Even with a crackly phone line, 9,000 kilometres and a heavy Manchester accent between us, Liam Gallagher is making himself very clear indeed. Mind you, the 38-year-old Beady Eye frontman has always been an advocate of the direct-as-a-slap-in-the-chops approach – a reputation that’s repeatedly seen him labelled as the most outspoken man in music during his 20 year career. And what a career it’s been.
As a founding member of a little band called Oasis, by the turn of the century Liam had his name on the credits of some of the most iconic rock anthems of the modern era. The band claimed the UK number one spot with each and every one of their seven studio albums (1995 breakthrough record (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? remains the third biggest-selling album of all time in their home country) and hoovered up awards from anyone with balls enough to put Liam on the guest list.
But of course, the music has only ever been half the story. For every tabloid inch dedicated to gushing praise for Liam’s latest single, you could count on a good newspaper-and-a-half’s worth of snarky gossip columns chronicling his infamous off-stage exploits. Not that he’s ever been one to shy away from the press – after all, anyone who spars with the paparazzi on the streets of Soho, lets off a fire extinguisher in the face of footballer Paul Gascoigne and publicly baits members of rival bands should expect a little attention. Above all others though, the biggest spats – the ones that really got the showbiz writers rubbing their palms together with glee – involved band-mate and big brother Noel, with whom Liam fell out on a seemingly weekly basis.
As if it were ever in doubt, it was Liam’s fractious alliance with his own flesh and blood that eventually brought about Oasis’ demise. Following a backstage fight during Paris’ Rock en Seine festival on August 28, 2009, the brothers’ relationship – and the band – was over for good, with Noel announcing on Twitter the same evening that he ‘simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.’
While Noel took some time out (debut solo album Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is due out next month), Liam’s response was more immediate, starting Beady Eye just two months later with former Oasis men Gem Archer and Andy Bell, with former Lightning Seeds sticksman Chris Sharrock handed drumming duties. An album followed in February this year, the very Oasis-y Different Gear, Still Speeding earning mostly positive praise from the critics.
In the words of one of Liam’s biggest icons, then, it’s been a long and winding road. Still, as he’s extremely keen to convey from his hotel room in the German city of Bochum – the launch pad for Beady Eye’s first ever world tour – rock’n’roll’s perma-swaggering, swear-happy superstar is feeling just as confident as ever...
Liam Gallagher: Yeah that’s right, I’ve got the confidence. And it’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. I’m glad you picked up on that. It’s not really even about confidence, it’s about passion. I’ll go toe-to-toe with John Lennon, Elvis Presley, any of the cunts, know what I mean? We’re just as passionate as what they were. And if you are, then no one can touch you, can they?
You played a benefit gig in London and released a Beatles cover for the Japanese earthquake relief fund. Do you feel a special connection with the country?
Liam: Yeah, love Japan, you know what I mean, I’ve always had a great time when I’ve gone there, the people are amazing, definitely made of the right stuff. And it’s not just because Oasis or Beady Eye have been successful over there, I just dig the people, know what I mean, everyone’s just cool. So being in a band when that stuff happened, we were ready to go and ready to help out. It was more than raising money, know what I mean, it was just showing people that we’re thinking of them. But that was one of the best nights, musically, for me, ever. I know it was under shit circumstances, but all the people there in that room. It was mega, man. Just a mega night, and I’m glad I was there and witnessed it and felt it and it was top.
Isn’t being on tour a bit draining?
Gem Archer: No way. It’s invigorating.
Liam: I tell you what you’re gonna see, you’re gonna see a bit of realism when you see Beady Eye. This is how we are, we don’t turn it on then become different people when we walk off the stage – this is how we are. No filler, straight in-yer-face rock’n’roll music, no jumping around the stage like bitches, you know what I mean – it is what it is.
Is there a different dynamic on stage, compared with the Oasis days?
Liam: There is a different vibe, but I wouldn’t want to be pointing it out, know what I mean, that’s for other people to do. But we’re equally as into it as we were when we were Oasis. Difference is that now we feel like the underdogs and I like that, know what I mean? With Oasis it got to a stage when we were always the main fuckin’ act. Now we’re the underdogs and it’s cool.
So you’re enjoying having something to prove?
