- 20 Oct 17
"How many cunts were there in Oasis? Here’s a clue – it was more than zero and less than two," Liam told our man Stuart Clark...
AFTER NEARLY 20 YEARS AT ONE ANOTHER’S THROATS, THE GALLAGHERS FINALLY HAD ENOUGH OF EACH OTHER IN 2009, RESULTING IN THE DRAMATIC BREAK-UP OF OASIS JUST A FEW WEEKS AFTER THEY’D HEADLINED SLANE. WITH NOEL OUT OF THE FRAME, LIAM GALLAGHER AND THE REMAINDER OF THE GROUP HAVE RELAUNCHED THEMSELVES AS BEADY EYE. IN THEIR FIRST IRISH INTERVIEW, GALLAGHER & CO. SHARED THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE ANDY GRAY TROUSER-GATE AFFAIR, WORKING WITH U2 SIDEMAN STEVE LILLYWHITE AND WHY THE CHANCES OF A RECONCILIATION WITH NOEL ARE DISTINCTLY SLIM.
These may be recessionary times we’re living in but if Liam Gallagher is holding court it’s going to be in somewhere like The Landmark, a fuck off 5-star London hotel, which is a stone’s throw away from where he and the other former members of Oasis who aren’t Noel are rehearsing for their return to live duty next month.
Now trading as Beady Eye, they’ve already made their intentions abundantly clear with the Jerry Lee Lewis-goes-Britpop bluster of ‘Bring The Light’ – available at Christmas as a free download – and debut single ‘The Roller’, a rebooted version of John Lennon’s ‘Instant Karma’ which has reacquainted the chaps with the UK top 30.
Hot Press’ fears that Liam might be struggling without his big brother were allayed in December when the man who’s produced their Different Gear, Still Speeding album, Steve Lillywhite, told us: “It’s a great record tied together with this wonderful, wonderful voice. Liam has the British rock ‘n’ roll voice. There are as much elements of The Who and The Faces and The La’s as there are The Beatles.”
Coming from a man who doesn’t do hyperbole, that’s high praise. Interestingly, Lillywhite went on to add: “It was great fun. They’re a great band. Since Noel left it’s become a lot more democratic, which is great. Democracies are better than dictatorships.”
Arriving at The Landmark a decidedly un-rock ‘n’ roll hour early, Hot Press goes for a wander round and is shocked to discover A) that the cost of breakfast there is a wallet-walloping £28 and B) Seamus Coleman sat on a sofa with three of his Everton teammates ahead of their 2-1 capitulation to Arsenal.
We’re just debating whether or not to blow our cool by asking the Pride of Killybegs for an autograph when a familiar Mancunian voice bellows over: “I see the Irish fuckers have arrived!”
And jolly nice it is to see you again too, Liam! Dressed in an olive green parka – part of the Pretty Green range, natch – polka dot neckerchief, black peg leg trousers and suede loafers to match, Mr. Gallagher looks like he’s just stepped out of the pages of an upscale men’s magazine. Seeing as he’s in it, we’ve brought Liam a copy of Hot Press’ 800th issue, which he flicks through before stopping at the Bob Geldof interview.
“Have you heard Geldof’s new record? He actually sounds happy for once… but pissed off that he’s happy. D’ya know what I mean?”
Funnily enough we do! Sir Bob’s How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell album critiqued, we decamp to one of The Landmark’s private bars where everybody in Beady Eye being equal we’re joined by guitarist Gem Archer, bassist Andy Bell and drummer Chris Sharrock.
STUART CLARK: The received wisdom is that band democracy doesn’t work, but you guys seem to be thriving on it.
LIAM GALLAGHER: I’ve never heard so much fucking bollocks in my entire life! You can’t have four geezers in a room fucking speaking to each other and getting things sorted? I tell you what’s ridiculous – some cunt who thinks he knows fucking everything!
Would this particular cunt’s initials happen to be N.G.?
LG: Well, how many cunts were there in Oasis? Here’s a clue – it was more than zero and less than two.
