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Monday, January 10, 2011
Liam : "...It’s a Proper Band, It’s Not Liam Gallagher Solo"
Amid cardboard boxes of clothes, marked “dog-tooth”, “grandpa”, “paisley”, “cobalt blood” and “patch pocket”, two sharp-dressed shop assistants in traditional mod gear debate with a security guard in gangster black what to do about the broken toilet.
It could be a scene from Are You Being Served: the big boss is on his way from London.
Outside Liam Gallagher’s plush new Pretty Green store on Glasgow’s Ingram Street, sharply-dressed Glaswegians mix with photographers and tabloid journalists, all keen to catch a glimpse of arguably the last great British rock star. Liam Gallagher looks remarkably unchanged from his early swaggering days with Oasis when their potential was first spotted here by Creation Records boss Alan McGee in the early 1990s. Gallagher’s determined character and black and white view of the world are undoubtedly behind the loyalty he inspires in those gathered here today. He is meticulous about every detail of his clothing business – whom he employs, the quality of cloth and even the layout of the store. Although the shop in Glasgow has only been open a month, there’s already a steady community building up around the place, with one fan today proudly sporting a straight-from-the-parlour Pretty Green tattoo, as a mark of his gratitude that he no longer has to trawl secondhand clothes emporiums for retro clobber. There might be a global recession, and indie record shops are falling like dominoes in an earthquake, but you wouldn’t know it here.
When Liam Gallagher finally arrives to greet the hordes, buses and black cabs grind to a halt. “Rock ’n’ roll stops the traffic,” shouts one gruff thirty-something male at the back.
The rock ’n’ roll clothes-horse could wear just about anything his eye directs him to and pull it off. Today it’s an Alex “Hurricane” Higgins trilby, with khaki parka. Recently he managed to get away with a Rod Stewart leopard-print jacket. For his generation there’s something of the (George) Bestie factor in his style.
Gallagher is undoubtedly at home in Glasgow. He returns for two Barrowland gigs in March, his first post-Oasis outing with new group Beady Eye: “I’m into Scotland in general; the people don’t take themselves too seriously. We were always going to open a shop in Glasgow, it makes sense. The connection goes back a long way with McGee and King Tut’s for the Barrowlands gigs and all that, but it’s the people.
“It’s the same as Manchester: it’s a great football city, the people are into proper clothes and music, which is what it’s all about. All of those things connect with me. It’s the same with the gigs; the fans bring something to the table. After Oasis split, things could have got bitter. I’m not about sitting around doing that and Pretty Green kept me in touch with people.”
After a final argument backstage in August 2009 the credits rolled on one of rock’n’roll’s longest running soap operas for good. Noel Gallagher walked out, dissolving Oasis after fifteen years in the public eye.
“Everyone knows I’ve got the a*** with our kid, and he’s playing the good guy card. That’s fine, but I’ll say what I want to say. I’m not looking back in anger but I’m not going to shut my mouth either. We were never The Waltons; we didn’t go for long strolls together; you know what I mean?
“The old days are lodged in my mind, my soul and my blood. I wish it hadn’t happened but it has and it’s done, time to move on; no one’s dead. It’s Beady Eye now and we are putting as much, if not more, into this band than we did Oasis.
“The rehearsals have been rocking man; there’s been a lot of energy and spirit around the place.”
Forthcoming single The Roller sounds like the starry-eyed ghosts of Ronnie Lane and John Lennon strumming in a pastoral 1970s country pile. Bring The Light and opener Four Letter Word from their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding both retain the exigency of typical Oasis, but there is also a defiant shift.
“Wigwam was the hardest in the studio; it was three different tracks stuck together. We started out tuning into that tight Small Faces vibe, but by the end it goes right into an I Am The Resurrection jam; it’s different, man.
“Steve Lillywhite threw his hat into the ring early on, and he’s produced a load of great bands. He brought in energy, but we had just come off tour with Oasis so it wasn’t like we had forgotten what to do.
“Andy Bell is back on guitar and on fire. He’s been set free, it’s a proper band, it’s not Liam Gallagher solo. It’s the first time Chris (Sharrock) has played on a record with us, and they are all great musicians and writers. I’m getting there as a songwriter: I’m not Morrissey or Oscar Wilde but its proper rock ’n’ roll.
“It’s not that they were prisoners before, because Oasis was a great band, but it was Noel that rubber-stamped everything.”
Gallagher bangs his fist down on the table to make the point clear. “I’m feeling these songs like I felt in Oasis. I can sing other songs, my brother doesn’t have to have written them! With Beady Eye it’s been all of us grafting together, all of us pulling our weight.”
This year Pretty Green will continue to launch retail outlets throughout the UK, Europe and Asia as Beady Eye tour Europe. Gallagher’s own production company is also currently developing The Longest Cocktail Party feature film, chronicling the story behind The Beatles Apple Corps. There remains an urgency and concentration in Gallagher’s eyes and he retains steadfast self-belief. While in Oasis he referenced his violent father as an inspiration. Each time we have met he refers to “the days of no worries” – childhood holidays in his mother’s hometown of County Mayo or the teenage tearaway Saturday afternoons watching Manchester City with his mates. He shrugs off a rag trade Drapers Award for Pretty Green with a flippant “no-one’s cured cancer”. Whether it’s his father, his brother, his critics or his past, the competition remains close – and William John Paul Gallagher is determined to be a contender.
Different Gear, Still Speeding is released on February 28. Beady Eye play Glasgow Barrowland on March 3 and 4.
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