Even with a crackly phone line, 5,000 kilometres and a heavy Manchester accent between us, Liam Gallagher is making himself very clear indeed. Mind you, the 38-year-old Beady Eye frontman has always been an advocate of the direct-as-a-slap-in-the-chops approach; a reputation that’s repeatedly seen him labelled as the most outspoken man in music during his 20-year career. And what a career it’s been.
As a founding member of a little band called Oasis, by the turn of the century Liam had his name on the credits of some of the most iconic rock anthems of the modern era. The band claimed the UK number one spot with each and every one of their seven studio albums (1995 breakthrough record (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? remains the third biggest-selling album of all time in their home country) and hoovered up awards from anyone with balls enough to put Liam on the guest list.
But, of course, the music has only ever been half the story. For every tabloid inch dedicated to gushing praise for Liam’s latest single, you could count on a good newspaper-and-a-half’s worth of snarky gossip columns chronicling his infamous off-stage exploits. Not that he’s ever been one to shy away from the press – after all, anyone who spars with the paparazzi on the streets of Soho, lets off a fire extinguisher in the face of footballer Paul Gascoigne and publicly baits members of rival bands should expect a little attention. Above all others, though, the biggest spats – the ones that really got the showbiz writers rubbing their palms together with glee – involved band-mate and big brother Noel, with whom Liam fell out on a seemingly weekly basis.
As if it were ever in doubt, it was Liam’s fractious alliance with his own flesh and blood that eventually brought about Oasis’ demise. Following a backstage fight during Paris’s Rock en Seine festival on August 28, 2009, the brothers’ relationship – and the band – was over for good, with Noel announcing on Twitter the same evening that he ‘simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer’.
While Noel took some time out (debut solo album Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is due out next month), Liam’s response was more immediate, forming Beady Eye just two months later with former Oasis men Gem Archer and Andy Bell, with former Lightning Seeds sticksman Chris Sharrock handed drumming duties. An album followed in February this year, the very Oasis-y Different Gear, Still Speeding earning mostly positive praise from the critics.
In the words of one of Liam’s biggest icons, then, it’s been a long and winding road. Still, as he’s extremely keen to convey from his hotel room in the German city of Bochum – the launch pad for Beady Eye’s first ever world tour – rock ’n’ roll’s perma-swaggering, swear-happy superstar is feeling just as confident as ever... Liam Gallagher: Yeah that’s right, I’ve got the confidence. And it’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. I’m glad you picked up on that. It’s not really even about confidence, it’s about passion. I’ll go toe-to-toe with John Lennon, Elvis Presley, any of the c****, know what I mean? We’re just as passionate as what they were. And if you are, then no one can touch you, can they?
Good to hear it. Psyched about your first trip to Abu Dhabi? What are you guys expecting from the city? Liam I’m expecting it to be f***in’ very hot. I’m expecting to maybe trade the bass player in for a camel. We’ve always wanted to get out there, we want to go everywhere, you know what I mean.
We’ve had some big names here this year – Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Snoop Dogg – how are you going to make sure Beady Eye is the one show people remember from 2011? Gem Archer: Well, hopefully we’ll be giving them the greatest gig we’ve ever done, because that’s what we’re always aiming for.
Liam: Yeah man, I mean, you’ll see five lads on that stage that night, playing that rock ’n’ roll kinda music as if it’s the f***in’ last thing on Earth, know what I mean. And if people dig it, they dig it and if not, well maybe we’re not the band for them. But we’ll be up there ‘avin it.
Isn’t being on tour a bit draining? Gem: No way. It’s invigorating.
Liam: I tell you what you’re gonna see, you’re gonna see a bit of realism when you see Beady Eye. This is how we are, we don’t turn it on then become different people when we walk off the stage – this is how we are. No filler, straight in-yer-face rock ’n’ roll music, no jumping around the stage like b****es, you know what I mean – it is what it is.
Is there a different dynamic on stage, compared with the Oasis days? Liam: There is a different vibe, but I wouldn’t want to be pointing it out, know what I mean, that’s for other people to do. But we’re equally as into it as we were when we were Oasis. Difference is that now we feel like the underdogs and I like that, know what I mean? With Oasis it got to a stage when we were always the main f***in’ act. Now we’re the underdogs and it’s cool.
So you’re enjoying having something to prove? Liam: Yep. Yyyep. Without a doubt. Without a doubt, I f***in’ love it. If we could f***in’ stay like that for the rest of my life I’d be f***in’ happy as Larry, man – know what I mean? But we move on, don’t we? So the new album will be better, it has to be and it will be, and I think we’ll move on and progress to be a headline act. Which will be great, but then all the fun goes out of it then, know what I mean? You have nowhere to go, know what I mean?
So you’re not looking forward to the success? Gem: Well yeah we are, but I mean we still did small gigs with Oasis. It wasn’t always stadiums, you know? We haven’t got that yearning that a lot of bands have for stadiums and arenas. It’s kind of like, we’ve done all that and we’re still here and we still get off on the same things.
Liam: When you’re a headline act it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re the main f***in’ talking point. But I’ve seen some support acts that have absolute f***in’ ripped them to pieces, and hopefully that’s what we’re doing.