I suppose you learn how to get out of each other’s faces.
LG: We’ve all got fucking chilled, d’ya know what I mean?
Gem Archer: You’re passionate about it. You pick your fucking moments!
I see from the Different Gear, Still Speeding sleeve that you’ve gone for a joint Gallagher/Archer/Bell songwriting credit.
GA: Yeah, and that’s purely because it’s the just and right thing to do. By the time they’re finished and mastered, we’ve all had our fingers in the bowl. Liam or Andy will bring a song in individually and we’ll add flesh to the bones.
AB: We haven’t really collaborated on a song yet. There was one time when we sat around and tried to write some words together, but we didn’t get very far.
You’re not going to do a Paul McCartney in 40 years and start reversing the order?
AB: Can I just say a message to Paul McCartney here on tape? People do like you. People do know that you were mega. You don’t have to persuade us any more, we actually get it. We get it!
LG: McCartney-Lennon? He’ll be changing the alphabet next.
AB: You’ve already proved it in 1968, so just chill. He is charisma, man. I tell you what – to sing in the original keys of those songs at that age!
LG: Those two-hour sets he does are monumental. Then again, he’s not the kind of guy who falls out of clubs at 4 o’clock in the morning.
GA: He is 68 though.
LG: Yeah, but he’s as fit as a fiddle and he’s got loads of money. He’s probably got a spare throat for each night!
GA: You get Bob Dylan at that age and it’s just like “uuuuuurrrrrrrrrrggghhhhh.”
Do you feel more confident about your songwriting now, Liam?
LG: I feel all right, man. I feel like I can bring them in and no one’s going to laugh. If they ain’t working, they ain’t working. That’s what it’s all about.
Two things I remember Noel saying to me in interviews – you’re a better dad than he is and you’re a great songwriter but don’t know it yet.
LG: He didn’t say any of that to me.
Whose idea was it to bring in Steve Lillywhite?
LG: Steve actually got in touch with us. He rang and said he wanted to work with us if we were going to carry on making music, so we met, had a couple of tunes to play him and that was it. We thought, “He’s got the experience.” We didn’t look at anybody else.
GA: We didn’t want flavour of the month – y’know, someone who’d done just one decent record. Steve’s been there, done that and is pretty much unflappable.
LG: He did have a few pops, though.
What incurred his wrath?
GA: Eating in the control room. What’s all that about?
LG: Coming in with fucking ironed shirts.
Chris Sharrock: He thinks Queen are better than The Doors!
LG: One of the rows was about fucking tennis. Who has the best backhand or something equally ridiculous. Too much of that shouting business, mate, and we’d have turfed him out. We’re not 12, we don’t stand for that. There’s been a couple of people who’ve tried that before…
… and regretted it?
LG: Too fucking right they have, man!
So, food, ironing, Queen and tennis-related disputes aside, you got on okay with Steve?
LG: He’s good fun, man. He knows what he’s doing. He’s a ball of energy, isn’t he?
GA: The World Cup was on, so we were in and out watching the matches, but it was great. The studio was in London so we didn’t have too far to travel.
CS: It was just as well that England were so shit or we’d have got nothing done! As soon as we lost to fucking Germany our work-rate quadrupled!
LG: We had people like Mani drop in, so there was a good vibe.
GA: We wanted it to sound like the demos and apart from a few little tweaks here and there it does. Steve did an amazing job.
There must have been quite a bit of agonising over which song to give away as your calling card?
AB: We got a hard time in some quarters for ‘Bring The Light’, but I think anything we would’ve put out would have got a caning. The first single is always gonna get everyone pouncing on it and pummeling it to death. But basically it’s a great tune.
CS: It’s a rocker.
GA: I think it shows that actually the sky’s the limit. We’re gonna do anything we wanna do at any given moment. There’s no guitars on it for a kick-off. That crossed our mind but it’s like, “Fuck it, if the Pistols are allowed to have a piano…” That’s the way I look at it.
