He said he’d never do it, but after months of barbs and build-up Liam Gallagher’s debut solo album is finally here. It’s for “every little s**tbag wannabe rock star who thinks they’re doing this rock’n’roll business a service,” the chilled-out entertainer tells Mark Beaumont
In a split second, the empty upstairs room of a Kentish Town pub is transformed into the Liam Gallagher Improv Masterclass. Midway through lambasting his brother Noel – off Twitter and decidedly unhacked – for claiming he “wasn’t invited” to play at Ariana Grande’s One Love show in June to honour the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, the recently turned 45-year-old is on his feet, launching into a quick-fire comedy skit entitled Noel Gallagher Turning Up Unexpectedly At The One Love Concert, in which he plays all the parts.
Noel: (sauntering up to the stage door) “Alright mate, Noel Gallagher.”
Bouncer: (conferring with his supervisor) “We’ve got this Noel Gallagher here at the door with an acoustic guitar, he’s talking about playing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’.”
Supervisor: “His name’s not f**kin’ down though, mate.”
Bouncer: “Well, you go and tell him that.”
Supervisor: “Alright, listen, I’m sorry Noel but you’re not really invited…”
“F**k off mate!” Liam snorts, breaking the fourth wall and plonking back down without a curtain call. Bravo! You see, Liam Gallagher – all fired up and action-movie handsome in his new buzzcut – no longer needs a supporting cast; he’s now a blockbuster one-man show. Emerging from a three-year wilderness of boredom, booze and musical inactivity in the wake of his sporadically inspired Beady Eye project – three years in which he was “living in lawyer world” while he divorced Nicole Appleton to the reported tune of £800,000 having fathered a child with a US journalist, and settled into life as Noel’s most dedicated Twitter troll – Liam’s debut solo album ‘As You Were’ finds him freshly independent, truly centre stage.
Written with Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt in LA, it’s a proud and personal return to his roots: classic guitar rock bangers designed to get arenas full of the Oasis faithful slavering like a whiff of magic pie, served live with a side of ‘Rock ’N’ Roll Star’ and ‘Wonderwall’. So as he becomes, once again, as ubiquitous as the Trivago lady, it’s time to get the lowdown on his very own ‘4:44’…
You’ve said ‘For What It’s Worth’ might be apologising to people you’ve hurt and that ‘Wall Of Glass’ is about how fragile your own life has proved – is this your big personal, confessional record?
“Yeah, but not intentionally. I’ve not sat there and gone, ‘Right, I’ve gotta write a song about my divorce,’ or ‘I’ve gotta write a song about Oasis splitting up,’ or ‘I’ve gotta write a song about getting ID’d for cigarettes the other day in New York’. I don’t sit there and go, ‘Right, I’m gonna write about my love for my mother or my kids’, you sit there and play it, hum something on my phone, listen to it back and go, ‘I think that’s what I’m f**kin’ saying from afar’. You try to navigate it into summat that’s not just a load of f**kin’ nonsense. You make a storyline out of it.”
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And you find that you are writing about Oasis and divorce?
“Yeah, I think so. ‘Greedy Soul’ is a pretty angry little number – subconsciously it comes out.”
There’s some religious imagery on there: “She’s got a 666 / I’ve got my crucifix” on ‘Greedy Soul’; “God told me / Live a life of luxury” on ‘Chinatown’. Are you a God-fearing man?
“I believe in everything and nothing. I don’t believe in a guy or a woman in the sky, and I wouldn’t say I am a f**king God-head, but I’m more intrigued by it than the science of it. The Big f**king Bang just sounds a bit boring to me. There’s bangs every day, isn’t there.”
Is your mum religious?
“She used to be but then she got divorced and wasn’t allowed to take, like, the f**king body of Christ. So at that time I was like, ‘I’m not sure about this f**king religion business – you go to church all the time, your geezer’s a d**khead who beat you up, but now you’re divorced you can’t go and take the body of Christ’, so I went off it. But I come and go with it. I respect people that are into it, I respect that people ain’t into it. I don’t wake up in the morning and go, ‘I must do f**king right’. But it’s the best topic if you want to f**king write about stuff.”
