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Friday, February 18, 2011
Liam Gallagher: I'm Grown Up. I am Getting My Shit Together
He’s back and this time Liam Gallagher is keeping a Beady Eye on business, he tells Eamon Sweeney, as he lifts the lid on his feud with brother Noel
It's a mild midweek afternoon with a tantalising hint of spring in the air, but there's a tornado about to go off in a small back room in north west London in the building that houses Ignition Management, a company that used to take care of business for Oasis.
Their latest charges are basically the same band, minus a certain Noel Gallagher. His little brother -- yes, that tornado -- is in top form, explaining why he has christened his new band Beady Eye.
"You've got to keep your eye on things, d'you know what I mean?" he begins in his inimitable Mancunian drawl. "You'd think that should be a natural thing, but with Oasis it wasn't. Noel was the guy doing all that. You'd be looking out the window and you'd see a picture of us [Oasis] laughing our tits off or blinking and him looking all super cool. And you'd think, 'What fucker approved that picture?' And then you click and go, 'Fuck, it was that twat!' No wonder he was in the office all the time."
In 2007, when Day & Night met Noel Gallagher, he said to me, "I'm here working all day from 11 in the morning until 11 at night doing promo and fuck knows what else, while he [Liam] is poncing around in stupid clothes getting pissed."
As I'm telling Liam this quote, his face darkens. "Yeah, it's called fucking living mate," he interrupts. "Stupid clothes. Really? Was he fucking wearing his Adidas trainers trying to be 18 again? Grow up mate. As for me growing up, he's the one hanging out with Russell Brand. A shit comedian. He needs to grow up. Fucking hell. I am grown up. I am getting my shit together."
Indeed, Liam has been busy. Against all the odds, his first post-Noel album is a revelation, the polar opposite to the car crash that even their staunchest fans feared. While I've been instructed not to talk about the past, Liam is the first to mention the N word. Before Christmas, he declared that Beady Eye's Different Gear, Still Speeding was better than Oasis' stellar debut Definitely Maybe. He also remarked that when he hears it, Noel would come crawling back. Really?
"Nah, I was only joking man," he replies. "Noel is a very stubborn lad. He's the one that left the band. He wanted to do his thing and he is and he'll be happy. But what I will say is that he'll miss us before we miss him -- believe you me. Us four know each other for years and it's very comfortable and nice. I'd hate to be Noel Gallagher, mate, going out with a load of new people, firing them because he doesn't get his own way. That's no way to be getting on. We've all got utmost respect for each other."
Liam is flanked by Andy Bell, the guitarist of the remarkable shoegazing quartet Ride, responsible for one the best British albums of the 90s, Nowhere. Bell remarks that recording with Beady Eye last year during the World Cup reminded him of doing Nowhere in 1990. "He's obsessed with that fucking Ride album," Liam interjects. "Like it's good and all, but it's not as good as this." Did England's pathetic performance impact on band morale? "Well, we played a blinder mate!"
As surprisingly good as Different Gear, Still Speeding is, Oasis' gigantic fan base will want to know if the quibbling brothers will ever bury the hatchet and reform. They imploded spectacularly in Paris on August 28, 2009, a detail I'll always remember, as it was my birthday.
"Ha ha ha!" Liam cackles. "If you really hated us, you'd have been out on the piss that night going, 'Thank fuck! Best birthday present ever!' Only a fool says never, but I can't fucking see it mate. That's it. Done. We're so into this thing, I don't really think about Oasis anymore."
Have you spoken to Noel since Oasis split? "I haven't seen him since that night," he answers. "I've got nothing to say to him. It's done. That's it, man. I'm sure it's vice versa."
I'm sure many fans will be screaming for Oasis songs on the forthcoming Beady Eye tour. "That's fine," Liam says. "They can scream all they want. I'll be screaming right back at them going, 'No!' I've got a microphone and a big fucking PA, so they'll soon get bored. It would be schizophrenic and a bit weird for both parties to play Oasis songs. You've got to draw a line and move on and we definitely have."
