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Friday, May 29, 2009
Here is Oasis singer Liam Gallagher as you have never heard him before, digging out his soul and discussing fashion, Coldplay, Susan Boyle and the joys of Twitter in a startling face-to-face interview with CityLife journalist David Sue.
Liam Gallagher is up on his feet, arms outstretched and gently arching his body forward, as if he were some land-based, Mancunian breed of the albatross.
This show of theatrics, we soon realise, is very typical of the Liam Gallagher experience; the Oasis frontman often physicalising every last drop of enthusiasm and excitement when mere words won't suffice.
And when it comes to the subject of this coming week's trio of big gigs at Heaton Park, Liam is very enthusiastic. And animated.
"I'm totally buzzin' about these gigs," he enthuses, in the way only Liam can enthuse. "In total seriousness, I reckon these gigs have the potential to be even better than the Knebworth shows. It's been a top year for the band, and we're approaching these gigs at the top of our game. My mind is totally on it. With those Knebworth gigs, we were off our heads and we totally sped into it. With these Heaton Park gigs, we're more ..."
Liam jumps to his feet, before adopting his albatross pose: ".... we're more breezing into these gigs. It's not so chaotic. We're a miles better band than we were at Knebworth and Maine Road, and we'll show it. People will have their heads blown off."
An upbeat, cordial, and most of all, forward-thinking Liam - well, what did anyone expect? In fairness, CityLife wasn't really banking on anything.
After all, for much of Oasis' lifespan, Noel Gallagher has done most of the talking for everyone; the older brother, main songwriter and band chief winning a reputation for his raconteur-like interview skills and droll Mancunian put-downs.
Younger brother Liam meanwhile - so often demonised by the tabloid press - has viewed the whole `media game' as pure anathema; happy to let his older brother sell the `Oasis brand' and provide priceless soundbites to headline-hungry journalists.
But not from this day forward. On a beautiful, sun-kissed May afternoon, CityLife has been invited to a swish London hotel for an exclusive one-to-one with the newly independent Liam - independent of his brother, and most crucially, independent in his own business affairs.
For we are here not to discuss the Oasis brand, but rather (most controversially), his non-music brand; and that's Pretty Green, Liam's first venture into the fashion world. You heard it right; Liam the fashion mogul.
But how seriously is he taking this fashion lark? Does he have ambitions to be the next Jean-Paul Gaultier?
"Pretty Green started 'cos I wasn't finding the clothes I liked anywhere in the shops," explains Liam. "So Pretty Green is just my personal taste. I'm not trying to force my fashion opinions on anyone. I'm just not into all these new rock 'n' roll fashions.
``These days, all the geezers in bands wanna look like women. Like, why's everyone in bands wearing braces? If you're gonna wear braces, try buying a pair of jeans that fit. The worst dressed band have got to be Coldplay. What are those uniforms about? My kids have got play outfits that are better than Coldplay's. I mean, if you're gonna win a Grammy Award, don't turn up looking like binmen! Disgraceful. Make a bit of effort, I say."
To illustrate this point, Liam has turned up for today's meeting looking like a walking billboard for his Pretty Green label; dressed head-to-toe in rakish mod attire (green parka, floral neckerchief, Sta-Prest trousers and blue desert boots) which he himself had a hand in designing.
Yet, the image of Liam Gallagher - the nocturnal rock'n'roll renegade - hunched over a sketchpad drawing designs for trousers is all rather hard to compute.
"For me, music and fashion have always come together," insists Liam. "It was the Roses and the Mondays that first brought those things together for me. Before they came along, bands all looked like sweaty rockers, like Guns N' Roses, it was all very gloomy. But then The Stone Roses came along and brought this big splash of colour. It was the music and the fashion, it came as a package.
``With Pretty Green, it's all about my personal tastes. I'm not trying to make a massive statement about men's fashion and I'm definitely not gonna appear on TV with Gok Wan. I know Gok Wan pretty well, he's alright. I know him through the missus. But I won't be appearing on his show. Or Lorraine Kelly's. No chance."
Will you get Noel to model for you? Will there ever be a time when all Oasis members play gigs in regulation Pretty Green uniforms?
"Our kid will have to buy his own Pretty Green gear. He's getting no freebies!," exclaims Liam. "I can't see all of Oasis going on-stage dressed head-to-toe in Pretty Green outfits. We're not Showaddywaddy."
Independence, then, seems to be the operative word in the Oasis camp these days. But while Liam's fashion enterprise might be best seen as rock star folly (The Beatles did also open their own clothing boutique, after all), then more ominous signs are emerging from his brother's camp.
Recent revelations that Noel is planning to go solo after these up-coming UK stadium dates have clearly got Oasis fans in a worry. In one of Noel's most recent blog posts, he stated that `Oasis were currently a rudderless ship' and that the band `needed to take a very long break, possibly for five years' after this current tour wraps up. Liam, meanwhile, writing on his Twitter page, snapped back: `It won't be a five year break if I've got anything to do with it', before dismissing Noel and Russell Brand as a pair of `old housewives'.
