Liam Gallagher - Uncut - April 2000
The location is Londons flashy Landmark Hotel, a place where palm trees loom over drinkers in the lobby and there's a better class of toiletry in your bathroom. We meet in a private suite, not long before Christmas. Liam Gallagher enters, perfectly, in a flurry of swearing about "fucking caffeine" and "fucking cocaine." He's not the tallest man in the world, but his pressence is colossal. He orders tea from room service, sits on the opposite side of a small table and streches his legs.
The things you notice first are the things that become transfixing, the tinted glasses, of course; the tuft of mischievous, Rod Stewart sprigs at the top of a head of newly washed hair; the drawstrings dangling down his pants; the parka done up to it's fur trimmed neck.
During the next hour, Liam is everything you want him to be, and a few things you never expected. By turns, he's impatient, angry, indignant, uncompromising, confessional and confrontational. He's driven, passionate to bursting point about everything that Oasis were, are and will be.
He's also suprising intense, hanging on to every word of every question as though he can barely wait to leap into his answers.
Exhibiting, none of his brother's diplomacy, Liam smiles rarely and is quite oblivious to everything except the thoughts that must be uttered. That they are rising directly from his emotions says everything about qualities like honesty and honour.
Which is why Liam Gallagher, important beyond Oasis, is the only proper rock star in this country.
He is the living, breathing, ranting, raving spirit of rock 'n' roll.
How has your life changed since your son Lennon was born?
l'm probably still in shock, you know what I mean, cos he's just a baby at the moment. I suppose he has changed my life, but not as in cleaned it changed it, you know what I mean? He's just made me aware that I can't be what I used to be.
Have you seen any changes in yourself as a person?
Little bits, little bits yeah. Well, I packed in the booze for a start.
Do you think you might have become a nicer person?
Yeah, I am a bit nicer, yeah. I'm nice round him. I've always been a nice person, you know. I have bad days, but I've always been a pleasant kind of guy.
Is anything bigger than having a baby?
No. It's gotta be the best thing. That's what we're here for, innit?
Were you at the birth?
Yeah, oh aye. We were still recording, and I got in a car and came home. And like, it was a month early, the baby, ancl I got a call saying I gotta go to the hospital and I was like, 'Fucking hell'.. . and she was there, having these pains and that stuff. And then he [the doctor] goes, 'Right, get your gear on.' I was like, 'Oh, what gear?"'
The hospital clothes! Were you shocked at how quickly everything was happening?
Yeah, I was pretty shocked. I was shitting it, actually. But it was good. I was there at the birth.
What did you feel like when you looked at Lennon for the first time?
I don't know. I can't explain it. Just buzzing. And I were a bit worried and all, make sure he was all right. But no, it was great.
How is your mum enjoying her first grandchild?
She doesn't like me anymore. She don't come down to visit me. And l'll tell you how it's changed me, how it has changed, yeah, is that before he was born, I was the most important person in my world. You know, I did what I wanted. I'm not the most important person in my world any more. He is.
You have to put yourself second.
Yeah, yeah, oh definitely. And it's like with me mam, I mean, she goes, 'Oh, I'm coming down next week,' and, I'm, 'WelI, you know, I'm not gonna be here,'and she's going,, 'I don't want to see you. I want to see him.
Have you written "Little Lennon" yet?
I've wrote one about him. 'Born On A Different Cloud' it's called, but I've not finished it, though.
Are we going hear it one day?
Yeah. When it's finished, yeah. it's good, man. On the piano and that.
Do you write on the piano?
I have been doing. But see, I can't really play it that well. I can do little bits, You know what I mean? I can get a tune out of it, but then I can't get a change. I leave that up to Noel. I get the gist of it and then I get the change in my head and I know how it's meant to go. It's just the way I write. I'll need help with it."
Noel polishes it up for you.
Yeah. Like with 'Little James'. With writing and that, I'm just doing it for myself at the moment. Mv main role is singing, and if I get a little song, every now and again, that's fine. And if Noel likes it, that's fine. And if he don't like it, I'm big enough to go,'Right, cool. it's shit.
Getting back to Lennon, there's been a lot of interest in his name. Did you see Paul McCartney on The Big Breakfast saying that he hopes his son has a boy and names him Lennon so he can be called Lennon McCartney?
I heard about it. Yeah, I thought it was amusing....but the funny thing about that is . I just got a phone call off Yoko Ono last night. She rang me.
What did she say?
She wants to meet me next week. She's staying in Claridges. What happened, she sent us this card about a week after he was born, like a little postcard with pictures - John Lennon used to draw pictures of him, her and Sean - and it's got, 'From the Lennon family'. It's got, 'To Lennon, welcome to the world, love, love, love, Yoko 99.' So I was fucking freaked, I was going 'Fucking hcll', went and showed it to everyone ...
Then a big box of baby clothes come from New York, cos she's doing online baby gear for kids and that. I was thinking, 'Fuckin hell, l'm gonna have to write a thank you letter.' "So now I'm thinkin, How the fuck ... [scratches head and mimes trying to write a letter]
'Dcar Yoko' . . . And I went,'Fuck it, I can't write that!' l didn't just want to write, like, 'Thank you for the clothes,' I wanted to write a bit more without sounding, like a fucking knobhead. So then I left it at that, and she's in London now and so we were rehearsing yesterday and I got this call saying,'Shc wants to meet you.'
