This article originally appeared in Q364.
For 20 years, Liam Gallagher was the renowned singer in Oasis and the greatest frontman of his generation. Then, after two mediocre albums with Beady Eye, he suddenly found himself in crisis, cut adrift with the rest of the mooks on the street. On the eve of an epic new film about Oasis, Ted Kessler meets Liam down the boozer to hear about how he got his life back together “outside of the bubble”, and how he’s now making plans for a dynamic new chapter.
Tuesday, 2 August, 2016
Where would you go on your dream date with Liam Gallagher? To the pub, perhaps, followed by the pictures, and then back to the pub for a bite to eat? Exactly. Keep it simple. Make the most of him.
Out of Highgate Underground, up the hill, over the zebra crossing and through the swing doors into a large saloon bar. Awaiting us in the far corner of his favourite local with a cheery wave is Liam Gallagher, the Rock God who fell to Earth. Outside, it’s a muggy, rainy midweek afternoon off one of North London’s most genteel high streets. Inside, it’s a quiet PM in a roomy, easy-going boozer serving lunch to a family at one table and pints to a gent tackling a crossword at the bar. Soft-rock classics gently tickle the room and the barmaid is so underworked she’s happy to bring drinks to your table. “What’ll you have?” shouts Liam across the pub, by way of a greeting. “My card’s behind the bar.” By anyone’s estimations, these are ideal drinking conditions.
Liam has arrived today with his two best friends. In fact, they’re his only real friends he says, his support network, the emergency services that broke his fall when he tumbled high and fast from “out of the bubble” after splitting Beady Eye up two years ago and was, for the first time since Oasis signed to Creation Records nearly 25 years ago, without a regimented daily itinerary. They are his girlfriend and manager Debbie Gwyther, whom he met when she worked at Beady Eye’s management firm, and her identical twin Katie. The Gwythers are a twinkly-eyed, irrepressible force of nature and exactly the people you’d hope to take you under their wing if you were going through both a professional and literal divorce simultaneously. “Meeting Debbie and her sister was heaven-sent,” says Liam. “Debbie saved me. No bullshit.”
Katie apologises for being here with her three-year old son and newborn baby – her cleaner arrived and, embarrassed at the debris they’d created, Katie escaped to Liam and Debbie’s nearby flat. Liam sympathises. “When the cleaner comes round I always find it really hard to look them in the eye, the state of the place. Then she’ll do a double take and sort of go, [adopts indefinable East European accent] ‘Do I know you – are you famous?…’. Yeah. My name’s Noel Gallagher.”
All things considered, Liam Gallagher is in terrific form. He looks fit and healthy, a shaggy-haired, nicely weathered 43-year-old version of the singer an entire generation (or two) fell in love with at first sight in 1994 as he stood legs apart, tambourine in hand, leaning into the microphone with his head cocked and lips cracked open just wide enough to bawl, “I need to be myself, I can’t be no one else,” thus ruining the careers of all competitors in the frontman business for years to come. We are here to talk ostensibly about that Liam, the Liam Gallagher captured in the forthcoming Supersonic film which focuses on Oasis up to the moment they walked offstage at Knebworth in 1996, having grown from Manchester rehearsal room to the biggest band in the world in just two and a bit years. But Liam’s been through a transforming experience since 2013, the rock star equivalent of the bends, and he has quite a lot to say about that as well. He has insights to share about life outside the fast lane, about the inspiring nature of difficult times, about the new sounds inside his head that’ll rearrange preconceived notions of him… and, of course, he has some thoughts about Noel Gallagher that he’d also like to share. So many thoughts about Noel. He hasn’t done an interview for three years, after all.
Katie’s young son comes running back from the toilet and bounds up to Liam, anxious about something he wants to show him. “City, City,” the boy shouts at Liam to get his attention. City? “His dad is a massive United fan,” explains Liam. “So I made sure the first word I taught his son was City and that’s what he calls me now.” Liam thumbs over to the newborn in Katie’s arms. “And I’m going to make sure that I get that one to call me Man. So that way, whenever I turn up all his dad will hear is ‘Man’ ‘City’ over and over. It’s gonna drive him mental. Love it.”