LG: It’s a good little party tune, man, but we’ve heard the reaction. A lot of people didn’t like it and a lot of people it’s grown on. You can’t start wondering what to release for the people ‘cos half of the fucking time the people don’t know what they wanna hear, do they? Whereas if they did they’d be in fucking bands, wouldn’t they?
I can’t refute your logic. The first thing I thought when I downloaded ‘Bring The Light’ was, “Wow, that’s what Jerry Lee Lewis would do if he was starting out now!” Did you ever meet The Killer because I did and he’s a scary fucker!
GA: You met him?
Yeah, he was living in Dublin for a while and I was introduced to him after a Mean Fiddler gig he did. He fixed me with a stare and growled, “What’s your name, boy?” and I was like, “Please don’t pull your gun on me!” But that’s exactly what you want from Jerry Lee Lewis! Who are the legends you’ve met and not been disappointed by?
LG: Paul Weller. He’ll never let you down, man. Lee Mavers, he’s a fucking dude. Johnny Marr. Ian Brown – he’s absolute fucking dynamite. Just fucking mysterious, just not fucking really there. But completely there.
GA: McCartney was great.
CS: I was at his club show recently in Liverpool and, fucking hell, it was like he was 18 still. Where the energy comes from I don’t know.
LG: He must be mainlining ginseng or summat like that.
One of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen at a gig was Shakira taking to the drums for an AC/DC medley.
AB: She’s gone up in my estimation and I didn’t think that was possible!
LG: She was in the studio next door when we were recording the album, which was a nice distraction.
Did you ask her in to jam out a couple of tunes?
CS: Should have asked her to do an AC/DC song with us.
LG: Missed fucking opportunity, man!
This could be complete bollocks, but I’ve heard that U2 have recorded something with Lady Gaga.
LG: Aw, fuck off, man! They’d record with… they’d try and get swine flu in the studio, wouldn’t they? (Adopts excruciating Darby O’Gill accent) “Aww bejaysus The Edge, that fucking swine flu is popular. Get the fucking microphone on the fucking thing and then add your effects.” I mean it’s true though, isn’t it? And I’m not having a pop.
Are you a Lady Gaga fan?
LG: She’s got it, man. Bowie for the girls I suppose.
I had an interesting conversation the other day with Jack from White Lies who reckons that, especially in terms of production, pop music is more innovative these days than rock.
AB: There’s definitely something to that, but our instruments dictate the parameters of what we can do.
GA: It’s two different things, man. That high-class production is detracting from the song – it’s all ear candy. Fucking hell, the new Black Eyed Peas one! It’s just another cover and honestly it’s like typing in a big long PIN code and your hit coming out at the end. To me that’s not production.
AB: People like Timbaland and Missy I get. That’s great production and it’s pop too.
LG: There are a few like Outkast – they’ve got their finger on it and put the work in, but most of it’s fucking bollocks.
AB: That was true too of guitar music when it was massive. For every good band, there’s like five shit ones.
GA: Good pop can ring true as well. We all like those songs that jump out of nowhere like Beyoncé or whatever.
My 83-year-old Mum has two favourite songs at the moment – Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’ and the acoustic version Motörhead have done of ‘Ace Of Spades’!
LG: The one in the advert? Fucking mega that!
GA: But those are great lyrics.
Have any of you seen Lemmy: The Movie yet?
GA: I saw it on Saturday.
I almost cried, it’s beautiful.
GA: I wouldn’t have used the word “beautiful”!
Aw, he’s a lovely man.
He’s an absolute legend and all that, but what did you think of his kitchen? I mean for fuck’s sake, man! And the room with all the Nazi daggers? Liam, he’s got a fucking wall covered with about 500 Nazi daggers and he’s going, “I’m not a Nazi, I’ve got six black girlfriends!”
LG: I was on a flight with Lemmy once and he got me fucking twisted, man!
Did any of you take part in the Creation Records documentary that’s coming out this month?