So I got back last night and I rang her, the number was there, I got straight through. I said,'Is that Yoko?' She said,'Yeah who's that?' Oh, it's Liam.' She goes 'I'm in London for a bit.' I said, 'Anyway, thanks for all the gear you sent.'
"She does, 'Oh, the reason why I'm ringing is I'm getting more footage on John, Iike, Lennon when they were doing Imagine [for Gimme Some Truth, the new film about the making of the album]. She's in Abbey Road next week, but I'm away in America. She goes,'l wanted you to come and see it.' I said 'oh, I'm not going to be here.' She goes, 'oh, I'll send it to you anyway for Christmas and that.' She goes, 'But I'm back soon and if you want to come over for tea and biscuits and that, and bring the baby, I'd love it.
Have you changed your opinion of her?
"I never had an opinion on her. I'm not one of them who goes,'Oh, she split The Beatles.'They split themselves up, you know what I mean? She seemed dead nice on the phone and, like, listen, I love him, I've got respect for him, and I'm sure he was a c***, he had his moments, but if he was into her, then they're both the same person, I reckon. I'm not one of them who goes, 'That fucking Yoko.' I've got no problems.
Was it a challenging experience, working outside Oasis for the first time, with Steve Cradock on the "Carnation" single?
Well, I was a bit scared, you know what I mean? I didn't do it to be a single or anything like that. It was in Sweden or somewhere, I think, with Ocean Colour Scene when they supported us, and we were pissed and we was going on about the fucking Jam things. The Jam are all right, you know what I mean, but I was too young for them...
I never thought of you as a massive Jam fan.
No, I'm not. But I like some of the tracks, and I like Weller now. So we were speakin, about The Jam and mods and all this nonsense, so I went, 'oh, "Carnation" is the fucking best tune,' and Steve goes, 'Oh, that's my favourite tune. I'd love to do a cover of it one day.'
"So anyway, he went away and done this version and sent me a tape. He goes, 'I'm in London next week - do you want to sing on it?' l was going,'Oh fuck that,' so I kept ignoring his phone calls, and Patsy's going, 'Ring him back.' I'm going,'No cos I can't sing with anyone else, you know, I've never done it before.
I ended up, I got my fucking shit together and I went down there to Primal Scream's studio and we done it in the afternoon. And that was it. And no one ever mentioned putting out [the Jam tribute album] Fire And Skill. I don't even think that was thought of.
So the track existed before the idea of the album.
Yeah. Yeah. And that was, like, done last year .
How was it different to working with Oasis?
Just length in trousers, I reckon. Ours are 34 Iegss, theirs are, like, fucking up there (points to calf), cos they're mods and they like to show their ankles.
Once it was released as a single, did you want a Number One?
No. No. I was gonna do Top Of The Pops and all that, cos we were getting back into the Oasis thing and I thought, 'Yeah, fucking, why not?' And then I thought, 'Well, it's a good song, I'm well happy with it, it's better than anything else around at the moment.' If it had gonr in at number one, yeah, great, but I get Number Ones with Oasis. Once you've had a Number One, you've had a Number One, You know. I'd have been disappointed if it hadn't got in the Top 10, only cos it was a good song.
Noel got involved in your TV appearances. Was he there to give you moral support or was he there as a mate of Paul Weller and Steve Craddock?
He was gagging for it. No, he was just there for the piss up, you know what I mean? It's a gathering, of the lads, leave the wives at home, have a good drink...
A lads' night out, really.
That's what it was.
When Bonehead left Oasis, the papers said he'd had a row with Noel over, Bonehead's drinking in France, where you were recording the album. is there any truth in that?
Not really, no. The thing was, right, no one turned round to anyone specifically and said,'Look, there's no drinking except for Noel with me. We were rehearsing the album a week before we went to France, and every fucking two minutes I was in the pub, and every time we'd have a break, I'd go 'fuck that,' go to the pub. And everyone was sitting about, fuckin, listening to it back, and i'd just go to the pub. And then I'd come back, do a bit more rehearsing, and I'd be a bit pissed up, and then a little argument would fucking start and that, so basically, the call was for me. Noel goes, 'Look, if you're going to be fucking pissed in France, don't bother coming.
And I was like,'You fuck . . .' and then I had a row with him on the phone, and I put the phone down and I went away and Patsy calmed me down. She went, 'Look, he's fucking right. And I'm glad someones' finally fucking told you.' Cos it seem, like no one really tells me, like, 'Fucking stop drinking,' when I'm being a c*** and that, and she goes, 'You're a knobhead when you drink.'
So I listened to her and went,'Right, fuck it!' So I said to Marcus [Russell, band manager], 'Ring him back and tell him I'll be fucking sweet. I'll be sober.' So I went there sober. There was no argument with Bonehead at all. There was no arguments with anyone. Bonehead was drinking, Whitey was drinking, everyone drinks."
Do you think the papers were looking for a sensational reason for Bonehead's departure?
Yeah, well, there was this big thing in the papers saying that Noel's banned booze and all this nonsense, he's banned drugs and 'They're going back to their fucking roots'. I mean, roots, what, in a £50 million fucking mansion, you know what I mean? That's going back to our roots!