On tracks like ‘I’ve All I Need’ and ‘Bold’, you seem to be coming to peace with things.
“With ‘Bold’, ‘I’m gonna take you off my list of to-dos’, it’s like, ‘You can f**k off, I’m not arsed with you anymore’. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and give yourself less of a hard time. The more you’re like [fighting face] all the time, nothing gets done. You’ve gotta just let it be.”
On ‘Come Back To Me’ you’re entreating someone to stop being so wild. Ironic, much?
“Oh yeah. I’m still wild – give me a couple of coffees and I’m f**kin’ on fire – but every now and again you’ve gotta calm down. I think I’ve got it sorted on that front. I’ve never had a habit; there’s been a couple of days I’ve knocked on the pub at five to 11 but we’ve all been there. I’m glad I’ve stood on the edge and f**kin’ had it a bit, and I’m still here.”
Back in the day Noel called you “the angriest man you’ll ever meet”…
“I’m not the angriest man, no way. I’m sure I come across like that in the press but you ask anyone that’s with me 24/7, I’m a chilled-out motherf**ker. I’m f**kin’ very, very zen. But then I’m passionate about s**t and I don’t ever wanna lose that.”
What made you so angry back then?
“Just life, I guess. I’m not gonna sit here and go, ‘I’ve had a hard life’ – there’s loads of kids that’ve had it harder than me. In the scheme of things, 45 years on the planet, I’ve had a f**king absolute belter of a life. It’s only the early years, growing up when your f**kin’ dad weren’t there, but you can’t keep using that as an excuse. It was only for a short period. The last 25 years have been absolutely f**kin’ biblical. I’m passionate about music, I’m passionate about when there’s a song to be sung you sing it as good as you can, and when it’s there to be f**kin’ spat out – that’s the angry bit, I guess.”
What were your worst mistakes?
“Taking too much drugs, drinking too much, getting myself into situations with certain women, I guess that’s my main mistake. Other than that I’ve played a blinder.”
What do you tell your kids about drugs?
“Lennon’s 18 now, he’s smoking a bit of weed and that. I’m just saying, ‘Listen, if you’re gonna do it, come and talk to me about it because I’ve been there and I’ve done it’. I’m proud that I’ve not got a f**king habit. Drugs are alright, they’re not as bad as what people think. If you say ‘No’, they’re gonna f**kin’ do it, mate. The world is full of drugs and some are good and some are bad. Done in the right circumstances, certain drugs can be beneficial.”
‘You Better Run’ sounds like a challenge to the rock pretenders.
“That’s to every little s**tbag wannabe rock star who thinks they’re doing this rock’n’roll business a service, because there’s a lot of them out there that ain’t. I look at the likes of U2… Even years ago they were going, ‘We’re coming back to claim f**kin’ rock’n’roll’ and all that nonsense. For me, they haven’t wrote any masterpieces – for a band that f**kin’ big, with all the f**kin’ stuff they’ve got at their disposal they should be writing masterpieces. They’re certainly no Beatles. It’s like ‘You’d better run, you’d better hide’ because this album’s gonna give you a f**kin’ clip round the ear or a kick up the arse.”
Kasabian claimed their new album was saving rock’n’roll.
“I like Kasabian, but it’s not, is it? There’s a lot of people who look the part but rock’n’roll’s not just about the music and a look, it’s about what you say. A lot of these bands, you read their interviews and you slip into a coma. Everyone seems to be wrapped up in cotton wool and not prepared to make mistakes because if they step out of line they think their little career will go. Everyone’s hanging on to their career by their nails, and I find that very sad, because if that’s what you’ve come into it for you’re gonna fall flat on your face. You should come into it to kick open the f**kin’ doors. The s**t that’s on the radio shouldn’t be on the radio. There’s a lot of crap out there.”
How do you feel about bands like Blossoms and Bastille turning rock more pop to get on the radio?