So, what's the truth behind this bickering: are Oasis really going through such stormy waters?
Liam doesn't mention his brother by name, but we all know who he's referring to.
"If someone is gonna stop me making music and stop me playing live for five years, then I'm gonna go do something else creative aren't I?" protests Liam, his tone a mix of defiance and anger. "If this person is gonna put me on the shelf for five years, then I'm gonna find something else to do. So Pretty Green is what I'm doing while someone tries to pull the plug on other things.
"I've heard him say, `Our kid needs to be in the papers all the time'. That's rubbish - I don't wanna be in the papers at all. It's him that wants to be in the papers. He's loving his new- found fame, hanging out in the Groucho Club with **** comedians like Russell Bland (sic). I don't need to be in the public eye at all. It's him. I'd rather be doing cool and exciting things like a clothing label."
What's with all this cyberspace bickering - aren't Oasis supposed to be totally anti-internet?
"Twitter is like a necessary evil to me," says Liam with a mischievous grin. "I'm only using it for Pretty Green stuff, but I'm sort of enjoying it now. I can answer back and set things straight. No, actually, I take that back - I despise Twitter, I despise Facebook, I ****ing hate the internet, I hate it all. But most of all I despise the fact that I'm starting to like it."
Sibling rivalry indeed. But for now at least, and in the words of their finest B-side Acquiesce, the Gallagher brothers really do need each other.
And that's because Oasis are due over the next week to play their biggest Manchester dates - three shows at Heaton Park, with an estimated 200,000 turn-out, plus a star support line-up (Kasabian, The Enemy and CityLife faves Twisted Wheel) that effectively turns the dates into a fully-fledged ladrock festival.
"These gigs are gonna be proper events," declares Liam. "We had the offer of playing City of Manchester Stadium again, but I wasn't into it. It just feels too safe playing in a stadium, y'know? I want these gigs to be a mega day out for everyone, the same as it was for me on Spike Island. A real celebration of beautiful mad heads in the north."
Yet for all Liam's obvious affection for his home town and its people, these days he might need an A-Z to find his way around this city.
"Manchester is pretty unrecognisable to me," says a slightly rueful Liam. "I went out there last year, after we played a gig in Sheffield. But I need a map to find my way around these days. I had a top time, though. I went on the big wheel and then had a few pints in a pub in Castlefield.
"I'll tell you what, though, I was the only Mancunian in the pub! I was like, `Where you from?'. And people were like: `Burnley', `Bolton'. I was like, `Where have all the real Mancs gone?'. I've got a lot of mates in Manchester, and me mam is up there. But I've got my own life and my family in London, so I don't really visit much. Anyway, all my mates from Manchester just end up coming to our gigs and drinking all my free beer backstage. They do my head in."
Liam's angst has no doubt been assuaged by Oasis' incredible (give or take a few cyberspace squabbles) past 12 months. Indeed, with the band's most recent album Dig Out Your Soul being widely heralded as a `return to form', and their critical and commercial stock higher than ever (even in America, where the album charted at number five), Oasis are experiencing a sort of second Britpop love-in.
You could say it makes a rather neat synchronicity how Oasis' greatest Britpop rivals, Blur, have recently re-formed to play some big summer gigs. It's Blur vs Oasis all over again, and one must wonder whether Liam plans to pop along and watch Damon Albarn and co.
"I'm right into the Blur reunion," says Liam, rather surprisingly. Yet, thankfully, this response is laced with trademark sarcasm. "Cos it'll finish off the Kaiser Chiefs and put them to bed. There's nothing worse than a **** Blur. And at least the original **** Blur are back to finish off all these other **** Blurs. I'm bang into the Blur reunion."
"I'll tell you what, though, all these band reunions recently, it just goes to show who's the real deal. Oasis have never split up. Now all these bands have come back, just as the recession is kicking in. They've all been found out. Spandau Ballet? I've seen Tony Hadley, and it's more like Spandau Belly."
Our time is coming to an end, and we're left in no doubt that Liam is relishing having the interview spotlight to himself.
Indeed, what began as a simple interview has now developed into an extended session of Liam setting the world to rights - from the ongoing MPs' expenses scandal ("I'd send them all to Iraq, that'd teach them a lesson") to Manchester City's woeful season ("Mark Hughes should stay put. Let's give someone a chance. We've got rid of too many managers") and even, most bizarrely, the Britain's Got Talent final ("Susan Boyle, I'm bang into it man. But she's had it all sewn up from the first audition, hasn't she?").
But love or loathe him, that's just the wonder and enigma of the rock'n'roll cartoon that is William Gallagher, the greatest vocalist of his generation, rabid Manc motormouth, occasional bird impersonator, and now, most improbably, a bona fide fashion guru. Truly, a most dedicated follower of passion.
Oasis play Heaton Park on June 4, 6 and 7. Pretty Green: prettygreen.com.
Via L4E dource: manchestereveningnews.co.uk
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