Liam has spotted a booth on the other side of the pub, away from the family he is hoping to destabilise through child manipulation. “Let’s get cracking,” he decides, evaluating his half-full pint glass. He calls over to the barmaid. “Two more of the same please.” We’re settling in for the long haul.
“Oasis’s greatest strength was the relationship between me and Liam. But it’s also what drove the band into the ground in the end.” Noel Gallagher, Supersonic
Unlike the end of Oasis, which came to an almighty crash amongst splintered guitars, ruffled collars and venomous fraternal abuse in a Paris dressing room in 2009, the end of Beady Eye was a damp squib. Sales for their second album, 2013’s BE, had been disappointing and gig bookings were not what Liam had hoped for, so he called it a day the next year. No big bust-ups, no tussles about musical differences.
“We were going to do Coachella but it got cancelled because it was going to lose us three pound 50 each,” says Liam phlegmatically. “It was the first record where I haven’t played America, which I was furious about but nobody else seemed bothered. I was happy to pay for everybody, do it low budget, no security, on the bus and away we go. [Bassist] Andy Bell was on about tinkering with Ride again which is fine, but I’m not going to be in a band with people who are in 900 bands. Crack on, do yer Ride thing, see you later. Time to call it a day. I didn’t see the point in making a third album.”
And so, for the first time since the 19-year-old Liam Gallagher took over vocal duties for Rain in 1991 and changed the Mancunian quartet’s name to Oasis, Liam was without a band. Beady Eye had been more or less a continuation of Oasis without Noel, swapping one big management firm (Ignition) for another (Quest), and so nothing much had changed in Liam’s day-to-day regime. But ending that cycle when Beady Eye split meant that the intricate management scaffolding that keeps international rock megastars aloft was suddenly whipped away from him too. There was nobody on the other end of a phone organising his days, no record label support network. It was just Liam Gallagher, on his own, for the first time in his adult life. Added to this, he was also going through a divorce (the details of which are nobody’s business, apart from those directly affected). He was suddenly entirely untethered. The bubble had been burst.
“Nobody will really understand what it’s like to leave the bubble unless you’ve been in the bubble,” explains Liam. “When our kid falls out of the bubble he will fall hard. That big machine around him. The itinerary. Noel Gallagher’s life is all mapped out for him from the moment he wakes up. Not having any structure mapped out for you is a killer when it’s all you know. Now, I love it. But at first, my God. I was afraid of losing the itinerary. Being in a band you know exactly what you’re meant to be doing all day long, all night, always. It’s written in a book. I missed all that. I was going mad. I mean, not mad mad. I’m always mad. But mad as in… who the fuck am I? I wanted to get away from myself, but myself was all I had.”
For a while, Liam toyed with the idea of moving to Majorca and living “Sexy Beast-style” as an ex-pat Balearic retiree. Could he be bothered to get another band together? In his opinion, he’d already been in Britain’s greatest rock band and any other band would be a step down. But whenever his brother is asked about reuniting Oasis, Noel is fairly adamant that that won’t happen – and an Oasis reunion can feature pretty much anyone, as long as it features both Gallaghers. But if Liam wasn’t in a band, who was he? Maybe he could be a bloke sweating it out on a sun lounger by the pool in Deià. That sounded alright. What are the hours?
“Debbie swooped me up as I was falling,” he says, dreamily. “She just said, ‘Stop being a dickhead.’ She got me out of the house, introduced me to all kinds of people outside my world, got me doing new things. I’ve lived in London a long time, but I only really knew Hampstead. She took me to new places. I’ve been to Dalston, man.”
He pauses, searching perhaps for a slightly more dramatic example of how far out of his comfort zone he’s travelled. Instead, he simply says, “These last few years have been emotional. Eye-opening. Mind-bending. But emotional.”
Slowly, he decompressed. He got through his divorce and started to discover a new routine. It’s the routine of a man who lives in a rented top floor flat in Highgate and has an awful lot of leisure time, along with a nagging sensation of unfinished business.
He gets up at 5am and performs a series of extensive exercises to limber up. Once his muscles are loose, Liam heads off for an hour-long run on Hampstead Heath. Later this afternoon, when further refreshed, he will demonstrate his running style: it looks a lot like Liam Gallagher stomping quickly off a stage stiff-legged and duck-footed, circa 1997.
