Today's Top Stories
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Liam Gallagher: "I'm Gutted. I Love Being In Oasis"
(photo: © live4ever)
Would you tell Liam Gallagher he looks like a man in a white coat? No, nor would we (we were scared even to mention the leopard-print loafers)
'No, no, no, no, no,' shouts Liam Gallagher, rolling his eyes.
'The day I ask my missus for advice on what I should wear, I'll just pack it all in and go home.
'I know what looks good on me and that is as far as it goes. No one can tell me what to wear. I do what I like.'
I'd innocently enquired whether the multimillionaire Oasis frontman, better known for lager and brawling, might possibly have been influenced by his pop-star wife in launching a clothes label called Pretty Green. Clearly not.
'But then I don't interfere with her either,' he continues. 'She'll come down and ask how she looks and I'll go, "Great", but the minute you say anything, like "What about that?" or "That looks better", they bite your head off. You can't win man, not ever.'
His label's style is 'subtle', he explains, his wide Manchester accent unaltered by years down south.
'No big stripes, nothing flash or loud. It's classic stuff - trench coats, parkas, desert boots, nice cashmeres. Nothing wild, man - just good clobber. It's more about style than fashion - because it's me and I won't take any notice of trends. I don't do fashion. In my opinion a girl has to look like a girl and a lad look like a lad.
Look at them pointed shoes. They're for girls and that. I don't like those skin-tight jeans, either. I don't mind a bit of slim, but I can't tell whether you're a chick or a bloke...
'A lot of people are having a pop at these,' he says, plonking a foot on the table to show me his faux (I hope) leopard skin, Yves St Laurent driving loafers.
'They're my pride and joy. I love them.'
Gallagher is like a firework - light the touch paper and he's off ranting about every subject under the sun. So while he's on a roll I decide to ask him about Michael Jackson.
'He was genius, without a doubt. Not my kind of music, though. I preferred him when he was in the Jackson Five but then he turned into a bit of a nut job. But it was always on the cards, wasn't it? Anyone who has their own fairground in the back garden has to go nuts. I have a couple of trees and a garden shed so it keeps me well on the ground.'
Born William John Paul Gallagher 37 years ago in Burnage, Liam was never expected to make any money - at least, not by his teachers. After being expelled from school aged 15 for fighting, he found a job creosoting fences and, to fund his clothes habit, sold knocked-off Stone Island and Calvin Klein from a huge holdall on street corners.
'He used to smother his hair in gel, nicking my deodorant and aftershave,' wrote eldest brother Paul in his book Brothers: From Childhood To Oasis.
'He wouldn't go out unless he looked perfect.'
Liam says, 'I was into clothes big style and saved up to buy me clobber. I'd get my giro and buy a Patrick tracksuit top or a nice bit of Lacoste, Levi's, Dunlop Green Flash. You know the stuff. Football gear we'd wear down Maine Road (Manchester City's former ground).
'It's a working-class thing - you work all week and then on the weekends you can have a bit of style, be the rock star, you know what I mean. Look cool. Style is what counts, man. Fashion comes and goes. Style remains. It's about class. These things have been going for years. It's about what you put them with.
'I love style - proper style. To be honest I get a bit nervous when I do these interviews about the label because you might ask me about cloth or something and I haven't got a clue. But I know what looks good and feels good and that is enough for me. I hate it when people say one thing goes with something else. I'll wear what I want.'
'Caning it doesn't work with kids. You wake up the next day after a session and you're looking for bits of homework and football boots. It's rubbish' That swagger saw Gallagher invited by school chum Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan to join his band, Rain.
Liam's natural presence as frontman soon saw it become his band. After inviting his guitarist older brother Noel to join, they changed their name to Oasis and in 1994 released their first album, Definitely Maybe, which became the fastest-selling debut LP ever released in the UK. Since then they have broken all previous records with an unprecedented 22 successive singles in the UK top ten.
Noel left the band in August, and Liam is currently auditioning for a replacement guitarist.
But it wasn't just the band's phenomenal success that kept Liam in the headlines.
Among many other incidents, he's been banned from Cathay Pacific over an argument about a scone (he later said he'd rather walk), charged with assault in Australia, arrested for fighting in Germany and had an alleged tear-up with Paul Gascoigne in London's Groucho Club that ended with the singer setting off a fire extinguisher in the footballer's face.
So when, one week ago, Gallagher tore through our early-morning photo-shoot in a distracted fug, refused to look at any of the pictures and went home, cancelling our interview, I was hardly surprised. Must have been a heavy night, I thought. But I couldn't have been more wrong.
Today, he bowls up with that trademark Liam swagger, right on time at midday for a chat in a pub on the edge of Hampstead Heath. He's dressed in jeans, a Pretty Green parka and those Yves St Laurent loafers. While I plump for a pint of bitter, I am shocked to hear him order a bottle of water.
'Last week,' he says, not looking me in the eye, 'I was really sick. I was moving house and my kids were going back to school. I didn't want to do this and not give it my best, you know what I mean? I wanted to do it right.'
No more hellraising, then?
