The singer talks about his new music and his terms for a reunion with his brother: If he thinks I’m joining the High Flying Birds but calling it Oasis, he’s got another thing coming’
Liam Gallagher admits it took him a while for him to get back on track after Oasis, which ended in 2009 when he got into a backstage fistfight with his brother Noel Gallagher. It was the end of a classic musical partnership, and set the two brothers off into the musical wilderness. Noel, Oasis’ main songwriter, formed the musically adventurous High Flying Birds. Liam created Beady Eye with former members of Oasis. But even Liam admits those years “weren’t so fruitful.” The band broke up in 2014, and Liam decided go solo. Writing songs with studio pros like Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia) and Andrew Wyatt (Lorde, Lady Gaga), Gallagher got back to what he does best: “Brawny Brit pop, Beatle-esque ballads,” David Fricke wrote at the time.
His new album, Why Me? Why Not, follows that same path. Gallagher singles out “Once” as his favorite, a ballad that takes stock of a fizzled partnership. “When the dawn came up, you felt so inspired to do it again, but it turns out, you only got to do it once,” Liam sings in a chorus that could be about his legendary band. “I think ‘Once’ is the most unique song on that record,” says Liam.
A new version of the song appears on Gallagher’s new Acoustic Sessions EP, a surprise release that was recorded for MTV Unplugged in September in Hull City, England. Gallagher has also released a video for “Once,” starring former Manchester United soccer star Eric Cantona. It was directed by Charlie Lightening, who helmed last year’s As It Was documentary about Liam’s solo journey. We caught up with Gallagher late last year to talk about his new music, his tortured relationship with his brother, and his terms for an Oasis reunion. This week, Liam made headlines when he tweeted that his brother had turned down £100 million for an Oasis reunion tour; Noel replied that he had never heard of any such offer. “I am fully aware, though,” he tweeted, “that someone has a single to promote, so maybe that’s where the confusion lies.”
I think your new album is your best in a long time.
Yeah, I’m loving this album. It’s got some good songs on it. Me, Andrew [Wyatt], and Greg Kurstin, and Simon Aldridge, we work well together, so I’m lucky to have some good songwriters now, man.
Is it more difficult approaching your second solo album? On the first, you can do anything.
Well, the second one was more of the same again. We didn’t want to do anything really different from the first. It was just the same again: Good songs, good production, good voice, good words. And that’ll be the same on the third album, man. That’s the genre of music I like, and that’s the kind of music I think the fans like, you know what I mean? We’re never going to make a reggae record. Not that I got anything against reggae music, ’cause I do like it, but I know what I’m doing. So we’ll stick to that.
What is it like to make the transition to songwriter so far into your career?
I mean, I still don’t trust meself as a songwriter. I’m more of a singer. I sort of do the odd bit, but if I was to write the whole song, I don’t think it would be as good. I need help with it. So I like handing them over to people who know what they’re doing. I could write an album, but I don’t think it would get on the radio, you know what I mean? I want people to hear it.
The Oasis legacy is pretty amazing. It feels like more people are into them than ever, it hasn’t gone away at all.
Well, yeah, the Oasis years were good years. The Beady Eye years weren’t so fruitful. But I think this solo thing is working out all right, man. But I think you need a bit of time away for people to come back and appreciate, you know what I mean? I’m not saying they didn’t appreciate, but I think me and the fans knew we needed time away from each other so I could get on. I had a bit of private stuff to sort out. But I’m definitely glad to be back. Long may it continue, man.
It seems like you went straight into Beady Eye and didn’t really have a chance to take a step back.
Well, obviously, when Oasis broke up, we didn’t want that to happen. But Noel wanted to go home because he’d had enough, but we felt that we should stay out and on the road and keep doing it; just because he jumped ship doesn’t mean we have to, you know what I mean? So, yeah, I enjoyed the Beady Eye years.… But [after a while] we weren’t getting many gigs booked, so I just thought it was time to knock on the other bit. I thought we made some good records.
“We didn’t want to do anything really different from the first album. It was just the same again: Good songs, good production, good voice, good words. And that’ll be the same on the third album, man.”
One of my favorite parts of the new documentary about you is the trip to Ireland you took with your brother Paul.
Oh, yeah, we went drinking in the Guinness bars. I love him, man.
Where was that?
That was in Mayo; Charlestown, where my mum was born. We try to get over there as much as we can, but we always end up in the pubs.
When you go to the pubs, what do you drink?
Well, I start off with a lager, and then I’ll get bored of that ’round about the fifth one in. Then I’ll get straight on to the tequilas. And then I might have a couple of Guinnesses. I’ll drink anything, man. I can handle anything. I like it all.
How do you balance that with being healthy? You don’t look like you drink all that much.
When you got a tour coming up, you sort of got to behave a little bit. I do like to get out running, and I kind of watch what I eat a little bit. But I’ll never have a six-pack. I look all right for 47, considering I’ve been smashing it for 25 years or 30 years.
What music excites you right now?
Nothing, really. I like there’s a new guy out called Slowthai. I think he’s got something. He’s more grime rap, but I like him. He’s pretty cool, he’s pretty political. There’s nothing really going on that’s blowing my mind, really.
The film also talks about your prolific tweeting.
I like it, man. I like being in touch with the fans. It’s good to hear from them. A lot of shit gets said about me that is way off the map, so it’s nice to let people know how I’m really feeling, you know what I mean?
What is said about you that people don’t get right?
I don’t know, man, it’s just the usual shit: that I’m desperate to get Oasis back. And I’m not desperate. I’m not desperate about anything. A lot of people, say, “Oh, he’s desperate.” I don’t give a shit. I’m quite happy to be doing this. We should never have split up, you know what I mean? So that’s people thinking that I’m desperate to get the band back, and that’s not true. It would be nice if we got back together, but I’m not fucking desperate.
“Noel must have thought he was going to go out and be the new Paul McCartney and playing stadiums. Well, it’s fucking backfired, man.”
What’s the craziest offer you’ve ever gotten to get [Oasis] back together?’
Um, I don’t think they’ll come through me. I think they go through Noel’s manager, which used to be Oasis’, so I’m not sure, man. I don’t hear about it. But if it does happen, it’ll be 50/50, believe you me. Noel seems to think he’ll be throwing me a bone, you know what I mean? He won’t be throwing me a fucking bone. It’ll be 50/50, and I’ll be choosing who’s in the band as well, because if he thinks I’m joining the High Flying Birds but calling it Oasis, he’s got another thing coming. Bonehead [Paul Arthurs, one of the band’s original guitarists] will be in the band and we’ll be ripping it up, man.
We did an interview with your brother, who talked about your solo career. He said, “I would imagine if he’s got any brains he’d be playing quite a lot of [Oasis songs] because his own music is dreadful. One of us is still trapped in the Nineties dressing like a fisherman like he’s going to go to Norway trawling for sardines.”
Yeah, well, I’d rather dress like a fisherman than fucking George Bush, the little prick, you know what I mean? I tell you what, mate, you can tell that the geezer’s lost his mind.… I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.
Did you hear his newest record?
I did. Yes, unfortunately.
What did you think?
I don’t know, mate. Listen, all jokes aside, I don’t think he’s writing good music at the moment. I think if you played any of them songs on the acoustic guitar, you’d get laughed at. It’s just stupid, mate. He thinks he’s fucking David Bowie, but he’s not. It’s not for me, mate. I would much prefer to be stuck in the Nineties.
The film talks a lot about the fight that broke the band up. I know there was a lot more going on, but a physical fight seems like something you guys can come back from.
Yeah, there wasn’t a lot going on, actually. There was nothing going on. We were normal. There was always a little bit of shit going on, but I just think he wanted out, man. Someone had obviously blown smoke up his ass and said, “You know, you could do a solo record,” and he’s gone and done it and he hasn’t done really much with it. He must have thought he was going to go out and be the new Paul McCartney and playing stadiums. Well, it’s fucking backfired man, you know what I mean? If he wants to do a solo record, I’m not his dad, I’m not his mum, but don’t throw me under the bus and then split the band up, you know what I mean? Just turn around and go, “Look I’ve had enough, I’m out.” Don’t try to cause scenes, man, knowing that I’m going to fucking fight. If you want to go and do your little shit, go and do it, but don’t make out that I’m some horrible fucking monster to work with, you know what I mean? I’m cool as fuck.
Still, a tour would just be so great, for people to see you who didn’t get the chance.
Yeah, but, you never know. It might be great and it might be shit. It could go either way. I think for us to get back together just for money and just to do a tour … we’ve got to become mates again, you know what I mean? If we become mates again, then it’ll be the best thing since sliced bread. But if we do it without becoming mates again, I think it would be a fucking waste of time. I don’t think we’d last the first chorus of fucking “Rock N’ Roll Star.” I think I’d end up sticking it on him.
Any last thoughts on the new album?
Not really. It is what it is. If you like it, buy it. If you don’t, buy something else. It’s not curing cancer. It’s just music, man. I’m not one to force my music down people’s throats. It is what it is.
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