Liam Gallagher, Eternal Fuckin’ Rock 'n' Roll Star
The legendary frontman chats about ego, Noel, JAY-Z and pretty much everything else you'd want Liam Gallagher to address. He also says "fuckin'" more than 100 times.
Illustrazione di Adam Mignanelli.
This article originally appeared on Noisey US
Tonight, tomorrow, and the day after, and for as long as you, me, and he live – Liam Gallagher is a rock 'n' roll star. After all, it says so on his Twitter bio. In capital letters: "ROCK N ROLL STAR."
Today, a particularly sunny day in Los Angeles, he's playing the part. On the top floor of the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica, Liam is hosting a rotating door of journalists. It's a favorite sport of his. "This is easy," the 44-year-old says to me when I get my turn. He's wearing beige shorts, converse, and a parka. Obviously. He nips downstairs to have a quick cigarette with his "missus," Debbie Gwyther. Standing by the entrance of the hotel, the concierge shoos him away. Liam can't help but get in trouble wherever he goes. "It's proper weird here," he says. He is not wrong.
Liam Gallagher, for all his alleged faults, is never wrong. Earlier this morning on Beats 1, he was asked what the best chocolate bar is. "Picnic," he said. Not wrong. Here, he eyes up my all black ensemble. "It never lets you down, black, does it?" he says. Not wrong. Tonight, he fancies getting into Nobu in Malibu for dinner but there's a three-month waiting list. Debbie says they don't want to use Liam's name. It's "cringe." It totally is cringe, and more celebrities should realise that. Yet again, he's not wrong.
For the first time in his three-decade spanning career as frontman of Oasis and the now defunct Beady Eye, Gallagher has decided to put music out as himself. Just Liam. No "And The Somethings" like his brother Noel. "Bollocks to that, man," he says. "If you're gonna do it, you might as well fuckin' put your name above the door. It's always been about me anyway. Fuck it." Titled As You Were, the album is his most Oasis sounding material since 1997's third Oasis LP Be Here Now – their most notoriously over-indulgent record. As You Were, however, is not over-indulgent. It's comparatively chill, because Liam's happy to be Liam. Having divorced Nicole Appleton in 2014 and decided to call it a day with Beady Eye, the past three years have been testy, but he's out the other end now, a survivor.
As he answers questions, he often flies out of his chair and starts re-enacting scenes, adopting voices, giving it some gusto. Only a fool would laugh at how cliché his enduring frontman schtick is. No man this funny is an accident. "D'you know what I mean?" may come out his gob 36 times in as many minutes. Similarly, there are over 100 counts for the word "fuckin'." What Liam Gallagher has absolutely perfected, however, is the art of being Liam Gallagher. "Are you from Scotland?" he asks. "Fuckin' 'ell. Love Glasgow. Mental bastards, aren't they?" And we're off.
Noisey: Let's start with As You Were. It's a phrase you've been using a lot lately.
Liam Gallagher: Everyone's saying it now. It's fuckin' cool. The album was gonna be called Bold and I thought, "Bit boring Bold." I don't know what As You Were means but I know it fuckin' suits me. I'm back doing what I fuckin' should be doing. Singing songs, doing concerts, instead of sitting at home fuckin' bored out my mind.
You're shaking things up again, causing a bit of disruption.
Yes! That's the punk in me. I'm not arsed about fuckin' dance music and reggae. Well, reggae's alright. But there's too many so-called rock'n'roll bands in England getting away with fuckin' murder. They should be ashamed of the shit the put out. They need fuckin' shooting.
I'm not gonna say names. They've got the tools to make guitar music great and they're just fuckin' doing it half-arsed. They've got one foot in the fuckin' dance world and one foot in the fuckin' guitar world and they're just seeing which one fuckin' bites. They're there with their fuckin' keyboards and whistles and shit. If you're going to do "guitar music" you have to put a fuckin' guitar on a record. Put the fucker in. Stop wearing it like it's a fuckin' necklace.
"If you're going to do "guitar music" you have to put a fuckin' guitar on a record. Put the fucker in. Stop wearing it like it's a fuckin' necklace."
Do you think there's been a loss of tribalism in music now? Too much genre-bending?
Yeah. That's fuckin' life now though, innit? Everything's fuckin' shit. Even the cars. Look out there now [he points out the window]. See these cars? They look like they took fuckin' 20 minutes to make, like they came straight out of a Kinder Egg. Even the buildings. Everything! Even the seats on fuckin' trains, man. They're like ironing boards. This is supposed to be fuckin' first class. Fuckin' like sitting on a fuckin' ironing board for two hours.
