In a split second, the empty upstairs room of a Kentish Town pub is transformed into the Liam Gallagher Improv Masterclass.
Noel: (sauntering up to the stage door) “Alright mate, Noel Gallagher.”
Bouncer: (conferring with his supervisor) “We’ve got this Noel Gallagher here at the door with an acoustic guitar, he’s talking about playing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’.”
Supervisor: “His name’s not f**kin’ down though, mate.”
Bouncer: “Well, you go and tell him that.”
Supervisor: “Alright, listen, I’m sorry Noel but you’re not really invited…”
“F**k off mate!” Liam snorts, breaking the fourth wall and plonking back down without a curtain call. Bravo! You see, Liam Gallagher – all fired up and action-movie handsome in his new buzzcut – no longer needs a supporting cast; he’s now a blockbuster one-man show. Emerging from a three-year wilderness of boredom, booze and musical inactivity in the wake of his sporadically inspired Beady Eye project – three years in which he was “living in lawyer world” while he divorced Nicole Appleton to the reported tune of £800,000 having fathered a child with a US journalist, and settled into life as Noel’s most dedicated Twitter troll – Liam’s debut solo album ‘As You Were’ finds him freshly independent, truly centre stage.
Written with Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt in LA, it’s a proud and personal return to his roots: classic guitar rock bangers designed to get arenas full of the Oasis faithful slavering like a whiff of magic pie, served live with a side of ‘Rock ’N’ Roll Star’ and ‘Wonderwall’. So as he becomes, once again, as ubiquitous as the Trivago lady, it’s time to get the lowdown on his very own ‘4:44’…
You’ve said ‘For What It’s Worth’ might be apologising to people you’ve hurt and that ‘Wall Of Glass’ is about how fragile your own life has proved – is this your big personal, confessional record?
“Yeah, but not intentionally. I’ve not sat there and gone, ‘Right, I’ve gotta write a song about my divorce,’ or ‘I’ve gotta write a song about Oasis splitting up,’ or ‘I’ve gotta write a song about getting ID’d for cigarettes the other day in New York’. I don’t sit there and go, ‘Right, I’m gonna write about my love for my mother or my kids’, you sit there and play it, hum something on my phone, listen to it back and go, ‘I think that’s what I’m f**kin’ saying from afar’. You try to navigate it into summat that’s not just a load of f**kin’ nonsense. You make a storyline out of it.”
And you find that you are writing about Oasis and divorce?
“Yeah, I think so. ‘Greedy Soul’ is a pretty angry little number – subconsciously it comes out.”
There’s some religious imagery on there: “She’s got a 666 / I’ve got my crucifix” on ‘Greedy Soul’; “God told me / Live a life of luxury” on ‘Chinatown’. Are you a God-fearing man?
“I believe in everything and nothing. I don’t believe in a guy or a woman in the sky, and I wouldn’t say I am a f**king God-head, but I’m more intrigued by it than the science of it. The Big f**king Bang just sounds a bit boring to me. There’s bangs every day, isn’t there.”
Is your mum religious?
“She used to be but then she got divorced and wasn’t allowed to take, like, the f**king body of Christ. So at that time I was like, ‘I’m not sure about this f**king religion business – you go to church all the time, your geezer’s a d**khead who beat you up, but now you’re divorced you can’t go and take the body of Christ’, so I went off it. But I come and go with it. I respect people that are into it, I respect that people ain’t into it. I don’t wake up in the morning and go, ‘I must do f**king right’. But it’s the best topic if you want to f**king write about stuff.”
On tracks like ‘I’ve All I Need’ and ‘Bold’, you seem to be coming to peace with things.
“With ‘Bold’, ‘I’m gonna take you off my list of to-dos’, it’s like, ‘You can f**k off, I’m not arsed with you anymore’. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and give yourself less of a hard time. The more you’re like [fighting face] all the time, nothing gets done. You’ve gotta just let it be.”
On ‘Come Back To Me’ you’re entreating someone to stop being so wild. Ironic, much?
“Oh yeah. I’m still wild – give me a couple of coffees and I’m f**kin’ on fire – but every now and again you’ve gotta calm down. I think I’ve got it sorted on that front. I’ve never had a habit; there’s been a couple of days I’ve knocked on the pub at five to 11 but we’ve all been there. I’m glad I’ve stood on the edge and f**kin’ had it a bit, and I’m still here.”
Back in the day Noel called you “the angriest man you’ll ever meet”…
“I’m not the angriest man, no way. I’m sure I come across like that in the press but you ask anyone that’s with me 24/7, I’m a chilled-out motherf**ker. I’m f**kin’ very, very zen. But then I’m passionate about s**t and I don’t ever wanna lose that.”
What made you so angry back then?
“Just life, I guess. I’m not gonna sit here and go, ‘I’ve had a hard life’ – there’s loads of kids that’ve had it harder than me. In the scheme of things, 45 years on the planet, I’ve had a f**king absolute belter of a life. It’s only the early years, growing up when your f**kin’ dad weren’t there, but you can’t keep using that as an excuse. It was only for a short period. The last 25 years have been absolutely f**kin’ biblical. I’m passionate about music, I’m passionate about when there’s a song to be sung you sing it as good as you can, and when it’s there to be f**kin’ spat out – that’s the angry bit, I guess.”
What were your worst mistakes?
“Taking too much drugs, drinking too much, getting myself into situations with certain women, I guess that’s my main mistake. Other than that I’ve played a blinder.”
What do you tell your kids about drugs?
“Lennon’s 18 now, he’s smoking a bit of weed and that. I’m just saying, ‘Listen, if you’re gonna do it, come and talk to me about it because I’ve been there and I’ve done it’. I’m proud that I’ve not got a f**king habit. Drugs are alright, they’re not as bad as what people think. If you say ‘No’, they’re gonna f**kin’ do it, mate. The world is full of drugs and some are good and some are bad. Done in the right circumstances, certain drugs can be beneficial.”
‘You Better Run’ sounds like a challenge to the rock pretenders.
“That’s to every little s**tbag wannabe rock star who thinks they’re doing this rock’n’roll business a service, because there’s a lot of them out there that ain’t. I look at the likes of U2… Even years ago they were going, ‘We’re coming back to claim f**kin’ rock’n’roll’ and all that nonsense. For me, they haven’t wrote any masterpieces – for a band that f**kin’ big, with all the f**kin’ stuff they’ve got at their disposal they should be writing masterpieces. They’re certainly no Beatles. It’s like ‘You’d better run, you’d better hide’ because this album’s gonna give you a f**kin’ clip round the ear or a kick up the arse.”