And the thing was, when we were recording the album, everybody was fine, everyone was happy, he [Bonehead] is moving house in Manchester, he's done his bits dead quick, he goes,'Right, I'm going home to move house. I'll be back.' Now, if there was something going on behind the scenes, I don't know. I can only say what I saw. Everyone was happy, everyone was into the music, everyone was listening to it back, buzzin, having a drink, going "Wey, we're fucking top,' and 'Wey, that's great.' And then we get a phone call saying he's done his bits and he's leaving the band.
What was your reaction to that?
"At first I was thinking, 'Right, let it be for a bit, it'll be sweet.' You know, these things happen all the time in Oasis. Everyone gets the needle and goes home for a week and then they calm down, and then they miss it, and they go, 'Right...'
So we went, 'Ah, fuck it, he's got the fuckin, hump about something,' or maybe he just dosn't want to sort it. We can't tell unless we're speaking to him, cos he spoke to Marcus. So we carried on with our bits, we finished the album and came home. Then we carried on trying to get in touch with him and he was still going, 'Oh, no, I've had enough of touring. I want to be with my kids."'
Have you spoken to him yourself?
I've not spoken to him, no. He's tried to call me and that but, you know, I'm busy. Now, that's the thing. He lives in Manchester and we're not that close as the band used to be. We're all married, you know what i mean, and we meet up every now and again. They don't go to parties. I don't really go to parties, Noel's the party one, and we'd only meet up when we were rehearsing or doing a video or something, and now that that's not happening... if they're not into a band with me, then I've not got nothing in common with them.
So you feel hurt by Bonehead leaving?
Yeah. I feel hurt because if he's got a problem, which I don't think he had, with the band, then he should've been able to speak to us about it. Cos we'd been in it so long I thought we were that fucking close. When we were together, the band, we talked about things. if I had a problem with the band, I'd say it. If Noel did, and if Whitey did, they did say it. And I just feel a bit gutted that they [Bonehead and Guigsy] mustn't have felt like we were mates, or something, that they couldn't come out and go, 'Oh, I got a problem'.
Wasn't Bonehead your main drinking partner on tour?
Yeah. And Whitey as well. And Noel. Noel's a fucking drinker and all. No, everyone was a drinker. The only one that really didn't drink was Guigs. We were all mates, you know what I mean? And I'm gutted that they couldn't speak about it then.
Did Guigsy also cut out without telling you himself?
Yeah, he cut out without telling us, yeah.
What did you think about that?
Well, I thought cos they were two mates together from previous, that that was it.
He went out in solidarity?
"Well, maybe, yeah. I think it was a bit of a like, 'I'll leave and then we'll both get back in,' or something. Do you know what I mean? It was like like maybe a little bit of a fucking 'We'll see how far we can push them.' But it was like, if you leave the fucking band, you Ieave the band, that's the end of it. If you don't want to be in it, then you don't want to be in it. We've got no time to be fucking cuddling each other and going fucking 'Oh, what's up, what's up?', do you know what I mean? We've done all that. We're here to fucking start a band, we're here to go on tour. Fucking, we're not social workers. I'm not your mam. I'm not your fucking dad. We do the fucking album, and it sounds hard, but you're there to work, do the fucking album, go on fucking tour. That's what it's always has been. If you've got a fucking problem, go and see your psychiatrist or something. Cos I've gotta go in there and do my bit to support my kids.
So it's like, if they don't want to he in the band that's it. Fucking see you later. We'll go and get someone who is into being in the band.
How did [Bonehead's replacement] Gem come into the picture?
Gem was someone that we knew. He'd supported us and that. We thought, 'Right, Heavy Stereo have been dropped off Creation' ... We didn't want to go and fucking poach him. We just went,'Look, what's Heavy Stereo up to?' And he's going,'Oh, we're writing songs,' and he's going, 'Why?' And we're going 'Well, we need a guitarist. Do you fancy being the guitarist?' And he went, Yeah, yeah.' We didn't go, 'Leave your fucking band.' It was only meant for the December dates, but he said, 'Yeah, I'm fucking in."
What made him a better person for Oasis than any of the other people that were considered?
We didn't consider anyone else. People were talking about Johnny Marr and fucking Aziz out of fucking Stono Roses. I don't fucking think so. You know what I mean - if you can't get it together in The Stone Roses, what fucking chance have you of getting it together in fucking Oasis? And [former The Vereve guitarist] Nick McCabe, it's the same for him. If he can't get it together in his own fucking band, he's got no chance of fucking getting it together in ours.
It was widely believed that David Potts from Monaco was joining on bass.
Right, that was Peter Hook talking. The bass player, we were a bit struggling. We tried, like, four bass players out, no one knows their names, and that didn't get out. And then we tried Pottsy, he came down to rehearse with us, and Peter Hook went blabbing to the fucking papers
He said it on the radio.
Yeah, and it was all over Manchester that Pottsy's got the job. Now, I feel sorry for him cos he's gotta go back up to Manchester and go I'm not in.' But that's not our problem, you know, what I mean?
Andy Bell joining on bass came as a surprise.
