“Mm-hmm,” Noel Gallagher acknowledges matter-of-factly when I tell him that I’d rank his new album, Chasing Yesterday, right up there with his best work. “Why does the world need another Noel Gallagher album? Well, clearly it doesn’t. Why should it want another Noel Gallagher album? Because it may make them a better person if they listen to it.”
Gallagher’s outsized bravado is a large part of his appeal, and is remarkably charming in person. It helps that Chasing Yesterday, out March 3rd on Sour Mash Records, delivers the goods.
“I’ve got to say, I’d definitely put it alongside the previous record,” Gallagher continues. “I listened to [Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds] for the first time in years recently and thought, ‘Fucking hell, that’s still great.’ And I think this one is easily its equal. It’s a bit more eclectic. I think that 50 percent of my audience will think this is a better album. The other 50 percent will think that it’s the previous album’s equal. I’m not sure that any of my audience wouldn’t like it.”
It also features a dream collaboration for fans of Oasis and The Smiths: Guitarist Johnny Marr, a longtime friend of Gallagher’s, appears on the ace single (and album closer), “The Ballad of the Mighty I.”
“Scheduling keeps most artists from collaborating,” Gallagher explains when I ask why Marr won’t be joining him on tour and only appears on the one song. “It’s not the kind of thing that you can just say, ‘OK, we’ll meet on Thursday, and what we’ll do Thursday is write a song.’ We might meet on Thursday, but we might not get anything. You might need a hundred days to write an album, you know what I mean? It’s not something you can just rock off on the day. But Johnny’s so good. If you get him to play on a track, he knows what he’s doing.”
For the uninitiated, Gallagher, 47, was one-half of the warring brotherly duo (along with lead singer, Liam Gallagher) that formed the backbone of 80 million album-selling, ’90s Britpop monsters Oasis, chalking up era-defining hits like “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova” along the way.
The scraps are the stuff of legend, from a backstage brawl during their first American tour in 1994 to Noel head-butting Liam after the singer questioned the legitimacy of his daughter, Anais, with then-wife Meg Matthews. Oasis finally imploded after a dust-up between the two in Paris in 2009, with Noel announcing his decision to quit the band on his blog: “The level of verbal and violent intimidation towards me, my family, friends and comrades has become intolerable.”
“I loved being in a band, standing to the side and playing the guitar and singing the odd song, but it got to the point that it was just a miserable pain in the arse,” Gallagher told me in 2011, not long before his first solo album was launched. “Talk to me in a few weeks and maybe I’ll tell you I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Clearly, in those tentative first days as a solo artist, Gallagher was underselling more than a bit. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds went on to sell more than 2.5 million copies, and was almost universally hailed by the press. Meanwhile, his brother’s band, Beady Eye, never took flight.
“I was a songwriter before I joined Oasis,” Gallagher says by way of explanation. “Oasis didn’t invent that sound. I invented that fucking sound. Beady Eye was what Oasis was before I joined it. It was the same dynamic. It was a load of guys who wanted to be in a fucking group. They were all good at what they did. The lead singer was a good-looking kid. They could all play. They all had the right clothes and a good record collection. What they didn’t have was the most difficult fucking thing that there is to do in rock and roll: To write a chorus. That’s it. It’s the most difficult thing in the world to write a memorable chorus. It doesn’t happen by luck. You have either fucking got it or you haven’t.”
As for reuniting with his former bandmates, Gallagher is adamant that it’s not in the cards.
“It all boils down to two things,” he says. “It’s creativity and money. I don’t fucking need the money. I don’t need the hassle. The last Oasis tour was a pain in the ass for me. It was a bad place to be. Liam was just angry all the way through it. Creatively, there’s no fucking way I could ever make another fucking Oasis record by committee. There’s no way. Unless people said, ‘OK, we’re going to make a record, but you can write all the songs.’ I'd be like, ‘I’m already writing all the fucking songs, so what the fuck would I want to do that with you lot for?’”
Of course, he’s not beneath a truly big payday.
“Now there’s a third way, which is a half a billion dollars,” Gallagher says, completely straight-faced. “So put that out there. I'm fucking serious. If there’s some Arab guy somewhere, or some Bill Gates kind of fella, who’s a big fan and has got half a billion dollars—not million, billion—lying around, give me a call. I’ll get on the plane, and we’ll talk about it. He can do the set list. I’ll do it.”
For a primer, and a taste of what to expect from Noel Gallagher on his own, check out his track-by-track analysis of Chasing Yesterday, exclusive here at The Daily Beast, below.