Let's talk about the video for lead single "Wall Of Glass." You've got various walls of glass in it: mirrors, windows.
It's perfect. Loadsa mirrors, and loadsa me. Fuckin' can't go wrong.
Why did you choose that tune as the one to launch your solo career?
You gotta come out with something, innit. That was written and recorded in a day out here in LA—me, [producer] Greg Kurstin, and Andrew Wyatt [Miike Snow]. It was all really quick. We didn't have much time to sit around, pat our backs and go, "Aren't we fuckin' great?" It was just fuckin' do it. That's what people want. That's what I want. Loud guitars and good melodies. I go with the rock'n'roll numbers all the fuckin' way.
I find the song "For What It's Worth" quite confessional for you. It's about regrets.
Yeah, obviously I've made a lot of mistakes. That's life. I guess it is an apology to whoever. I've pissed a lot of people off. But I'm certainly not gonna write a song for each and every one of them. There's one there. Fuckin' deal with it and move on.
In JAY-Z's new record he's apologising to Beyonce, gone full confessional. The album begins with a track called "Kill Jay Z" where he's denouncing his former persona.
Oh god. Is that a concept album? I'm not interested in that. You can just imagine, can't you? Someone's been sat there in a big fuckin' office and gone, "That's how we're gonna do it." Nah.
You're not into the idea of getting more introspective as you grow older?
But a whole fuckin' album of it? Fuck me. That should be left to your fuckin' psychiatric fuckin' chair, innit? Sum it all up in one song. The whole fuckin' record? I'm not having that.
When you announce that you were going solo, you called yourself a "cunt" on Twitter.
Well yeah, the majority of solo stars are cunts. The ones that split bands up because they need their egos fuckin' stroked are the biggest cunts. If someone said to me, "OK, get Oasis back or go solo?" I'd get Oasis back. There's not enough bands out there. There's far too many fuckin' solo stars. It's shit. This is the last fuckin' roll of the dice for me. For me to go and get another band back together it'd only be compared to Oasis anyway, so what's the fuckin' point? So the solo thing? I'll give it a fuckin' go, man.
You've always been inspired by 60s and 70s rock'n'roll. Why does that music still resonate?
It's fuckin' real instruments and it's real people, you know what I mean? It's not designer rock'n'roll. It's not a laptop. It's fuckin' picking the thing up, singing the songs.
"For me to go and get another band back together it'd only be compared to Oasis anyway, so what's the fuckin' point?"
Have you heard the Harry Styles's record?
I heard the first song. What's it called? The Prince-y one…
"Sign of the Times."
Yeah. I heard that and thought, "Bit fuckin' dramatic for a young man." I know he's been in this big band and all that but that's still a fuckin' bubble you're in. He's not had much of a fuckin' life, has he? I thought, "Chill out, you cunt." But then I heard it a few more times and there's a couple of interesting bits. And I've seen him sing the songs live on TV and he's got a good voice. If he wants to go down that route then who am I to fuckin' stop him? It's a good thing.
You were similarly catapulted into fame as a young guy. What advice d'you have for Harry?
Just do what you wanna do, man. And whether it's wrong or right, do it. Please yourself. God bless you for doing that [One Direction] stuff for ten years. I'd rather him do the fuckin' rock'n'roll thing now than him fuckin' being a rap star, you know what I mean? Fuckin' sticking a big gold chain around his neck, speaking like some fuckin' gangster like the other one, Liam. Harry Styles? He's alright, man. I've seen him on that Carpool [Karaoke] and the guy can fuckin' sing.
Are you doing Carpool Karaoke?
Not for me, man. Not for me.
What d'you not fancy about it?
Fuckin' organised fun is not for me. I can have the best days of my fuckin' life in a lift, or with a barman, or with any geezer outside, or in a fuckin' petrol station. If it's organised fun I just shit up shop. I know I'm a funny cunt but I'd just come across like a rude cunt. In America they want fuckin' bells and whistles don't they? And I can't do that. There's enough fuckin' clowns in the world. We don't need another one.
Let's talk about the Manchester One Love gig.
Yeah man, top city.
In America, it created this wave of renewed interest in you. After all the years of Oasis trying to break America, did you ever think Ariana Grande would be just the ticket?
I don't think Oasis had a hard time. Maybe we were just a bit too much, a bit too laddy. I certainly wouldn't have come here and played the game because there's enough people doing that. I've seen a lot of bands come here and they get a quiff, a big biker jacket and a little fuckin' 'tache as soon as they fuckin' get here. I'll go outside there and a guy'll say [adopts US accent] "Oh hey, that's the guy from Wonderwall!" I'm happy with that.
