There was only so much that Noel Gallagher could take, and late in the summer of 2009 the guitarist reached his breaking point - literally. Noel and his brother Liam, who fronted the English band Oasis, shared a notoriously tumultuous relationship that never failed to make tabloid covers. Though fights were never out of the ordinary, this time was different. What started out as a typical backstage argument between the two brothers reached a new level of ferocity that allegedly ended in Liam destroying Noel’s guitar, leaving it broken beyond repair. With the dismembered guitar serving as a glaring omen, the rocker bid adieu to the band that had made him famous, and soon after the Britpop sensation that was Oasis ceased to exist. Yet despite the tragic destruction of Oasis, Noel gathered inspiration from the wreckage and took the opportunity to start afresh with his own solo project.
While Oasis fans always harbored the hopeful speculation that Noel would start his own band after the split, it wasn’t until two years later in July of 2011 that he officially announced his self-titled solo debut, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Although this was the first time that Noel had formally addressed the press regarding his debut, it was obvious that the gears for this new endeavor had already been in motion for some time – the album was set to drop in October, only a few months away.
For the first time, possibly ever, instead of clashing with his brother over creative choices Noel was in complete control of his music and the new frontman was taking the opportunity by the reins. Long before the public even knew of the project’s existence the major pieces of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were already in place, including the lineup of new members. Considering his rock star status and a fan base that rivaled that of the Queen herself, Noel had no problem recruiting musicians with an impressive pedigree to accompany his highly anticipated debut. Noel enlisted the help of Oasis session pianist Mike Rowe, as well as drummer Jeremy Stacey of The Lemon Trees, bassist Russell Pritchard who played with The Zutons, and guitarist Tim Smith.
Just as the band’s lineup was carefully selected, every aspect of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was deliberately crafted and fine tuned for success, including the events surrounding the promotion of the self-titled debut. Despite the fact that Noel was accustomed to playing the world’s most enormous festivals and concerts while touring with Oasis, he opted only to visit small venues following the album’s release. It’s no secret that Noel wanted time to perfect the band’s live act before playing larger stages like the ones Oasis has graced. With comparisons to Oasis an inevitable aspect of going solo, especially with a sound that is unmistakably similar to that of his previous band, Noel’s decisions suggest that he is only too aware of the pressure to deliver a comparable performance.
This month Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will take a big step, one that lands them under the spotlight at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. For the new band that has only been touring for a few months, Coachella will be a great test not only of their live performance but Noel’s ability to stand on his own.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds perform on Saturday April 14 and 21 at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival