'Noel and me are over. This band isn't a stop gap - it's the real deal'
As his new band Beady Eye – basically Oasis without Noel – performs in Dublin, Liam Gallagher tells BRIAN BOYDabout life without his brother, his softer singing style and the size of his cousins’ cars during the boom
IN THE lift of Dublin’s Four Seasons Hotel, Liam Gallagher makes a move on me. First, it’s in for a kiss. Then one hand moves down to my waist as he pulls me in closer. His other hand goes deep inside my back jeans pocket. I close my eyes and think of the article . . . and wonder if the Four Seasons has CCTV cameras in its lifts.
“That’s what she just did to me,” he says by way of explanation. While waiting with him for the lift, his much-loved aunt from the west of Ireland had stepped out before we got in. Once back inside the lift he can’t find his new iPhone.
“My aunt’s just gone and nicked it while she was hugging me, ” he laughs. “That’s the way the Irish do it isn’t it? In for the kiss and the hug and the hand goes into the back pocket for the mobile phone. Still, there is a recession on I suppose.” He later finds his phone and stresses he was joking about his lovely aunt.
From “a dead proud Irish family” he ruminates on how strange he found the country of his childhood holidays during the Celtic Tiger years. “I’m well off, right, but my cousins in Mayo had bigger houses than me during those years. Whenever I came back it was all new cars and expensive holidays all round. It happens, you get corruption and all of that and everything goes tits up. But coming from an Irish family I know you’ve got good souls over here. Learn from your mistakes – the same way I’ve had to.”
In remarkably good form, off the drink now for a good while – “there’s just too much going on in my life at the moment” – and trim of figure: “I run and run and keep running,” he hasn’t exactly been hitting the self-help books and been bothering the life coaches since the acrimonious break up of Oasis in August 2009.
Confidence is not an issue. “This is going to be the biggest fuckin’ thing you’ve ever encountered,” he says of his new band Beady Eye (who are Oasis minus Noel basically).
“I want us to be as big as The Beatles, as big as The Stones. I want our music to stand the test of time. I could go on before The Beatles, I could go on after The Beatles – all of us in this band could. It’s that great”.
Beady Eye was formed approximately one hour after Noel Gallagher stormed out of Oasis following the mother of all fights with Liam moments before they were due on stage in Paris. A press release that night starkly announced, “Oasis don’t exist any more” and there was a note attached from Noel saying, “I simply could not go working with Liam a day longer.” The two have not talked since.
Beady Eye guitarist Andy Bell takes up the story. “Noel’s walked out, so it’s the rest of us sitting around in a room like this one going ‘we’re still a rock ‘n’ roll band and we still want to play’, so effectively we formed that very same night.”
“I remember looking around the table that night,” says Liam. “I was thinking to myself: ‘He’s a great guitarist, so is he, he’s a great drummer and I’m a geezer so let’s continue on without him. We don’t need him.’ Let’s be clear about one thing here – this band is not a stop gap until me and our kid bump into each other. Him and me are over and done with. This is the real deal.”
“People think Oasis were 99 per cent Noel,” says Bell. “But that was never the truth. All of could play, all of us would write for the band and it was Liam’s voice out front. We are in no way trying to capitalise off Oasis – we’re a new band. We’re a democratic band.”
“There’s no leader here. There’s no claps on the back, rewards, Blue Peter badges or seven bedroom houses with us,” says Gallagher. “We’ve been in a band with a leader for a long time and we don’t want that again. We’ve enough experience to know what works and what doesn’t and we know when writing together – as we did the whole album – when something is good for the band and when something isn’t instead of just shouting ‘that’s not working’ at somebody.
“And I’m a lot more chilled now. I’m no longer the look-at-me-I’m-the-big-bollocks walking around town and giving it all that. I’ve been there – but no more.”
The debut, Different Gear, Still Speeding (released last month) has received plenty of critical praise (the standard line being “it’s much better than expected”) and has been a top three hit going gold within two weeks of sales. Displaying a sound that owes more to Glam Rock and classic 50s’ rock ‘n’ roll than anything by Oasis, Gallagher’s vocals have been transformed.
