With their new album Dig Out Your Soul out and an international tour underway, Rolling Stone caught up with Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher to chat about the first record that blew his mind, how he measures success and God’s musical prowess.
I was listening to Dig Out Your Soul on My Space and reading through the comments. Did you check out any of those?
No, I don’t do any of that nonsense, MySpace rubbish. I don’t listen to comments. I just make the record and hope people like it; if they don’t like it I give a shit. I wait to go on tour. That’s how I work. That’s the music Oasis are making and that’s how I judge success, is by making the music you want to make and not having to fucking sell out and make music what other people want you to make.
But the comments have been phenomenally positive, with people saying it’s your best album since ’95.
That sounds good. That’s what I like to hear.
The record has a lot of live energy. Were you thinking of how it would translate to the stage?
I wasn’t personally ’cause they’re the musicians. I always sing it like it’s fucking the last song I ever sing. But I think Noel definitely wanted to be a bit more heavy and not so acoustic.
I know you did a tour with the Black Crowes. Chris Robinson recently was talking to me about the fact if you stay around long enough you become cool again. Seems like that’s happening with Oasis here as well.
That’s something I think about a lot and I remember Paul Weller telling me that. But I don’t worry about that; I’m happy with the way Oasis is. But he was talking about the cycles; it comes and goes. It’s like songwriting. It’s not a race. It’s about the quality you put out more than the quantity. And I love the Black Crowes. The way I judge success is we’re doing it on our own terms and that outweighs any fucking success. If I can get through this, the whole Oasis thing, knowing I didn’t fucking suck cock, then that is a huge success to me.
Tell me about “I’m Outta Time.”
That’s a song I had about three years ago and I demoed it in our studio. I got the verses and the music, the chorus took like fucking years to write, I just couldn’t get anything. One day I was fucking about and it just happened. I thought, “All right, that’s the song done. It’s fucking done.” I was playing it and the outro goes round and round, it needs something — obviously I’m a big John Lennon fan and it’s got a bit of a Lennon vibe, so I thought, “Well, I’ve got to find a bit of him speaking.” So we went through all these old interviews, that’s the first one I found, and it just sort of worked. It’s not a tribute to John Lennon because if you sat down and tried to write a tribute to John Lennon it’d be fucking rubbish, but it’s kind of a nod.
How old were you when Lennon was shot?
I was eight. “Imagine” is the song for me, because I was putting the TV on and I remember that song being on all the time and just thinking, “Who’s this guy?” and all that and then obviously you forget about it and go to school. Later on in life I got into the Beatles, the whole band and stuff.
So what was the first record that blew you away?
I never got into music until I was about 16, man. The first record that blew my head off was the Stone Roses album. That was the one I thought, “That’s it.” I mean, we had the Smiths and all that around the house, and the Specials and all that, but I was out playing football. It just wasn’t my time yet. [Noel] brought home the Stone Roses record and I was ready then. I was at that age, so I was just hooked. And then that opened the doors to all this,”What does that sound like? And I need more music that sounds like this. I wonder what their influences are.” Hendrix, the Who, Beatles, the Stones, and it just opened the door to all this other music.
When you recall hearing Stone Roses, do you ever think about the fact that you now have albums that have that same influence on kids who are 16?
I appreciate that people feel that way about the music, but to me it’s all bollocks. But I can go with it and I know what it’s like for kids to go up to me; that’s why I’ve never been a cunt with anyone who wants to meet me or meets me in the street ’cause you can make or break their day. When I met Ian Brown he was just the coolest geezer ever for me; we’ve become kind of mates. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s another way I can measure success. People don’t buy records and shit these days, but we’ve sold our fair share of records and I’m quite proud of what we’ve done. But meeting cool kids that come up to you in the street, that’s another level of success I like.
Are you guys big fans of your tour opener Ryan Adams?
Well, I’d never heard any of his music. I’ve heard of the guy himself, but I tell you what, mate, he blew me away. I thought he was pretty fucking great.
Have you heard his version of “Wonderwall”?
No, I’ve never heard it, but that was the only way I’d heard of the guy, there’s some guy called Ryan Adams who’s done “Wonderwall.'” “Bryan Adams?” “No, Ryan Adams.” I tell you what, he’s a serious musician, that kid, he’s mega. I don’t like many people. But it was a privilege for us to play gigs with him.
Do rock stars exist anymore?
I’m sure these kids in bands think they’re rock stars these days, and I’m sure they are to a certain extent. To me, there’s a lot of people making music in bands and there’s not so many rock stars around. And I don’t know what it is, mate. I think they’re trying too fucking hard and it’s coming across really fake.
Are there any bands at the moment you’re digging?
The band that I like at the moment is Kasabian. They’ve got it; they’ve got the look, the tunes, they say just the right amount of stuff, they don’t fucking rub it and rub it and rub it. I like them and the Arctic Monkeys are great, but they’re not rock stars. That’s really it. I like the Kings of Leon, but I don’t know about this fucking new record. I like the old stuff, but I like his voice, you can always tell his voice when it comes on. But it seems to me they’ve gone for the bucks, man. When they first come out I was going, “Who the fuck is this?” They were cool and now they’ve all got their sleeves cut off. And I’m not dissing them because I fucking really like them, but it’s like they’ve got this U2 sound and you can do better than that.
I’ve always believed if everybody likes you, you’re doing something wrong.
Well yeah, why would you want everyone to like you? That was the beauty of things growing up; not everyone was into the same music as you and that’s what stood you apart from everyone. You go into school and you go, “I’m different from you, man.” “Why?” ” ‘Cause I like the fucking Stone Roses. Who do you fucking like? You like Madonna.” If everyone’s all into the same thing that’s when you lose your identity. And it’s like the clothes you wear, that’s what I find today in England, all the people that are in bands are wearing the same fucking clothes — wearing skinny jeans, wearing these pointy fucking shoes, a little tie, a little waistcoat, a little tight T-shirt and it’s like, “Fucking A, do you all live in the same fucking house? Do you all shop at the same fucking shop?” Everyone in bands, they’re all wearing the same fucking clothes, they all must shop at the same fucking shop. It’s like, “Fuck that.”
I was reading an interview where the guy asked you what you’d be doing if you weren’t a musician …
I’d buy a ticket for Oasis.
Well, in this interview you said you’d be God, that’s the next highest thing to being in Oasis. So where would being in the Beatles rank on that list?
It’s got to be being in Oasis, man.
So, how about the Beatles versus God?
It’s got to be being in the Beatles. When was the last time God made a decent record?