Liam Gallagher talks ahead of Birmingham Arena show
It looked like he was all washed up. Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher watched on as his brother, Noel’s, solo career soared – while his went backwards.
His post-Oasis band, Beady Eye, split in 2014. They’d played as one of the first bands on the line-up at Glastonbury – in contrast to the headline slots he’d once enjoyed. And the band’s second album had failed to chart in America – selling less than 100,000 copies in the UK.
But then Liam decided to go solo. And the singer – whose voice is one part John Lennon to one part John Lydon – hasn’t looked back.
He previewed solo songs at an Irish pub in Charlestown, County Mayo, back in 2015 and has made 2017 his own.
The star made a surprise performance at the One Love Manchester benefit concert in June, playing Rock‘n’Roll Star, Wall of Glass and Live Forever. And at Glastonbury 2017 he played Don’t Look Back In Anger for the first time, post-Oasis, dedicating it to the victims of London and Manchester terror attacks and those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
His debut solo album, As You Were, was released in October to widespread acclaim, selling more than 100,000 copies in the first week and giving him a number one hit.
He’s back on the road with a series of arena shows and will play Birmingham Arena on Tuesday, with special guests Rat Boy and Trampolene.
But despite his success, Liam has remained an adversary of his brother, Noel, with the pair winding each other up with scissors and potatoes in recent months.
When Noel played Later . . . with Jools Holland, he got High Flying birds bandmate Charlotte Marionneau to play a pair of scissors on stage. And he then told XS Manchester presenter and Inspiral Carpets star Clint Boon: “They aren’t just any scissors, they’re herb scissors with four blades so they have this particular sound.
“When she pulled them out in rehearsals I said to my bass player: ‘If that isn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever seen I don’t know what is.’
“He said: ‘Your kid’s going to glass himself’, and I thought you know what? Even for that it’s going to be worth it.”
Liam hit back and asked his fans to peel a potato – one of his favourite insults for Noel – and somebody did at one of his London gigs, which went viral.
Noel hit back: “Bless him, you’d think he’d have better things to do with his time wouldn’t you. But he has always been an oddball.”
And yet, remarkably – and despite the success of his solo career – Liam recently claimed he missed being in a band with his brother.
He said: ”I’m p***ed off about Oasis breaking up but I don’t hold grudges. I’d had too much to drink at that awards night and I didn’t know who he was. But then I met him in Ibiza and we had a chat, then I met him at GQ awards this year and we had a chat, then I seen him on that TV show [Graham Norton] and he was cool, we shook hands. He didn’t really apologise though, I was just winding him up.”
On his new album, Liam went back to basics to make an instant, unfussy rock‘n’roll record. He told a recent interviewer that working with producers Greg Kurstin and Dan Grech-Marguerat had helped him to be swaggering and unapologetic. “I’d never met them [Kurstin and co-writer Andrew Wyatt] before so we went and had a cup of tea. I told them the kind of thing I was looking to do, then they played me the riff from Wall of Glass. That was written and recorded in one day . . . it all really clicked and there was no time for me to ponder over things.
“When you spend a lot of time on stuff you can overthink it, get over-analytical. And personally I think that’s what proper rock ‘n’ roll music is like – guitar music isn’t there to be studied. And I needed to come back with a good album full of good songs, no nonsense.”
Unlike his brother, Noel, Liam co-writes his songs – getting help from those with abundant skill.
“Co-writing . . . it’s no skin off my nose. It’s opened a new world for me. I’m the first to admit I’m not the greatest songwriter in the world but I’m getting there, you know what I mean? I had 20 years just being the man in the band. But as soon as I put my voice on it’s bingo.”
And he has the greatest respect for the songwriting talents of his brother. “Noel’s a good songwriter and I’ve said that a million times before.”