StarWars.com talks to the legendary songwriter and ex-Oasis mastermind about training Ewan McGregor in lightsaber combat and much more.
Like a musical Empire, Noel Gallagher is no stranger to dominating entire planets as the driving force behind British rock band Oasis. As chief songwriter, he penned iconic tunes such as “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Live Forever” before the band split in 2009. His new project Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds released their third album, Who Built The Moon? in 2017 and are now preparing for a US tour through February and March. The Manchester City supporter and Star Wars fan spoke to StarWars.com at the end of last year about visiting The Force Awakens set, lightsaber duels with Ewan McGregor, and his position on porgs.
StarWars.com: Noel Gallagher, welcome to StarWars.com…
Noel Gallagher: This is a momentous occasion, I’m overwhelmed! Last time I was at the Ivor Novello’s, I was thinking: this is all well and good, but it’s the Star Wars [stuff…] I’m into. That’s what I want.
StarWars.com: Well, the moment has finally arrived! So what was your Star Wars introduction?
Noel Gallagher: I was 10 when it came out in ’77 and I went to see it at the Burnage Concorde [Manchester] and it was incredible! But I think every time it’s on at Christmas, they just get better.
StarWars.com: Were you into the toys, as well?
Noel Gallagher: When it came out I didn’t have any of the toys, I only got a lightsaber in the ‘90s! I’ve still got a lightsaber somewhere, actually. You’ve always got to have a lightsaber in the house in case of burglaries.
StarWars.com: Which brings me on to something quite important, because many people out there believe that Yoda and maybe Qui-Gon Jinn trained a certain Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I’ve heard rumors that it was actually you…
Noel Gallagher: [Laughs] You’ve heard that story then?
StarWars.com: I have indeed. Or I should say at least Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan…
Noel Gallagher: So there was a party round at my house in the ‘90s and Ewan came, and he’d just got the part for Star Wars, and I was like, “No way!” I happened to have two lightsabers in the house, so I said, “Right then, in the back garden and show us your skills.”
StarWars.com So was that might have been his first lightsaber fight?
Noel Gallagher: And his last, he was schooled!
StarWars.com: Have you trained anybody since?
Noel Gallagher: [Laughs] No!
StarWars.com: That’s disappointing, I was hoping for a Noel Gallagher Jedi Academy,
Noel Gallagher: Not yet, we are working on it though!
StarWars.com: That Adidas Star Wars advert you appeared in was cool. I know you’ve done some pretty sweet things in your career but that’s got to be up there, hanging out in the Mos Eisley cantina?
Noel Gallagher: Yeah, flicking beer mats at an alien bad guy!
StarWars.com: Not just aliens but David Beckham, Snoop Dogg, Daft Punk, and Ian Brown?
Noel Gallagher: When they asked me to do it, and I said, “No problem,” they then sent the details through and I saw Beckham was going to be in it and Snoop Dogg, but the best thing was… They even paid me to be in it! It was unbelievable. I’d have paid them!
StarWars.com: It became a really iconic advert here in the UK, at least. Did they actually build a cantina set or was it all green screen?
Noel Gallagher: It was semi-green screen, there was table and chairs that me and Ian sat at, but it was pretty much green screen, yeah.
StarWars.com: What is it about these films that keep you caring all of these years later?
Noel Gallagher: It’s like all of the great things in all of artistic culture. They all deal in universal truths. There’s good versus evil -- all the bad guys wear black, the good guys are all quite colorful, and the good guys win in the end, although they leave it open. That’s universal, man! In the very first Star Wars, Princess Leia is the girl in the tower, Luke Skywalker is the knight on the steed, and that steed is the Millennium Falcon, and he goes to rescue the girl. Throw in a few lightsabers and you’re quids in! It just is, that’s what it is.
StarWars.com: Do you try and go into a new Star Wars film spoiler-free? I spoke to your pal Tom from Kasabian for StarWars.com, and it sounds like he reads literally everything before going in. Fan theories, the lot…
Noel Gallagher: No, no, I go in cold. Although the last one, I was aware that it was about what took place before the original.
StarWars.com: Rogue One?
