Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ new album: everything we know so far about ‘Chasing Yesterday’

The former Oasis man releases his second album on March 2

Noel Gallagher is back and ready to make 2015 his year. He’s dropping hints about Glastonbury and making a guest appearance on the new Paul Weller album… but what do we know so far about his own second solo record ‘Chasing Yesterday’? Well…

It’s possible the reflective feel of the album, as noted in NME writer Al Horner’s track by track first listen review, was influenced by a health scare for Gallagher, that saw him told he’d “drop dead” if he stopped taking medication. Noel “got tinnitus in my ear, and I pulled two muscles in the back of my hand,” he told the Telegraph on Saturday February 14. “Not from playing guitar; I cracked it on the side of something, and I bashed round the casing of the nerves. It was horrible. I couldn’t even put my hand in my pocket. Then I went on holiday with the kids. And I was getting out of a swimming pool with one of them in my hand and did my back in. Then my doctor put me on these tablets – I won’t tell you what for – and told me that if I didn’t take them I would virtually drop dead.”

On February 11, the band with whom Noel wrote a number of tracks on ‘Chasing Yesterday’ in mind, British production duo Amorphous Androgynous, revealed their upset that the collaboration never happened, claiming the former Oasis man missed out on what could have been “the most exciting moment in modern fucking music history”. Gaz Cobain told NME: “This was his solo album; this was the idea that Noel had held back in Oasis. He’d name-checked ‘Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble’, krautrock and worked with The Chemical Brothers. Now was his moment of freedom; his moment of revolution.” Instead Gallagher opted to save the songs for this second solo album.

On Friday 6 February, a new remix of ‘Ballad Of The Mighty I’ – the album’s closing track, featuring Johnny Marr on guitar – was posted online. Listen to the remix by Erol Alkan and Richard Norris, aka Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, below.

On February 4, Gallagher teased his next project after ‘Chasing Yesterday’ could be penning songs for his brother Liam, following the demise of Beady Eye. “I’d write him a few songs, I’ve got a few songs lying around that he’d be good at singing. But I’m not sure what he plans to do or if plans to do anything,” Noel said. Asked what type of songs he would hand to his brother, the High Flying Birds singer added: “Some fucking good ones, better than the lot he was singing last time for sure.”
On February 2, the former Oasis man played an intimate show at London’s The Dome venue, performing four tracks from the new album. “‘Riverman’ is swampy southern blues fed through The Charlatans ‘One To Another’,” wrote NME’s Mark Beaumont, reviewing the show. “‘In The Heat Of The Moment’ and ‘Lock All The Doors’ are hallucinogenic highway chuggers and ‘The Dying Of The Light’ is all maudlin piano, drowsy acoustics and classic Noelisms (“I tried my best to get there/But I can’t afford the bus fare”).”

The same day, it was also announced Gallagher would headline London Calling Festival later this year – his first UK festival headline performance as a solo artist. “I’ve done ones in Japan, but they don’t count,” he joked in a filmed interview, in which he also discussed having never been daunted by solo life.

Discussing why there was still such an appetite for his music in the run up to ‘Chasing Yesterday’, Noel suggested he’s one of few current musicians with a large personality. “I would rather drink petrol straight from the nozzle at a garage than listen to an interview with Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys. Wouldn’t you?” he asked the Evening Standard. “Alternative thinking is on its way out. They just don’t make for great copy. Is it any coincidence that all the indie labels got bought up by the major labels and things have started to get boring?”

Gallagher’s favourite song on the album is album opener ‘The Riverman’, a track he described to NME as being “summoned from a smoky room in 1963… It’s fucking amazing. It’s my favourite track on the album, and one of my favourites I’ve ever done.” The track, which features a saxophone solo, began life on the ill-fated Noel Gallagher and Amorphous Androgynous album (“that will never see the light of day”) but has been re-cut to fit ‘Chasing Yesterday’. “The one on this record is vastly different from the first one, which had a lot of noodling and fucking about. It’s become quite psychedelic, jazz, fucking whatever you wanna call it.” Elsewhere, there’s a song called ‘The Right Stuff’ – a song Gallagher recently claimed sounds like a mix of “T Rex, The Rolling Stones and Queens Of The Stone Age.”

Also from the Amorphous Androgynous sessions is ‘Chasing Yesterday’ track ‘The Mexican’: “We were doing another song that will never see the light of day, and at the end I was playing bass and not liking what I was doing, so started messing about with an effects pedal and played a riff [sings it] and everybody leapt up and went, ‘What’s that?!’ So they looped it and put a drumbeat on it and… it’s a little bit different.”

Noel says the saxophones were particularly inspired by 1974 one-hit wonder ‘Pinball’ by Brian Protheroe. He added: “I know I’m going to be accused of sax crimes. I’m guilty of saxual harassment. But fuck it. This is not Oasis. There’s nobody to tell me not to do it. And please don’t think about the guy from Spandau Ballet. Think about a dude from New Orleans in 1963, smacked out of his head and incredibly cool.”

