It’s the first interview of the day, and Clash is excitedly apprehensive.
This, after all, is the self-proclaimed “big-mouthed cunt from Manchester” who could turn a lion into a whimpering kitten with one quick-witted verbal back-hander. But then again, this was also the majestic king of Britpop whom this writer followed religiously across the country throughout the Nineties, whose band in turn inspired a lifetime dedicated to music and, as a result, ultimately this magazine.
There was no way of knowing which of the many faces of Liam I was going to encounter - even as his publicist assured me he was a lovely man, a decade’s worth of tabloid fracases spiraled through my reeling mind, and I cautiously prepared for the worst. The mild-mannered and softly spoken gentleman that sat down next to me proved a million times over that you should never believe what you read. Dynamic, enthusiastic, typically frank and brimming with pride, this Liam Gallagher proved a journalist’s dream - often bouncing out of his seat to animate his answers, displaying a healthy, vivacious glow that celebrates a month of sobriety.
Liam sings on eight of the eleven tracks on ‘Dig Out Your Soul’, infusing it with his insistent power and that stunningly matured unique drawl. Three of those songs are self-penned: the first, ‘I’m Outta Time’ finds him in pensive mode - “If I’m to fall, would you be there to applaud?” he asks, while a dreamy piano casts subtle shades of solo Lennon. The second, ‘Ain’t Got Nothin’’ is a vicious attack - musically and lyrically - where he sneers “wipe the smile from your face” to his unwitting victim. His third is the magnificent ‘Soldier On’, another Lennon-inspired admonitory tale; at once kaleidoscopic and atmospheric, with the simple message of keep on keeping on. These three songs demonstrate perfectly Liam’s current state of mind - contemplative, impetuous and pragmatic.
Liam Gallagher lives and breathes for Oasis. For him, this album and tour couldn’t have come soon enough... “My bags have been packed for a long time,” he proclaims. “I’m ready to fuckin’ go, man!”
When you get ready to release an album and the Oasis machine kicks into gear, how does it feel now compared to when you first started?
I don’t pay attention to any machine. I just do my job, man. My bags have been packed for a long time; I’m ready to fuckin’ go, man. Our album should be out.
You’re getting impatient?
Yeah. I just wanna get the first gig out of the way and be sort of somewhere in the middle. We’ve been rehearsing and it sounds good. But interviews, I’m easy about that, I don’t mind having a chat. Videos, I’m still a bit wary of, they do my head in a bit. But I don’t think of it as a machine. If it is a machine, we’re not U2 - I don’t wanna be like U2, we’re just Oasis, man. This is work, innit? This is our job, man.
When you’re at home ahead of the first tour do you get nervous thinking that your new music is to be played in front of so many people?
I’m not nervous about anything. I’m just nervous about fuckin’ sitting around. I don’t like having too much time off. I like to be playing Oasis music. I like being in Oasis, I like being with the boys; it’s a good laugh, you know what I mean?
I’m not gonna go and hang out with some fuckin’ new bands just for the sake of it because it’s good to be at out at gigs, man. I don’t need to be fuckin’ seen.
That’s when you get into trouble, when you’ve nothing to do.
Yeah, cos your fuckin’ mind wanders and you just start thinking, ‘Fuckin’ hell, this is a bit strange this fuckin’ place we’re in here, this world.’
When did your songs start to take shape for this album? Are they quite new?
No. What’s new out of it? They’re all new because they’ve all been recorded with the band and that, and Noel’s played on them this time, but we demoed them like...I’ve had them quite a bit...since sort of the last album we done, but they weren’t worthy as they say. But I knew they’d be on it [this album]. I think they’re good, man.
Did those songs come quickly to you?
No. I don’t sit and write songs, I sort of just sit and play around the house just as something to do when I’m not messing about with the kids, you know what I mean? I just sort of have my moment, play guitar, if there’s summat going down I press ‘play’ and ’record’ - if it’s not happening I go to the shop, go for a walk, do whatever, you know what I mean? I don’t freak myself out over it. I’m a singer more than a songwriter. As I’ve said before, if I didn’t write another song I wouldn’t be bothered. People go, ‘Yeah right’, but I wouldn’t. I’d be more worried about losing me voice than writing another song. They’re the song writers - I’m quite happy to sing ’em.
Every new album has had more of your songs on it. So if the next one had none you’d be quite happy?
That’d be fine man, yeah. Not a problem. I’m here to sing, man. I get more kicks out of singing than fuckin’ struggling about topics and subjects and ‘what am I gonna say now then?’ Or, ‘is this a groovy song or is it not a fuckin’ groovy song?’ I don’t give a fuck whether it’s groovy or not - as long as it’s good, it’s good.
