"This one's called 'Rock 'n' Roll Star!'"
Liam Gallagher swaggers onstage in his signature parka (it's summer) and shorts and high-fives screaming fans in front of a garish banner that says 'ROCK 'N' ROLL." Then he launches into the iconic 1994 Oasis track, tambourine in hand. Lights flicker wildly.
It's late July. The ex-Oasis frontman and legendary loudmouth is playing one of his first-ever stateside solo shows at a tiny venue in Brooklyn. Gallagher is back from a lengthy musical hiatus (which, in his words, involved lots of time spent "pissed in the head, doing things you shouldn't be doing" after the 2014 dissolution of Beady Eye). He and his backing band barrel through more Oasis classics, as well as material from his forthcoming solo record, As You Were: the hooky, finger-pointing "Wall of Glass," the more contemplative "Chinatown."
Then he plays "Wonderwall"—fans go nuts—but ends the song abruptly before the God-like singalong coda. That's it. He's gone. "That was the best thing I've ever seen," a total stranger says to me in the men's room after the gig, grinning. "I can't believe he just stopped 'Wonderwall' in the middle and walked off. That's so him." Fact check: true.
A month and a half later, Gallagher calls me after a gig in Milan and proves that he's regained his title as rock's most inexhaustible and quotable trash-talker. In a wide-ranging conversation, Gallagher discusses his boozy sabbatical, his never-ending feud with brother Noel ("if anyone should be apologizing, it should be fucking him"), Noel's renditions of Oasis songs ("really kind of boring"), the 20th anniversary of 1997's hubris-tainted Be Here Now, his infuriating run-in with a cashier who refused to sell him cigarettes without ID and, of course, his surprisingly reflective new solo album, As You Were. And more. Lots more. At 45, Gallagher has not shed the gleeful arrogance that pushed his brother to quit Oasis in a rage in 2009.
"It's good to talk a lot of shit," Gallagher tells me. "Sometimes when you talk a lot of shit, you find some real good gems in there." He's right. And here are some real good gems.
You've been away from music for a few years since Beady Eye ended. How'd you know it was the right time to come back?
After Beady Eye went into a coma, I had a few personal things I had to do, and then I thought to me self, I love music and I love fucking singing songs and that. But I need songs, and I've been in a band where people write 'em before. Obviously, I wrote a few on me own every now and again, but I didn't have enough for an album. Then I looked at me guitar and I started playing it and I wrote "Bold" and a song called "When I'm in Need." I played them for a few people and they said, "Yeah, they're fucking really cool."
I got a deal off them two. Then the record company said, "Look, have you got any more songs?" I said, "No, that's all I've got at the moment." They said, "Would you be up for co-writing with some people?" I said, "Depends who." I flew to L.A. to meet Greg [Kurstin, producer]. We banged out "Wall of Glass," "Paper Crown" and "Come Back to Me" in three days. Then I came back to England and wrote a load more songs. It all happened pretty easy, man.
What was your daily routine like during those years you spent away from music?
Oh, drinking. Getting up in the morning. Going for a run maybe. Then my day was kind of done by 9, so I was kind of bored out of me mind, know what I mean? Right about 10, after you've had a shower, you start twiddling your thumbs and you think, "Right, I'll go over to the pub for some lunch." Then you go for some lunch. Before you know it, you're in the pub from 12 till fucking two in the morning, pissed in the head, doing things you shouldn't be doing.
Let's talk about "Wall of Glass." It's a great comeback song for you. It seems like a bit of a diss track. Is it aimed at anyone in particular?
Seems like a what?
Like a diss track. You know, you're—
No, no, no, no, God no. I don't write music for people. They're not that lucky, mate. If I'm gonna diss people, I'll just do it in the press! I certainly don't write music about them. Fuck that. They're not going under me skin that much. It's just a tune, man, innit. It's about [quoting lyrics] "One day you'll shatter like a wall of glass." I guess it could come across like that. But that goes for all of us, doesn't it? One day we could all shatter like a wall of glass. Life is very precious, you know what I mean?
The video is great as well. You've said filming videos is a pain. Did you enjoy filming this one?
Not particularly, no. I don't like doing videos. I like doing performance videos when I got the band there. I like them kind of videos. When you've got to do a little scene and all that, I feel like I'm acting, you know what I mean? If there's one thing I'm not, I'm [not] an actor. I have to be me constantly, 24 hours of the day; otherwise I feel like I'm cheating everyone and myself.
You don't think you'd be good at playing other roles?
No, no. I'd probably be brilliant at it, because I can do it. I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it. But I'd prefer to be me. I've met a lot of actors, and they don't know who they are anymore, because they're always playing roles. That's what I pride myself on—I know exactly who I am, know what I mean?
I saw your show in Brooklyn and you did a bunch of Oasis songs. They sounded great. Does it feel good to be playing those again?
It feels good. We played some in Beady Eye, as well. I mean, listen, man. I'm Oasis through and through. Playing them songs is like fucking riding a bike. It's easy, man. But if people are coming to our gigs, my head's not that far up my own ass where I think they're just coming to hear a load of new songs, know what I mean? They work hard every day of the week and they're parting with their money. If they want to hear "Wonderwall" and "Rock 'n Roll Star," I'm going to do it. The last thing I want is people at my gigs scratching their fucking heads, on their phones, saying, "I'll wait for the album to come out, I'm not sure about this one, this one sounds alright." I want people to jump up and down and go off their fucking tits.
A lot of people go, "Oh, well, you didn't write 'em!" I don't give a fuck who wrote them. I sang 'em; I made 'em! A lot of people go on about, "Oh, well, Noel wrote the songs." Yeah, I fucking lent my fucking amazing fucking voice to them. If it was all about the songs, and not about my voice, how come he's not selling out Wembley Stadium and Knebworth? So I will sing them when I fucking want, and when I don't want to sing them, I won't sing them. You got all these little fanboys going, "Oh, well, he didn't fucking write them." So fucking what? I fucking sang them, you little cunt.
Does it bother you that Noel has been performing Oasis songs on tour, as well?
No, it doesn't bother me at all because he wrote them, know what I mean? He can do what he wants with them.
What do you think of his own rendition of "Wonderwall"?
It's like Ryan Adams, innit? I'm not too keen on that. I like to keep it the way it is on the record. I don't see the point. When I've heard Noel's versions of Oasis songs, it nullifies them a bit and makes them a bit acoustic-y and really kind of boring. So then when he plays his new songs, his new songs lift off. When I do Oasis songs, I do them exactly how it fucking was! Who the fuck wants to hear "Supersonic" acoustic? Should be fucking ashamed of yourself, mate, know what I mean?
Do you miss performing with Noel?
Not really, no. He's changed. He's a different person than what I am. But I don't miss anyone. I'm where I'm meant to be. I don't miss Gem [Archer, former bandmate]. I don't miss Andy [Bell]. I've got a new bunch of guys that are in a band, and we're having a good time.
NG broke down in tears cmon you seriously ain't buying that he doesn't give a fuck
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) September 10, 2017
Don't buy into his PR stunt he doesn't give a fuck if the same thing had have gone of in Edinburgh he'd been up there like a shot ahem
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) September 10, 2017
I saw your comments about his performance at the Manchester benefit. Did you think he was faking that emotional display?
Oh, that wasn't me. Someone hacked my Twitter account.
Someone hacked your Twitter?
Yeah, I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't say stuff like that. Can you believe that?
Wait. Those tweets were written by somebody else?
Someone hacked into it and tweeted them for me. I wouldn't do that stuff. The police are looking into it now as we speak.
You do have one of the best Twitters in the music industry. You're so honest on there.
Listen, mate. You ain't gonna get me filtered. I'm not going to filter myself. I don't really mean to cause that much harm. If I've upset people, then I'm sure they'll fucking get over it. I just talk a lot of shit. Sometimes when you talk a lot of shit, you find some real good gems in there. I like tweeting. It's a good way of staying in touch with the fans, letting them know I've not vanished off the face of the earth like some people would like it.
When you were in New York, you tweeted that you got carded buying cigarettes. What happened with that?
Yeah. I don't really smoke that much. I've definitely calmed down a lot. I was having a bit of a day and I thought, "You know, I could do with a fucking cigarette." So I went in the shops and the geezer says, "Have you got any ID?" I said, "Are you taking the piss?" He went, "Well, that's the way it is." I said, "I'm 44, mate. Look at the fucking state of me, mate. Come on, man." He said, "No, you've got to go and get your ID." [I said], "I only wanted one. I've got to go all the way fucking back to the hotel and come all the way back."
Let's talk about the title of the record [As You Were]. Is that a reference to your Twitter sign-off?
I was going to call it Bold, but I think As You Were has got a lot more about it, for some reason. I just like it. As You Were—it means, look, we've got four years out of the game. We got a good album, we got loads of good songs on there, I'm feeling—well, obviously I'm fucking knackered because I've been doing a lot of touring and a lot of singing—but before all that stuff, I feel kind of refreshed spiritually. So As You Were means, let's make up for all that time that was spent fucking around in the pub and spending it with lawyers. As You Were means let's get back to fucking business.
Do you regret anything you did during that period? The song "For What It's Worth" seems like an apology song.
Yeah, it's a reflected kind of "I'm sorry for the people that I've upset over the years." Over life in general. A lot of people are being lazy and going, "Oh, it must be about Noel." I've got nothing to apologize to Noel Gallagher for. He was the one who split the band up. If anyone should be apologizing, it should be fucking him.
When people hear the term "solo record," they expect something acoustic or really mellow. I was so happy when I listened to the record and it's not like that at all.
There are a few rock and roll songs on there. But there's a couple of nicer, chill moments. I mean, what is rock and roll? Everyone thinks rock and roll is gonna be like The Stooges or The [Sex] Pistols or that all. Rock and roll for me is like good songs, good fucking singing from the depths of your soul. You know what I mean?
Things have changed so much since Oasis first started. Guitar music doesn't get played on the radio much anymore. What do you think of pop music today?
I don't know what pop music is. Taylor Swift makes some good pop songs, you know what I mean? "Shake It Off" is a fucking tune. You get "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, which is a great pop song. Some of it is good. And then some of it is just fucking meaningless fucking bullshit, you know what I mean?
There were some articles recently about the 20th anniversary of Be Here Now, the Oasis record. Do you look back on that record as being a masterpiece? What are your thoughts on that period?
I don't know if it was a masterpiece. I think it was a good record. There are definitely some fucking tunes on there. It might have been overproduced and some of the songs were a bit long, but I guess that's what happens when you don't listen to a producer. At that time, Noel was kind of trying to be a producer as well as a songwriter. [Oasis producer] Owen Morris could have just gone, "Look, this is getting a bit too long, you know what I mean?" But Noel being Noel would have been like, "No, fuck off, let's do another verse." If there's anything really properly wrong with that album, I reckon it's probably Noel being a busybody, trying to be a producer at the same time. But I think there are some good songs. I think I sound great anyway. I'm proud of that album.
Do you have fond memories of that period? It seems like that was when things got really out of hand.
Yeah, I have fond memories of everything. We were in the studio working. It was fucking great. The band might have split up a couple of times. We might have been doing too much drugs. So fucking what? That's what we joined the band for. People can sit back now and go, "Oh, we were doing too much cocaine." Oh, were we fucking really?? We weren't doing enough! And that's what our problem was [cackles].
A couple of years ago, you tweeted that you wouldn't do a solo record because you're "not a cunt."
I know, I know, I know. I was lying when I said [that].
Why are solo records for cunts?
I prefer it being a bandmate, to be brutally honest. But there is no band at the moment, so a solo record it is. There's too many solo records and not enough bands, as far as I'm concerned. At least I'm doing a solo record 'cause I have to. I didn't split up one of the fucking greatest bands in the fucking world to do one because me fucking ego needed stroking.
Do you see any successors to Oasis today? Any bands at that level?
None at all, mate!
You guys ruled the world.
I think so. Yeah, mate, without a doubt. I think we had good characters in our band, you know what I mean?
Will you still be singing "Wonderwall" 40 years from now?
If people still want to hear it, you'll do it.
If people clap loud enough.