So you don't feel anonymous when you're here?
Well listen, I certainly don't get mobbed which is fuckin' great. But I'm quite happy with our level of success here. We didn't fuckin' kiss arse and we didn't bend over and get fuckin' shafted. We did what we did. End of. I'm quite happy being the biggest band in England where I'm from.
Did you see Ariana afterward the concert?
No. I seen Katy Perry. Funny story. She comes past and goes, "Oh you're a legend, you're so epic" and all that. I'm like, "Oh cool." And someone goes, "Shall we get a picture?" I went, "You don't want a fuckin' picture with me." Anyway, me mate was there and he grabs her a bit forcefully joking and she's going, "Get me in a fuckin' headlock, why don't ya?" He got her in a headlock and we took a picture.
"I love Oasis, man. Oasis are a top band. I fuckin' wear it well. All the songs are good."
You performed "Live Forever" with Chris Martin who you once called a "plantpot." You also said he looked like a geography teacher.
And I meant every fuckin' word of it. When I met him [at Manchester], I said, "Look I'm sorry about that stuff that I fuckin' said in the past, I was only fuckin' about, I'll chill out now." And they went, "No, we love it, carry on." So I was like, "OK, I'll get the gig done first then I'll start slagging the cunt off." Listen, we were there to do what we do, man: put some smiles on people's faces. I certainly didn't want a pat on the back for it. Me mam's still there, me family's still there and I am Mancunian through and through. I'd have come back from the fuckin' moon to be there.
It meant a lot to people that you showed.
Fuckin' hell. I don't even know how to take that. When I walk down the road people go, Nice one! And I go, "Stop it, stop that." What am I meant to say? You're welcome? I am glad I fuckin' did it. I'm proud of Manchester and it's a shit fuckin' thing that's happening at concerts. Young kids getting fuckin' killed and butchered, man.
You performed "Don't Look Back In Anger" for the first time with you on vocals at Glastonbury.
I wanted it to do it, man. I've always wanted to fuckin' do it secretly. I've done it a few times in the shower, d'you know what I mean?
That line, "Please don't put your life in the hands of a rock'n'roll band who'll throw it all away" might be one of my top Oasis lyrics.
It's one of mine as well. That and "I need to be myself. I can't be no one else" [from "Supersonic"]. That's a fuckin' lyric. Cause that's just true, innit. I love Oasis, man. Oasis are a top band. I fuckin' wear it well. All the songs are good. "Kicking up a storm, from the day that I was born." [From "Be Here Now"] I like that line.
What about "I ain't good lookin' but I'm someone's child…"?
Well, I don't know about that. You can tell he wrote that one, can't ya? Even when I sing it I'm going, "Not too sure about that one…"
You dedicated "Don't Look Back in Anger" to the victims of the Manchester attack and the Grenfell Tower fire. Do you feel more responsible about speaking out these days?
No, not at all. That song got hijacked. "Don't Look Back In Anger?" You should look back in fuckin' anger. You should be fuckin' kicking off, you should be finding out why these fuckin' things are going on fire. People should be pissed off because we're getting fuckin' shafted. Your kids can't go to a gig these days without getting fuckin' beheaded or something. It's fuckin' out of order. The people that we put in governments know why this fuckin' shit's happening and they should deal with it. We're just walking around like fuckin' chickens while they're going, "London's open for fuckin' sale." Fuck off, mate. Sort it out.
I heard you watched some grime artists at Glastonbury. Do you think grime's the new punk?
I prefer it to all these fuckin' people walking around with gold chains talking about fuckin' bitches and fuckin' hoes. They don't seem to be flash. They're wearing fuckin' trackie bottoms. I don't know about the punk thing. Maybe, man. The kids are into it and Skepta's got a few tunes.
Talking about flash, Noel was trying to chat to Brad Pitt backstage at Glastonbury.
Oh fuckin' hell. He's like a fuckin' stalker him, man. "Quick! Grab me a famous person!" Fuckin' cringe, man. Bradley fuckin' Cooper and shit like that? Fuckin' sit down, mate. Working class traitor. Go on.
Does your mum try to get you to talk to each other?
She's gone past that now. She's like, "Fuck the pair of ya." Just cause we're brothers, people say: blood's thicker than water. But it takes more than fuckin' blood to be my brother. You have to be sound, d'you know what I mean?
Listen, he's got his issues and I've got my issues. He don't like me, I don't like him. Blah blah fuckin' blah. He stitched me up with Oasis. I was the one left to carry the fuckin' blame, and that's it. He went, "Fuck this, I want a solo career." He fuckin' set a few booby traps and I got fuckin' collared with it. So as far as I'm concerned, you can fuck off. He didn't just end it because we were in Paris and we had a ding-dong. You stitched me up and you can fuck off, you cunt. I'm your fuckin' brother. People go, "Oh you're jealous." I'm not. I'm living in the fuckin' real world. I've got my kids, I've got my rock'n'roll, I've got my vibe. You've got Bradley Cooper, you cunt.
The saddest part is that you don't talk to each other. Do you miss him?
Without a fuckin' doubt. I miss the one that I was in a band with, but the one that I see now? Getting selfies with this one and that one? He doesn't know whether he's coming or going. For a geezer who bangs on about how his favourite band is U2? I was in a band with that kid for 20 fuckin' years. And in those 20 years we had a party every fuckin' night after pretty much every gig and we had tunes on. I never heard him play one fuckin' U2 song. And believe you me, I was there at the beginning and the fuckin' end. He's full of fuckin' shit, mate. I'm just here to fuckin' shine a light on the fuckin' fakes, man. And he's one of them.
"You stitched me up and you can fuck off, you cunt. I'm your fuckin' brother. People go, 'Oh you're jealous.' I'm not. I'm living in the fuckin' real world. I've got my kids, I've got my rock 'n' roll, I've got my vibe. You've got Bradley Cooper, you cunt."
One of your new tracks, "I've All I Need," makes it sound like you're satisfied with your lot. What keeps you in check?
My kids, my mother, my missus, me. I've had the best time. Even when it was shit, it was good. I've got more than enough. I've got more fuckin' shorts, more sunglasses and more fuckin' trainers than fuckin' JD Sports.
People always talk about your iconic onstage presence: that singing stance and your tambourine…
I don't really play the tambourine. People come up to me and go, "Oh you're amazing at tambourine." Are you fuckin' having a laugh? You're taking the piss. I have it to hold onto just cause I fuckin' need something to do, you know what I mean?
When did you work out that putting your hands behind your back was the way to fully project your voice?
I dunno but it's like when you're being nicked. You know when you're being nicked and you got your hands behind your fuckin' back, and you're going, "Fuck off!" to the copper and you're in the back of the van and all that? It's like that.
How many times have you been nicked?
Oh a few times, man. Not been nicked for a bit. Touch fuckin' wood.
What's been your biggest takeaway from the past year?
My main thing now is living in the moment, don't think too far ahead. I've got this album, the gigs are good, I just wanna keep going. There's a long way to go. If it goes well, we'll go and do another record. If not, we'll have to think about something else. Live in the now, man.
Do you think people are obsessed with their own legacy, with how they'll be remembered?
I dunno, man. It's about how you fuckin' remember yourself. It's about knowing you were a decent person. All I know is that I can speak to my kids on a level and they don't think I'm a cunt. I'm not gonna change. It's fuckin' full steam ahead around my way.
You famously go for a run at 6AM every day.
Go to bed at ten, up at five, out at six. I was out this morning, bang on six.
"It's about knowing you were a decent person. All I know is that I can speak to my kids on a level and they don't think I'm a cunt. I'm not gonna change."
Where's your head at when you're running?
Just thinking, "Alright, next time that cunt fuckin' says that, he's getting a fuckin' slap"… "I must get that jacket put in for the dry cleaners"… "not ordering food from that place any more, fuckin' shite, bit pricey, innit?"… "I need to put them laces in them shoes when I get in." Just random shit, yeah. I have a coffee on the way back and I'm fuckin' buzzing. And then I just spout it all at Debbie and she's like, "Fuck off, go for another run."
Is it true that you can't swim?
I can't swim, man. I had an accident when I was a young kid in some mad thing round our way. I can swim in a pool a bit but when it gets to that deep bit I gotta come back. And fuck the sea. I ain't going in that. Fuck that, mate. That ain't meant for us. That's meant for the sharks, and the jellyfish, tadpoles and stuff. But a hottub? I'm alright in a hottub. Can hang about in there for a bit.
Have you reconnected with religion as you've got older? Are you a believer?
Yeah man. Some days I don't. Some days I'm like, there's nowt going on, we're all fuckin' gonna die, aren't we? And there's days I go, fuckin' bring it on, man. I do believe in summat. I don't know what. Whether it's a god or aliens or angels. I believe in me, and the odd fucker out there. I believe in people. I believe in music. There's days when I believe in everything.
Eve Barlow is a writer based in Los Angeles. She's on Twitter.
Adam Mignanelli is the design director at VICE Media. He's on Instagram.