NOEL: “I’d love to be married to me.” - Grazia issue 351
Words by Polly Vernon
When Sara MacDonald, aka Noel Gallagher’s missus, woke him to tell him he’d made number one in Grazia’s Chart of Lust, he was hungover. “We’d played the Roundhouse the night before, had a little aftershow party in the basement of [London’s members’ club] Home House, got asked to leave about half past five. It’s about eight, Sara’s up with the kids, and she says, ‘You all right?’ I said, ‘I feel like a dead shit.’ She said, ‘I’ve got great news! You’re in Grazia!’ And my immediate reactio is, ‘What have I done now? What have I said? Have I slagged off Posh Spice?’ And she said, ‘No! You’re in the Chart of Lust!’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ She said, ‘It’s really fucking cool, that’s what it is.’ So off she went and got the magazine, then the texts started coming in all day, from all the girls I know, saying, ‘Well well well!’ I kept staring at it and going, ‘How has this happened?’”
Grazia put Noel at number one after watching the brilliant interview on Jonathan Ross’ chat show. It was when he described getting a phone call from Simon Cowell, who had wanted Noel to replace him on The X Factor panel, and how Noel’s four-year-old son Donovan followed him round the house crying, “I want to talk to Simon! I want to talk to Simon!” That did it for me - although I’ve had a soft spot for Noel for years. The man wrote Wonderwall, for heaven’s sake.
Noel was so pleased, he blogged about it: “Chart of Lust!!! That’s right, LUST!!! Eat that Coldplay. You can have top spot in the charts. That don’t mean shit…” This got reported on news site The Huffington Post, and the whole thing amounted to a minor - fabulous - incident. He’s still dead pleased by the time we meet, a few weeks later. “Yeah! Well, wouldn’t you be?” Is it important that people fancy you? He pauses. “No. But it’s nice.”
We’re sitting in his publicist’s offices. He’s drinking instant coffee “because I can’t handle that stuff” - he points to my freshly ground Americano, “and because nobody makes a good cup of tea in this town. You need to go to Manchester. Or it has to be made by a Mancunian.” Officially he’s here to promote his solo album, the entirely excellent - tight, instant, trust me you’ll love it - Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds; unofficially, he’s here because of the Chart of Lust thing. I give him the once-over, and decide: yes, he definitely deserves the lust. He’s neat and wiry, smaller than you’d think, and better dressed. He’s got good hair and a nice manner. “I’m not a chauvinist,” he tells me. “I’ve been with Sara for 11 years, there isn’t a male/female divide in my house. It’s just us, do you know what I mean? I wouldn’t consider myself laddish. I don’t reserve time to go down to the pub with the lads. People assume I’m laddish because I was in a band that was quite laddish. And because Liam is quite laddish.”
Ah, there it is, the ‘L’ word. I’d wondered if Noel would avoid mentioning his brother Liam, with whom he hasn’t really spoken since Noel walked out on Oasis - the band that made the Gallagher brothers international superstars - in August 2009. “I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer,” Noel explained in a public statement, issued the same day. Since then, the only contact the two have had has been via the issuing and counter-issuing of lawsuits, or public snubbings and sniping in the press.
Where are you with Liam? “I haven’t spoken to him.” Do you still love him? “Well, of course I love him! But not in the way that I love Sara and the kids. When I see pictures of him in a magazine, I don’t go ‘Aww…’” What does he need to do? “He needs to apologise. Profusely.” Pause. “And even then, he can go fuck himself.” Really? “He said too many things. I won’t go into specifics. But don’t bring anyone else into it. Bad darts.”
Was it inevitable that you two would get to this point? “Yeah. It was a miracle that we went for 18 years. We’ve been arguing and fighting for 18 years. We had an incredible ride. We came from a council estate. We had one guitar between us. Luckily for us, one of us was a great frontman, one of us was a great songwriter. And we had an incredible… I don’t like to use the word ‘journey’. Let’s say ‘trip’. A trip from the bottom, right to the top. I went from signing on to meeting the prime minister. Knebworth and supermodels and the biggest houses in the best areas. I thought it was great, up until the last 15 minutes.”
Noel Gallagher met his missus, publicist Sara MacDonald, in a nightclub in Ibiza in 2000, when he was in the throes of splitting from his first wife Meg Matthews, with whom he has a daughter, Anais, 11. Noel and Sara have two sons, Donovan and Sonny (who is one); they married this June. Was it love at first sight? “Yes. And I never believed in that shit. Until I met her, soulmate, I thought, what’s all that nonsense? But within 10 seconds… that was it. And it was the same for her.” Is monogamy possible? “Of course it is! Though it depends on the individual…” But for you? “Oh, for me it is, yes. The secondary reason is there’s too much to lose. The first reason is, what’s the point? You’ve found the person you love. And rock stars and all that… I was a roadie for five years before I was in a band, and I got up to worse as a roadie. It was great. But you can have too much pizza, do you know what I mean? You can drink too much Coke. There comes a point where I’ve done all that. Can’t be arsed.” What was the worst thing you did? “On tour?” Yes. “With women?” Yes. “I don’t understand your question!” Yes, you do… “I’ve never had a threesome! I’m not from the Viking school of rock star. We must conquer! I’m not that kind of person. I’ve done my fair share of the groupie thing. But it’s crass to keep score. I haven’t got that gene. With the birds and all that.” What sort of husband are you? “Fucking brilliant. I’d love to be married to me.” Why? “I’m great! I’m easy-going, I’m pretty well-off. I don’t do boys’ things. I only just got a computer last Christmas. My biggest vice is watching football.” Are you fun? “I’m really good on holiday. When Sara and I went on our first long holiday, Cambodia or somewhere, afterwards she said she was nervous because she thought I’d be sat at the bar all day, befriending skinheads from Dagenham.” Are you good in bed? “I beg your pardon! Well, that’s for you to find out! I should have brought Sara along… Um. I’m going to have to say… I’m good enough.” Is it more important to be good in bed or on holiday? “I’m good in bed, on holiday.”
The thing that surprises me most about Noel is how affable he is. For a man who can seem so aggro and arrogant, who has got into spats with anyone from Blur to Robbie Williams to, well, his own brother, he’s incredibly jolly. He loves his life; he likes being famous. “I just embraced it! It’s not going to go away and there’s no need to get down about it.” Does he find the press intrusive? “No. I’m the sort of person who won’t notice the paparazzi following me for two hours.” As for phone hacking, “Well… I’m a bit gutted I’ve not been called in by the police.” He doesn’t get depressed and he hasn’t touched drugs for 12 years. “It’s a young man’s game.” He says he’s really happy. “What’s not to be happy about?” The only thing that’s missing from his life is a new kitchen. “We bought this new house [in West London] and I decided, like a knob, that we didn’t need a new kitchen. I was being a bit of a Northerner about it. Sara does the rest of the house up, I come back off tour: ‘This kitchen’s shit!’ She said, ‘It’s your fault!’ So now I’ve got to get the kitchen fixed. My colour scheme’s great! Dark brown wooden doors, with chrome… and the floor is orange! Brilliant!!”
Chart of Lust hasn’t seen the end of Noel Gallagher.