What I'm here for
Someone needs to show the kids how to rock and roll. Don’t worry. Liam is well up for it.
Someone did this on purpose, right?
It’s a PR man’s ultimate fantasy. We all know the brothers aren’t on the best of terms. Mention Noel’s name and it’s like lighting the blue touch paper with Liam. Just read his twitter feed if you want to see.
Yet somehow both Gallaghers are releasing new material at the same time.
Sibling relationships are often complex but Liam and Noel took it to a new level in the messy bust-up backstage in Paris in 2009 when Oasis finally dried up. For Liam, it has been a while in the wilderness since. He carried on with the rest of the band as My Beady Eye but it all unwound pretty quickly.
And then there was nothing.
“There was no gig,” he says. “I felt like a shadow… I was lost. I’d think, ‘****, how am I going to get out of this one?’ “
He’s come back fighting. But it feels like the bruising from these experiences has given new direction. The aggression is tempered, surprisingly controlled (for Liam).
As You Were is raw rock and roll, tightly produced. It’s glorious stuff. Against the backdrop of over-produced X-Factor pap and EDM that dominates the charts these days Liam’s new material feels real, visceral. Fans of Oasis will love it, new kids on the block will be surprised by its energy and candour.
“Good songs, great vocals, good words… I hope people enjoy it, don’t scratch their heads too much. Jump up and down.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” he says. “No one seems to be counteracting the bull**** any more... I hate them ******* that make dance records one year because it’s trendy and then as soon as they get a whiff of guitar music coming back they get the guitars out. You’ve got to be one or the other. If you’ve got a guitar, plug it in, turn it up and play it loud or **** off.
And that voice. It’s still as iconic. Sure Noel wrote the songs, but Oasis would have been nothing without Liam’s utterly unique vocals.
As he said in the past: “I could sing Three Blind Mice and Baa Baa Black Sheep and it would still sound like Oasis.”
Despite the drugs, the fags and the late nights, the voice hasn’t lost any of its range or its rage. How has he kept it that way?
“I drink a lot of funky drinks,” he says. “I have this apple cider vinegar, the one that everyone bangs on about… Mam has it for arthritis and it’s really good for her. So I have vinegar, some honey and then I have some turmeric, some cayenne pepper, a squirt of lemon, hot water, stir it round and drink it. It’s really good for when you get a hoarse voice… you have this drink and it makes you a bit Jumping Jack Flash.”
Back then Liam just did the singing. Officially it didn’t bother him that Noel was the songwriter. “I knew the score. That was Noel’s thing,” he says. “My thing was the whole cliché: the sex, the drugs, the rock and roll… And that’s why Oasis worked. We couldn’t have both been boring and neither could we have both been head cases like me.”
So when it came to the solo album. Where to start without Noel to dish up the anthems?
Can you believe it? Liam has a muse.
“The music came,” he nods. “I started getting up at 3am and going to a little spot in our flat, picking up a guitar and tinkering away. It was my witching hour. And then I’d go back the next night. I’d never been interested in songwriting before.”
Maybe it had been there all along? It was just smothered by the presence of his brother who had been writing songs for years before Oasis - whilst Liam pissed it up with his mates.
“Maybe working with someone you don’t know at all is easier,” he muses. “It’s like when you have a problem, it’s sometimes easier to talk to a stranger than your best mate. Or a mother. Or a brother. You can let it all out.”
So whilst it’s his name on the cover, this is not all his own work. And he’s totally cool with that. “I class myself as a rock and roll singer who writes the odd tune every now and again. And that is it. I’m not going out saying I’m Bob Dylan,” he says.
Producer Dan Grech, who’s worked with Lana Del Rey, Keane and Tom Odell, was his main collaborator and it seems like the relationship was fruitful. “I’ll play him a tune very badly and he’ll go, ‘Yeah, I get where you’re coming from’ and get the acoustics down and away we go,” he says.
Oddly Liam’s understated about the album. It’s a side of him that maybe we’re only seeing now he has aged a little more.
“It’s all been done before, my record,” he says. “I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m just giving it a new polish. Good songs, great vocals, good words… I hope people enjoy it, don’t scratch their heads too much. Jump up and down.”
Well, that almost sounds… apologetic? And there’s more that’s surprising. This hellraiser is an early riser these days.
“I get up very early, man, five o’clock,” he says. “I go for a run at six, just to have a bit of discipline. No music, I just run. Chase the squirrels. I’m the kind of guy that, when I see geese, I go: ‘All right, geezers?’ and I think that’s hilarious. And they’re just looking at me going: ‘Like I haven’t heard that one before, you prick’.”
So maybe Liam is a bit of a new man? It’s hard to say. He’s a complex character. As You Were feels very apt as the title. It’s enigmatic. It could mean lots of things. Perhaps it’s about going back to the basics - that guitar-driven rock and roll that Oasis did so well before the drugs and the infighting took too much of a hold.
There are still flashes of the old, crazy Liam, but with the help of a few good people around him - in particular his girlfriend and manager Debbie Gwyther - he has tempered the fire, channelled his ire and produced something genuinely brilliant.
Perhaps that’s because at heart he wants to be back out there, playing gigs. Ultimately there’s no buzz like it.
“I want to go on tour,” he agrees. “If the record doesn’t go anywhere, playing gigs don’t happen and I just want to get out and play some gigs, man, instead of all the drama.”
And in a final burst of surprising candour he continues: “People don’t realise that I’m a good singer and I actually dig music, I’m passionate about it, I want to get back out doing what I do.”