Feature: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

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From the March 29, 2012 edition

Oasis finally combusted in 2009. Backstage at the Rock en Seine festival in Paris, Noel Gallagher left in a huff, putting an abrupt exclamation point on his partnership with his brother Liam, arguably the most volatile and fruitful sibling rivalry in rock history.

“The big picture: I was always trying to get it to go one way, and he would always f--- it up,” Gallagher said over the phone from Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.

Now Gallagher has a new band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, a new self-titled album and a tour that brings him back to Columbus this Thursday for the first time since Oasis played the Palace Theatre way back in 2000. After years as the man behind the curtain, he’s been discovering the downsides of stepping to the microphone night after night.

“I’ve really had to f---ing control the partying and the smoking and the drinking. That’s really the biggest sacrifice that I’ve made. It’s been worth it because I’ve never really, I don’t think I’ve done a bad show,” Gallagher said. “When I get two weeks off, then I’m going to f---ing hit it hard, like so hard. Then I’m going to be like Perry Farrell in the f---ing ’90s.”

If Gallagher has to rein in his rock-star lifestyle to save his vocal cords, going solo also has its benefits, not least of which is a peaceful creative process.

“Now I can write for myself,” he said. “I don’t have to sell it to the singer, which was where 90 percent of the problems always started.”

The new context means a new lease on life as a songwriter. At base level, “High Flying Birds” sounds like Oasis in fine form. But there’s a melancholy streak running through songs like “The Death of You and Me,” Gallagher channeling emotions he rarely explored before. The album feels like Gallagher making sense of the comedown from a two-decade champagne supernova.

“When I was in Oasis, we were a stadium rock band, and I used to write stadium rock songs that were very inclusive of the audience,” Gallagher said. “This time it’s a bit more personal and a bit more melancholy because life isn’t great. I have a f---ing good life, but I know what it’s like to have your heart broken.”

Though Gallagher isn’t shy about talking smack — Rick Santorum resembles a “Simpsons” character, while Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich look like “the two dodgiest mother---ers you’ve ever set eyes on” — he doesn’t pay attention to new music anymore. So don’t get your hopes up for a tabloid feud akin to Oasis and Blur’s mid-’90s battle for Britpop supremacy — not even with Beady Eye, the partnership between Liam and other former Oasis bandmates.

“I think they’re the best rock and roll band in the world,” Gallagher said. “And that’s the whole world. Not just America or England. In Tanzania. And Paraguay. And Mogadishu. And Turkey. There are no better rock ’n’ roll bands than Beady Eye.”

Don’t look back in anger, indeed.