What’s the vibe like in the band just now? What’s the energy like - all good?
It’s always good musically. It’s fuckin’ having it as far as I’m concerned, but we’re always gonna say that. People are gonna have to wait and see, aren’t they? But I think it’s having it big style. You’ll need dental treatment at the end of it, man. It’s fuckin’ full on. Personally? We’re always the same; we don’t really speak. We don’t really say much; there’s not much to say is there? We just get on with making the music talk, man.
So when the band get together to play it just kicks off?
Oh yeah, it doesn’t take much to kick off. I don’t think it’s the people. Oasis is a spirit anyway, it goes where it wants, and if you want to be a part of it or not it drags you fuckin’ in. It soon wakes you up if you’re half asleep.
You don’t think it matters when people come and go in the band with personnel changes?
I think it would without Andy and Gem, but I think with our last drummer now, I don’t think we can keep changing the drummers, personally, because there’s not that many good after Chris. Chris is good and Zak was good and Alan [White] was good... I’d like it to stay as it is, you know what I mean? I don’t see the point, but, you know... Zak didn’t wanna do it cos he didn’t wanna go on tour and that, so I’m not gonna force him to be in my band. You’re either in it or you’re fuckin’ not; I don’t give a shit.
Did you try a lot of drummers?
No. We just tried him and he’s bang on, man. He’s up there. He’s better than both of ’em, I think. He’s a top drummer.
A few years back Oasis included smaller venues as part of your UK tour. Is that something you’d like to do again?
Yeah, all the time, man. Big ones are alright, and it’s hot I suppose and that, but we’re coming out in the winter now, so... Yeah, I like small ones, big ones, any ones. I don’t give a fuck; I’ll play anywhere, man, to whoever turns up.
What about going back to playing small clubs?
Yeah. When people go on about playing small gigs, they go, ‘It’s three thousand’. Fuck that, man, let’s play to two fuckin’ hundred, let’s get right in there.
What was the last gig you went to?
I haven’t been to a gig for ages, man. I don’t really go to ’em. The last gig I went to was Marilyn Manson! Fuckin’ hell! (Laughs) Fuck me!
Who dragged you there?
I know Twiggy out of the band cos I know him through mates, through Sardy and that, and he’s a good lad. Never met Manson before. It was a night out; we was in L.A. finishing, mixing, so he said, “You wanna go to this gig?” And we went, “Yeah, why not?” Went down there, it was insane. Like I said [to him], “Your music’s shit, but your fuckin’ show was mental.”
When you go see a band, do you tend to watch the singer in particular?
I don’t watch, I just get pissed. It depend who it is. I mean, the only decent band that I think is good live at the moment is Kasabian, you know what I mean? The rest doesn’t mean anything to me. And I’m not slagging ’em, it’s just not my fuckin’ thing, you know what I mean? I’m not gonna go watch ’em for the sake of going, ‘Hey man, you’re into music...’ I know I’m into music. I know what I’m doing. I’m not gonna go and see a band cos they’re fuckin’ new. I went to see Kasabian and they fuckin’ tore me head off. I like the way they dress, I like the way the speak, I can hang out with ’em, they’re from the same fuckin’ place; end of. I’m not gonna go and hang out with some fuckin’ new bands just for the sake of it because it’s good to be at out at gigs, man. I don’t need to be fuckin’ seen.
Are there any singers around at the moment whose voice you like?
I like that geezer out of Kings Of Leon. He’s got a good voice; you know his voice, you know what I mean?
You need to be distinctive.
Yeah. It’s all well being a good frontman and jumping up and down like a fuckin’ big pansy and all that, but you’ve gotta sound good, haven’t you?
That’s what you share with Caleb from Kings Of Leon, you both just stand there and sing.
He just sings, man, that’s what it’s about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s about for me, you know what I mean?
You sing on the majority of the new album. Was that intentional, to keep the energy level throughout?
No, I said I should sing on it all, man. I’m the singer. I’m the man for the job.
Do you and Noel fight over who gets to sing what?
I don’t fight; I just let him win. I just remind him of how old he is and how young I am.
When Gem and Andy write their songs, do they bring them directly to you?
No, well, they bring it to us all. We all sort of hear it, but I can’t see Noel singing their songs. It’s always gonna be me.
In your song ‘I’m Outta Time’, you sing about trying to find some peace of mind. Do you find it hard to get some time to yourself?
