_
_
_
_

Liam Gallagher: ‘Young musicians today are fucking lazy, they want immediate success’

The former Oasis vocalist has released a new album with Stone Roses guitarist John Squire and isn’t closing the door on a potential reconciliation with his brother, Noel. The two haven’t spoken since their band broke up in 2009

Liam Gallagher (left) and John Squire, in an image provided by Warner Music Entertainment.
Liam Gallagher (left) and John Squire, in an image provided by Warner Music Entertainment.Tom Oldham (Warner)
Álex Vicente

When he announced it a few months ago on social media, Liam Gallagher, 51, said that his new album was going to be “the best record since Revolver (1966).” It was funny, of course, to hear him compare himself to The Beatles. Or maybe not. “I was joking, but I also really think [it’s true]. What I really want to say is that it’s up to par. It’s a great album,” says the former Oasis vocalist, sipping a mid-morning beer in a hotel room in Paris. After all, he has never been known for his modesty.

He’s referring to his first album with John Squire, 61, who used to be the guitarist for The Stone Roses, another legendary group that came out of Manchester, just like Oasis. Music critics maintain that the album — which bears the name of its members and was released by Warner Music Entertainment on Friday, March 1 — won’t change the history of rock and roll… but it could be the best thing they’ve recorded since the dissolution of their respective bands.

The first single, Just Another Rainbow, debuted at number one in the UK, proving that their recipe — good melodies, simple lyrics and 20th century masculinity — still has an audience. Sitting next to each other, they could be family. At first glance, Squire seems like a substitute brother, after Liam’s estrangement from the real one, Noel Gallagher. They haven’t spoken since 2009, the same year that Oasis broke up.

Liam and John are the Hernández and Fernández of British rock. They wear matching green parkas and Adidas Samba sneakers; they have hairstyles that the same barber could have cut, along with the same northern accent (although Gallagher’s is harder to understand). They’ve known each other since the early 1990s.

Among their bands, there was an inclination to engage in joking insults, which often deteriorated into full-on brawls. “Back then, it was fashionable to say bad things about [musicians] who came before you, treating them like rock dinosaurs. You had to hate them all. But they (Oasis) never did that,” Squire acknowledges. “We smacked around [some other rockers], but never them. We loved them,” Gallagher says.

The Oasis vocalist went to see a Stone Roses concert at the age of 16. That’s when he knew that he wanted to dedicate himself to music. After a chance meeting “on a shopping street in Wales” in 1994, Liam and John met up over the years, even playing some concerts together.

Do they get along so well because they have similar origins? “There may be an influence since we’re both from Manchester, but it’s more because of the music, because we like the same clothes and because we like football,” Gallagher shrugs. “I’m a little more posh,” Squire says. “I grew up in a suburb where there were more trees, although my father worked in a factory.”

Liam, the son of Irish immigrants, is surprised by this: “So did my mum! She worked at the McVitie’s biscuit factory. [That’s another thing in common], but we’ve never talked about that.”

In 2022, the two shared the stage after many years without crossing paths. Upon leaving the venue, Squire asked Gallagher to provide vocals for two of his songs. Liam accepted with only one condition: that there be “a lot of guitars.” In the end, a full album ended up being recorded over the course of three weeks in Los Angeles, after a long exchange of ideas remotely. Looking for inspiration for the album’s sound, Squire suggested songs by Jimi Hendrix and Faces. Gallagher responded with Redemption Song by Bob Marley and with the falsettos of the Bee Gees, who are also a group that comes out of Manchester (although they emigrated to Australia).

The result, which includes a pinch of psychedelia and a dash of blues, includes well-rounded songs, such as Mars to Liverpool or Mother Nature’s Song, which sounds like a hymn to the planet. “It’s a message of gratitude for giving us a place to live,” Squire explains. “When you’re young, you don’t appreciate it: you spend the day locked up at home. Now, I love going out into nature, getting up early and going for a walk,” Gallagher seconds this, describing walks with his dog, Buttons, through the idyllic London park of Hampstead Heath, near his house.

Do they ever feel like things get repetitive?

“This is what I like: guitar music, rock and roll,” Gallagher affirms. “I’m not going to start making a drum and bass album at this point.”

“How about a reggaeton album?” Squire asks him slyly.

“Sometimes, my children, who are in their twenties, listen to those strange [songs],” Gallagher snorts. “I like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Sorry. That’s what excites me.”

A few months ago, Damon Albarn from the band Blur said that he always hated the Britpop label, invented by British magazine The Face in 1994 to designate the new wave of twenty-something bands that were rising like foam, in parallel to the rise of Tony Blair. It was a time of identification between music, youth and New Labour… something that, over the years, would prove illusory. Albarn felt used.

“I totally agree with him,” Gallagher says, when asked about his former archrival. “But, I mean, [most bands] did make Britpop. Pulp, Suede, Elastica, Menswear… all that was Britpop. Oasis and The Verve were doing something more significant. Britpop was a bit silly.”

Has the UK lost musical influence in the world, for extra-musical reasons?

“Yes, but not because of Brexit… even though it’s now more expensive to tour Europe,” Squire replies. Gallagher joins the conversation: “I think that young [musicians] today — not all, but most of them — are fucking lazy. Don’t blame Brexit or Nigel Farage. The problem is that they don’t want to get in a van and drive down the fucking highway. They want immediate success. They don’t want to work hard.”

But did Gallagher, who became a star on the back of his first album, really work so hard?

“It may have been fast, but we worked,” he defends himself. “We got on cars, buses, ferries. We did whatever was necessary.”

Gallagher has announced a tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oasis album Definitely Maybe in 2024. Will it feel strange to play those songs without his brother?

“No, I usually play them at my concerts. Anyway, he had the opportunity to join in and said ‘no.’ Someone has to do this dirty work.”

Did he ask his brother to be part of the tour? “Yeah, they asked,” he replies, specifying that it wasn’t he who called, but rather members of his team, since he and Noel don’t speak.

In addition to the album’s anniversary, it also marks 15 years since Oasis broke up after a concert in 2009, when Noel reproached his bandmates for “an intolerable level of verbal intimidation and violence,” as he said in a statement. Later on, he added that Liam had “thrown a plum” and “swung a guitar” at his head.

Does the lead singer remember this? “Not really,” Gallagher sighs, a victim of sudden amnesia. When asked if he could ever end up reconciling with his brother one day, he replies “it’s possible,” while finishing his beer. “But it won’t happen this week.”

The next Oasis anniversary will take place in 2025, when it will be three decades since the release of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? Such a good opportunity to make up may never come around again.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_