“With Oasis I was singing too loud both in the studio and on stage. I was pushing my voice too far,” says Gallagher. “On stage it was because of the noise from the crowd and when it came to recording it was because my vocal would always go on last. And I never wanted to be singing like a little girl – I had to get in there and compete with the guitars. But now the signing goes down with the drum and acoustic tracks so I’ve room to fit in better and do some nice bits. Also I think there’s a sexiness to it. As great as Oasis were – certain songs just weren’t sexy.”
“The way we’re recording now is more like the Tamla Motown/Stax model where you structure the recording around the vocal,” notes Bell.
AT THE MOMENTBeady Eye are only playing theatre-style venues. “There’s only one album, a few B-sides and a few covers so we can’t do arenas just yet,” says Liam.
“We’re playing The Olympia tonight and in our own heads we’re already a success because we’ve got this new band this far and all on democratic principles – that’s the sweetest part of this. And we haven’t once been asked to play Wonderwall or anything like that. We don’t do Oasis songs. We’ll leave that to Noel to do at his own gigs.”
“I really expected people coming along to our shows wearing Oasis T-shirts and holding placards saying ‘Where’s Noel?’ but none of that has happened,” adds Bell.
“The other big difference here is that we’re not going to put the ball down, sit around in a big house and go ‘we’re great’,” says Liam. “We won’t be booking into the studio for months and months on end. We’re not going to be rolling over this album into the next year. There will be an awesome second album coming soon. We’re responsible for our every move. We’re on our own label. We do all our own artwork and videos. It’s not like, ‘oh, send that off to the visual arts person’.
“What really did for Oasis was that we took our eye off the ball. We were too busy reaping the rewards of our success. I know now that money is not the precious thing when you’re in a band. It’s not the flash cars or the big houses – it’s the music that’s precious. Once you take your eye off that – which we did – it’s hard to get back. It got all ‘just put the private plane on the credit card’. We’re keeping a lid on things now. The band hasn’t made a penny yet but we know what’s important.”
How does his mother feel about the two of them not talking and taking swipes at each other in the press? “I haven’t spoken a word with Noel since what was said between us that night in Paris. I know he’s going to the match on Saturday (Man City v Man Utd FA Cup semi-final) so I may bump into him then and say hello. But there’s no desire to go around knocking on each other’s doors. We spoke enough – that was the whole problem, too many words between us. Mam’s ok about it. She sees him and says he’s happy. And she knows I’m happy so you know . . .
“I’d like to think we grow up to be friends later on but I’ve no time for that just yet. The way I view Oasis now is that’s it like having a child from a previous relationship.”
Noel v Liam: Where it all went wrong
THE WORDS exchanged between Liam and Noel Gallagher backstage at the Paris En Seine festival in 2009 were so serious and malicious that they led not just to the cancellation of the show, but to the end of Oasis. The brothers are still not speaking to each other. As time passes though, the events of that night are a little clearer.
Liam had travelled on his own to Paris (something Noel didn’t like as he feels bands should travel together). The singer was furious over an interview Noel had given Q magazine in which he said Liam had not seen his then 18-month-old son, Donovan.
“He’s never seen my little lad, just pictures. To a stranger, it sounds ludicrous but you wouldn’t have him in the house if he spoke to you the way he speaks to me and my family. He’s rude, arrogant and intimidating,” said Noel.
Liam was reportedly enraged by Noel bringing up “family matters” in public. When he arrived backstage, he allegedly made some remarks about Noel’s wife. There was an altercation during which Noel allegedly smashed a favourite guitar of Liam’s. A band member in an adjacent dressing room called for an ambulance, such was the ferocity of the fight next door.
When Noel announced the end of Oasis that night, Liam replied: “It takes more than blood to be my brother.”
Their mother Peggy says: “They do love each other, but they’ve always been very different. They didn’t fight as children. They didn’t fight until they started the band”.