No. Maybe. I have plenty of time. It’s more about making time for yourself in there, innit [points to head]. If I want time I’ll go and fuckin’ get me time, you know what I mean? But sometimes you can’t cos your head’s full of things. That’s what it’s kind of about...maybe.
Do you find it easy to unplug and disappear?
Yeah but wherever you disappear to your mind follows you, don’t it? I tell you where I do find peace - I’ve started running and that. Me alarm goes at 6 and I’m out the door. I get a bit of peace of mind there, man. Everything just fuckin’ channels through. I go, ‘Right, I’ve gotta get that done today’, and then, ‘Next time I see that cunt he’s gonna get it, the fucker’ - everything just sorta flies out. So then by the time I get back I’m like, ‘That was fuckin’ nice’. Singing, I get peace of mind - when I’m singing I’m in another world.
That song contains an extract from the last interview that John Lennon ever did. Was the part you used chosen specifically, and if so, why?
Me and Gem sat there... Now I’ve always liked when I hear people talking on records. I just wanted a bit of a sample, and obviously it’s gotta be John Lennon. So me and Gem just started sifting through ’em up at Wheeler End and that was the first one that popped out. And I mean that; we didn’t go through many, man. I said, “What the fuck is he saying there?” And we’re all listening in.
What is he saying?
He says, “As Churchill said, it’s every Englishman’s inalienable right to live where the hell he likes. What’s he gonna do, vanish? He’s not gonna be able to get back.” It’s about when he was trying to move to New York, I think, or people were slagging him off for living in New York or something.
Your song sounds redolent of that early Seventies Lennon, like ‘Plastic Ono Band’ vibes. That album came after John’s primal scream therapy and is quite harrowing. Do you think you could ever write something as honest and soul-baring as he did then?
That’s a learning skill, innit? I can’t write about topics that ain’t there, you know what I mean? I just write what I write. I don’t sit down to actually go, ‘Right, today I’m gonna write a fuckin’ song about being outta time’; it sorta just comes and I go, ‘That goes with that, and that goes with that, and there you go’, and it’s fuckin’ finished. ‘Do you wanna hear it? Yeah?’ ‘There you go. Let’s go and record it.’ If it sounds kinda cool then we try and make it on a record. I don’t give a fuck what it’s saying, if it’s saying anything at all. I’ve always got to write about things that are here [points to head] and not over there or anything, you know what I mean? I’m not saying it’s gotta be personal, but you’ve gotta write about what you feel and what’s happening. I can’t write about things that haven’t happened, because you don’t know if they’re worth writing about.
You must have been buzzing when you first heard Gem’s new tune - it sounds like it’s straight off ‘Revolver’.
He always pulls them out of the bag - he’s got millions of ’em.
Your other track on the album, ‘Ain’t Got Nothing’ has a great rhythm on it...
Yeah, it’s The Who, innit. [The two-note rhythm is similar to ‘My Generation’.]
Was that the rhythm you had in mind when writing originally writing it?
I always shake hands and all that; do the pictures, sign the autographs, but I keep on moving. “I like your band”, “That’s good”. I’m not really into all that praise kind of thing
I wrote that on acoustic guitar, man. I just sat there one day... I can’t even fuckin’ change a string, man. If my guitar goes, I’ve gotta, “Here, can you fuckin’ come and change this?” I’m totally winging it, mate. So then I sat there, and there was like three strings on me guitar, and I was just going, ‘der ner ner, der ner ner, der ner ner, der ner ner’, and then someone fixed the strings and that was it; done.
Do you enjoy going into the studio and building those songs up from acoustic guitar to what they finally become?
Yeah. It comes from that acoustic dictaphone melody... Even when it’s like that it’s... I’ve got [boxes] full of tapes at home, loads of little three-minute, two-minute, one-minute, of just little ideas, and even like that they sound fuckin’ great, man. And then we go into the studio and we do it on an eight-track, really small, and it sounds great. Then obviously we take it into the big thing and it sounds amazing.
You were renowned for nailing your vocals in one take. Is that still the case?
The majority of ’em. I mean, I can fuckin’ sing all day, man. I’m not one of them people who go, ‘Right, that’s it, I’m not fuckin’...’ I’ll quite easily sing the song fifty fuckin’ times, cos I’m into it. I like people to have lots of pickings. Everyone says, “You’ve done. It’s done”, but to make it fuckin’ great you’ve gotta have choice, don’t you?
So you’re a perfectionist?
Oh yeah. Not that I’m like a fuckin’ nerd sittin’ over there, but as long as it’s got attitude and it sounds good, it sounds like me and it doesn’t sound weak or like a fuckin’ fanny then I’m having it.
