At a press conference in west London today (6 July) Noel Gallagher finally announced details of his forthcoming solo album, and broke his silence for the first time on Oasis' split.To be called Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - "The High Flying Birds are air hostesses," he joked - the album will be released 17 October on Gallagher's own Sour Mash Records. It was recorded in London and Los Angeles in 2010 and 2011 with co-producer Dave Sardy and a band that includes former Zutons bassist Russell Pritchard and David "Macca" McDonnell of Liverpool's The Sand Band. Surprisingly, Gallagher also announced that an as-yet untitled companion album recorded with producers Amorphous Androgynous which will follow in 2012. Looking trim and appearing uncharacteristically humble (he refused to compare himself to Paul McCartney at one point), the former Oasis leader arrived just before 1pm and declared, "Let battle commence". Here are ten things we learned from an audience with "The Chief"
1. Recording a solo album is less stressful than recording with Oasis... "It's different because there are different musicians on it, and it's all my songs, and I'm singing them so I didn't have to explain to anybody how [the song] went or what it was about or what the delivery should be. The box of teabags lasted longer too."
2. High Flying Birds will appeal to Oasis fans... "The first [album], the High Flying Birds one, people who are fans of what I do will hear echoes of Oasis in there, but there isn't a guitar solo until the sixth track. It's not very Guitar Hero..."
3. "If I Had A Gun... sounds great played on an acoustic guitar. AKA... What A Life! is, for want of a better term, dance music..." "The songs are not Oasis songs - it's not stadium rock. There's an electric kettle on there, and a double bass and a washboard. When I write a song, I'm not thinking, 'I have to do something different because of what I've done in the past'. We're all there to serve the song. The first track you're going to hear doesn't sound like anything I've done before. But that's not a conscious thing, it's just the way these songs are written. Some of these songs were demoed on the last Oasis album and I wasn't planning on leaving then, so subconsciously I wasn't thinking of doing something different."
4. The second of his two albums will be a bit more surprising... "The other one, it's fucking far out, man. [Producers] The Amorphous Androgynous worked on a remix for the last Oasis record and managed to stretch 23 minutes out of one song. The album's got 18 tracks on it. Some of it's Vaudeville, some of it's actual space jazz, some of it's Krautrock, some of it's soul, some of it's funk... and that's just the first song. It's the furthest out I've ever been, put it that way."
5. Noel will be going on tour the week after the album comes out - and he'll be playing Oasis songs "Ten songs on an album would last for 46 minutes and 12 seconds, and that ain't long enough to charge people 75 quid. Not that I'll be charging 75 quid. But I'm going to be playing Oasis songs. They're my songs and I wrote them all myself and I'm proud of them, I'm proud of what they mean to other people, I'm proud of where they sit with what I've done now... Those songs are like drugs to me, and I don't think I'd ever do a gig without playing them. "We're going to start off small in small theatres and if it's deemed good enough to get bigger than that then it'll get bigger than that. I don't think there'll be a huge great big tour this year because I've got to do stuff around the rest of the world... The first gig is Dublin in Ireland on the 23 October, and then all the usual places: Manchester, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Warmington-On-Sea..."
6. Liam's says he's better off without Noel, but Noel is not sure if the opposite is true... "I'm sure he is [better off]. Am I better off? What, financially? Musically? I don't want to put a downer on it, but I've never really seen myself as a frontman, and I can see it being a major pain in the arse for me. I've done gigs for charity but in my head I was thinking, 'I'm doing someone a favour, so fuck 'em'. Now I've got to stand in the middle of the stage and that's going to be weird. He's probably better off with me; it remains to be seen whether I'm better off without him... I'd perfected that role of that guy who stood on the right and played lead guitar, did backing vocals and sang the odd acoustic track. It took me 18 years to do that and I was brilliant at it."
7. Liam's Pretty Green clothing label caused the argument that ended Oasis... "I never had enough of Oasis. Our whole relationship was never as bad as people made out... It kind of all started to unravel when [Liam] started his clothing label. He demanded that he be allowed to advertise it in the Oasis tour programme and I was against it. I didn't think it was right to be flogging his gear to our fans, and there was a massive row about that. It went back and forward for a bit and in the end I said, 'If you want to advertise in the programme, how much [are you going to pay]?' And he couldn't get his head around that. It all went downhill from there."
8. Liam skipped the band's second 2009 V Festival appearance because of "a hangover" forcing the slot to be cancelled... "Liam didn't turn up to the V Festival gig because he had a hangover. He claims he had laryngitis, but whatever."
9. What really happened in Paris on 28 August 2009, according Noel... "The night in Paris, [Liam] was quite violent. It was a bit like WWE wrestling and he was Macho Man Randy Savage. I'll never forget, there's all this to-ing and fro-ing going on and I'm looking at Andy, who's sat there counting how many shoes he's got on, not saying a word. Liam was saying, 'Fuck you and fuck you' and he storms out of the dressing room. On the way, he picked up a plum and threw it across the dressing room and it smashed against the wall. Part of me wishes it did end like that, because that would have been a great headline: 'Plum Throws Plum'. "So then he goes out the dressing room and for whatever reason he goes to his own dressing room and comes back with his guitar, wielding it like an axe. I make light of it because it's what I do but it was a real unnecessary violent act. He nearly took my face off with it. [The guitar] ended up on the floor and I put it out of its misery. There were people in the band not saying anything. We were all involved but no-one was saying anything. So I said, 'You know what, I'm out of here...' I got in the car and sat there for five minutes and said, 'Fuck it!' I regret it really, because we only had two gigs left. If I'd have gone back and done the gigs, that gig would have been dreadful because he was out of his mind, but we'd have done that gig and the next gig and we'd all have gone away and discussed what we were going to do. We may never have split up; we may just have taken a hiatus. Liam always said he would bring down Armageddon in the end."
10. Noel hasn't listened to the Beady Eye album... "I know most of the songs anyway because they've been going around for a few years for Oasis albums. I've read a few of the reviews and it got better reviews than any of you fuckers gave to Oasis albums. You can't begin to imagine how annoying that was."
PLUS: Liam wasn't at the press conference, but we also know what he thinks of Noel going solo too... "SHITBAG" (via Twitter).
For more on Noel Gallagher's release go to Noelgallagher.com. Meanwhile here is some footage from the press conference courtesy of Absolute Radio
Meanwhile Oasis are one of the bands who feature in the Q25 greatest acts of our life shortlist. Head to the Q25 special site now to vote for Noel's old band, plus enter our competition to become a Q reporter.