sell out within minutes.
More than a year after the album's release, the former Oasis guitarist and songwriter is touring the UK again, off the back of taking his show to Australia and New Zealand, Asia, North America and Europe.
He may be approaching 50, but there's little sign that Gallagher's slowing down.
When we catch up, he's just finished sound-checking in Cologne.
"It's good to give the soundman something to do, if nothing else," says the Manchester-born 48-year-old.
"And we have to sound good, the paying punter deserves some respect. And it's good to get out of the hotel, these five-star places can become a bit of a bore, you know? There's only so much Egyptian cotton one man can take."
Despite starting touring in March 2015 and with dates booked in until September, he says he's still yet to get bored on the road, and has enjoyed it ever since the earliest days of Oasis, back in the early Nineties.
"It's only people that make it difficult, and I'm not with difficult people any more," he says, probably a thinly veiled reference to his brother, Liam.
"I've been on tours that have been a real struggle, but life's what you make it and all that.
"The two hours on stage are always brilliant, and generally, these days, it's all good. I travel the world, play my tunes to people and have a great time.
"I don't take anything with me, really, no home comforts or anything," he adds. "Just Yorkshire Tea teabags and my passport. We travel with such a large crew that I don't even have to carry my own bag. Point me in the direction of the nearest VIP lounge and I'm set."
In something of a rarity, Gallagher cancelled a recent show in Auckland, when his equipment failed to arrive in time. He says it's only the second time he's pulled a gig since becoming a solo artist - the other show was in Mexico; a dodgy prawn was to blame. Even in the wild days of Oasis, when he and Liam were at each other's throats, shows were very rarely called off. The time Liam flew home from North America after one row saw Noel step in as frontman, while a replacement guitarist was found when Noel did the same thing in 2000.
"Back in the day in Oasis, we had to cancel a gig because the place in Canada was so cold, like minus 70 or something stupid, and all the gear in the truck froze. They had to send it somewhere to thaw out, but it all got water damaged when the ice melted and our stuff was ruined," he recalls.
"There was another time we toured in America, and the truck driver turned out to be a crack addict. He disappeared with the truck full of equipment and they had to track him down. He was out of his mind in some really dodgy neighbourhood.
"You just have to deal with it. When you take two flights a year, airlines can lose your luggage. When you play in five countries a week for a year, something's bound to happen."
Gallagher, who says he's halfway through what will be his third album, says the main reason he and other artists of his stature tour for so long is that none of them are prepared to give up the lifestyles they've become accustomed to, just because "spotty young Herberts" have decided not to buy albums any more. "I don't understand youth culture, although I've got a 16-year-old daughter, so I start to see it from her perspective," he says, referring to Anais, his daughter with first wife Meg Matthews.
"I'll say to her that we used to queue up to buy records - queues round the block in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester when the new Smiths album came out - and she says it's stupid. Records just arrive on her phone. Teenagers think it's ridiculous, they're too busy on Snapchat to go out and buy an album in person."
That new consumption is the reason Gallagher says he doesn't buy into Adele's phenomenal success.
"She sold all those records, but she put her record in the palm of everyone's hand," he says, adding that no one had to go out in the rain to purchase their copy of her recent 25.
Much was made of Adele breaking Oasis' long-standing record for first-week sales - the band's third album, Be Here Now, sold almost 700,000 copies in three days, while Adele's 25 sold just over 800,000 - but Gallagher's not interested.
"We got people off their a****, down to the high street to buy it in person. We didn't knock on their doors and ask if they wanted it. That's the difference," he states.
He's not so interested in the Glastonbury line-up either, although he says he and wife Sara will be going as he's not due to play at the festival, or elsewhere.
For now, he seems happy to carry on as he is, to enjoy his beloved Manchester City's continued success in the Champions League, and to finish the album he hopes to have released this time next year.
"The best-case scenario is I get it done by the end of the year, have Christmas off, sit on my backside for three months and release it in spring 2017," says Gallagher. "But that's the best-case.
"Worst-case, I'll still be talking about it this time next year and I never finish it. You never know."
- Noel Gallagher's Chasing Yesterday is out now. He tours the UK from April 21. Visit noelgallagher.com for more information