So what it was, I didn't rehearse with Pottsy cos I had the flu and that, but they were rehearsing and I was at home and Pottsy was good, but he just ... in the nicest possible way, he just didn't look the part. And it's essential, I think. No matter how daft it sounds, you've gotta look fucking right, you know what I mean.
And then with Andy Bell, I got home and we got a phone call saying Andy Bell had joined Gay Dad and I was having none of that. I went, 'Fuck that.' So we got his phone number and rang him up and said, 'Look, do you fancy doing it?' And he went,'Yeah.'
You don't like Gay Dad, then.
I've heard of their name. That's terrible. That'll do me.
Didn't you slag him off, Andy Bell, when he was in Hurricane #1?
Yeah. Yeah, cos he deserved it. I slagged him off, battered his singer, and that was it, yeah.
You battered Alex Lowe?
Yeah, well, he deserved it. He was slagging us off. We were on the same label and he was giving, it all this fucking nonsense. You don't shit on your own doorstep. I'd never slag any band off on Creation, whether I liked them or not. It's something that I wouldn't do, you know. And he's fuckin, definitely not doing it to me, the dick, without getting a slap. And then we had a bit of a scuffle and that was it. And Andy's cool as fuck, you know what I mean? He's a rock'n'roIler.
Did it feel odd playing for the first time with two people who weren't Bonehead and Guigsy?
I didn't think it did feel any different. No, it didn't feel odd, man. No, because I'm not like that. I don't dwell on the past. That part of Oasis is over. It's gone and it's dead and dusted, through them, not me. I walked in there that day, walked into the rehearsing rooms, two guys there, Gem was playing there. 'Right, where's my mic? Set me up. Let's fucking go.' And that was it. I'm not going to go, 'Oooh [mimes crying], having visions. They made the choice to leave the band anci that's the fucking end of it. And I'm here to fucking get it on. They're there to get it on. Let's get it on. And that's the way it is and that's the way it fucking should be, man.
Someone said that, with the new members, it was like a Creation supergroup.
A Creation supergroup? What, Heavy Stereo and fucking Hurricane? What's super about that? Nothing super about fucking Hurricane #1, except for Andy Bell, who's now in Oasis. And there was nothing really super about Heavy Stereo, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. it's an Oasis supergroup.
What is the balance of power now in Oasis?
Noel's in charge, full stop.
He's still The Chief.
Yeah, man. He writes the songs and he does the business side of things. He's the one who sits up and makes all the decisions. You know, I don't want to know the business side of it or the fucking covering artwork and all that, I just want'to sing. Alan wants to play drums. Gem wants to play his things you know, and Andy wants to play his bass. And I feel sorry sometimes for Noel, but he's the one who wants to do that, so let him do it. But I'm The Chief in my position, which is in front of the microphone. And he's in charge of his bit, you know, but he writes the songs. That's it.
Looking back at the Nineties, Oasis are one of the major events of the whole decade, not just musically but as a cultural phenomenon.
Yeah. I'd like to think so.
Has the novelty worn off?
"The last tour [1997/98] got a bit boring, you know what I mean? I personally wanted to come off tour. I couldn't be bothered with it, cos it was doing me head in. I was singing fucking rubbish towards the end and I was getting in too much fucking trouble outside the band, and that was not what it was about.
You built up a reputation as the wildest man in rock. Did you ever feel as though you were?
You did fly the flag quite well.
Well, I probably was at the time. It depends, You know ... I just liked getting on the piss and fucking having a laugh and that. I weren't the wildest man in rock, it's just that every flucker else in a band was BORING.
I'd agree with that.
Brett Anderson, you know. Boring as fuck. Who else? They're all boring. Damon Albarn, boring as fuck. We called him Dermot Oblong
Throughout the whole period of Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, it was like Oasis could do no wrong. Do you think you had it really easy during that period?
I think we worked, man. It didn't come to us on a plate. We were gigging everywhere, weren't we? We were getting up to things that no other band was. And it's because everyone else around at the time was fucking shit and boring. We're a great band and we're an exciting band and there's people in the band that arc exciting.
Do you think you can ever get that kind of acclaim back, where people think you walk on water?
Er ... yeah. Yeah, but it won't be on that scale, You know, because we were new then. When we'd been around a bit, we were in everyones faces, we were in the paper every fucking day. And people get bored with that. And that's sad, people knowing exactly fucking what move you're making and what you're doing. So you'll never get that sense of mysteriousness about the band back again, but all you can do is go on and make better records and that's all i'm about now, and that's all the band is about now. And then we were about fucking getting off our tits, losing it, and all the music side of it was getting fucking missed, you know. It was all about fucking what we're wearing, who we're fucking, shagging, who, we're rucking with. And that was right for a young band, I think.
Now that you've eased off on all the revelling and quaffing do you see anybody out there who can carry on from wherer you left off?
No. No, just me. I'll still be doing it every now and then. Mmm. I'll still be there, but not as much. [As if on cue, Liam embarked on his famous "Lost Weekend" just two days later, after learning that Alan McGee was ditching was ditching Creation ]
What do you think about the fans that actually don't want you to be sane and sober?
Well, fuck them.
Because there are people who expect that from you, aren't there?
