It’s been ten years since Noel Gallagher walked out on Oasis minutes before they were due to go onstage at the Rock en Seine festival in Paris. In that time, Liam Gallagher formed and disbanded Beady Eye and underwent a protracted and expensive legal battle in the wake of his divorce from Nicole Appleton.
But in 2016, Gallagher dusted himself down and returned to what he does best – singing. Working with virtuoso producer and songwriting duo Andrew Wyatt and Greg Kurstin, he released As You Were to critical acclaim. This year he’s back with the excellent follow up, Why Me? Why Not.
Liam Gallagher spoke to Paul Jones about how he’s already planning the third album, sticking with his own style, and playing live in Australia later this year.
PJ: Congratulations on the new record. It’s a strong album. It feels like every song has its place.
LG: I totally f-cking agree with ya! I think it’s a classic… obviously it won’t please everyone. But I think a lot of people will like it, and I think as time goes down it will be classed as a classic. If Oasis released a record like this, in this day and age, I think people would be going apeshit for it, so I think it’s a good ‘un – we’ll see how we go.
It sounds like you’re in a good place. Do you feel that?
Yep, definitely. I’m very happy! I’ve got my kids, my missus, and everyone in my life is all happy, and we’re all having a good time. But we won’t be rubbing it in people’s noses – not like some f-cking people. We’re having a nice time; the wolf at the door seems to have f-cked off and gone to someone else’s house.
Two albums in two years – that’s almost unheard of these days. What drives Liam Gallagher in 2019? You’ve clearly got a good work ethic.
I’ve got a lot of making up to do. I mean, music-wise, Oasis shouldn’t have split up, so that gives me the hump when I think about it. And I think Beady Eye should never have happened, so that gives me the hump even though I’m glad it did happen and we made some good records. And then there was four years of not making a record, so that gives me the hump! And there’s people out there that go around spreading malicious rumours, saying that my work ethic is the reason why Oasis split up, that I’m too lazy and I don’t do this and don’t do that. That gives me the hump! I was born to make music and I’m going to make it. And I’m not getting any younger, so I’ve got to do it, man. I’ve got to make some music.
Was there a pivotal moment when you thought, right, let’s get back in the studio and start work on album number two?
As soon as the first record came out, I was thinking I was happy with it, and if it goes well I’ll definitely do another one. If it doesn’t do well, there’s no point, really. So I’ll have to think about what I’m going to do. But as soon as that record came out [and] we were getting some good reviews and the fans were into it, we were already thinking about the next one. Even with Why Me? Why Not in the bag, I’m already thinking about the next one, you know? Obviously you need a bit of a break to get out of people’s faces, ‘cos people think you’re showing off then. You know what it’s like over in England: the worm can turn at any given point.
I definitely want to do a new record at some point – but I won’t be having four years off. I definitely want to keep making music, man; there’s nothing else to do, is there?
When you made that decision, how did the process work? How do you work with [songwriting team, Andrew] Wyatt and [Greg] Kurstin?
I’m probably the easiest person they’ve ever worked with, because I just want to keep making the same kind of music. I’m not going to switch genres and I’m not going to go, ‘Let’s make a pop album.’ I’m just about good songs. If there are any bits that I have down I’ll send them over and be like, ‘Can you sort this out?’ and they’ll do it, and if there’s any bits that they’ve got, they’ll send them to me, and go, ‘What do you think of this?’ And then I’ll go, ‘Yeah it’s cool’, and we get a session in and I fly over there. And then we just crack on and do it.
With this last album we did six songs in a week, and then we had a bit of time off, and then we went back to do a bit more. So it all works pretty easy. A lot of people talk about [the] difficult second album, but it was a piece of piss! And it’s that way because you choose to make it a piece of piss. I’d never felt like that, before even, with Oasis. But this was a joy – I was the first one in and the last one out. I loved being in the studio. A lot of people go into the studio and they make it hard for themselves. It shouldn’t be that f-cking hard – if it’s that hard, then don’t do it.
I’ve always taken it as fun, and having a crack in the studio. A lot of people go in there scared and start worrying about drum sounds, and ‘Ooh, the cymbals ain’t sounding right.’ F-ck off mate, it sounds brilliant. That’s the way I look at it.
How has the studio experience changed for you compared to Oasis? Have you always had that ‘let’s get it done’ attitude?
I’ve always had that attitude. Noel thinks he’s curing cancer and stopping the Ice Age or air pollution! We’re just going in to make some f-cking music. The minute it starts getting peculiar and everyone starts staring and listening to drum patterns, I’m out of there – I go to the pub.
I’m really enjoying [album track] Alright Now. I put my arms around my lads on the couch, and said, “Listen to this – it’s a tune!” They loved it but they’re big Beatles fans.
