not a member? click here to sign up
Older and wiser but still mad for it, Oasis have delivered their best album in years. In an exclusive – and expletive-filled – interview Liam Gallagher holds forth on fatherhood, brotherly love and explains why Coldplay and The Killers are limp-wristed also-rans.
Stuart Clark, 21 Jul 2005
Twenty-four fucks, seven shits, five cunts, three wankers, two pisses, one knobhead and a willy. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s profanity-strewn Oasis interview time again. And what a joyous occasion it is thanks to Don’t Believe The Truth, a defiant two-fingers of a record, which finds the Gallaghers rediscovering the sharpness and swagger that was lost during their cocaine years.
With Gem Archer and Andy Bell chipping in with three songs, it’s also the first time since Guigsy and Bonehead’s departure in 1998 that Oasis has felt like a proper band.
Liam may complain of it being outsold by those “four Didos with willies” Coldplay, but Don’t Believe The Truth has delivered them both their sixth consecutive UK number one, and another crack at America where their career has been in reverse since Be Here Now. Add in a string of spectacularly over-subscribed gigs – tickets for last week’s City Of Manchester Stadium shows were changing hands for up to £600 a pop – and their singer has every reason to be giving it loads in the RTÉ Green Room ahead of his Late Late Show appearance.
Which, incidentally, finds Liam being far politer to Pat than he is to hotpress!
“You cunts keep writing us off, but then we go and sell the Madison Square Garden out in 55 minutes,” he chuckles. “To answer your next question, the secret of our success is that we still piss all over the opposition.”
So he’s not worried about Oasis having their throne stolen by young Britpop pretenders like Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party?
“You’re having a laugh, right? Bloc Party? It’s like watching University fucking Challenge! There’s nothing worse – except maybe Man U supporters – than whiney cunts in bands. If they were trying to find a cure for cancer, fair enough, moan away, but this is music we’re talking about.”
What does Liam prefer – Kele Okereke’s New Puritan shtick, or Pete Doherty and his determination to consume his own bodyweight in heroin?
“Do I want my arm cut off or my leg amputated? They’re both fucking grim, man,” he asserts before enquiring: “Were Babyshambles in Ireland recently?”
The Ambassador was a proper grown-up shambles, and the only thing that got the crowd at the Trinity Ball going was Doherty’s duet with Kate Moss.
“She came on stage?” Liam splutters. “For fuck’s sake! There you have it, the future of English rock ‘n’ roll – a rent boy who lets his missus sing with him. If I’d wanked old men off for money I’d keep quiet about it, but he goes and talks about it in a book as if it’s something to be proud of. Knobhead! I’m not having any of that nonsense. It’s a good job Oasis are fucking back!”
At this juncture I should point out that Gallagher and Doherty both have children with Kill City lead singer Lisa Moorish – Liam’s daughter, Molly, is seven while little Estile Moorish-Doherty is coming up to his second birthday.
Today’s mocking tirade contrasts sharply with Gallagher’s assertion a few months back that the Babyshambles man “lives the rock ‘n’ roll life. He doesn’t give a monkey’s about anything and does exactly what he wants to do. I admire his decadence. I completely recognise myself in him.”
Liam’s thoughts on U2 are equally muddled. Three weeks ago talking to the Sydney Evening Telegraph Bono & Co. were “wankers”. Now they’re “fucking legends”, albeit ones with a propensity for repeating themselves.
“U2 aren’t the best band in the world ‘cos we are, but they are the biggest, which is because after all these years they still give a shit,” he opines. “When Bono talks about them reapplying for their old job, he means it. Selling millions of records isn’t enough for him – he wants to be better than all these cunts like Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay. I thought Bono might’ve lost it a bit as a writer, but the song about his Dad on the new album, ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’, is great. ‘Cept for the middle-eight which is the same fucking one that was on ‘Electric Storm’.”
There is a subject on which Liam has been unerringly consistent and that’s Coldplay. Who he doesn’t like. At all.
“Chris Martin, who along with his band is signed to EMI, turned round recently and said: ‘Shareholders are the greatest evil in the world’. How hypocritical can one man be? I listened to X&Y the other day and it’s shit. If people think that’s the dog’s bollocks they’re tripping, man. Apart from it being a bit U2-ey, you can’t hear any of their influences. It’s not a crime to sound like you’re a fucking music fan.”