'I've knocked all that (he makes a sign to indicate cocaine use) on the head since last November. I'll have a drink now and again. But not for the time being - I'm having a rest.
'You must remember, though, that I've caned it for 20 years and not just on the sauce but with all sorts. I've had a great time and now I'm having a break. It doesn't work with kids, man. You wake up the next day after a session and you're looking for bits of your kids' homework and football boots. You're all over the place - it's rubbish.'
Gallagher has even been sighted running, knocking out ten miles a day around Hampstead Heath. He's not as rock 'n' roll as I'd expected, even admitting to moisturising.
'I'm bang into all that,' he says. 'I'm into my haircuts and keeping clean and I will moisturise now and again. If you've been sitting in a pub for three weeks you dry up a bit, don't you?
I'm into smelling good and looking good. I do a bit of Christian Dior and there's another one I like - Very Sexy: For Him, by Victoria's Secret. But once it's done and the bottle is finished I'll move on.'
Gallagher lives in north London with his second wife, former All Saint Nicole Appleton, and their son Gene, eight. He also has a son, Lennon, ten, with Patsy Kensit.
The boys attend the same school but, while Gene lives in Hampstead with his parents, Lennon shuttles between there and Kensit's house. Then there's 11-year-old Molly, who lives with her mother Lisa Moorish.
'I don't really have any hobbies,' he says.
'I just like meeting people and hanging out. I like people. And I love being a dad. Family is the most important thing in the world. Kids are the nuts, man. I did all the nappy changing - all that. I am hopeless at putting up light fittings but I do my bit elsewhere. I'm up first every morning with my kids. I do the school run. It sorts my head out. I love it.'
Private or state school?
'Private. I've worked hard and they've got just as much right to be there as any banker or broker's kid.'
Gallagher's own school days bore no comparison: 'When I was in school I got in a scrap and got hit over the head with a hammer. I see all these hoodie kids on the street and I suppose that was me once, hanging on the street corner, up to no good... only I was dressed much better.
'We used to get dragged to church, all three of us boys (he is the youngest and Paul the oldest), dressed in jumpers that my mum had knitted. She would take the body and blood of Christ then go home and get battered by my dad, so she left him when I was ten.
But when she went back to take Communion again they said you can't take it, you're divorced. So what they were saying was, if you stay at home and get a kicking on a regular basis, you can have one of these. If not, there's the door.'
A passionate man, he cites George Harrison, John Lennon ('the coolest nerd in the world'), Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and Paul Weller as his style heroes. The least stylish rock star of all time? His brother, Noel.
'He dresses like Liz Hurley's son,' says Gallagher, who didn't invite Noel to his wedding last year and admits to not having a civilised conversation with him in over 12 months.
'He's on the posh vibe. Loves a cardigan and all that. He had some of the Pretty Green gear when we were almost on speaking terms, but I don't think he's happy about it. A few of my mates were backstage wearing it and he was like, "Why are you wearing that?" And my mates were like, "Cos you bloody can't." What does he know anyway? His fashion sense is massively overrated.'
At this point, I really want to ask how Liam feels about the Oasis split. But the subject is totally off-limits.
The week before our chat I was told by his publicist not to ask about the subject - not once, but four times.
And today Stevie Allen, Liam's personal minder, driver (Liam has never driven a car) and partner in Pretty Green, sits behind right me all through our interview. Not the best circumstances for an open conversation. Nevertheless, I carry on regardless and pop the question.
Sitting back in his chair, he lets out a big sigh and says, 'I'd love to talk to you about it but I can't because I haven't had the time - after 18 years in Oasis - to think about the situation. It's only just been a month and I have to sit down and work it out because as far as I'm concerned my comments would be on my musical headstone. But I'm gutted. I love being in Oasis. When I'm ready, you will hear my side of the story. It wasn't a shock to me that we split - but there has been enough said about us.
'What I will say is that it took the members of Oasis to knock it on the head. All the people who said we wouldn't last? We did - and in the end no one got to us except for us. We were the ones who brought Oasis down and not our critics. I'm very proud of that.'
Gallagher's Pretty Green range (named after a Paul Weller song) might be described as late Mod-influenced smart casual wear, although never before has that kind of clothing been made to such luxurious specifications. 'We just went for it, man,' says Gallagher, who conceived the range with tailor Nick Holland.
'I wanted it to be the best 'cos there's no point in mucking about, is there? If it don't look good on me, then I'm not having it. And, if no one else buys it, at least I've got a nice wardrobe out of it.
I just wanted to make things that I couldn't find for myself in the best fabrics and in the best quality that look and feel great. It's not about making money. 'I am not forcing anyone to go out and buy it but I meant to do it for us and those that are into it - those people who've stopped me and asked where they could buy stuff from. 'I love the clothes and the music so if you like it, buy it. If you can't afford it, save up like I did.'
Pretty Green Black collection is available from the end of October at Selfridges, Cruise, Flannels and selected independents. new.prettygreen.com
You can see a number of pictures of Liam in a number of the items from the new range by clicking here.
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Pretty Green - mens clothing from Liam Gallagher
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