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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Wayne Rooney Of Britpop?
'I don't want to go on stage sounding like a fookin' idiot'
'Why do you think I don't like journalists?" asks a mystified Liam Gallager when I tell him that my intention is to make our telephonic interview as painless as possible.
"Young man, I have followed your career since the beginning," I reply. "And, besides, its no secret."
He is quick to respond: "I don't hate all journalists. I'm just not into talking, so I say it once, then it's over. It's hard."
Looking back over the years, the media circus that is Oasis, particularly back in the '90s, was certainly created by the lead singer of the band and his temperamental brother, Noel.
From fisticuffs between the two to cocaine parties and hot models, the Gallagher brothers were probably more famous for their lifestyles than their music. They publicly dissed each other. They publicly dissed Blur as well as the US grunge movement and, more recently, they refused to be on the same bill as Coldplay.
Last year, Noel also had a dig at the organisers of the Glastsonbury Festival for booking rapper Jay-Z as a headline act. "Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music. I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong," he said.
Jay-Z in return had a dig at Noel on his latest album, Blueprint 3: "That bloke from Oasis says I can't play guitar. Somebody should have told him I'm a f***ing rock star," before breaking into a line from the Oasis hit, Wonderwall: "Today is gonna be the day that I throw it all back to you."
At best, the Gallagher brothers' behaviour can be described as laddish. At worst, they were rude yobs who had scant respect for anyone and when the pressure became too much they viciously turned on the media, which in turn created more paparazzi fodder.
Liam, in particular, developed a nasty reputation - kinda like the Wayne Rooney of Britpop.
So, obviously I approached the interview with some trepidation. But to my surprise, the man was honest, funny, at times self- deprecating and spontaneous.
Many world-famous musicians are guarded and give record- company-trained responses. Clearly, these training methods did not work on Liam. I speculate he probably told the little record company's PR poppie to get knotted in not-so-polite language.
The interview became more of a banter than anything else.
"I'm in Marseilles, in France," Liam says in his thick Manchester accent. "We're playing a gig tonight."
"So, have you guys ever been to South Africa?"
"No, but my dentist is South African. He says it's great. He's actually coming to watch us when we play there."
Oh cool, I guess.
"Do you know, I have never met a South African girl before. You're the first. I'm fookin' serious. This is history."
"So you'll never forget me, Liam."
"No, I won't."
My heart skips a beat.
"Aside from playing the fest what are you planning to do in SA, cage diving with the sharks?
"I can't swim, but I think we're staying on in Cape Town for about three days after the tour."
"What can fans expect from Oasis in concert?"
"The coolest rock 'n roll band in the world. We gonna be banging it out. But we don't jump around. There's no pirate sex or anything. We just do the tunes."
"Did you ever think you'd still be doing Oasis after everything that has happened in your career?"
"Yeah, I did, but I thought we'd be a lot bigger. People are just being stubborn. Fookin' arbs. It's like, c'mon man!"
Somewhere in the back of my mind I think, well maybe if you hadn't shoved so much marching powder up your nose and maybe if you and Noel hadn't … nah …
"Liam, on your latest album, Dig Out Your Soul, you wrote most of the music. Have the dynamics in the band changed?"
"I don't trust myself as a song- writer, I'm definitely the singer. But everything in the band is still the same. I'm much more worried about my voice. For years I never warmed up before a concert. I'd just stand around smoking and stuff.
"But people spend lots of money to see us and I respect that. I don't want to go on stage sounding like a fookin' idiot. Now I drink herbal drinks and shit."
"Yeah, honey. I fookin' hate it."
"You don't party so hard now?"
"We still have a laugh and party, but we've slowed down."
"Do you know who's performing with you in South Africa?"
"I don't care, but I suppose you're gonna tell me anyway."
"Liam, Do you want to know or not?"
"Yeah, go on, tell me."
"Panic at the Disco."
"Ah, they're fookin' rubbish."
"Ooh, I like them. Some of them are my mates.
"I can't remember the names of the others."
"That's because they're probably fookin' rubbish."
Liam, do you enjoy your job?
"I fookin' love it. I wake up and piss around all day and then I go on stage at 9pm. I wouldn't have a clue what to do outside of this. I think we're important as a band.
"Okay, now that the bullshit is out the way, it's purely financial reasons. So the lads can go on holiday, or buy a new house. But I'm the biggest fan of the band."
Wow, methinks somewhere between the fame and the fights, Liam has grown up.
The Coca Cola Fest takes place on April 10 at New Market Racecourse, Johannesburg, and in Cape Town on April 13 at The Ostrich Farm. Book at Computicket
via L4e / Therese Owen , Tonight.co.za / photo: Paul Bachmann
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