It’s got a real Lennon vibe on that one, and that’s the kind of music I’ll always make. Some people go, ‘Ooh, he’s too comfortable, he’s in his comfort zone.’ That is me, man. I’m not one of these artists like Weller, and they go, ’Ooh, what an artist.’ If you call yourself an artist, you deserve a slap! I’m not one of them people that are going to go push the boundaries to make this new, far-out music. That ain’t for me.
Neil Young’s still making the same music but no one gets on his case, but that Noel Gallagher is going ‘He’s in his comfort zone.’ I’m not a songwriter like he is; I’m just here to make some good music.
Meadows is another personal stand-out – it’s got a real Blue Jay Way feel to it. Do you have any standouts yourself? Anything in particular you’re look forward to playing live?
Once is my favourite on the album; I love singing that. There’s the song called Halo which is mega, sort of like the Stones. And yeah, there’s Meadow too, which is mega. But all of ‘em really. Shockwave I like, even though it’s a bit ‘70s glam rock, but it’s still a tune. I like ‘em all, man.
When you’re picking tracks for the final cut, do many of them end up on the cutting room floor?
We didn’t do that many, actually. We did about 15 songs; there were a few more that could have gone on there but I just wanted this one to be a bit more tight and a bit more compact, you know what I mean? So, there’s not too many knocking about. There’s not too many on the cutting room floor, as you say. For me, if the song gets me up moving then it’s going on the album. It doesn’t matter if it gets anybody else moving. If it gets me moving – and it takes a lot to get me f-cking moving – I’ll fight for it.
I like the strong use of strings on the album. Was that your influence?
No, it wasn’t really my influence. I think everyone does that on their second album, don’t they? [laughs] They always kind of bang out the strings. But these songs blended into it, you know what I mean? It was a bit more cinematic, I think.
Is playing live still where it’s at for you?
Without a doubt, mate, without a doubt. If I had to choose between being in the studio or playing live it would be playing live. The studio’s alright, but like I said before, I’m not one of them f-cking nerds or studio heads that are sitting there and saying ‘Look at that, there’s a button from 1975.’ I don’t give a shit. Has it got ‘It makes me sound f-cking cool’ on it? ‘Cos if it has, then alright. But if it doesn’t, then well, f-ck off.
Being out on stage in front of the kids and all that tackle, that’s the one for me. Even if there’s one c-nt in the crowd going ‘Boo!’, I kinda like him as well.
Your crowds would be multigenerational now, too. I’m ‘round about your age, and there’d be quite a few people our age bringing their kids to your gigs now.
I know – it’s amazing, definitely. Obviously, I’m talking about Oasis; them songs have been around for 20 to 25 years now, and our kid definitely tapped into something. As a band we meant a lot to people, so they’re going to keep going round in cycles, and I’m lucky that we’re still here to reap the benefits of it. And that’s not the money, that’s just going to concerts and having people our age there, but people who are 16 bouncing off ya, too. Like Kurt Cobain – God bless him, he’s f-cking dead, he hasn’t got that stuff. There are a lot of bands that have passed away and they never got that opportunity. I mean even the Beatles, although McCartney’s reaping the benefits. So I think we’re lucky that we’re still benefitting from that.
Did you ever take time to sit back and reflect on your career and enjoy what you’ve done so far?
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Oasis, but I don’t have pictures of the band on the wall; I don’t have my discs up and that. I can always flick back to it but I’m always constantly reminded of Oasis by the people, which is fine. I’m Oasis’s biggest fan as well, so yeah, I’m proud that we did it.
And you’re heading back out to Australia later this year?
Yeah, in December. I’m doing some festivals and our own gigs. I’m looking forward to it. It’s good to get out there and play. I’m very lucky, man; I’ve got another record to go out there and play.
How do you pick a setlist?
So, I probably play five off As You Were, five from the new one, and then fill the rest with Oasis – that would be about a twenty-song setlist. Now, you know me: I don’t like to hang about too long, so maybe I’ll rattle out about 17. So maybe seven Oasis songs – you know what I mean? I don’t like staying on stage for too long; I feel like sometimes you can outstay your welcome on stage. A perfect set for me is an hour and 15 minutes, tops.
I see you’re playing with the DMA’s out here at one of the festivals. They’re a great band, aren’t they?
Yeah. I’ve played with them before. A lot of my mates like ‘em. They wear the ol’ bucket hats and all, but I don’t hear the Oasis influences. I’ve hung out with them a few times and they’re nice lads.
We’re looking forward to seeing you next year at Knebworth, then? [Reference to this tweet; in 1996 Oasis played two sold-out shows to 250,000 fans.]
Yeah mate, I’m up for that! I was just putting the feelers out to see what’s happening. I didn’t say I was playing Knebworth Park – I’m playing in a pub around the corner called The Angel.
Why Me? Why Not by Liam Gallagher is out September 20 via Warner.
Brisbane, Friday, December 6
Sydney, Monday, December 9
Melbourne, Wednesday, December 11
Adelaide, Saturday, December 14
Fremantle, Tuesday, December 17
Keep up with the latest Australian release dates for music.