Noel Gallagher: Yeah, but in The Force Awakens when Rey sees Luke, I didn’t know that was in the film and I was like, “No way… Hasn’t he got old!?” Because a lot of people in space don’t get old.
Actually, I had the privilege of going to the set with my kids for The Force Awakens and sitting in the Millennium Falcon, if you can believe that! A friend of ours is one of the producers and he said, “Bring the kids down to the set,” and we were like “What, just like that?” You know the bit where one of the bad guys is giving a speech to like 20,000 stormtroopers?
StarWars.com: That’d be General Hux at Starkiller Base, I believe!
Noel Gallagher: There was a funny moment when we got to have lunch. One of the stormtrooper guys, about six-foot-tall and in a kind of red cloak, was queuing up for lunch and just went to me, “How do you think City will get on this season, mate?” But he’s in the full regalia and I was like…”Er, I dunno!”
StarWars.com: I don’t know if you’re aware of this but Ryan Adams described Oasis as being like Star Wars, with you as Han Solo. You’d take that wouldn’t you?
Noel Gallagher: All day! What did he describe Liam as?
StarWars.com: No mention of Liam, actually. Chewbacca, maybe? But with the Oasis divorce would you say that you got to keep the Millennium Falcon?
Noel Gallagher: Absolutely!
StarWars.com: With the new album Who Built The Moon? there’s almost a kind of science fiction-like look to the artwork isn’t there?
Noel Gallagher: I suppose it looks like it might be off a scene from a faraway planet. Yeah, some of the artwork is quite Star Wars, maybe.
StarWars.com: You’re touring the world in 2018, playing actual non-fictional places such as the United States of America and Europe, but if you could play a gig anywhere in the Star Wars universe, where would it be?
Noel Gallagher: It’d be the cantina, wouldn’t it.
StarWars.com: But you’ve been there already, kind of…
Noel Gallagher: Or what about the one in The Force Awakens owned by the lady with the big eyes?
StarWars.com: Maz Kanata’s castle?
Noel Gallagher: Yes, that place. I’d do a residency there, but like I am now in actuality… and I’d be the weirdest looking person in there! I’d also do a private party at Jabba’s palace if the bitcoinage was right.
StarWars.com: [Laughs] We’ve got the second spinoff movie coming in May with Solo. If you were given your own Star Wars film, where would you take it?
Noel Gallagher: I always liked the Sand People. Is that what they were called?
StarWars.com: I think Tusken Raiders is the more correct term.
Noel Gallagher: The Tusken Raiders? They sound like a load of people in Italy drinking red wine. I’d take them on a wine tasting tour! There’s got to be a backstory to the Tusken Raiders, they’re like Scousers or Geordies.
StarWars.com: Because we can’t understand what they’re saying?
Noel Gallagher: Yeah, we could overdub them with Newcastle accents, that’d be funny.
StarWars.com: Let’s sign off with a bit of quick-fire. Rogue One or The Force Awakens?
Noel Gallagher: The Force Awakens.
StarWars.com: Favorite new character?
Noel Gallagher: I like the girl, Rey. She’s great.
StarWars.com: Are you pro-porg or no-porg?
Noel Gallagher: I’ve seen them on the adverts and I already want to kill them! [Note: Remember, this interview was conducted before the movie was released!]
StarWars.com: So that’d be no-porg then…
Noel Gallagher: No-porg. You see it jump on the ledge of a spaceship and just go… [emits porg like noise]!
StarWars.com: That’s a pretty decent impression! Dark side or light side?
Noel Gallagher: The bad guys always wear the best clobber. If you’re from the light you win, but then you’ve got to wear those sacks and things.
StarWars.com: I’m going to have to push you for an answer here, Noel…
Noel Gallagher: But if you’re a bad guy you get to wear big black shiny boots!
StarWars.com: So it’s fashion or morals?
Noel Gallagher: Yeah, I’m going to have to go for fashion here, I think!
Who Built The Moon? by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is out now. The US tour runs from February 9 to March 10. For all live dates, visit noelgallagher.com.
Jamie Stangroom is a UK based broadcaster who proudly models his appearance on Chewbacca. He first became engrossed with Star Wars when he choked on a C-3PO Tazo in his cheese and onion crisps, back in 1998. Follow him on Twitter @jamiestangroom.