God bless Liam Gallagher. He is the last of his kind in many ways. He is brash, he is funny, he is controversial, he is unapologetic, he is uncompromising. He is the last rock star. Sure there are other rock stars. But none that carry the spirit of the ’70s rock star, the hard partying, the in your face, the rock star that lives the rock lifestyle.
Just listen to this short passage: “I never want to become a f**king muso, where you just go out on stage and then go, ‘Oh, what have you done?’ And I’ve just, been at home f**king eating tofu. And f**king drinking apple cider vinegar, and I’m going to play you songs for two hours, now.” That bores the **it out of me. You’ve got to still mean it, man.”
Who still talks like that? No one. And rock is much more boring for it. The funny thing is as I talk to Gallagher he talks of being a devoted family man, of now suffering hangovers. At 47 he is thankfully not still living the hard-partying lifestyle.
He has a superb new solo album, Why Me? Why Not? He just played some U.S. dates with the Who. He is happy. Surprisingly when talk of reuniting with his brother Noel for the return of Oasis comes up, he doesn’t tell me to f**k off.
He says, “If it happens, it happens. It’d be nice. Me mom would like to see us on stage again. I’d much prefer to be a brother with my brother than to go around touring with him, hating each other and just cutting the coin. I wouldn’t do that. F**k that.”
Enjoy the last of his kind, Liam Gallagher.
Steve Baltin: I was just reading the interview you did with Billboard, and one of the things you talked about is that people still expect you to have the hedonistic lifestyle, and people will come up to you and they’ll ask you for a beer, ask you for a shot. But you also have slowed down.
Gallagher: You’ve got to take everything in moderation, don’t you? I mean, I do like to get out and run every now and again, but then, I also like to go and spend my days in the pub and get absolutely f**king leathered, and smoke till the cows come home. I don’t smoke weed and all that. Every now and again, if there’s a passing train through I might jump on it. The groovy train, as they say, and that. But then, I don’t stay on it too long, because these hangovers take too long. I’m still partying and that, but I’m certainly not doing it like 48 hours and s**t. That voice that used to be very quiet in the night that would go, “Go to bed,” is pretty loud now. The voice now that tells me I go bed, I can hear it a lot easier and a lot clearer. It just goes, “Go to bed,” and I go, “Okay.” Which is a shame, because I thought I’d have got a lot more deafer as I got older. But I haven’t. My hearing’s got a lot f**king better, which is a f**king shame.
Baltin: In terms of your hearing it could have gone the other way. You’re doing these shows with the Who. Look at Pete Townsend and his tinnitus
Gallagher: Buzzing to play with them, man, it’s f**king been amazing. Amazing. I can’t believe that they sing and they play for two and a half hours on each night. Not that I would want to if I could, because I think it’s a bit long. Anyone playing for f**king two and a half hours, he’s mental. I think the perfect time for the gig for me is an hour and 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and that’s me pushing it. An hour, perfect. But yeah, fair play to him that he still feel it, and still that they can do it, you know what I mean?
Baltin: Was there a moment where you realize that those hangovers take longer to cure, and all of a sudden you’re just like, “When did this happen?”
Gallagher: I’ll tell you when it happened. I f**king remember it. It happened, and just like that. I used to get up in the morning and go, “I’m going to the f**king pub right now, 11 o’clock.” And now when I go in there and about 37 I just went “Oh, f**k, I’m at a f**king pub. I think I’m going to stay in bed all day.” That’s when it happened.
Baltin: Do you find as you are happier you’re also appreciating music more?
Gallagher: Yeah. But, obviously I appreciate the lifestyle of this rock and roll business, without a doubt, because that’s important to appreciate. I never want to just do music There’s rock and roll stars, and there’s musicians. I know loads of musicians that ain’t rock and roll stars. And I would never want to be that. I think I’ve got a good balance. The rock and roll star side of it is very important to me, as much as just sitting down and writing a f**king song. If I never wrote another f**king song I get someone else to write it and I’ll sing it. So it is important that I do exactly what it says on the tin as much as I can.
Baltin: But at the same time, you can hear in Why Me? Why Not? which is a great record, there’s still that passion there. There’s still that fire.
Gallagher: Like I said, if you can get the balance right, there’s no point being a rock and roll star if you ain’t got any music, either, because then you’re just dreaming, aren’t you? So it is nice to get a balance, but yeah, the lifestyle is equally as important as the music. Well, I know a lot of people go, “F**k the lifestyle. It’s all about the music.” Well, it ain’t, for me.
Baltin: For you, who are those artists that had the perfect balance of the lifestyle and the music?
Gallagher: Keith Moon. He knew how to play the drums, and he knew how to party. John Lennon wasn’t much of a party man. He sort of chilled towards the end of the- And I’m sure it will happen, but you won’t catch me making f**king bread at any point. Listen, man, I’m lucky to still be here, And obviously, Keith Moon’s dead and that, but I think Keith Moon had it. He loved playing them drums, man, and he played them well. But he went out and partied as well.
Baltin: There’s something about the drummer. Look at John Bonham as well.
Gallagher: John Bonham as well. So yeah, as long as you can get on stage and move some people, and that, and do your thing, it’s good. I’d f**king hate to be AA. I’d hate it. The thought of having to go on stage and just be stone cold sober. I don’t drink when I go on stage, anyway, but imagine having to live that lifestyle. But AA, f**king hell, just shoot me now. I couldn’t handle it. I’d have to get another job. Maybe a florist or something that would go with my non-drinking. If someone said tonight, “You can’t drink anymore,” or, “You can’t smoke, or you can’t f**k about anymore,” there’s no point of being a rocker. What’s the f**king point, man? You’re just faking it. Might as well just go and be a librarian or something. Or go and make tofu.
Baltin: For this album are there particular songs, maybe, that you haven’t done yet that you’re really excited to do live, and see how they translate to the stage?
Gallagher: Yeah, well we’ve done a bit of rehearsing in and that one before we come out. We’ve done “Shockwaves,” we’ve done “Once,” we’ve done “The River,” we’ve got a few more we’re going to do, we’re not going to play the whole album back in England. We’ll play about five or six, maybe six off the other one, and then maybe 10 Oasis songs. Gotta give the people what they want. So it’s a good mix, man.
Baltin: Are there songs that you’ve been particularly surprised or pleasantly surprised to see how much an audience gravitates to them?
Gallagher: You want everyone to have a good time, and I don’t get that, the people who’d go on stage and play their obscure hits and that and everyone’s stood there f**king snoring. I just don’t see the point. You sort of think, “Well, who’s the most important person? Is it me or is it you? Or is it the fans?” And to me, at the end of the day I think it is the people that are coming to see you. I can’t be getting up there and playing songs that I want to play. They’re not going to jump around, so yeah you’ve to play what they want, man. When you’re 20 years of age, and you’ve got a bag of chips on your shoulder, you do what you f**king want, don’t you? And then people sort of go with the flow and that, but as you get to 47 and you look at still be here doing it. So I think it’s time to drop the attitude and play what the people want.
Baltin: Are there artists for you that you really admire for their stage show in the way they handle that?
Gallagher: The Stones and the Who. Listen, I would love to be able to sing for two and a half hours, but I just couldn’t do it, man. I don’t know. For me, listen, I think a lot of the old brigade, that’s what they did. But I think a lot of the younger people that come later, it wasn’t about being on there for a long time. It was about just getting on there and making a f**king statement. The Pistols and stuff, and the bands that I went, The Stone Roses, they’d only play for an hour. If it was down to me, I’d be doing an hour gig, smashing, grab mine and get the f**k out and leave them wanting more.
Baltin: That’s interesting that you say making a statement, because it’s funny, obviously with Oasis, you made a statement. The second solo album, what is the statement you want people to take from the show and the album now?
Gallagher: I don’t know, but I’ve done everything I’ve come to do. Oasis was the thing, so now I just want to just sing well, do a good gig, and want them to have a good time as much as me. I’ve got no big idea where I’m meant to be. I just want to keep making music for as long as it can. I’ve done everything I kind of wanted you to do.
Baltin: When you’re in the midst of it, you don’t have the appreciation. You don’t have the perspective. So was there a moment where you realized that you’d done everything you wanted to do?
Gallagher: I wasn’t making music for four years, because I spilled a lot of milk on a personal level, personal life, I missed it f**king loads. I was like, “How the f**k am I going to get back up on the stage and sing these songs?” Hopefully people still want to hear me voice and that, so I had to go and do this solo thing and then I did it, and it worked out well. And so yeah, I’m just glad that people still want to hear me sing or shout or scream or whatever it is I do.
Baltin: So was it that four year period where you realized you really did want to continue to make music?
Gallagher: Yeah. I was missing it and it was like “F**king hell, it’s the only thing I can actually do, that I’m half good at.” So it was like “I need to get back in there.” And I have got to be a bit of humble pie, which is fine. Get rid of a few chips off my shoulder because I had a bag of them through my twenties, which is fine, because everyone else does. But as you get into your forties and that you’re thinking, “I need to just chill the f**k out a bit and get back in.” But it’s all good, man. I’m buzzing to be back on the stage singing songs. So it doesn’t matter how you get there.
Baltin: Are there Oasis songs that you particularly enjoy revisiting or that you have a different appreciation for?
Gallagher: We’ve been going back and doing a few of the old ones, but I’ve always had the utmost respect for them songs, man. And they always meant everything to me, and they still mean the exact same as what they meant back then. I put my heart and soul into singing them, so I never went at them lightly. It is nice to go back to them and still feel that you can still sing them. And once you get it out of the way, you go, “I can still do that too,” Not as good, but I’ve always had the utmost respect for them songs. I like doing “Rock And Roll Star.” I would never leave home without that one, I like doing “Morning Glory.” I like “Slide Away,” “Columbia,” “Live Forever,” “Champagne Supernova” All of them. I like them all, man.
Baltin: As I mentioned, it’s hard when you’re in the midst of something to get that perspective.
Gallagher: You are right. It’s a bubble, isn’t it? You don’t know whether you’re enjoying it or not. You’re just f**king doing it, because you’ve been sent to do it. But then when you look back at it you think, “I wish I could have enjoyed it a little bit more or had a little bit more respect for it.” But I do think I do respect it.
Baltin: Can you step back now and see why the songs connected with people so deeply and why Oasis was so massive?
Gallagher: We’re only big in England, really. It wasn’t that f**king big. That’s why I’ve got the up about it, and when people go, people say around me, “Oasis big,” we weren’t the biggest band in the world. F**king Coldplay are bigger than us out here. Muse are bigger than us out here. Fuckin**1975 are bigger. We have a lot more work to do. We’re the biggest f**king thing since sliced bread in England. We were the biggest thing in England for a long time, but we had a lot more work to do as a band, worldwide, to be walking around thinking you’re the biggest band in the world. There’s bigger bands in England that are bigger outside of England than us. Muse f**king play stadiums in LA. We never played stadiums in there. We played arenas. We just said that we were the biggest band in the world. A lot of people believed us, but we weren’t, looking back at it. So hence why I’m saying our kid sits there and goes, “Oh no, we done what we came to f**king do.” We could have been the biggest and we weren’t, so shame on him. With Oasis wasn’t just whether we were big, we were big characters as well that traveled as well. That traveled a while and the look and all that. So I think that is a lot of the thing that’s missing. A lot of people in England, no one’s walking around in England dressed like Chris Martin. No one was walking around England dressed like Muse. We had a look as well. We weren’t the biggest band in the world. We’re far from it. And that gives me the f**king rage to sing.
Baltin: Could you have admitted that 20 years ago though?
Gallagher: I would never have admitted it 20 years ago, but I knew it. I knew it as well, deep down, I knew that we have to do, we had to keep making great records to put the groundwork in, course.
Baltin: But you’re in a happy place, you’re making music.
Gallagher: I’m in a happy place with kids, cool, I’m cool, selling out big gigs in England, supporting my child or their old bands and stuff. All is good. I’m not after being big. I’m not after that now. I’m just up here to keep singing songs and make good records.
Baltin: But with unfinished business does that make you think about a reunion?
Gallagher: I would never do it for the money. I’ve got enough money. I never did it for the money anyway. Oasis was getting out of Manchester, going and seeing the world, having fun, It was never about the money. I only did it for money, because I knew there was some other company that was taking 20%, and he was making money. If you stop taking our money, we’ll all do it for nothing. So if you get into getting Oasis back, and listen, I’d much prefer to be a brother with my brother than to go around touring with him, hating each other and just cutting the coin. I wouldn’t do that. F**k that.
Baltin: But you’ve said that it’s never going to happen.
Gallagher: I don’t care if it happens or not. If it happens, it happens. It’d be nice. Me mom would like to see us on stage again. It’s not about the money, but I’m quite happy doing my thing. People are coming to my gigs in England, and it’s going off and they’re leaving like it’s an Oasis gig. There’s people jumping up and down f**king smashing bottles on each other, setting fire to each other, and it’s a rock thing, so I’m getting my kicks that way.