PARIS (AFP) ― Two years after a bitter blow-up with his brother Liam drew the curtain on Britpop sensation Oasis, Noel Gallagher makes the jump from “sideman” to frontman as his solo debut hits shelves on Monday.
“I was a sideman for 20 years and I fucking loved it,” said the 44-year-old, who always cut the quieter figure as guitarist and main songwriter for Oasis, while the wilder Liam supplied the rock ‘n’ roll antics front of stage.
“I don’t like being at the center of attention. I hate surprise parties, and I hate people wishing me happy birthday,” he told AFP.
“But once you’ve been in a band like Oasis what’s the point of being in another band? There’s only one option and that’s doing it yourself.”
Sibling tensions between the Manchester duo exploded ahead of a Paris show in August 2009, spelling the end of a band that spearheaded the Britpop music movement of the mid-1990s with its guitar-driven, Beatles-inspired pop.
Now both are vying for attention once more with “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds” released on Monday by Sour Mash Records/Pias, eight months after his little brother’s debut with his new band, Beady Eye.
Noel Gallagher admits he was “upset” by the acrimonious split-up, and that it took more than a little prodding to get him back in the recording studio.
“To be honest after Oasis I got back to London and sat in my house, smoked cigarettes, drank some tea and watched football ― and then it was my wife who said to me: ‘When are you going back to work?’
“And I was like, ‘Hum’. And she asked ‘When’. And I said ‘I don’t know.’
And she said ‘Well what about next week?’ You know what women are like. As long as you’re not in their house they like you even better!
So he gathered all his material together ― he says he never stopped writing songs “whenever the feeling takes me” ― and set to work.
“As soon as I was in the studio it was great,” Gallagher enthused. “It was a completely different experience from the Oasis days. The process of the work was far more enjoyable for me.
“I would spend two weeks in the studio, and then take three weeks off. But in those two weeks I would work 12 hours a day non-stop, and I’d eat while working ‘cause there’s too much to do.
“Whereas in Oasis, I would do my bit and then sit down for six hours and wait for someone else to do their thing.”
The 10-track “Flying Birds” album was recorded in London and Los Angeles over an 18-month stretch, along with a second album, an as yet untitled collaboration with psychedelic outfit “Amorphous Androgynous” that is set for release in 2012.
Noel Gallagher wrote the lion’s share of Oasis’ hits, but left most of the singing to his brother, so his solo work reveals a little-known side to the artist: his voice.
“I got a new voice! I had a voice transplant!” he joked when asked about the singing. “What happened? I don’t know.”
“I’ve always enjoyed singing but I’ve never enjoyed being a singer. I was guitarist, so on 20 songs I would write, I probably sung four. And those songs would be on B-sides.
“My voice has got better, it has got older. I don’t know why. I still smoke, I still drink, I still stay up late, I still do all the fucking things I always used to do.”
Was it a tough decision to return to the fray after Oasis?
“Yeah, but it’s what I do,” Gallagher said. “Not to sound arrogant, but I had all these songs already written, and if I’ve been given a gift then I owe it to people to share it.
“I don’t do it for money or for fame or any of that. It’s just that when I’ve written songs I have to play them to people, it would be a shame not to.
“What would happen if when I die people discover 60 great songs. They’d go: what a fucking idiot! You know what I mean?”