“I’ve not heard much about them but you’re totally f**kin’ right. All these guitar bands… Put your f**kin’ flag in the ground, man, and live by it and die by it. In the ’90s we had bands like Cast, Pulp and all that, and we were all on the radio, selling records – we were every-f**kin’-where. All of a sudden you’d see these record companies going, ‘Tell you what, we’ll get these young, good-looking lads, sling a couple of guitars around their necks, we’ll make a poppy record but with a little bit of guitar in there’. They’re all like Take That but a little guitar band. It was horrible watered-down guitar music with no edge, no nothing, just f**kin’ eurgh. Now these so-called heavyweights of guitar music – I won’t name them but there’s a lot of them out there – they’re making that exact same f**kin’ music as what these kids were trying to do in the ’90s. They should be f**kin’ ashamed of themselves.”
Talking of which – you suggested Noel was crying crocodile tears at his Manchester Arena gig…
“Yeah, I just felt he was. I felt like it was a little bit too f**kin’ late, mate. I felt… he’d been masterminding that. He’s probably rang ’em up and gone, ‘If you do open it up…’ He should’ve been there and he should’ve played it when it actually really f**kin’ mattered.”
At the One Love show, which you played?
“Without a doubt. I’m just embarrassed for the c**t more than anything. He was two hours away on a boat sipping champagne. Maybe I was a bit harsh on them Twitters and all that tackle, maybe I was a bit insensitive, I apologise for that – but that’s me, I’m an impulsive f**kin’ guy and sometimes that s**t gets the better of me.”
How big are the Oasis reunion offers getting?
“I’ve never, ever, ever, ever in my f**kin’ life had one offer to get Oasis back. That would go through [ex-Oasis manager] Marcus Russell. That would all go through him, so whenever it’s right for Noel I’m sure I’ll get a call. Now if this album goes well, I might have a bit of leverage, some people might go, ‘He’s got a bit of clout now’, whereas I’m sure all their plans are like [on his feet] ‘He’s on his arse, he’s going through a divorce, Beady Eye’s not happening, we’ll have him by the f**king balls by 2020’ or whenever they come round to their senses to get back together. ‘So he’ll do it for nish, he’ll be desperate to do it, and here’s the angle, when Noel’s solo career starts dipping or when it gets a bit stale’ – and he’s not lighting up the f**king world, I don’t give a f**k what anyone’s saying – ‘we’ll turn round and go, “Y’know what, I’ve gotta get Oasis back together, our kid’s on his f**kin’ arse, look. He’s selling The Big Issue, he’s still wearing that orange jacket from One Love”,’ and I’ll be coming on cap in hand. Well it’s f**kin’ not happening. [sits down] I’d like to thank the fans who bought all them tickets for that arena tour and making me feel good again. You’re gonna get a proper, proper f**kin’ show, mate.”
How’s your relationship with Paul McCartney since you called him “too nice”?
“I’ve met him a few times he’s been absolutely a dream. The last time was at the Royal Albert Hall… He goes, ‘Why are you always in a rush? Sit down, sit down’. I sit down and he goes, ‘Do you like margaritas?’ I said, ‘Yeah, but I had something before I come out, I don’t eat at this time of night’. He said, ‘They’re f**kin’ drinks, you stupid p***k’. I thought he was offering me a pizza.”
Are you still “not bothered” about politics?
“I’ve got kids in the world and I’m in the world, I watch what’s going down. I take it with a pinch of salt though, because you don’t know who to trust. Just can’t come to a conclusion without thinking they’re all c**ts andI wouldn’t f**kin’ trust any of them as far as I could throw them. I find them all lying b*****ds.”
What are your thoughts on Brexit?
“No thoughts on it, man. I love Europe. I guess the borders have got to be tightened but all that stuff about going ‘This is my country’, I don’t get that. We all live under one sky. I certainly don’t sit there and go, ‘This is my f**kin’ England, stay out’, but I think we should definitely keep an eye on who’s coming in and out of the country. That just makes common sense because you don’t want a load of loony c**ts coming in. But good people should be allowed to move and groove wherever they want.”
“He’s a d**k. They’re all d**ks. Kim Jong-fuckin’-whatever-he’s-called, they’re all off their f**kin’ tits. I’m here to take people away from all that. You certainly ain’t gonna get me stomping around like Bono.”