Even if you are a rock’n’roll star, doesn’t mean you’re going to stay that way. No matter how hard you try, or how often you tell us, that you are still one.
Twelve years ago, after yet another – but this time for sure! – split of the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, which meant the end of Oasis, there were a lot of assumptions made. Many of them quite reasonable even if they were somewhat insulting.
Noel, the clever and mouthy songwriter would do ok, though maybe not great as he had never been a consistent lead singer. Liam, the not so clever and mouthy singer, would flounder without his brother’s songs, resorting to tabloid outrages to remind people he existed. The band would struggle to have someone remember their names.
From the perspective of 2021, how did those assumptions/predictions turn out do you think? Did anyone buy Liam’s last album? Both of you? That’s nice.
In any case, in 2011, it suddenly dawned on some us that even if you weren’t necessarily loving the songs (or the singer), Liam and the Oasis rump now renamed Beady Eye, weren’t disappearing and – whisper it – weren’t that bad. Considering. And he might be in a good place to talk.
There's more than a hint of it as Liam Gallagher arrives early, coming towards us with that splayed foot, from the hips, laidback-even-as-he-walks style he’s made his own. Expecting surly, we are surprised by the nod and the polite, even dare we say it, cheery, "orright?”.
It's clearer still as he takes a cup of tea alongside bandmates Gem Archer and Chris Sharrock and, while not exactly cracking a smile, keeps making these dry comments which leave everyone in the room grinning.
And any doubt is removed as he piles into conversation with energy and optimism and, lest we forget, industrial strength swearing.
There's no getting away from it - cocky we expect, mouthy is a given but the Liam Gallagher before us today is relaxed and happy. Maybe more so than at any time since Oasis, the band he formed, and then ceded to his older songwriting brother Noel, became the defining English band of the ‘90s. Check it out, they’re all having a good laugh.
"We actually fucking are man," Gallagher says. "I've never laughed so much at interviews and that's what fucking life's about innit? If you can laugh your bollocks off, have a great time and you've got some great fucking music to top it off, now you fucking know that's heaven to me man."
The thing is, it shouldn't make any sense. When Noel quit and effectively ended Oasis two years ago, the accepted wisdom was that he would go on as a heavyweight songwriter while baby brother and the remaining members of the band, guitarist Archer, drummer Sharrock and bassplayer Andy Bell, would trickle away without their leader.
Although Liam, Archer and Bell had contributed songs to Oasis albums in the past decade (Sharrock, a live contributor had never actually played on an Oasis album before the split), no one would have called their contributions significant. No one expected that to change either.
However, almost immediately the rest of the band decided to go on and go on together ("What did they didn't think we were going to do, retrain?" asks Archer. "Be racing drivers?") calling themselves Beady Eye and recording a debut album which is surprisingly varied and strong.
"We decided to meet up in a couple of months to see what we got but we couldn't wait that long and met up a week later and got stuck into it," explains the sharply attired Gallagher who looks like he’s dressed from his new clothing label, Pretty Green. "We didn't have to work at it, you know what I mean. If we had to try really fucking hard, sweat our balls off for it, we wouldn't be fucking doing it. Because anything you have to work that hard at to make happen it's a sign basically."
Confidence didn’t take long to appear in its wake says Gallagher who describes the spirit of those recording sessions as “fucking red hot ... so that's why we are here, because we are fucking good."
Good enough not to feel they are carrying the Oasis history around with them, "You put it in a fucking suitcase man and fucking get going," says Gallagher of that band’s legacy. "It's just like a toothbrush."
Archer laughs and adds, "and get somebody else to carry it for you."
Shucking off the legacy has been made quite clear by their decision not to play any Oasis songs.
"Of course man," says Archer. "Because it would be schizophrenic. It would be shit all-round if there was no Beady Eye and we were out there dragging the legacy around, you know what I mean. But we're not. We've got a bunch of new tunes and a load of passion and a load of soul to go and play them. You can't dip in and out of the past. Spiritually, it's not healthy man."
And, says Gallagher “people respect that, man”.
“There will always be some cunt moaning when you don’t play Oasis songs,” he says. “But 99 percent of the people will respect that we drew the fucking line and we are fucking getting on with it."
It’s clear this band seems more democratic than most - both Archer and Sharrock nod at this comment - but there is a view that bands can't exist as democracies. That the best way for a band to operate is that there is a leader who makes the final decision. Is there an ultimate, decision maker in Beady Eye? All three almost simultaneously answer no before Gallagher begins to explain why, and along the way takes a thorough dig at the brother with whom he had a famously fractious relationship.
"The reason we are fucking here is we are all fucking leaders. It's all well having a leader in the band, right yeah, taking care of everything, right. But if you are going to come to fucking work with a fucking face like a nun in pain, you know what I mean, because you are taking the weight of the world, everyone knows it. You look at some cunt and he’s like that [puts on an exaggerated grumpy face] and you are like, what the fuck is up with you and [in a whiny voice] ‘I have to do everything’.
“Well we'll fucking do the interviews, we'll help take the fucking weight off your fucking shoulders. Don't fucking take the weight of the world on your fucking shoulders if you're going to act like a fucking cunt and speak to people like a cunt because you've been up all night working. So being a leader for me makes me want to eat my own shit because I know I'd be miserable."
Right then. Life much the same in the Gallagher family. But not everything is the same in Beady Eye even for someone whose job essentially hasn’t changed. Listen to Beady Eye’s album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, and one of the first things you’ll notice is how Gallagher's vocals sound less sharp and strained, the result easily the best singing he's ever done.
"It sounds a lot more relaxed in places but I like to still think I can fucking kick out the jams man,” he says. “But it's a sign of the times man: I felt relaxed in the studio. That's how I sing man, around the house with my guitar. I can fucking sing man."
The production this time has stayed away from too many treatments to his voice, which he puts down to Archer encouraging little in the way of vocal treatments in the studio as they co-produced the album with veteran rock producer Steve Lillywhite. It’s interesting that John Lennon, someone Gallagher has regularly cited not just as an influence but as an equal, was so lacking in confidence in his voice that he would always ask for effects and studio treatments on his vocals. Does the seemingly doubt-free Gallagher empathise?
"Oh yeah. Every singer is a bit like that and I try to get everything on there [on his voice in the studio] but the lads don't want it. I honestly would have something on my voice now if I knew I wouldn't get slapped for it."
Archer says, "most people [hearing themselves] go that doesn't sound like me and that's why they want to cover it up and I'm saying Liam, leave it man, it sounds amazing. At times though they are the elements sometimes you want. But that’s the joy of this band man, we’re doing what we fucking want.”