An accusation that can’t be leveled at the Las Vegas branch of the Oasis fan club, The Killers whose catalyst for forming was seeing the Gallaghers live in 2002.
“I don’t know what fucking gig they were at, but it wasn’t ours,” Liam snipes. “I’d rather a band whined than had absolutely nothing to say. That ‘I’ve got soul…’ song aside, I wouldn’t really be into them.”
I just hope he’s willing to pay for the therapy Brandon Flowers is going to require after reading that statement. Having expressed his disdain for virtually everybody on this year’s Oxegen bill, can Gallagher tell us what does float his musical boat?
“Rock ‘n’ roll music, man. Our record gets me excited. The Kings Of Leon are good and we’ve a new band playing with us, The Redwalls, who remind me of us when we were their age. Attitude, great songs and a sexy motherfucker of a singer!”
Despite his designer NHS specs and persistent sniffing – a bad cold, not showbiz sherbert – Liam does indeed turn female heads as he struts around the RTÉ corridors. Cock Of The North or not, there’s a softer, more sensitive side to the 32-year-old which is highlighted by Don’t Believe The Truth’s standout track, ‘Guess God Thinks I’m Abel’. With its prodigal son title and couplets like “You could be my best friend/Stay up all night long/You could be my railroad/We’d go on and on”, it’s been interpreted in some circles as his making-up-with-Noel song.
“People keep saying that, but I’ve got absolutely fuck all to apologise for. It’s a song that I started playing and the words came out automatically.”
So he wasn’t all teary one night missing his big bro?
“No, don’t be silly! I can rock ‘n’ roll with the best of them, man, but when it comes to me own songs I’m a bit more soulful.”
Don’t Believe The Truth’s gestation was a difficult one, with the scrapping of the Death In Vegas produced sessions they did in Cornwall’s Sawmills studio quickly followed by the departure of drummer Alan White.
“We went into this studio which was shit the first time and shit the second time,” Liam says referring to the fact that most of Definitely Maybe was assembled in Sawmills. “Why did we go back? One word…Noel! He knew after the first few days that it was shit too, but wouldn’t admit it ‘cause in Noel-land he’s never wrong.”
Moving studio to Los Angeles not only gave them the sound they wanted – “There’s more space around it and we had fun” – but enabled Liam to get totally rat-arsed on the way over with Lemmy (grizzled Motörhead rocker).
“He’s the fucking bollocks, man!” Gallagher enthuses. “I was on the plane thinking, ‘Fuck drinking, I’m going to get me head down’, and then I hear this familiar voice behind me going, ‘Can I have a Jack & Coke, please?’ We’ve barely left British airspace and I’m pissed as a fart with this guy who’s every bit as legendary as your Little Richards and Bo Diddleys.”
There was more celebrity hobnobbing – as distinct from knobbing celebrities – when Oasis got to LA.
“Paul McCartney walked into our studio, had a chat and invited us to his studio where he played ‘Hey Jude’ live. So we returned the favour and ran through a load of our old stuff for him. You could see him listening out for any fucking bits we’d ripped off!”
What about this revisionist McCartney-Lennon nonsense?
“Everybody knows it’s Lennon-McCartney, man. He just had a bad dream one night and woke up and lived it. I’d understand if people thought John was the genius and he was the tea boy, but it’s always been acknowledged that theirs was a 50/50 partnership.”
The Gallaghers had already indulged their Beatles fetish by bringing Zak “Son Of Ringo” Starkey in as their new drummer.
“Zak being in the line-up’s made things even tighter,” Liam beams. “We met him when the band he had with Johnny Marr, The Healers, played with us. He’s full-time in that he’s on the album and doing the tour, but he’s also got a gig with The Who, which we’d never pressure him into giving up.”
Recording in Los Angeles had seemed a risky decision given Oasis’ near-implosion there in 1994 when Liam twatted Noel onstage in the Whiskey–A–Go.