“I run around seven miles every day, leaving about 5am. Unless I’ve been out on the sauce, then I’m getting in at 5am. Normally, though, seven miles. Climb the odd tree too. Climbed one the other day. I was running on the Heath and I thought, ‘That looks like a nice tree, I’m going to climb that fucking tree.’ Climbed it and sat there with my hood up for about 10 minutes.”
On his way home, he might stop and have a chat with the milkman if he sees him. “He’s fucking top,” says Liam. “He gave me a pint of lactose-free milk for nothing the other day.” Once he gets home, he puts the kettle on and “drinks around 900 coffees before 8am so that I am completely wired. Then I mither Debbie until she gets up.”
Once Debbie is awake and has started her working day, Liam is left to his own devices. He tries to avoid daytime TV if he can help it. “I am partial to Prime Minister’s Questions though. I’m not bothered about politics, Theresa May and that other cunt can get on with it, but I like that geezer, the Speaker Of The House. Check this shit out.”
He pulls out his mobile. “I nailed him calling some cunt out. [Plays a file of Liam imitating the Rt Hon John Bercow MP] ‘Sir Edward Leeeeeeeeeeeigh!’ Sent that to my kid. Who talks like that?! Funny as fuck.”
The rest of Liam’s day is spent locally. He might pop into the florist for a chat, or the greengrocers or, preferably, the butchers. “Went round to the butchers for a couple of lambchops and the geezer in there is like, ‘Alright Liam, we’ve got some champagne on ice in the garden if you fancy a glass?’ Next thing you know we’re in the back of the butchers getting smashed on his champagne. Just bizarre.”
Sometimes Liam might go for an afternoon pint, and there’s always a friendly face around the corner if he fancies a chat. “It’s like Stella Street, round here: Jamie Oliver lives up the road. I got told off for throwing stones at his windows pissed-up, asking him to chuck down some bacon rolls. Ray Davies, have the odd sneaky one with Ray. He told me to patch it up with my brother. I said, ‘I will if you do!’ George Michael, he’s great. He sent me some flowers the other day. Why? Because I’m cool, man.”
After a while, living outside of the bubble started to feel more comfortable than being in the bubble. “Being in a band for 20 years, I never had six months off. The thought of it gave me the fear. And, yes, it’s been wonky at times, but it’s been good for me. I’m part of the community. Now, if I go on the road again, there might actually be a life for me to miss. Getting my lactose-free milk, getting pissed-up in the butchers, talking about the price of grapes. Just leading a normal life… well, as normal as you can be when you’re a fucking legend.”
At the back of his mind, though, that thought became more and more insistent. It’s this: he’s Liam Gallagher and nobody else is. Nobody wants Liam Gallagher, the greatest frontman of his generation, to be prematurely retired – least of all Liam Gallagher himself.
“No, it’s fucking shit,” he agrees. “It’s boring without me, isn’t it? On my game I will roast anyone. Anyone. Whether it’s interviews, photoshoots, on record or on that fucking stage. And there are a lot of people getting away with murder on that stage from my generation.”
He warms to the theme. “There’s a lot of singers out there who are one step away from a vicar. And very few who stare at you in the eyes. They’ve all got something to hide. They know they’ve done wrong. You ever get Chris Martin to look you in the eye? I’m sure he does put on a good gig, Chris Martin, the amount of money he gets paid. He looks like he’s in the Tweenies, though. The whole band look beyond shit. Have they not seen any photos of The Rolling Stones? Probably not.”
So Liam started writing his own songs on his guitar. His mind was finally clear and his heart full of melody. Suddenly, maybe for the first time, he truly felt songs swelling up inside. And while his playing is still idiosyncratic (“I’m shit on the guitar”), he’s getting better all the time at expressing himself tunefully. He hooked up with “two lads I know. One’s a multi-instrumentalist” – Liam pronounces that like a threat, or a criminal offence – “and he can play anything. Not that there’s much to play on these songs. One guitar, acoustic. One guitar, electric. Drum kit, keyboard about that big [measures out 12 inches between his hands]. That’s your lot. Proper sparse, really pumping. How it should be. We’ve demoed some songs and it’s sounding…”
He catches himself, aware that earlier this year he tweeted that he would not entertain a solo career, a dig perhaps at his brother.