In a January 17 interview with NME, Noel opened up about the new album, explaining adamantly that ‘Chasing Yesterday’ track ‘You Know We Can’t Go Back’ is not about the long-mooted Oasis reunion. “I had to change a line in it because there’s a bit that says “take me to my lover’s arms” in the second verse, but initially it had a mention of the word “brother”, which fitted a bit better than “lover” and told the story. But I thought I couldn’t go there because I just don’t want Japanese interviewers and Scandinavians and Germans going ‘You say brother in your song, it’s obvious you love the guy’, and it’s like ‘Oh fucking hell, OK, whatever’.”

In the same interview, Noel explained the origins of ‘Lock All The Doors’, another track on ‘Chasing Yesterday’ that was written 23 years ago in Oasis’ very early days. Gallagher explained he doesn’t waste time thinking about how Liam would’ve sung it. “Not now, no. A guy asked me the other day if I ever think Liam would’ve sounded great singing the last album. I’m like ‘Well, in as much as I think fucking Marc Bolan would sound great singing The fucking Mexican, but that’s not likely to ever happen is it, and I wouldn’t mind Johnny Rotten singing something or, y’know, John Lennon. What the fuck?”

Noel may well be bringing ‘Chasing Yesterday’ to Glastonbury this summer, having teased the possibility in a January 12 interview with radio station XFM. “It’s still very much up in the air as far as I know,” he said. “If I’m not playing, I’m going! So I’ll be there. I always keep that weekend free if I can. I will state again I’m available, I’m gonna be there, shall I bring my amp and guitar? Shall I?”

On January 12, Gallagher also unveiled a video for the album’s closing track, ‘The Ballad Of The Mighty I’ – his hotly tipped collaboration with The Smiths guitar legend and fellow Mancunian Johnny Marr. Noel says Marr was the “first Oasis fan” and adds that he “has something in his guitar playing that not a lot of people have got.” He calls the song itself “one of the best songs I’ve ever written.” The video features the former Oasis man walking through deserted London streets.

On December 12, it was revealed Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds would headline the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust on March 28 – a matter of weeks after the release of ‘Chasing Yesterday’. “Who’d have thought that after 15 years we’d be gearing up for another stint at the greatest venue in the world?” said Gallagher. “Thanks to everyone, the bands, artists, comedians for all your continued support, and maximum respect to you the people for making it all possible. See you on Saturday 28 March!”

Fans may not have to wait long for the follow-up to ‘Chasing Yesterday’ after its March release – on December 9, Gallagher appeared on Radio 4, claiming he had over 30 unreleased songs from Oasis and High Flying Birds recording sessions ready for release. “I’ve had a stockpile of songs since 1993,” Gallagher said. “I’ve never written for a specific project, I’ve never been in the studio with less than 30 songs. I’ve just recorded an album, but I’ve still got another 30 songs. Instead of writing 15 or 16 songs for a cycle of where [Oasis] were at, we were using five, but I was still writing 15, 20 songs, so there’s loads of stuff left over from those days. Albums and albums worth of material.”

On November 24, Gallagher revealed the video to ‘Do The Damage’ – the B-side to ‘Chasing Yesterday’ lead single ‘In The Heat Of The Moment’. The video, shot in LA, features a roller derby. Watch the clip below.

The ‘Do The Damage’ video followed a music video for ‘In The Heat Of The Moment’ which was a more straight forward performance video and landed on October 23. Watch the ‘…Heat Of The Moment’ video below.

On October 22, Johnny Marr described the album as “rocking” and “melodic” in an interview with NME, also taking the opportunity to explain how his inclusion on ‘Chasing Yesterday’ came about. “He contacted me and said he had a song that he’d be happy for me to play on,” Marr says. “I accepted, gladly, and it was was really good to spend a day playing guitar in a little studio near Chelsea Bridge. When that was done I listened to about eight songs on the album.”

“It’s really good,” Marr continued. “What I heard of it was very melodic, some of it pretty rocking too, and fans are going to really like it. He doesn’t do things he doesn’t think are great. And his singing is really good on the album.” The Smiths guitarist turned solo singer also suggested that ‘Chasing Yesterday’ could prove more of a challenge than Gallagher’s 2011 debut solo effort. “In some ways it might be more of a challenge than the first, because he’s building on a successful solo career, essentially on his own. But he’s smart and everyone knows he knows what he’s doing.”

‘Chasing Yesterday’ was announced on October 13, alongside an arena tour to promote the album. Details of the record were revealed during a Facebook Q&A in London, which he discussed tracks from the record, with special focus on ‘In The Heat Of The Moment’: “The first single was the last track to be recorded. It’s called ‘In The Heat Of The Moment’. Is it great? Of course it is. What does it mean, it doesn’t mean anything.”

‘Chasing Yesterday’ features 10 tracks: ‘The Riverman’, ‘In the Heat of the Moment’, ‘The Girl with X-Ray Eyes’, ‘Lock All the Doors’, ‘The Dying of the Light’, ‘The Right Stuff’, ‘While the Song Remains the Same’, ‘The Mexican’, ‘You Know We Can’t Go Back’ and ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’. The album was finished on July 13 2014 – the day of the World Cup final – but isn’t coming out until March 2. He has to wait because Noel Gallagher albums are only allowed to be released in October and March (“something to do with TV shows and Glastonbury” he told Absolute Radio last year), and they missed October because of 2014’s ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ reissues.

On May 25 2014, Noel Gallagher posted a photo online taken from inside a recording studio on his 47th birthday, sparking rumours a new High Flying Birds album was imminent.