“Ancient history, man,” insists the twatter. “Normally you arrive jetlagged or hungover and have to leave the next day, but this time we had two months to bomb around LA, which was top. There was none of that up ‘til five smoking pot in the studio nonsense – we did our day’s work and then went exploring.”
Job completed, where does Don’t Believe The Truth figure in the grand pantheon of Oasis albums?
“I’m down with this one, man. If it was our or anybody else’s fucking debut, they’d be saying it’s as good as Definitely Maybe. Morning Glory’s a great record. Be Here Now’s a great record but the songs are too long. Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants and Heathen Chemistry had their moments, but this album really feels like we’re getting somewhere. Like you said earlier, it’s a band again.”
Rather than PJ & Duncan.
“You cheeky cunt! But, yeah, there probably was an element of that!”
As a good Catholic boy who still goes to church – or as he euphemistically puts it, “spends an hour with The Big One” – was Liam affected by The Pope’s death?
“No, it’s a shame but he had a fucking good innings, didn’t he? The white shoes, the ability to work the crowd…he was the rock ‘n’ roll Pope.”
While there’s no word yet of them descending on Ireland, this summer finds such baggytastic combos as Happy Mondays, The Farm, The La's and Flowered Up hitting the comeback trail in the UK. Will Liam be there to see them or did he get enough of that sort of thing in the ‘90s?
“Flowered Up? Jesus fucking Christ! Next it’ll be Paris Angels. Let it be, man.”
E necking young scallywag that he was, he must have a few fond Madchester memories?
“My first big gig was Spike Island, which was shit but it didn’t matter ‘cause it was a celebration of how far our band had come. 'Our band’ being the Stone Roses who we’d followed pretty much from day one and were in a different league to everybody else in Manchester, the Mondays included.”
By the way, why weren’t Oasis in Hyde Park to prevent Mariah Carey molesting those poor little African kids?
“Bob asked and I’d fucking love to have done it, but we had one of our City of Manchester gigs that night,” Liam explains. “Never mind all that 18-song, sweating your bollocks off malarkey – we’d have blasted out ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ and ‘My Generation’ and come off looking as cool as when we went on.”
The word in the UK press is that, current world tour completed, Liam will be appearing in a film about Manchester gangland boss, Paul Ferris. With the lead role apparently nabbed by Robert Carlyle, he’s down for the part of Ferris’ enforcer, Paul Massey, whose crimes include attempted murder and being a United supporter.
“Play a dirty fucking red…I don’t think so! No, it’s bullshit, man. I hate dicks who crossover. If you’re good at one thing, fucking stick to it.
“Actually,” he reflects, “I’m too fucking real to be an actor. I’m alright me doing what I do.”
His display of British stiff upper lippery is impressive, but Liam must inwardly be gutted that Malcolm Glazer has taken over at Old Trafford.
“Fucking devastated,” he deadpans. “I’d have more sympathy for Manchester United fans complaining about ‘outsiders’ if 75% of them weren’t from London. Allow yourself to become a plc and that’s what fucking happens.”
I’m sure he’ll correct me again if I’m wrong, but Liam must be relieved that somebody else – i.e. Pete Doherty – has replaced him as the tabloids’ favourite punch-bag.
“Without a doubt, man,” he nods. “I’m over the moon that the cunts have gone somewhere else. I don’t miss it one bit because they’re fucking knobs. It’ll be someone after him and someone after him and someone after him – they never let go.”
Brandon has his golf, Jay Kay his cars, Tim Wheeler his Star Wars memorabilia – what does Liam Gallagher do outside of Oasis that brings him pleasure?
“I tell you what’s even better than rock ‘n’ roll and that’s bringing up my kids. I love fatherhood – it’s top, man. They’re my best mates and I know everything about ‘em. The one thing in life I won’t compromise over is them – they come first every time, no fucking argument.”
This is said with such obvious sincerity that my Adam’s Apple starts to wobble.
“You grow up thinking life’s really complicated,” he says, going for the emotional kill, “but actually it boils down to two things – looking after your family and making beautiful music.”
And how long does he think he’ll keep doing the latter with Oasis?
“Forever. There’s a load more records inside us, man. I ain’t packing fuck all in ‘cos I love it!”
Oasis' latest album Don't Believe The Truth is out now