What tends to get lost in the extremely justified excitement over Liam Gallagher’s fantastic ongoing press tour is that its alleged purpose is to promote a new solo album, As You Were, which is also very good. The former Oasis singer called me last week from his home in Highgate, London, to discuss As You Were, his vocal regimen, his brother Noel’s latest single, Be Here Now’s tarnished legacy, and why even a guy who once claimed to be John Lennon reincarnated occasionally forgets the words to the Beatles’ greatest hits.
Your new album outsold the rest of the U.K.’s Top 10 combined in its first week. Congratulations.
Thank you. Let me just say, that wasn’t fucking hard, though, was it? There’s a lot of shit in there. It’s nothing to be big and proud of. What the fuck did you expect? But it is nice that it’s doing well. More so for the fact that people are digging the songs, not just that it’s No. 1. Now that the album’s out, when we do a tour, hopefully people will know the words and we can have a nice big party.
Do you still like touring?
Yeah, mate. I can’t wait. We’ve got a couple of weeks off now to recuperate, and then we start going all around. But I needed a break. I’m 45 and if I don’t have a couple of days in between shows, my voice just fucking just dies, man.
Your voice sounds as strong as ever on the album. What have you been doing to take care of it?
I’ve always been all right in the studio, but I’m not doing anything [to take care of my voice]. I wish I could sit here and go, “I’m looking after it” and all that. But you know what? I’m not, really. I should be looking after it a lot more.
Have you noticed any differences in the sound or range of your voice with age?
God knows. I do like the sound of my voice today. I did like it years ago as well, even though on some of the Definitely Maybe stuff I sound like I’m on helium. I live with my voice 24/7, so it sounds pretty much the same to me. But I do like the sound of it. It is good.
You co-wrote the songs on As You Were with Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt. What’s it like to write songs with you?
I wrote the first two songs, which were “Bold” and “When I’m in Need,” and then the record company said, “Look, have you got any more?” And I said no. And they said, “Would you be up for co-writing with people?” And I said, “Yes, let’s fucking do it, because I think we need more than two songs on the album.”
I’d never heard of Greg before. Obviously he’d done Adele’s album, and he’d worked with Beck, but I’d never met him. So we go into the studio, and he’s with Andrew, and I’d never heard of him either, but they just played me the first riff of “Wall of Glass” — without blowing me own trumpet, they’d probably heard of Oasis, so they knew what kind of thing I’m into — and said, “What do you think of this?” And I said, “Fucking perfect. Let’s go.” So we just got straight into it, and we had that written and recorded on day one. We were really clicking. We weren’t sitting around.
We didn’t have much time to dwell on the music or the words. We just got in there, it felt right, and we smashed it out, which is the way I like to work. When you’ve got too much time on your hands, you start overthinking it, and before you know it, you start sucking the life out of the music.
Well, maybe on a similar topic: Oasis’s third album, Be Here Now, turned 20 in August. I’ve always loved it, and it was initially well-reviewed, but it’s taken on a bad reputation over the years. Why do you think that is?
Me, personally, I’m with you. I’m not bringing people up, but there are a lot of sheep out there, aren’t there? And if the main guy [Noel Gallagher] says, “Oh, it’s fucking this and that,” a lot of people not using their own minds say, “Yeah, I agree.” If Noel had said it’s the best thing ever, I’m sure it’d have gotten a different fucking reception. The reason why he didn’t like it is because it reminds him of a not-so-good time with his ex-wife. That’s fine. That’s his prerogative.
But me, I had a good time making that album. I think there are some great songs on it. I think I sung really well, and it was a good time to be alive. Some of the songs went on a bit long, and they were a bit overproduced, but that’s what happens, mate, if you think you’re a producer. At that time, our kid was always messing with the tracks. It’s like, write the songs, play the guitar, and shut the fuck up. I like that album, because that’s what I did — I sang the songs, I had a good time, and went to the pub.
This has been a good press tour for you.
It has been. I’m the master at it, without a doubt, and I love doing interviews. If someone’s got something to say, and they ask you questions, I think you should give your honest answer. Otherwise you’re just kidding yourself, aren’t you? I’m not one of them people that go in a room and go, “Don’t ask about this, don’t ask me about that.” It’s up to me if I answer, you know what I mean? Ask me what you want.
It’s amazing how sensible you’ve come off in your recent interviews. NME asked you about British secession and suddenly you’re the “voice of reason on Brexit.” And even more impressive is that you’ve made it seem like Noel is the uncooperative one standing in the way of an Oasis reunion. Right now, you look like the more reasonable Gallagher brother.
Well I’m in fucking trouble now if that’s the case. How do I keep this up for a year and a half?
Did it ever bother you that Noel was considered the more levelheaded one?
Not really, because he works hard at being beige, so I wouldn’t want to come and take his crown at that. Noel’s a very clever guy, and he certainly knows how to work the press, whereas I don’t give a fuck, and I just do what I do, and if you write about it, you write about it. I’m here to sing songs as best as I can, and have as much fun as I can, and do as little as possible in life, because that’s my motto. Know what I mean?
And there’s no one in the world that’s my boss, whether it’s god or the government. I’m here to just take it easy and have a good time. So if he’s levelheaded, good for him. I was quite happy with my role in the band.
What do you think of Noel’s new single, “Holy Mountain”?
Obviously you know what I’m going to say, but it’s not for me. Musically, I find it a bit annoying. I think there are too many notes in it, and it’s just a bit not risky. It’s not for me.
There are lyrics on your new album that seem to be about your brother. In “For What It’s Worth,” you sing: “Let’s leave the past behind with all our sorrows / I’ll build a bridge between us and I’ll swallow my pride.” Is that a message to Noel?
No, I wouldn’t say it’s about Noel. It’s about my kids more than anything. I’ve let the kids down a lot more than Noel. I’ve got nothing to apologize to Noel Gallagher for, so it’s definitely not about him.
A couple weekends ago, you performed the Beatles’ “Come Together” with the Foo Fighters in San Bernardino, and you had to use a lyric sheet. Do you really not know the words to that song?
I thought we were doing “I Am the Walrus,” but I got there and it was “Come Together,” so I was going, “Who? What? Why?” And then, yeah, I’d had a lot to drink as well. I’m not one for getting up onstage and doing songs unless I’ve had a real rehearsal. Especially now with social media, since these things hang around for a bit. So I thought, You know what? Fuck this. And I jumped in the crowd. So yeah, I forgot the words. But I can barely fucking remember my words let alone fucking “I Am the Walrus” mashed with “Come Together.”
Are you glad there was no social media in the ’90s?
Yeah, totally. But having said that, there were a lot of good performances and a lot of good rock-and-roll shenanigans you would have been justified in putting on camera. Because there are a lot of things you can’t remember these days. People go, “Oh, remember that time?” No. So yeah, social media has its good bits and its bad bits.
You recently blamed the death of rock and roll on artists having to make their own tea. But what’s the second-biggest reason rock is less prominent these days? Is it because nobody buys albums anymore? Because artists give dull interviews?
Well, people do buy records, don’t they? Because mine’s No. 1 in England. Everyone’s going, “Fucking hell, guitar music and rock and roll are over.” I just proved them wrong, in England at least. I’ve just outsold the whole fucking Top 10, so the proof’s in the pudding: If it’s done right, by the right artist, rock and roll is cool.
But the reason why rock and roll has been shit the last couple years is because the people who are pretending to make it aren’t rock and roll. They’re spending too much fucking time on the business side going, “How many fucking units have we shifted, and how many studios have we got going, and how many of this and that?” You’d be better off spending more time in the studio writing a good fucking tune, mate, instead of worrying about how many downloads you’ve got. So that’s what I think the problem is.
And as for interviews, there are a lot of people out there that have got fuck all to say but are nicking a living through this rock-and-roll thing. They know that if they say something a little too close to the bone, they won’t get their tunes played on the radio, and it’s like, “Oh, mommy might give us a little slap on the wrist.” So therefore they keep their words to themselves. But I’ve seen them out. They’ve got a lot to say when they’re out at parties sniffing lines of cocaine, but the minute you put a microphone in front of them, they shit their pants. There are a lot of fakers out there.
Are there any other rock artists you do like?
No. Just me.