And is the new album still on the cards for later this year? Liam: Without a doubt, mate. That’s what we joined the band for, to keep making music. Without a f***in’ doubt. Without a doubt. And it’ll be a beauty.
Are there any new influences for us to listen out for? Gem: We’re getting the ideas together at the minute. We’ll see how it sounds when we get into the studio, but we’re not listening to anything out of the ordinary. It’s not gonna be a reggae album. And it certainly ain’t gonna be a dance record. It’s just gonna be great crafted rock ’n’ roll. It’s gonna be another great rock ’n’ roll album.
Any bands around at the moment that you’re taking inspiration from? Liam: Not really, to be quite honest. I like Miles Kane, I think he’s doing a good job. He’s a young lad and I think he’s gonna be mega. But to be brutally honest, and I’m not being a b**** about this, but there isn’t anyone, really. If there was believe you me I’d be shouting it from the rooftops, but there isn’t.
Gem: There’s no one really setting the world on fire, no one’s got any identity. The minute you start getting into a band, they start changing their whole bloody identity, you know what I mean? And that’s not what it’s about. Everyone’s just moving too fast, man.
What do you make of all these bands that are getting back together after years and years apart? Gem: Initially I thought: Good for them. I suppose it’s when it all becomes not about the music and it’s all about quick f***in’ smash-and-grab stuff.
Liam: It’s all about f***in’ paying the bills, and it’s taking the magic out of the music and what you joined the band for. They f***in’ shouldn’t have split up in the first place. I know people don’t get on and all that, but getting back together because one of them’s f***in’ skint and one of them’s a DJ, it’s like giving f***in’ music a bad f***in’ name. Splitting up to get back together to make some f***in’ money, it’s like f***in’ sort it out man. It’s all b******s in my book.
Gem: All very Machiavellian.
What about Noel – have you heard his new single yet, ‘The Death of You and Me’? Liam: Heard it? I’ve f***in’ sang on it. Not actually on that one, but on most of them. Noel Gallagher is a great songwriter, there’s no questioning that he’s gonna make a great album and people will like it. Some people won’t like it. Same thing with us, you know what I mean. But I’d rather him make music than not make music.
Would you be worried releasing an album alongside your brother? Liam: Listen mate, The Beatles get back to-f***in’-gether tomorrow and I wouldn’t be worried. And Led Zeppelin. I know Beady Eye’s potential. Talk is cheap and all that b******s, you know what I mean, but we know what we’ve got up our f***in’ sleeves man. I wouldn’t put an album out if I didn’t think we could stand up against any c***, let alone Noel Gallagher. So yeah, I’ll go toe-to-toe with anyone. Musically, physically, mentically... uh y’know... mentally – anything. Without a doubt yeah, f***in’ right.
Fair enough. Music aside, we understand you’re also making a name for yourself as a fashion designer. How did you feel about the rioters in Manchester targeting Pretty Green – the label you design for? Did you take it personally? Liam: I don’t think it was personal, no. Everyone got hit, didn’t they. The main thing is that no one got hurt, and that works for Pretty Green. The gaff didn’t get burnt down, we’re insured. They’re only clothes, know what I mean. I wouldn’t want it to be happening on a weekly basis, but yeah man, everything’s been taken care of.
You didn’t fancy trying to defend the place? Liam: What, stand there with a baseball bat? I don’t think that would’ve been wise, would it? They only would’ve f***in’ pinched it anyway and ran off! Beady Eye play Flash Forum, Yas Island on September 16. Tickets, starting at Dhs295 are available from www.thinkflash.ae.
Brothers at arms
Liam isn’t the only musician to have a well-publicised spat with a sibling. In fact, music history is positively littered with examples of extreme fraternal infighting...
The Kinks Despite maintaining an amicable veneer when belting out the likes of ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset’, brotherly love was extremely scarce between Ray and Dave Davies. The bitterest moment in their fraught relationship came when Ray stabbed Dave in the chest with a fork after his little brother stole a chip off his plate.
The Black Crowes Former tour mates with Oasis, heavy rockers Chris and Rich Robinson pre-empted the Gallaghers’ split by some seven years, announcing a band hiatus in 2002 as a result of ceaseless bickering. Though they’ve since reunited, the boys still don’t get on, and happily admit that their relationship outside of the band is minimal.
Creedence Clearwater Revival Although they dominated the scene in the late ’60s, all was not well behind the scenes at the Creedance camp. Having been the band’s frontman in the early years, Tom Forgerty walked out on brother John and the rest of the band in 1971, in reaction to John’s attempts to hog the limelight and drag the band in his own direction.
The Bee Gees While the three Gibb brothers had regular disagreements throughout the band’s 45-year lifespan, things really came to a head following the death of guitarist Maurice in 2003. Surviving brothers Barry and Robin publicly aired opposing feelings towards a tribute album to their brother, a spat that ultimately signalled the end of the band.
The Everly Brothers Charmingly twee siblings Don and Phil Everly had the American pop charts in their thrall back in the early 1960s, wooing the American public with country-style classics including ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ and ‘Bye Bye Love’. But then Phil smashed a guitar and walked off stage mid-show in 1973, resulting in a frosty 10-year period of silence between the pair.