Are you patient when the others get their hands on your song and add solos and their thing to it?
Oh yeah. As soon as my song’s there they can do what they want with it. As long as the basis of it is still there. They sort of rewrite my tunes, you know what I mean? They go, “Try this”. I’m one for trying everything, but then if it doesn’t sound right, I say, “Fuck that off, man.” We try everything; we throw everything on it, and then we start, “We don’t need that bit...” and then you basically end up with what’s left. It’s like working our way backwards.
Oasis albums usually end with a big epic tune - this time it’s one of yours, ‘Soldier On’. Did you want that to be the closer?
No. I’m not one of them people that go round with people in headlocks, you know what I mean? Noel decided that it should go on the end. I didn’t even know that my songs were going on there. We recorded some, so I thought maybe I might get one on. I mean, we recorded five; two are gonna be B-sides or summat. And he [Noel] just said, “‘Soldier On’, that’s gotta be the end,” and I went, “Cool.” I’m happy. I’m not gonna say no, but nobody’s got a gun to their mouth.
It sounds like a belter.
Yeah, I like it, man.
Will you be playing it live?
I dunno. We haven’t rehearsed it, man. We’ve just gotta get out there and see what goes. Maybe. We haven’t rehearsed it this time but who knows how it will fit. It won’t be hard.
On that tune and much of the album there are a lot of atmospheric sounds - did you contribute to any of that?
Nah. Noel gets all that stuff. Well, there was a bit on the end where we were at Abbey Road - you know the studios where they’ve got the steps [outside]? We stood there and we got it all miked up and we were just sort of like walking like...[marches heavily on the spot in steady rhythm] Just stomping like that, about ten of us, all just fuckin’ stood there. That’s the only thing I done...and a couple of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.
It’s quite an advisory or cautionary song - are you singing it to anyone in particular?
Nah, man. Just meself really. I don’t sit down and write about anyone in particular, it’s about everyone really. Everyone’s gotta keep soldiering on, haven’t they? Get on with it, you fuckin’ dicks; stop talking about it!
Which songs are you gonna be playing live on this tour and which are you most looking forward to?
Well we’re doing ‘Slide Away’ again, which is good, man; that’s sounding fuckin’ good. Not done that for ages. The new ones, you mean? ‘The Shock Of The Lightning’, the single, we’re doing Gem’s tune [‘To Be Where There’s Life’], we’re doing ‘Falling Down’, which is good - Noel does a good job with that, it fuckin’ sounds good, my one ‘Outta Time’, and summat else - I can’t remember now.
The single is brilliant by the way.
Yeah I like it. We’ve been coming back with these fuckin’ half-hearted...well, not that they’re half-hearted, but like that’s what we do, man. That’s what we should be doing. There should be a whole side of songs like that on one of our records. I like it, and a couple of the other little weird ones on there. I could do them songs in my fuckin’ sleep.
Do you get bored singing your old songs?
Not really. I get a bit bored of ‘Wonderwall’ sometimes. But for the first time in a long time, yesterday it actually sounded the best it ever fuckin’ sounded - on my behalf. It just sounded...it sounded actually better than the record. Sometimes it bores me; maybe it’s just me...but people like it, you know what I mean?
When people meet you in the street ahead of a gig, what songs do they normally request you play?
‘Some Might Say’, all those ones. I’d like to do ‘Rockin’ Chair’ at some point; I love that tune. I like the way it comes in. I reckon we could do that one good live, man, but...do it another time.
What’s the best thing people say to you when they stop you in the street - what do you buzz off?
Just the usual, man. I mean, I don’t really stop... I always shake hands and all that; do the pictures, sign the autographs, but I keep on moving. “I like your band”, “That’s good”. I’m not really into all that praise kind of thing; I like to keep moving.
And if they say something bad?
Shake it off, keep moving, man. Not got time to be fuckin’ hustling on the street, man. Things to be fuckin’ doing. If I’m on fuckin’ the street I’m obviously going somewhere, so you gotta move on, man.
In The Beatles Anthology documentary, McCartney declared that he was so proud that all The Beatles’ music was ultimately about peace and love. Do you think there is an overall feeling or message in Oasis’ music?
Yeah. ‘Fuckin’ ’ave it’. I think in the early days all our songs were kind of... Our songs are about hope, man. They’re uplifting. I wouldn’t say it was all about drinking beer and fuckin’ shagging birds and fuckin’ football - there’s a lot more to us than that. But in the early days it was basically about ‘have a good fuckin’ time. Don’t worry about it. Stop thinking too hard about things and just have a good time all of the time’.
