When I first read the recent NME headline, “Noel Gallagher: ‘I’d rather drink petrol straight from the nozzle than listen to [Arctic Monkey] Alex Turner,’” I gasped a little. Surely Noel couldn’t be serious. Didn’t he sing their praises in 2006, calling Turner’s lyrics “stunning” and comparing the band to Oasis? He may have dialed it back a bit in 2013 when he said he liked “half” of the Monkeys’ album AM. But that’s still pretty good, considering the source. But to take a direct shot at Turner? Hmm…
Turns out, the headline was taken out of context. And he actually has a point. Consider:
“There doesn’t seem to be any characters any more,” Gallagher said. “When you have proper characters, the music sort of becomes secondary – it looks after itself. Look at bands like The Smiths and The Jam – all great characters.”
He continued: “I would rather drink petrol straight from the nozzle at a garage than listen to an interview with Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys. Wouldn’t you? Alternative thinking is on its way out. They just don’t make for great copy. Is it any coincidence that all the indie labels got bought up by the major labels and things have started to get boring?
“I remember the Brits in 1994 – we were all shit-faced on drugs. The new names like James Blunt, Ed Sheeran and Jessie J – they defer to the [record] labels. The bands that I grew up with had a healthy dose of indifference and contempt towards their labels. That has gone.”
And yeah, when you think about it, he’s right. We here at BPN love the Arctic Monkeys just as much as anyone else (possibly more). But stood next to “characters” like The Smiths and The Jam and Oasis… and Pulp and Blur and Elastica… it’s just different. They aren’t as daring or remarkable outside of their music. It feels very safe. At least we still have Noel and Liam, continuing to make their brash remarks, not caring who they piss off. They are more than musicians – they are true rock stars. And that is the spirit of Britpop.