Well fuck them. l've got a kid now. l don't want to die. l don't want to be an alcoholic. Cos they'll be getting on my case when they come to see me, I'm 50 fucking stone, I've got a big fucking beard and I'm taking loads of fucking slimming tablets and all that. They'll be moaning then, won't they? And I've got no teeth and look like Shane MacGowan. So fuck them, I'll be fucking rocking mate. If they want to come and see me, they're going to come and see a rock'n'roll show, and if they don't like that, they can fuck right off and go and see Robbie Williams or something.
Throughout '96 and '97, you had the paparazzi living in your hedge. Was there any parts of that constant attention that you secretly liked, or was it a pain in the arse the whole time?
It was a pain in the arse,man
Did you ever take them out a cup of tea?
I like the attention, when it's to do with the music and the band. When I'm going gigging and there's loads of fans around, you know, I love that. When everyone's going, 'Yeah!', you know, fucking there, at the gigs and all that. When I'm walking down the street, it's nice when people 'All right?' You know, I like that and I'd be a liar not to say it.
But when there's fucking paparazzi outside your house, and there's people writing on your fucking wall outside your house, and there's people slagging your missus off outside your house, then I don't like it. I fucking hate it. But the rest of the being in a rock'n'roll band, all that adulation, I love it. Oh yeah. And I want more it.
Do you every worry about losing it all or does that not even enter into your thinking?
No. Well, the only way I'd lose it is if I booze, you know what I mean?
So it's that big a threat to you?
Yeah, that's the biggest threat, because I'd get pissed and I'd have an argument with Noel, and I'd stick by my guns and he'd stick by his guns. I was wrong, he'd be right and that'd be it. Now, if I've got an argument where I'm sober with Noel, I can win it. If I've got an argument with Noel when I'm pissed, then he can go,'You're fucking pissed, you're a c***, you're singing shit,' and when I wake up sober in the morning, I go,'Oh, he's right.' You can always get blamed for things when you're drunk, even when you're doing something right. When things do go wrong and you're pissed, people can get on your case. When you're sober and things go wrong, they can't get on your case. That's the only way I could lose it, if I get into the bottle. Other than that, I'm rocking.
Do you feel Iike the biggest British rock star of the nineties, which you were?
I still am. But I don't walk down the road doing it, no. I walk down the road going, 'Fucking hell, I hope I can get on with my business.'
You allowed photographers to take pictures of Lennon, when you were walking around a park with him.
Yeah, well, I just didn't want to get fucking stressed out with my kid. I didn't want to he getting into big fucking verbal arguments with these photographers when I've got a two-month-old baby. I wanted to keep my cool. So I just said, 'Look, stay over there. If you're gonna fucking mither me, mither me from over there, but if you come near me, then . . .' They could've come near me and took pictures and nought I could have done about it.
Did you read in the papers a little while back that there was a poll of the most miserable people in Britain...
... and you and Noel where both in it. How close to the truth could that be?
You know, they must have fuck all else to do with their lives. It's pretty miserable, innit, for someone to sit down and go, 'Right then, today my quest is finding out who's the most miserable person in the world. 'What kind of fucking kick he gets out of life, writing about the most miserable people in the world - he's the miserable one. What, cos I don't walk down the road smiling and I don't smile for cameras? What, cos I tell people to fuck off cos they've got a camera pointing in my baby's face, and they're getting on my wife's case and they're getting on my case? And they're writing bullshit stories about me? Yeah,then l'm the most miserable person. If you ask anyone else, I'm fucking up for it all the time. Funny as fuck. I'm a jolly boy,man. A jolly lad.
Have you read Paolo Hewitt 's book, Forever The People?
No, I don't read his books.
It was all about his experiences on the Be Here Now tour.
What did he fucking know? He was in bed all the fucking time, the lightweight bastard.
I was amazed that Paolo went on the road with Oasis, because he was never a drinker.
He still wasn't. He's a lightweight.. So all the shit he writes about, saying what we was up to, he wouldn't fucking know cos he was in bed at fucking 10 o'clock every night, the LIGHTWEIGHT. I don't approve of it, to tell you the truth. But someone's gotta do it, you know.
Well, anyway, he suggested that Oasis were shocked and bewildered when Be Here Now started getting a kicking.
No. That's bullshit. Noel, bee's knees as a songwriter, he might have been shocked. I think it's a fucking great album. I think it was overproduced, there was a lot of cocaine going on, loads of drinkin,. We were getting followed to the studio by the paparazzi, five cars from my house to the studio, waiting outside, five cars back. It was like fucking 'Band On The Run.'
To me, that's no way to go to work. You know what I mean? If you're stressed out when you go to work, it's gonna show in your work. So I was stressed out, and that was happening to everyone. That's the only problem I've got with Be Here Now. It was better than any other fucker's album around. There was a lot of cocaine doing on, there was a lot of fucking hangers on in the studios, and it shows. But other than that, it was a great album.
You've defended the album before but Noel has said that, looking back, he' doesn't think it's that great.
Yeah, but he would do, because he's like that, Noel. He's one of them that go, 'oh, forget it,' you know. It's a fucking great album. If it weren't a great album, why did he fucking record it? And he pisses me off when he says that. He's saying it just to agree with the fucking people who slag him off. But fuck that. It was a great album and he knows it was great, cos I seen him when he was writing it. He was loving it.
But when you look back at it, it was a bit crazy. The producer [Owen Morris] was just as mad as us, you know what I mean, he was drinking as much as us. It was just we weren't concentrating on the job that we were doing. But the songs are fucking great. I don't particularly think my singing was good cos I was off it and that, but other than that, it was a fucking great album. You know, it's not a fucking shit album. it's the Phantom Menace of albums. Listen, it was the album we were out to do and that was the way it was done. I'm not saying it's the best, but it's definitely not the worst. Maybe we didn't go any further, maybe we didn't take a step forward, but we didn't take a step back.
And going down to the sales, it sold six million copies. People say it's poor sales . . . six million people fucking liked it, so what are you talking about?
You've been away for a while and during that time, bands like the Manics, Stereophonics and Catatonia have been on the rise. How do you rate them as competition?
I don't rate them as a competetion. No.
How about Travis, who have a massive album?
Travis are a beautiful band, I love Travis, right, and they've got great songs. I don't think of them as competetion. They're definitely not, although they're a great band. And like Catatonia, for a fucking start, they ain't no fucking competition, right. Fuck them. I'm arsed about her either, right.
The Manic Street Preachers are a good band. They're not in competition with me. Stereophonics, I like his voice. The rest's a bit Bryan Adams. They're not competition, but I hope they do well.
Let's talk about Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants. When you were recording it, did you feel any pressure to deliver, given the slagging dealt out to Be Here Now?
No, honest to God, no. Cos when I heard the songs.....I'm totally, 100 percent behind Noel's songwriting ability. No question at all. The pressure could be on Noel, cos he's the guy who writes the songs, and people go, 'Oh, they're shit.' I'd be disappointed, you know what I mean, but I'm sure he'll be more disappointed, cos he's opening up to the people with his songs. I'll be disappointed if people don't like 'Little James' right, cos it's my first attempt and I'd like itif people like it, so I'll be a bit disappointed if they don't, but it won't fucking kill me.
Do you think that this album will restore the band's critical reputation?
I don't know and I don't really give a fuck, to tell you the truth, because at the end of the day, it's like with Be Here Now. All right, yeah, it might have got a bit of a slagging, but they loved it at first and then they fucking hated it, and I'm not a psy-fucking-chiatrist, I can't get into the mind of a fucking person who reviews. That's their problem, not mine. And this album, I'm into it, I'm happy with it, I'm happy with it, and whether they like it or not, it's still going to get toured.
Did it turn out the way that you personally envisaged?
I remember, I think it was on the Steve Lamacq show ages ago, you were saying you wanted it to be a bit psychedelic, and you said something like you wanted to splash a bit of paint over the music. Is this what you meant?
Yeah. You know, you've gotta have a good song before you go fucking weird and all that. 'I Am The Walrus' was a great song on acoustic guitar. You can strip it down and it's there. I just wanted it to be not so fucking rock'n'roll. I wanted to put a bit of colour into it, and I think we've done it. Whether people like it or not, I don't know, but we're writing for us. You can't fucking write for the critics or the fans.
Do you think you're going to take some stick over 'Little James' being so sentimental - "Wild Man Of Rock IN Soppy Sod Shock" Or do you think people will listen to it in the spirit in which you wrote it?
Hopefully. People who've got any soul, people who know who they are on a day-to-day basis, will actually realise that there is a day when you go home and put your feet up and cuddle your kids. there is a day when you watch fucking TV. Now, if anyone slags it off, they've either got no heart or they fucking don't know what the meaning of life is. THey just fucking go out and fucking do-do-do-do the same thing every day. So fuck them, you know what I mean.
What does James think of it?
He thinks it's hilarious.
And what does Patsy think?
She thinks it's lovely. What it's about, it's about me and him, right, and his mum. And it's about 'It won't be long before everyone has gone,' it's like explaining to a little kid, you know, you've got all them fucking slags outside the house, the press and that...
Are they still there?
No, they're not there no more, not at the momoent, but it's like, I've got to go outside the house with him, cuddling him, through all these people, so when he got a little bit older, he's going. 'Whoare all them people?' It's weird, you know. I just had to tell him it won't be long before all them people have gone.
It seems to be inspired by a combination of Lennon's 'Beautiful Boy' and The Beatles 'Hey Jude'.
Yeah, a bit of both. More Beautiful Boy. Music's music you know. And you can't win with these people. You know, they're going, 'You're the wild man of rock, you're fucking this , you don't fucking care,' and when you do show a bit of fucking caring, then they fucking call you a poof.
I suppose that's being Liam Gallagher, isn't it?
Well, it's not my problem. It's theirs.
Are you happy that the song was built up into a big production ballad at the end?
Yeah, yeah. Well I just wanted it to be acoustic. Have you heard Lennon's demos? And they're just, like, dead crackly, like, and it's just on a guitar and that's the way I'd like to write music. But if he's gonna go on an Oasis album, it's gotta be a bit big, hasn't it? So then I played it to him [Noel] and he just went away with the band and he goes, 'What do you think of this?' And I went 'It's fucking top.'
It's the same thing with Noel's ballad, 'Sunday Morning Call'. It's got the big treatment, too hasn't it?
That's the feel of the album, really. There's quite a grandeur about it.
Yeah. I like it.
Are Oasis becoming more at home in the studio?
It sounds like you really enjoyed using the studio this time.Yeah well, we are. We're getting right into it now.
Can you go too far with that, or do you think you've found the right balance?
No, I think we're ready now, you know , to spend a lot of time in the studio and really get right into it, wheras we didn't do that before cos we were just rocking - 'Do, doo, doo, let's get out and let's play.' And I'm not saying we're spending two years in the studio making cos we don't do that. I'm on about like, really getting to fucking grips with what's around in the studio.
The lyrics of Little James are quite joyous and that's different to a lot of Noel's lyrics on this album. They're dark in some ways, and a bit depressive.
Oh aye, yeah.
Is that the way Noel was feeling when he wrote this album?
Do you ever talk to him about his lyrics?
He doesn't explain them does he? He just won't explain.
Do you have to interpret them in you own way, then, when you're singing?
Yeah, I've got my own things, yeah. I don't like to talk about other people's songs, cos they're not mine, but when I sing 'em, I sing them about what I'm thinking about.
Do you think that Noel is alright with fame, cos quite a lot of the lyrics on this album seem to be a bit disillusioned?
With fame? If he didn't want to do it, I don't think he'd do it. He's a clever man, he knows exactly what he wants.
He's having a go at certain people on this album.
I don't think he's having a go at friends. It's not necessarily, like ... what do you mean, like fame as in what?
Well the trappings of it. The hangers-on.
It's just goes to show, doesn't it, 'You try and sit around my table but you never bring a chair,' It's about the liggers. That's what I get from it.
You don't put up with them.
With the hangers-on.
No, I don't. My house is a home house. It's not a party house. I think they're all dicks anyway, to tell you the truth. All celebrities are all fucking knobheads. And I'm sure they think the same thing about me, but I'm not the one wanking it about with everyone else. They're the ones that are all wanking around each other, saying how great each other is, and slagging each other off from behind their backs. I tell them to their face when I see them - they're all knobs.
There isn't anything on the album that's really optimistic like 'Live Forever' or a huge celebration like 'Champagne Supernova'.
You can't do that all the time, can you? Life's not great all the time, is it?
Moving on to 'Go Let It Out' - it's quite a laid back song for a comeback single, isn't it?
Did you want to come back subtly rather than with a big bang?
I don't know, you know. I wanted to come back with 'Fuckin' In the Bushes', to tell you the truth.
That's a mad song. I have no idea what it's about.
Neither do I. I don't think there is an idea what it's about.
Tell me about the voices on the samples.
It's 'We put this festival on you bastards, we waited for one year for you pigs, you wanna break our walls down, well you go to hell' And it's from the festival on the Isle of Wight, when all the hippies were trying to break the walls down. And there's a bit in it going, 'Kids are running around naked, fucking in the bushes.' And then there's a bit at the end, where an old lady's going, 'Music, love, loife, beautiful, I'm all for it.'
It's a very dramatic opening to the album.
I fucking love it, man. I think that should've been the single. But it wasn't gonna get anywhere, it's not gonna get any airplay is it? It's just fucking rocking, man. You ain't gonna get a better rocker that that. Now that, right, to me, is the ultimate fucking rock'n'roll song. I know for a fact, me personally, I'll die happy being involved with such a song like that. It's just fucking mental. It's rocking, man. I love it.
The video for 'Go Let It Out' is a bit Magical Mystery Tour.
No, it's not as good as that. The video's fucking shit. I hate videos. It's all right. We're no good at videos, you know what I mean? We're not there to make ground breaking videos, but we're trying our best. It's all right, it's nothing fucking amazing. I think the weirdo's on the video should've looked at bit weirder, but it's all right...
But Go Let It Out, to me is like, fucking jesters and little clowns that capewr and sawdust rings and...
The Big Top.
Yeah, I love it. I know, I know, its a slow one, and wheather it was the one to come back with, I don't know. But it's all part and parcel of the album.
Do you think that Oasis fans will be suprised by the album? I know I was.
Oh right. What, in a good way?
I expected Oasis to get back to some straightforward rock songs, really. After the criticisms of Be Here Now, I thought you might react by simplifying everything.
Well everyone wants Definitely Maybe, do you know what I mean?
I didn't say I wanted Definitely Maybe.
No, no, I know that, but, like, with you saying about the fans and that, how will they react. I don't know, but every fan I speak to, they go, 'Oh, I don't like your first album.' Yeah so did I, but you can't fucking stand still. And I don't want to.
Is that really what they expect?
Yeah, but it's like I said before, we're not writing for the fans. I hope they like what we're doing but if they don't, then they don't. They can do and fucking listen to Stereophonics or whatever. You know, it's not my problem. I like the album and.... you know, there'll be someone who'll like it. But it's just what we want to do. I think it's fucking great and I love it. I love the sound of it.
There aren't too many songs here that jump straight out at you. It takes a lot of listening.
Yeah, Well I think that's a good thing, actually. Music's about listening to innit?
Do you think that could work against you?
Oh, probably will
Are you ready for the slings and arrows this time?
There might not be any. But I'm ready for anything.
You're pretty bulletproof, aren't you?
The thing is, if they slag it, they slag it, you get on and do the next one. That's what it's about. It's not gonna knock me dead. we've wrote half the next album anyway. We've got fucking loads of songs. We're always writing man. Soon as we finish touring next, we're back in there, you know, and write the next one.
With this one, certain Oasis trademarks are missing, like the irresistible melodies of Som Might Say or the big singalong anthems of D'You Know What I Mean. It's a lot darker and denser in many ways isn't it?
Do you like that?
I do, yeah, I just think that it's time for that. You can't keep writing anthems all the fucking time. That's up for someomne else to be doing now. As a young band, you know, we were brand new, everything was fucking great, you're famous, you've got all this money, you're fuckin out at all these parties - that's when your anthems are coming out. We're seeing the shitty side of it now.
Do you think this is a more drown-up album than anything you've done before?
Yeah, a well grown up album. When you see the shit we've seen... That's for fucking new bands to be writing all these 'Life's fucking great, it's fucking mega, wehey...' They don't know what's coming. That's for them to be rejoicing. They don't know that if they get to where we were, that it can get a bit shitty. So that's for them to be writing the anthems. We're where we are now, and life's a bit shit sometimes cos of what's going on, and that's coming out in the music. And all you can write is how you feel. And that's how Noel's obviously feeling. See, if people give this really good reviews and all that and treat us really nice, then we'll write a nice anthem album next time.
This isn't a commercial album, full of obvious singles.
You've gotta listen to it more.
Was this a concern for you?
No, Not at all. Otherwise we'd be writing hit singles. I think it's a new stage in our life. If it's not gonna get on the radio, I'm arsed, you know. Maybe that's what the problem is with music today. They're always looking for that big, fucking hook. We're going back to fucking proper rock'n'roll music. I mean, it's a proper fucking rock'n'roll album.
Do you think it will go to Number One?
Yeah, Definitely. Don't know if it'll stay there, though. Course it'll go to fucking Number One. It's Oasis, man.
Is it a perseve album to put out at this stage? Some of the songs are quite long and there are long instrumental passages, which are things that people criticised about Be Here Now.
Do you mean it's the same?
No. But there are certain things that people thought you shouldn't do and you're doing them again.
Yeah, well, fuck them. So you're saying what? Who's saying we shouldn't do that? The press?
Including the press.
Right, the press, right, because the press are saying. 'Don't do that', I'm not writing fucking music for some knobhead who couldn't tie his fucking shoelaces, let alone play a guitar or write a fucking song. Do you know what I mean? That's the fucking bottom line of it. If they don't like it, then that's fucking fine. If they slag it off, that's fine. We're the musicians, they're the fucking knobheads who write about it.
If Oasis' previous albums were fulled by booze and white lines, would you say that this is more of a spliff album?
Yeah, I think so, yeah. Definitely: I'd say so. Not that we've been spliffing it. It's a listening album man. It's not fucking chaos.
Is it a satisfying album for you as a singer?
Yeah, Oh yeah.
Even though there's a lot of instrumental work in it?
Yeah, I think I'm singing pretty well.
Do you approve of Noel singing?
You don't mind him having a couple of songs on every album?
They're his fucking songs, aren't they?
Are you not dying to sing them?
No, I'm not really dying to sing thingy; 'Where Did It All Go Wrong', to tell you the truth.
You would sound good on "Sunday Morning Call"
Well, I tried singing it, but I think that's Noel's favourite, his little beauty. I think it means a lot to him.
It's the most melodic song on the album.
Yeah, well, I sang it and it's like I was singing it a bit too hard. I can't sing soft.
You can still carry a ballad.
Yeah, I know, but, anyway. I think that was his thing - 'I want that, I want to do that,' so I done it and even if it was probably good, he probably went. 'Oh, no, no, I don't like that, you're singing like a bumble bee. I'll do it.' And then he done his version of it and I went, 'A, fuck, I'm not gonna get in an argument about it.
The future of British rock depends on this album.
No, you can't put that weight on us baby.
Is it too much responsibility for you?
The future of British rock revoloves on fucking bands, mate.
People are waiting for this album, Liam.
Well, I'm sorry, darling, that's to do with fucking dickhead writers who slag people off before they've given them a chance, do you know what I mean? It don't depend on us, mate. This album is for us and for the fans who like it. British rock's for fucking people who've joined bands and are writing shit music. That's what British rock depends on.
But there's a lot of people holding their breath for this album, and that's a compliment.
Well that's good, yeah, but that, fucking, that can go against you man. And I'm not having none of that.
Everything can go against you in this business, though.
Well whatever you want. The future of British rock will not go against that album. If people don't like that album, that'll go against us.
Do you think Oasis are still the biggest and best?
I think we are, yeah. Well I think we're the biggest... We've been away for two years - it's different, do you know what I mean? We were the biggest when we left off, and I'm gonna carry on where we left off.
Can you do that?
I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think the glory can go on. You know I wouldn't be here today if I didn't think we can get bigger and better. And whether people come in around us, you know, and it get's other bands rocking again, then that's fine, but I'm not arsed about it. I couldn't give a flying fuck about the future of British rock. Listen, all I'm bothered about is Oasis. I've done my bit for the fucking futures of British rock.