And if Oasis ended tomorrow, how would you like to be remembered?
As a top band, man. As one of the best bands ever. We’re up there, man, without a doubt. We’re not the best - there’s no such thing - but we’re fuckin’ up there.
Do you still enjoy being Liam Gallagher of Oasis?
Yeah, without a doubt. Every day it gets better, man. It gets better and better being me.
It’s getting better, man!
It fuckin’ is. Today is bang on.
Would you ever consider a solo album?
Nope, not me. What’s the point? The day you do that you might as well knock it on the head, innit? What’s the fuckin’ point? Just look at Richard Ashcroft. He’s done loads, and where does he end up? Back in the same fuckin’ place he started. Ten years of not making Verve music; what was the fuckin’ point? It’s like, ‘Alright, you don’t get on, well come on, you’re fuckin’ all men aren’t you? Can you not go outside and give yourself a paper cut each and fuckin’ get back to business and stop fuckin’ about?’ And I’m not saying he’s wrong or owt - I don’t want a big fuckin’ thing made out of it - but there’s ten years of fuckin’ Verve music there missed out on. Same for The Libertines, same with The Stone Roses, and for all them bands that arse about and then get back together. What’s the fuckin’ point? He [Noel] does enough solo stuff within the band, so why do it without? You do what you want - I’m not; I’m in Oasis. Enjoy it, man. We should be making more Oasis music, not fuckin’ going around doing fuckin’ solo things. What’s the point?
You wish you could do more albums in the meantime?
Yep. But also in the same vein, that we’re not in people’s faces, you know what I mean? If you go, ‘You should be putting one out every year’, it takes you two fuckin’ years to get round the world, and it takes six months to have a bit of time off. You can over expose yourself. People get bored of you, and I think people get excited when we come out again. The people who don’t are obviously the people who don’t fuckin’ like us, you know what I mean, and that’s fuckin’ fair, but I’m getting a vibe that people get... All of the last fuckin’ week my house has been bombarded with Italian fans, these fuckin’ mods going, “Have it!” As soon as you come out the fuckin’ door there’s something going on. And when you’re not doing anything they do give you a bit of time to get on with yourself, but now that the fuckin’ thing, like you said before, has started up, it’s just every time I open me door there’s a fuckin’ little Italian mod there going, “When are Oasis coming to fuckin’ Italy?” I’m like, “Alright you little fuckers, we haven’t even got a song out yet.”
If you could have asked John Lennon one question, what do you think it would be?
[Long pause] I don’t know, man. I wouldn’t like to say. It’s a hard one, isn’t it? You say it and it’s gonna sound stupid, man.
What is people’s biggest misconception about you?
There’s plenty of me’s, man; there’s not just one me. I’ve got plenty of things - I cover all corners, man. I suppose they think I’m a big-mouth fuckin’ Manchester fuckin’ gobshite who talks too much and who wrote ‘Little James’ and who should shut up - but then again no one had a gun to their mouth on that one either, but I suppose that was personal and it shouldn’t have gone on the record, but... Maybe they think I’m a big-mouthed cunt from Manchester, and they’d be correct. I don’t give a fuck what people think about me. I’m not arsed.
What’s an average Saturday for you?
I get up at six in the morning every day, bang on. I go for me fuckin’ bits, do me thing, come back, just chill with the kid, man. Watch a bit of TV, ease into the day, do a bit of shopping... Waitrose. I find meself in Waitrose a lot these days.
Ah, the expensive stuff?
It’s not expensive is it?
It’s dearer than Sainsbury’s!
Well, this one’s round the corner so I’m in there. My life’s pretty chilled at the moment; I don’t do much.
When was the last time you went on a bender?
Oh fuck, I’d just got off me holiday. I’ve just been on one. I haven’t drank for a month leading up to last week, so I got to Marbella with the family and drank for three days non stop, Friday to Sunday. Rhys Ifans was out there, so I had a drinky-poo with him for a day, then he fucked off home and I carried on. I ended up in a bawl with Quincy Jones and me mate, and then that’s it, back on the wagon, man. Business to be done.
So you stay sober when you’re working?
I have done. Like I said, I had a month off the cigs, the booze, the lot, man, just to get this [live rehearsals] rocking.
That must help your voice?
Yeah yeah, it’s fuckin’ bang on at the moment. You know, once you’re fuckin’ pissed and you smoke forty fags then you do the other then before you know it you’re fuckin’ sick.