He's getting increasingly animated and the Gallagher swagger is in full swing, but nothing can prepare me for the mesmerising spectacle of Liam in full flight. "I sometimes leave the room with a, 'John Lennon was an idiot', just to watch the explosion," Noel once said about how to stir up his brother. And it's about to detonate in front of my very eyes, as the conversation turns to last year's Brit Awards. Liam accepted an award for Best British Album of the past 30 years, which he proceeded to lob into the crowd. Presenter Peter Kay branded him a "knob head".
"He called me a knob head, which is fine, but if you're going to do that, then say it to my face, you fucking idiot," Liam spits. "I'll see that fucking clown on my travels mate, believe you me. We'll see what he's got to say then. He got that wrong. People went, 'You threw an award at fans'. No I didn't. If I threw it, you'd know about it because it would have stuck in someone's fucking head. I don't have beef with fans. It was my last gesture as Oasis, but people got it wrong as per usual."
As he delivers this broadside, he's standing in the middle of the room, acting out how he gave the award to the audience. The way he's illustrating it reminds me of Jose Mourinho famously tossing his Premiership medal into the crowd at Stamford Bridge. "Exactly mate!" Liam says with a triumphant clap of the hands.
This Special One isn't finished yet. "A knob head! And you call yourself a comedian?" he continues. "You're meant to be fucking funny and best you can come up with is calling me a knob head! Surely you can come up with something better than that you fat fool, c'mon mate! Bolton is a great city man, but there are clowns everywhere ... [starts singing a snippet of Stuck in the Middle With You] and jokers to the right of me ... Fuck him anyway, Peter Kay. He's not even funny. I'm funnier than half of them comedians. It's a good job that I'm in a fucking band because I'd put all them out of business. That's my next fucking thing. Stand up."
Liam is now actually standing up. I'm completely in stitches. In an age when feuds appear to be chiefly conducted over Twitter, it's a reminder of the halcyon days of Blur versus Oasis, fuelled by the Gallaghers' outrageous bile.
"Music needs it man," Liam insists. "Otherwise it becomes like fucking Coldplay, and I'm not having a pop. It just becomes four musicians making music. You need characters in bands. You need characters in life. I don't feel part of the music industry anymore, not that I ever did. We're in a band and that's as far as it goes. Too many kids today know about the business and it interferes with creativity. You can be a rock star one week and a movie star the next week and a politician the fucking week after that. You can be all sorts in a month."
Rock star might be Liam's fulltime job, but he's also assuming another role with the opening of his clothes shop, Pretty Green in Carnaby Street. Liam is the perfect poster boy. He's remarkably handsome in the flesh and possesses unexpectedly clear and radiant skin.
"I was asked in the 90s to do a bit of it, but I was in the fucking pub most of time and I wasn't arsed," he explains. "I'm into clothes, man. We're all into it. It's important to look good in a band. You look at Eddie Vedder. He's like a tree. Scruffy little bastard, and he's not even cool looking scruffy, 'cos I can go with that too. The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, Weller, even the Pistols looked fucking smart. Kasabian have got a bit of look sometimes. The Arctic Monkeys singer looks pretty cool and so does Miles Kane. The Strokes sometimes, but then I see pictures of the singer and he's dyed his hair red and got a biker's jacket on and you're like, 'What the fuck is going on there?'"
The best part of an hour in Liam's hilarious company whizzes by in a flash. Liam swaggers out of the room with a firm handshake and a cheeky smile. Even if you consider him to be nothing more than a loudmouth with a touch of Tourettes who ended up fronting the biggest pub rock band in the world, there's no denying the fact he's one of those rare characters that he's just eulogised. The last bona fide rock star left on the planet has left the building, but the next chapter in his hell-raising career is only just beginning.
Different Gear, Still Speeding is out next Friday. Beady Eye play the Olympia, Dublin, on April 14 and 15
- Eamon Sweeney
Via L4e / Source: www.independent.ie
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