Liam: Yep. Yyyep. Without a doubt. Without a doubt, I fuckin’ love it. If we could fuckin’ stay like that for the rest of my life I’d be fuckin’ happy as Larry man, know what I mean? But we move on, don’t we? So the new album will be better, it has to be and it will be, and I think we’ll move on and progress to be a headline act. Which will be great, but then all the fun goes out of it then, know what I mean? You have nowhere to go, know what I mean?
So you’re not looking forward to the success?
Gem: Well yeah, we are, but I mean we still did small gigs with Oasis. It wasn’t always stadiums, you know? We haven’t got that yearning, which a lot of bands have, for stadiums and arenas. It’s kind of like, we’ve done all that and we’re still here and we still get off on the same things.
Liam: When you’re a headline act it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re the main fuckin’ talking point. But I’ve seen some support acts that have absolute fuckin’ ripped them to pieces, and hopefully that’s what we’re doing.
And is the new album still on the cards for later this year?
Liam: Without a doubt, mate. That’s what we joined the band for, to keep making music. Without a fucking doubt mate. Without a doubt. And it’ll be a beauty.
Are there any new influences for us to listen out for?
Gem: We’re getting the ideas together at the minute. We’ll see how it sounds when we get into the studio, but we’re not listening to anything out of the ordinary. It’s not gonna be a reggae album. And it certainly ain’t gonna be a dance record. It’s just gonna be great crafted rock’n’roll. It’s gonna be another great rock’n’roll album.
Any bands around at the moment that you’re taking inspiration from?
Liam: Not really, to be quite honest. I like Miles Kane, I think he’s doing a good job. He’s a young lad and I think he’s gonna be mega. But to be brutally honest, and I’m not being a bitch about this, but there isn’t anyone really. And if there was, believe you me I’d be shouting it from the rooftops, but there isn’t.
Gem: There’s no one really setting the world on fire, no one’s got any identity. The minute you start getting into a band, they start changing their whole bloody identity, you know what I mean? And that’s not what it’s about. Everyone’s just moving too fast, man.
What do you make of all these bands that are getting back together after years and years apart?
Gem: Initially I thought, ‘good for them.’ I suppose it’s when it all becomes not about the music and it’s all about quick fuckin’ smash-and-grab stuff.
Liam: It’s all about fuckin’ paying the bills and it’s taking the magic out of the music and what you joined the band for. They fucking shouldn’t have split up in the first place. I know people don’t get on and all that, but getting back together because one of them’s fuckin’ skint and one of them’s a DJ, it’s like giving fuckin’ music a bad fuckin’ name. Splitting up to get back together to make some fuckin’ money, it’s like fuckin’ sort it out man. It’s all bollocks in my book.
Gem: All very Machiavellian.
What about Noel – have you heard his new single, ‘The Death of You and Me’?
Liam: Heard it? I’ve fuckin’ sang on it. Not actually on that one, but on most of them. Noel Gallagher’s a great songwriter, there’s no questioning that he’s gonna make a great album and people will like it. Some people won’t like it. Same thing with us, you know what I mean. But I’d rather him make music than not make music.
Would you be worried releasing an album alongside your brother?
Liam: Listen mate, The Beatles get back to-fuckin’-gether tomorrow and I wouldn’t be worried. And Led Zeppelin. I know Beady Eye’s potential. Talk is cheap and all that bollocks, you know what I mean, but we know what we’ve got up our fuckin’ sleeves man. I wouldn’t put an album out if I didn’t think we could stand up against any cunt, let alone Noel Gallagher. So yeah, I’ll go toe-to-toe with anyone. Musically, physically, mentically... uh y’know... mentally – anything. Without a doubt yeah, fuckin’ right.
Fair enough. Music aside, we understand you’re also making a name for yourself as a fashion designer. How did you feel about the rioters in Manchester targeting Pretty Green – the label you design for? Did you take it personally?
Liam: I don’t think it was personal, no. Everyone got hit, didn’t they. The main thing is that no one got hurt, and that works for Pretty Green. The gaff didn’t get burnt down, we’re insured. They’re only clothes, know what I mean. I wouldn’t want it to be happening on a weekly basis, but yeah man, everything’s been taken care of.
You didn’t fancy trying to defend the place?
Liam: What, stand there with a baseball bat? I don’t think that would’ve been wise, would it? They only would’ve fuckin’ pinched it anyway and ran off!
Beady Eye play at Zepp Tokyo, Aomi on Sept 5, Sept 11 and Sept 12