“I am not embarking on a solo ‘career’. Everyone should know that. There are just 10, 11 songs I’ve written that are eligible to be recorded. They’ve got flair, attitude, the melodies are sick and the words are fucking funny. We’ll record them this year and release it next year. It’ll shock people. It’s a record written by me, that’s got all the right ingredients and sounds well tasty. You won’t be scratching your chin. It’s not Pink Floyd and it ain’t Radiohead. It’s chin-out music.”
The other thing that Liam has become surprisingly good at since the end of Oasis is Twitter. “The best thing on there, innit?” he agrees.
This seems like a good opportunity, then, to discuss some of his best tweets, as well as some of his most mysterious. A chance to fill in the tantalising back stories. Would he mind… “Do it, mate,” he says enthusiastically. “No point doing an interview if you can’t ask what you want, is there?”
If only that was the case with everyone.
“Well, it’s like my motto: if you can’t talk to yourself, who can you talk to?”
OK, first off:
31 Mar 2009
I dig stillism…
“Stillism is something I said stoned out of my head once. ‘I ain’t into being Mick Jagger or James Brown, just… Stillism.’ It’s basically a form of meditation. I’ve done it onstage when the kids are losing it, the shit’s hitting the fan and there’s nothing better than just being… still. Everyone’s going apeshit. You’re there, totally still. It was like I was controlling the madness by being totally still. Sound like a knobhead, right? The beauty of it was just staring at them and I knew all the crowd’s names. I knew their postcodes, their shoes sizes. I scanned them like The Terminator.”
16 Aug 2009
You bunch of fucking short hairy apes you’ve no chance with the nuns…
“I don’t know. You know what that is? Good fucking drugs. Washed down with some good fucking tequila.”
13 Aug 2012
Bumped into the biggest cock last night at George Michael’s party, “behave” it was RKID ha ha LG x
“Oh yeah, that was Noel. Yeah, we went to George Michael’s house after the Olympics. He was there, might have been with one of Take That. He was down at the bar at the end of the garden. I mean, George Michael was on at the Olympics, we [Beady Eye] were on at the Olympics, and where’s Noel? Watching it on telly, drinking a cocktail in George’s garden. This is the same man who slagged George off for Shoot The Dog. You’ve got some fucking nerve. I said, ‘You alright, you seen that?’ ‘Yeah, it was alright.’ ‘You’re weird, you cunt.’”
Noel said he was disappointed Beady Eye split up.
“Was he? I’m sure he was. I was more disappointed that Oasis split up. I wonder if he was. I’ve never heard him say he was disappointed about Oasis. No, he’s got what he wanted.”
What was that? To be the frontman?
“Without a doubt, without a doubt. Jealous. Every fucking soundcheck he’d go stand in the middle and sing. The geezer’s got small man syndrome. He never had the nerve back in the day, so he joined my band and slowly wormed his way to the front, got his balls together. Same as Johnny Marr. Get yourselves over to the other side, play your guitars, play it with yer teeth, because there’s no place for you over here. You know when your kid puts make-up on and tries to look like a grown-up for a laugh? It’s like that. They’re playing at being frontmen. Get back over there. They look stupid.
“He’s a great guitarist, our kid. He looks like Steve Jones when he’s over there on that side. Be happy over there. But out front he looks like Don McLean. If he thinks he’s Lee Mavers he needs to have another look at himself because Lee Mavers is dark and mysterious and you don’t know what’s going to happen with Lee Mavers. You know exactly what’s going to happen with Noel. His fucking sleeves, rolled up. It’s like Dermot O’Leary with a guitar. Fuck off. He needs to fuck back over to his side of the stage and strike a pose.”
Quite a lot of your tweets are about Noel.
“Oh, I know. I know. Lots of people say I need to chill out about Noel. Nah, nah, not until they stop Twitter. That cunt will always get it from me. He slagged me off when we were in the same band! He’d do his interview, I’d come in to do mine and they’d go, ‘He doesn’t like you, does he?’ I’d be saying how great he was. He still has pops. He needs to know that I ain’t going away.”
He probably knows that now.
“Well, yeah. I’ve heard they really annoy him. Someone told me the other week that the only thing that does his nut in are my tweets. Good. They will carry on and they will get bigger and better.”
11 Sep 2012
“Not even if all the starving children in the world depended on it” Noel Gallagher
“A lot of his stuff goes unchallenged because he is the media darling and a lot of people’s bread and butter. If I said that? I’d be hung!”
Does it hurt you when he says that about Oasis?
“It doesn’t hurt me mate, doesn’t hurt me. If the guy doesn’t want me back in our band then I don’t want to either. I don’t want to be in a band with someone who doesn’t want me.”
Most people who are fans of either of you would like you back in a band together.
“I hear that. Do you think I want to be in a band with that cunt? He says, ‘Liam has to change.’ Get to fuck. He’s gotta change, he’s a little Hitler. So I just tweet when he drops the ball because I will not let him get away with murder.”
18 March, 2016
What’s that, Noel? – [A video that has Noel being asked about Gorillaz: “Gorillaz? It’s fucking appalling. It’s music for 12 year olds.” Then cuts to Noel appearing more recently onstage singing DARE with Gorillaz]
“He walked into that one, didn’t he? I mean… I’m joking with it. I will carry on with it forever. Even if we got back together I will carry on with it. He’s very talented and he’s a funny cunt. But he takes the piss out of people and he can’t handle getting it back. I will always give it him back.”
24 May, 2016
[Two photos of Noel captioned simply by…]
“Those are the best ones. I don’t take photos where he doesn’t look like a potato. The day he looks like a courgette, he’ll get that as well. Harmless fun.”
1 July, 2016
Listen up no oasis reunion Rkids not into it I am hes to busy being beige new sounds on there way stay cool and most of all relevant LG x
“People ask me all the time about getting Oasis back together. I’ve read Noel saying, ‘He’s the one giving the kids false hope.’ For someone who hasn’t done an interview for four years, it’s amazing how I’m doing that.
“You’ll notice that every time he’s got a record out or gigs booked, then all the rumours about an Oasis reunion start floating around. His record comes out and it all goes quiet. They’re the ones spinning the bullshit. He was going on about how he was so busy, why would he be bothered about something that happened 20 years ago. Your fucking management’s idea to do the film [Supersonic]. They rung me. I said, ‘About fucking time.’ But don’t go in the press, ‘I’m way too busy for this shit. I’ve got a gig at Kendal Calling playing to a load of people dressed up as bacon and eggs.’ Ignition are the ones who brought this film into play and great, I’m well on board with it. But don’t spin it that you’re too busy for Oasis because they’re the ones putting out the albums again and making this film.
“I was serious about that band. I put my life into it. Yeah, I stayed up a few nights too late and had to cancel a few gigs because my voice wasn’t right. But if my voice was having it, I finished the gig. My idea of heaven was being onstage singing our kid’s songs with my best mates. The thought of sitting back-stage sucking on a Locket, fuck off mate.”
The barmaid arrives and asks sunnily if we’d like any more drinks. It’s been a full afternoon but Liam says he’s having a good time, so yes. Let’s have two more pints. “Should we have a couple of shots, too? Don’t worry, it’s Patron Tequila. Good gear man, you’ll hardly feel it tomorrow…”
Wednesday, 3 August, 2016
He’s right, the next morning we hardly feel it. Are we still drunk? Possibly.
Walking down Warren St in Central London, towards the offices of Entertainment One Films, a loud whistle echoes out across the street. There, on the opposite side of the road in the doorway of a café, is Liam Gallagher, cagoule done up to his chin, hand raised. “Coffee,” he shouts with a wave. “Flat white?”
Day two of our dream date is a 10am trip to the cinema with Liam Gallagher to watch a film all about Liam Gallagher in an auditorium alone with Liam Gallagher. We are stepping through the looking glass into an unnerving new dimension. We’ll definitely need flat whites. Two sugars please.
At some point during our seven-pint, four-shot “interview” yesterday, Debbie Gwyther opened her laptop and asked if anybody had any headphones. It may have been a sting, but it felt a genuinely impulsive gesture as she played me two demos of new Liam songs. Drink had been taken, vibes were robust, and the singer of the songs was dancing around the pub acting out his lyrics as I listened on headphones – so sensations were heightened. But as a professional music critic with experience of listening to music in high-pressure situations while completely spangled, I can report both songs were absolutely brilliant and nothing like Beady Eye, or even Oasis.
Greedy Soul was quite shockingly good. A stripped-back beat-soul number which sounds like Marc Bolan playing Street Fighting Man, there’s an urgency and clarity to Liam’s voice on it that hasn’t been apparent for a long, long time. Bold, meanwhile, was a more stately, Plastic Ono Band affair, but the notes on my phone are unclear (“lay it n me, U didn’t di what I was tol… MEGA CHORUS”) and I listened to Greedy Soul twice either side of it so who knows really?
As we await our coffees, we discuss what music has influenced these new songs. Nothing, it turns out. Liam doesn’t really play music. “It’s not about listening to records over and over again. I’ve heard all the great records. I know Love and Arthur Lee inside out. I don’t need to hear a band from Nicaragua to enhance my thing, even though I am sure there are some great bands from Nicaragua, but I have all the tools I need right here.”
For Liam, it’s his recently changed circumstances that have most revitalised his songwriting and singing. “Music isn’t influenced by music, I don’t think. It’s influenced by life. To have good music you have to have an interesting, varied life. Shit music comes from boring lives. The reason why so much music is boring, no matter how many bells and whistles and strobes they stick on it, is because they have boring lives. My wonky life over the last few years is going to make for better music.”
We wind our way into the screening room, sitting one seat apart, hopeful, perhaps, that Noel will take the middle space. Liam puts his feet up on the seat ahead, shouts out for the projectionist to kick things off and we’re away…
Supersonic is a masterpiece of a rock documentary. Collated from incredible home footage taken by band friends, family and employees, such as Creation Records’ Tim Abbot who was in the cockpit at most of the big events, it traces the Oasis story in detail, from the Gallaghers’ broken home in Burnage to the moment where they’re walking up the gantry at Knebworth, collecting giant footballs and kicking them into the crowd of 125,000 fans. Narrated from two long, unseen separate interviews with Noel and Liam, it also features commentary by their mother Peggy, original guitarist Bonehead, long-time sound man Mark Coyle and many of the band’s closest associates. The attention to detail and the material sourced is awesome. How did they get all this stuff? Even Liam is bamboozled by that.
There’s footage of Noel calling home from his job as an Inspiral Carpets roadie to incredulously discover from Peggy that Liam’s rehearsing a band. There are early rehearsal japes, including a pre-Creation All Around The World. There’s footage from the gig in Glasgow at which Alan McGee signed the band, as well as audio of Noel and Liam in the van on the drive home talking in awestruck tones about fate. There’s lots of brilliant footage from the recordings of the first two albums, there’s punch-ups, rich tourbus and dressing room comedy, and a heart-wrenching late section about the boys’ treatment at the hands of their estranged father. No other rock documentary puts the viewer so closely beside a group as they soar from no-hopers to superstars, from a gang of messy puppies to cogs in a well-oiled machine, while also adding tons of illuminating context and fresh revelation. It is so good.
At our screening, I’m also afforded a special one-off bonus commentary from Liam. As the helicopter hovers over Knebworth at the start and the camera pans to Noel’s face, Liam shouts, “Shitting it!” The camera then captures Liam looking down. “Loving it,” he says, shaking his fist. Later, a disastrous gig at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles takes place after a crystal meth binge, with the band captured onscreen playing different songs at once. Afterwards, a furious Noel does a runner to San Francisco and is missing for a few days. During Supersonic, he attempts to explain what happened and is heckled throughout our viewing by Liam. “Yeah, get your story right, lad! Never know who’s listening! Can’t remember her name?! Oh yeah, oh yeah, very convenient mate!”
When Liam is briefly pictured at the end of Knebworth sucking on a joint, he turns and says, “I used to always smoke draw in the early days but as we got big I stopped before or during gigs. That was a very rare moment, there, smoking a spliff onstage. Must have been the last notes of the gig.”
Afterwards, we stand dazed on the pavement in the sun. Liam’s got a couple of hours before he has to nip off to an appointment and, opposite us, The Smugglers Tavern has just opened for the day. The stars suddenly align. “Fancy a pint, maybe some lunch?” he asks.
We order two pints of lager and a small bowl of fries. “Make sure you write that we were both tickety-boo the next day,” says Liam, jabbing his finger into his fries. “And we’re back having refreshing pints for lunch. We gotta let people know that we’re still rocking it. There’s gotta be one legend people can count on still.”
We discuss whether watching Supersonic makes him feel melancholic. “Sad? Yeah, without a doubt. Sad, great and proud. We did some amazing things, didn’t we? We were a great band.”
It reminds him too of the Noel Gallagher that Liam misses. Amazingly, he hasn’t seen or spoken to Noel since bumping into him at a Manchester City match a couple of years ago. “I miss the Noel in the film, that’s the Noel I know. And I do love him. I don’t sit at home crying into a picture of him, though, and I’m sure he doesn’t of me either. But I’m an energy and I bet he misses that energy. Depends whether you’re into getting up and getting into a car in the morning, being square and beige all day. Maybe he likes that. It’s not for me.”
There are several moments of pure comedic genius between the brothers in the film, particularly after an arm-wrestle in the dressing room at Top Of The Pops before Some Might Say. Surely Liam must miss that interaction with his brother.
“He’s funny as fuck,” agrees Liam. “But that’s nothing to do with him. That’s my mam. She’s the funny one. And my grandma. He wouldn’t sit around the table with us because he’d get annihilated. You wanna hear our mam.”
What does Peggy think about this stand-off?
“She’s on my side,” he says, smirking. “Nah, she thinks we’re both stupid. I know deep down he’ll get the band back. Because he’s treading water and the ego needs inflating. I’m not digging him out and he’s a great songwriter, but the guy has had the formula for 20 years, since he wrote Definitely Maybe. It’s the same formula now, however many albums later. He’s always going to sell more or less a million albums on his own, that’s the limit. He’s not even Damon Albarn. We’re having a stand-off now. But, surely, he’s playing some wonky festivals. I know his ego. His plan will be to say, ‘Liam’s skint and I had to put my solo career on hold because our kid was on his arse.’ But… I bet he’s shitting a brick about my music coming.”
As both brothers say in Supersonic, they believe in fate. Liam believes fate will bring them back together.
“I believe that Oasis will sail again and that it’ll be glorious.” In the film Noel says that Knebworth wasn’t really about Oasis, it was about the fans, because you can book the biggest venue, but what if nobody had come?
“And if it’s really about the fans, Noel, let’s do it because they want it,” says Liam now. “One year. A tour for a year. We’d smash it. My bags are still packed from my last tour, so I’m ready. In fact, I’m still packed from 1999 and I could wear that gear. I never unpack. I just don’t know which house I’ve left my bags in and how quickly I can fetch them.”
Liam says that no matter how much Supersonic will make fans pine for Oasis, any reunion is a little way off.
“You watch, I bet his album comes out a week after the film. They’re very calculating, that lot. See, they forget I know how they work because I was with Ignition for 20 years. But they don’t know how I work.”
Takes a swig.
“Because I don’t know how I work.”
Drains his glass.
“Because I don’t work. What’s the magic number?”
“And we’ve only had two. Let’s have another pint.”
Outside, a cab driver sits scrolling through his Instagram feed. His next fare, to a dentist in High Barnet, is already running half-an-hour late. He looks at the name on his rota, climbs out of the cab and walks into the pub. He’s looking for a Liam Gallagher, but surely it can’t be the same…
Inside the pub, Liam Gallagher is mulling over the fact that Noel Gallagher is now firm friends with Damon Albarn. Liam finds that odd.
“Whatever next?” he ponders. “Robbie Williams turning up on his next record? I’d have to send the police round. Put it this way, Noel lives in a £17million house. That changes you, I reckon. You have appropriate furniture, appropriate kitchens, appropriate red wine that Bono’s recommended. And Damon Albarn becomes your mate. Fair dos, but not for me.”
This seems a little harsh. Liam’s lived in some lovely houses.