LG: Yeah, I’d like to bring that up actually. Alan McGee said somewhere that they didn’t ask me ‘cos they didn’t want it to become The Gallagher Show and all that.
AB: They asked him about 50 times!
LG: They asked me and I didn’t wanna do it because I don’t remember anything about it, man. These so-called fucking drug takers who remember entire conversations 20 years after they’ve happened... Noel Gallagher and all that, it’s like “shut up!”
AB: They were desperate to get Liam. Because I’m obviously hanging out with him I used to get a call every fucking week going, “Can ya ask him again? Can ya ask him again?”
LG: It’s like Bowie and the ‘70s, man, I remember fuck all about it!
AB: McGee’s brilliant though. If you think about what bands were on that label in the shortest space of time, that’s pretty impressive.
GA: He was responsible for signing my first band (Heavy Stereo). Without that I wouldn’t have got into Oasis, so I owe him for that. We all do I guess.
Liam, I saw photos of you and Jarvis Cocker hanging with Primal Scream after their Screamadelica birthday gig in London. Good night?
LG: What was great about that gig was looking at it and thinking, “I don’t wanna be in those big rooms for a bit.” That hit home for me. I don’t wanna be on that stage and playing to that kind of crowd. As a young band you always think the grass is greener. You think you’ve got to get to this big fucking venue. Luckily enough, every one of us has done that – it’s a good sense of occasion but, fuck it, the small gigs we’re gonna be doing on this tour are where it’s fucking at. We can’t wait to play the Barrowlands in Glasgow and the Olympia in Dublin. I’ve seen pictures of the Olympia, man, and it looks great.
So it’s not Knebworth or bust?
LG: No way, man.
GA: We’re genuinely buzzing off the hardcore values of the music. Rehearsing, the artwork, the videos even. Y’a know what I mean? Liam defined a generation with Knebworth. I’ve played Wembley Stadium five times and when I moved to London I used to busk. It’s all good.
I imagine you’ll keep your Mum happy when you come over in April and do the Late Late.
LG: We were meant to be doing it, but not now.
We’re concentrating on gigging, not really looking at TV shows. It’s a day off before we go to Belfast. We don’t wanna be sitting in a fucking studio the whole day just to mime a quick tune and have a chat.
Will Beady Eye’s first gig on March 3 in the Glasgow Barrowlands be a brown trouser job?
LG: We can’t wait to get on because the longer you leave it the more nervous you get. We’re not like those bands that nip off to Belgium and do fucking two warm-ups – I don’t mind if all you lot are there at the Barrowlands with your pens or your iPads or whatever the fuck it is you use these days. We’re gonna have brand new songs and play with a bit more flair I feel.
The last time you guys were in Ireland was in June 2009 for Slane. Liam, I know things weren’t great with the bro but you really nailed it that day.
LG: That gig was legendary. It was brilliant.
AB: It was a top night because The Prodigy supported us and they really ripped it up and then we managed to do even better.
LG: Absolutely. It’s like being a boxer, man. If you want to be the best you’ve got to get in with the best.
AB: I see The Prodigy as sort of the dance Oasis. They’ve got the history, they’ve got the songs, they’ve got the characters. They’re proper outlaws.
GA: The whole Dig Out Your Soul tour was good. There were three nights at Wembley Stadium and we absolutely stormed it, made it seem like a pub.
Liam, I know you’d rather talk about the future than the past but there are a lot of Oasis fans who still can’t get their heads round the split. Why did the row you and Noel had two months after Slane in Paris prove terminal when previously you’d always managed to kiss and make up?
LG: Well, listen. If you’ve got some person who’s already planning his next move it won’t take much, will it? Don’t think for one minute that that argument was what finished it off. Noel Gallagher was planning his get out anyway and was reeling it in. If you go out on tour and act like a fucking dick, and get all your mates to act like dicks, then don’t be surprised when the other people in your band go, “We’re not fucking having this anymore!” It wasn’t really an argument. He just thought, “Yes, this is my time to jump ship.” I think Noel had it planned to make this big announcement at the end of the tour, but it didn’t work out that way, did it?
A few days before the Rock en Seine meltdown you pulled the second of your V festival headliners because of laryngitis. Was there also an element of wanting a night off from Noel?
LG: I’ve never cancelled a gig out of stubbornness, only if I can’t speak. Singers do get sore throats but people obviously haven’t copped on yet. If you can’t speak, you can’t fucking sing. I’ve done many gigs where I can’t get a word out and it fucks the throat up. It’s a domino effect. Sometimes you’ve got to pull the plug on something for it to repair. I’ll do a pit-stop.
GA: That was the case at the Stafford V festival, which ended up being the last show. We jumped on the bus and Liam’s missus said, “Are you gonna be alright?” He croaked, “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” But he wasn’t though, which is why we had to pull the Chelmsford V the next day.
LG: Yeah, by the time we got back to the hotel even the croak was gone.
What happened that night in Paris after Noel walked?
LG: We went to the bar, had a couple of beers and a couple of tequilas and decided that our musical path doesn’t stop just because Noel Gallagher’s jumped ship. This is what we do.
AB: We started demoing pretty much straight away after Oasis finished. We did maybe six tunes leading up to Christmas ‘09, went back to it fresh in the New Year and thought, “This sounds like it could be an album.”
GA: Even though Oasis was gone, the four of us never lost the sense of being in a band together.
Did you sit down and go: “Right, fresh start, we’re going to do this, this and this differently”?
AB: We haven’t had any board meetings. Everything’s very intuitive and quick. We’d be demoing and go, “Liam, get a vocal on as quick as you can” because technically you might not need anything else.
LG: I really felt encouraged by that. With Oasis I had to wait around until the end and compete with this big raw sound. That might have worked for a particular member of the band, but it didn’t always fucking work for me! The big difference now is that there’s not just one person making the decisions and texting you what they are – or not texting you!
There I was watching Man City the other day on Sky Sports and whose face should fill the screen but Liam Gallagher’s. How are you finding life under the new Abu Dhabi regime?
I like it, man, but it’s nowhere near where we’re meant to be. One day we play great and you think, “Fuck, we could actually win the Premiership!” and then we go and draw with Notts County and it’s, “Oh, we’re still fucking shit!” Tevez is a fucking legend, but it’s obvious some of the others are only there for their hundred and eighty grand a week. You’re an Everton fan, right?
Guilty as charged.
LG: Well, can you take Joeleon Lescott fucking back please! £22 million? You did a good bit of business that day, you Scouse robbers!
Do you think Sky, who lest we forget are owned by the same people that think it’s okay for The Sun to have its Page Three Stunners, were right to sack Andy Gray for being sexist?
LG: Andy Gray should know better, shouldn’t he? If someone turned around to my daughter and said “tuck that in”, they’d fucking know about it. I can’t be having with that sort of thing.
GA: If you’re in a position of power like he was and make someone else feel uncomfortable, that’s out of order.
LG: It goes on, mate, but saying “tuck that down there?” Fucking come on! Not only that, but he talks all the way over the game. It’s not Andy Gray’s show, it’s fucking football!
Different Gear, Still Speeding’s release is only a couple of weeks away. Are you nervously awaiting the reviews?
LG: I can’t fucking believe that some people think, “Oh, this is going to be a plane crash!” We know what we’re doing.
AB: How comes they liked Oasis if they think we’re going to be shit?
LG: I’ll tell you another thing – I’ve never known such a split amongst fans. When I liked a fucking band, I liked every single one of the people in it. I didn’t go: “John, Paul and George are great but that Ringo’s shit, man!” I find it very odd.
AB: People have this idea that if they like Liam they can’t like Noel, and if they like Noel they can’t like Liam.
LG: Well, I’ve got something to say to that – I can’t wait for Noel Gallagher to do his first gig because I’ll be at it. I’m not scared of Noel Gallagher or his fans! Put that in your piece!
Happy to oblige.