“Making Music Is Fucking Easy”: Liam Gallagher Told Us To Leave The Rock ‘N’ Roll To Him
"Lotta musicians go in there, and they scratch their heads until they start pulling their bloody hair out. Fuck off!"
For someone who is getting interviewed, Liam Gallagher is positing a lot of questions.
Okay, that’s somewhat misleading. It’s actually the one question, asked again and again: “D’you know what I mean?” It’s one of the junior Gallagher brothers’ signature phrases — so much so that it became a song title on Be Here Now, the 1997 album from the band that you may or may not know the Gallagher brothers from.
Certainly, one doesn’t need to read too much into this commonly used phrase – after awhile, one can easily numb themselves to it after hearing it said so many times. That said, you can potentially read something into the idea that one of the most common things Liam Gallagher asks of people he is speaking to is, “Do you understand me?”
The man has a right to feel misunderstood — he’s been criticised for his perceived arrogance, his lack of eloquence and even for bleeding toxic masculinity into British popular music.
The fact of the matter is that the now 46-year-old has only ever done what he’s done over the past 25 years out of a love for music — from the heyday of Oasis to the creation of Beady Eye right up to the forging of his solo career. It’s what drives him, and by proxy what drives the people he works with — be that his estranged brother Noel, his long-serving bandmates and now the team of Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt.
WHY ME? WHY NOT. is Gallagher’s second solo album, set for release at the end of the month. Before you ask: Yes, it’s written in all caps. Yes, it’s also punctuated exactly like that. Why? Why not.
“I like it!” says Gallagher upon being complimented on the album. “I’ve found that working with people who know what they’re doing can only be a good thing. Everyone who’s worked on these two albums know exactly what they’re doing — and I don’t. They’re the ones doing all the…” He pauses, unsure of his phrasing, before he settles on: “…doing bits.”
Both Kurstin and Wyatt worked on Gallagher’s solo debut, As You Were, which was released in 2017. The union was somewhat of a surprise — after all, Kurstin’s back catalogue is filled with pop artists like Pink, Lily Allen, Sia and Adele. Wyatt, meanwhile, has a similarly-impressive pop resume — Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Lorde and even a writing credit on ‘Shallow,’ the Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga juggernaut from last year’s A Star is Born remake.
“If you can write a good song, you can write a good song. You just leave the rock and roll to me, mate.”
Not that any of that phases Gallagher: “I don’t even really think about it,” he says. “If you can write a good song, you can write a good song. You just leave the rock and roll to me, mate. The way that we work together is that they bring in the music, and I breathe the fire into it — d’you know what I mean? It doesn’t matter what kind of song we’re making, I can make it sound like me.”
Gallagher’s not interested in being some sort of luddite actively opposing mainstream popular music, either. In fact, he’s gone on record for his love of groups like Girls Aloud and singers like George Michael and Madonna. For him, it’s all about what he can bring to pop music, specifically the kind that Kurstin and Wyatt are bringing to him.
“There’s loads of great pop songs that I still like,” he says. “I love [Kylie Minogue’s] ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head,’ and stuff like that. If I was to do a cover of it, or any of those sort of songs, I could bring the bollocks – d’you know what I mean? I can bring the punk, I can bring the rock & roll. That’s what I’m saying. It’s the same with whatever Greg and Andrew bring in. Knowing them, I know that their record collection is extremely varied. They’re into guitar music just as much as I am — d’you know what I mean?”
While As You Were was a lot slicker and more straightforward in its approach, the reigns have been loosened somewhat on WHY ME?. Among the tracklist are some of the more straight-up rock songs that Gallagher has made in a long time, which the man himself is positively chuffed about.
“There’s a lot of nice songs on there — songs like ‘Meadow’ and that,” he says. “But there’s totally a rock and roll side there — you got ‘Be Still,’ ‘Halo,’ ‘Shockwave.’ All those sort of songs are right up my street. I like all of it. I’m thankful for these new sounds, man. I’m in my comfort zone when I’m playing those songs. It’s perfect.”
Given that there are songs on the album that fall outside of the framework of rock and/or roll, Gallagher is asked if he found anything difficult about approaching them. It’s an innocuous enough question, and one a lot of other artists have probably answered hundreds of times over. Gallagher, however, doesn’t have a bar of it. “There was nothing challenging on this record at all,” he says.
“That’s just how I like it. I ain’t here to cure cancer or fix the ozone layer — d’you know what I mean? Lotta musicians go in there, and they scratch their heads until they start pulling their bloody hair out.” His voice then raises, mimicking some hapless indie-rock star as he squeals: “Oh, it’s such a difficult second album!” Gallagher’s normal voice comes plummeting back in, in response to his imaginary musician: “Fuck off!”
“I’m not into that! This is easy! Making music is fucking easy! I’ve never been one of those people who goes in there and has these fucking panic attacks over shit.” The voice raises again: “Oh, man, this drum sound isn’t working for me! The cymbals aren’t right! Maybe it’s a sign from the universe!” Gallagher again interrupts himself in retort: “Fuck off, mate! It sounds fine. It all sounds good to me. Let’s put it out.”
In that respect, it feels as though very little has changed between WHY ME? WHY NOT. and the release of Definitely Maybe, the debut album from Oasis which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. To commemorate the quarter-century, a limited edition picture-disc vinyl has been released, which features a rare bonus track exclusive to the pressing. Not that Gallagher’s plugging away at it, mind you: “I’m not too keen on all this reissue stuff,” he says.
“It’s a load of money-making bollocks, if you ask me. People like that stuff that, I guess, but I’m happy with the original album. All my favourite bands have got reissues out there — Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Stones — but I just want the actual album. D’you know what I mean? I couldn’t give a shit about all the extra crap. If they wanna hear all of it, go fucking mental. I’m just happy I was on the original album.”
Gallagher has already kicked off the world tour in support of WHY ME? WHY NOT., which will see him back in Australia this coming December to perform at both Fairgrounds and Meredith.
With his new swag of songs, however, he also has a bevvy of Oasis songs to perform alongside them. Although Gallagher is proud of the new material he is putting out, he’s also not too proud to wind the clock back a little bit for those seeking to remember or for those who weren’t around the first time. “I don’t see it as a burden at all, man,” he says.
“I know I can go out there and take my pick from the Oasis catalogue and have people go crazy to all of it. I’m really lucky in that sense. A lot of people don’t have that in their arsenal. I see it as a blessing. People are always gonna get Oasis songs off me. There’s no way I’m going out there at a festival and I’m playin’ five songs off As You Were and five songs off the new one. Who wants that?
“I don’t like them shows where everyone’s just standing around. That’s boring as fuck to me. You drop an Oasis song, it wakes everybody up. It’s good gear. That’s why I endeavour to do half and half — d’you know what I mean?”
David James Young is a writer and a podcaster. He knows what you mean. Find out more at www.davidjamesyoung.com.