“The highest I got was £3 mill. Big leap to £17 mill. I can live anywhere, me. I can bring it anywhere. I’ve got a wigwam that sleeps 12 people, with a fireplace in it. Bought it for my kids. It’s in storage now but I could whack that up on the Heath if I have to, no problem.”
The cabbie approaches the table. “Er, Liam, how long do you think you might be?”
“We’re just having another pint, mate,” says Liam. “Do you want one? You don’t? That’s the problem with this country, not enough alcoholic drivers.”
The cab driver is in stitches and the pub, which has been straining to earwig throughout our drink, comes to a halt. “I know I’m funny,” continues Liam. “Have you got a crossword?”
It’s OK, says the driver, backing out slowly. He’s got wireless.
“Google this, then,” says Liam. “Hot Babes. That’ll keep you revved-up man. I’ll be out in a bit.”
The driver is in the doorway, declaring his love for all of Liam’s albums. Liam likes him too. “I can count my friends on no hands,” he says. “I don’t have any, apart from Debbie. I do my own thing. I’m a lone wolf. The world’s my mate. I don’t need anybody bothering me to meet for a salad and a ‘catch-up’ when I can buzz off top geezers like that guy. He’ll be my mate all the way to the dentist.”
Liam is off in a moment to pick up his oldest brother Paul who’s having dental surgery. “He’s falling apart,” says Liam.
A while ago, Paul Gallagher fell down the stairs at his home after a night on the tiles with Liam “and broke his ankle in 900 places. He’d been going on about his New Balance trainers all night and all. No Balance more like.”
Even more distressing was his appearance on the day Liam was due in court to finalise his divorce. “Our Paul always calls the lawyers ghouls, so he came with me to make sure they don’t pull the wool over my eyes. As we’re walking into the court he’s just behind me when I hear this scream. I turn round and he’s on the deck with his leg up his back. What the fuck has gone on here. ‘I slipped on something,’ he says, screaming in agony. I look down and there’s a perfect slice of watermelon on the floor. He’s going, ‘The ghouls put it there! It’s all darkness!’ I’m looking around for press, cos they’re everywhere round there, stick him in a cab, send him to hospital and dash inside – I had to. He broke his leg really badly, metal plates, the lot, but nobody knew where he was because his phone ran out on the way. He’s been out of the game for three months. And now, he’s having a dental operation. Falling apart, man.”
Liam’s phone rings. It’s Debbie. Why’s he not in the cab? Time to go.
Before leaving, he makes time for a quick smoke. As he puffs, he says the footage showing the genial, if chaotic Owen Morris producing their first two albums has reminded him of the last time he took magic mushrooms. It was with Morris at Rockfield Studios, in Wales, 20 years ago.
As dawn broke, Liam decided to climb the fence into the next field despite Morris urging him to turn back. “I could just see this white line in the distance, rolling towards us like beautiful mist. I’m going, ‘Yeah, let’s walk into the white line.’ He’s going, ‘No fucking way, man!’ I’m walking towards it, the white line, the white line… suddenly the white line is coming towards us much quicker and forming into a V-shape. It’s fucking hundreds of sheep and they’re all running towards us! They’re charging! Back over the fence and into the kitchen. Noel’s up, having his granola. ‘Where have you guys been?’ ‘Chased by a load of sheep, mate.’”
He stubs his cigarette out. He’d love to trip again, he says, free and easy like he used to do as a kid with his mates in Lyme Park, Stockport, but his mind is wide enough already. It couldn’t get any wider. It’s a young man’s sport.
“Sometimes,” he says, “I think I’m still tripping from those days and that I’m going to wake up and all of Oasis, all of this, it was just part of that trip. I’ll wake up and I’ll be back drilling up Market Street with the other labourers, Wrote For Luck on the radio. Was I really in Oasis? Imagine being Macca. He must have that all the time – ‘Did I really write Yesterday?!’ Probably why he stays in the bubble. I’m out of the bubble, but I’m too good to be sat on the sofa at home wondering if it all really happened. I mean too much to people to be just a dream.”
And with that, a handshake, a punch on the shoulder and a fist bump, he disappears into his cab for High Barnet. As the car draws away, the colour drains from the pub. It’s true. You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry.