Interview

Mat Whitecross

Illustration

Nick Taylor

Liam Gallagher: ‘What we did in three years took the Beatles eight’

Director Mat Whitecross speaks to the former Oasis frontman about the band’s whirlwind early years.

Initially I was asked about making Supersonic through one of the film’s producers, Simon Halfon. He rang me to see if I was a fan and my first question was, ‘Who’s doing it?’ From what I knew, if Noel’s doing it, Liam’s not doing it, but as it turned out they were both keen. When it came to meeting Liam I was absolutely shitting myself because everyone says don’t meet your heroes and I’d read all the stories. He immediately wanted to know what the angle was, whether the film was going to have a villain and could it be him. That wasn’t my intention at all – it’s a celebration of what happened to the band during those early years, but also a film that doesn’t pull any punches.

Whitecross: How did the band’s initial success affect you? You were only like, what, 19 when you got signed?

Gallagher: I don’t think it affected me man. I was already pretty fuckin’ wonky. I mean the drugs got better for a start cos’ I had more money – actually they were free most of the time y’know. I could always take things with a pinch of salt y’know what I mean. Even with the press, it was like y’know if you’ve done something that’s a bit shifty they’re gonna find you out and all that nonsense but then 99 times out of 10 they’ll be writing absolute bollocks y’know what I mean. It made me a bit more savvy in that way.

I remember your mum saying that…

I’m still the exact same fuckin’ person without a doubt. I’ve still got the same sense of humour. I don’t give a fuck, I do give a fuck, and that’s the way it is. I pretty much wear the same fuckin’ clothes. I wear me heart on my sleeve, I did back then, I still do to this day and I will tomorrow.

There was a feeling in your family, wasn’t there, that you were always gonna be a star. It could have been acting, it could’ve been football…

It reckon it would be something to do with openin’ my mouth and lettin’ people have it, y’know what I mean.

What’s your fondest memory of those early years with the band?

I guess gettin’ a record deal was the one for me cos’ you can do all your gigs till the cows come home y’know but actually I wanted to know what we sounded like in a fucking studio y’know what I mean. Getting the chance to work with a proper producer, spending a bit of time crafting your songs and all that was a big thing for me. When we were at Monnow Valley recording that first album, livin’ together and all that… it was like camping only with guitars and a bit of drugs. Like something out of a Carry On film but with a bit of rock’n’ roll. It was fuckin’ top mate.

The original cut of the film was about seven or eight hours long, and there was a whole section on Monnow Valley where Bonehead manages to convince you that the place is haunted, that your bedroom is haunted.

Yeah, someone had moved all the fuckin’ mirrors and I’d come in and be like, ‘The mirrors have fuckin’ gone.’ And then we had the [Stone] Roses comin’ over – cos’ we’d work through the day and they’d come in to record at like 12. I’d wake up and they’d have moved our shit or fuckin’ robbed all our little bits of weed. I thought the ghost was a fuckin’ stoner.

And there was a story with some fishing wire?

Right, I’m stoned watchin’ fuckin’ Match of the Day and someone’s attached some fishing wire to the fuckin’ paper and the pages would start turning. I was very close to losin’ my shit.

Is there anything you’d change about that time? Those three years?

Nothin’ whatsoever. If you’re gonna change one fuckin’ thing you might as well change the fuckin’ lot. And if you change the lot, I might as well not fuckin’ be here y’know what I mean. I might as well be in a fuckin’ freak show, or a cobbler.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician?

I think it was after seeing the Stone Roses play. I was more into football and fuckin’ about back then. Anyone with a guitar I thought was a bit odd y’know what I mean.

Who took you to that gig?

I went with me mate Dave I think. Or maybe it was me mam. Funny thing is it was the same place me mam used to go dancing when she first come to Manchester when she was like 15. And I was having my epiphany how ever many years watchin’ the Stone Roes in the same building. It’s fuckin’ weird.

Read the LWLies review of Supersonic

During the film you say you’re the best band in the world. When did that change for you?

We’re still the best band today even though we’re not together. No one’s fuckin’ come near us. Musically we were fuckin’ great. Noel had the best songs, I had the best voice. We had attitude, we had flair and we didn’t give a fuck. Like it or fuckin’ lump it. There was none of what’s happenin’ in today’s music where everyone’s just a fuckin’ soppy little bastard sittin’ there going, ‘Ohh I can’t swear, I can’t say how I’m fuckin’ feelin’ in case I don’t get me download at the end of the week.’ Do one.

That partly answers my next question… What are your thoughts on rock ’n’ roll in this country today?

It’s rubbish mate. It’s rubbish and I’ll tell you why, cos’ everyone’s got their fuckin’ camera out all the time so everyone has to behave themselves. There’s no rock ’n’ roll antics any more and that’s important to me cos’ it’s not just about the music y’know what I mean. Everyone just seems really fuckin’ miserable. It’s like the music industry is being run by a bunch of nuns. All the bands just seem to be in it for a career. That’s not me having a pop at ’em, I just think they should fuckin’ be ashamed of themselves.

You still had the tabloids camped outside your house, it wasn’t like you weren’t being filmed.

Exactly! If someone had put a mobile phone in my face back then I’d have fuckin’ stuck it up someone’s arsehole or I’d of ate it or something. That’s what people want from their rock ’n’ roll bands. If you like The 1975 or whatever that’s fine but come on man, they’re just in it for the fuckin’ money mate.

What was the last gig you went to?

I don’t tend to go to gigs at my age, it get a bit manic y’know what I mean. I’m not good in crowds and that. The last gig I went to was the Stone Roses earlier this year.

Do you have any unfinished business with the band?

Without a doubt. Being out of Oasis has been like a big fuckin’ hole, but that’s life. And I’m dealing with the fuckin’ guy that likes to be in fuckin’ control so I’ll have to wait for him to lighten up. Or for his missus to let him join a rock ’n’ roll band again. I’m ready to go, my fuckin’ suitcases are packed. I know for a fact I could still whip me arse out of them songs. If it happens it happens if it doesn’t it doesn’t. In the meantime I’m doing a fuckin’ record on me jacks. And that won’t be nearly as good or as important.

What’s the last movie you saw?

I saw that Beatles: Eight Days a Week one, that was pretty good. I shouldn’t have gone to the premiere though, I’m not good around loads of people y’know what I mean. Actually the last film I saw was that Elvis and Nixon one on a flight. It was funny man I liked it. Who plays Nixon?

Kevin Spacey.

He’s pretty good man! Who’s the guy that plays Elvis?

Michael Shannon.

He’s good in it and all. I don’t watch a lot of films though. Documentaries sometimes, shit on cults and godheads and all that. I like watching fuckin’ weird bastards. Y’know, they believe in some weirdo, it all goes tits up. Shit like that.

What are you most excited about right now?

Beady Eyes isn’t happenin’, Oasis ain’t happenin’. So I’m gonna go and do this fuckin’ solo record. That’ll be out next year, we’ve demoed about 11 songs so far. I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got and it’s gonna be mega. I’m also excited about Oasis again with this film y’know. I know it means a lot to people and I’m lookin’ forward to getting absolutely off my fuckin’ nut at the premiere. Noel won’t be there though which is fuckin’ good cos’ he needs a bit of time off. He’s overexposed man. Open up a sick bag and he’s in it.

How do feel when you look back at Knebworth now?

To be honest before this film came about I hadn’t thought about it since I stepped off stage. The whole ’90s nostalgia thing, I don’t mind it man. It’s a little trip down memory lane y’know what I mean. It’s 20 years so that’s why we’re doing it, but it’s nice to remind people that we’re not just a bunch of silly old men calling each other ‘potato’. At some point along the way with Oasis someone got the rulebook out and decided what the band was and what we could and couldn’t do. In this film, there was no rules. It was fuckin’ full steam ahead. The fun sponge brigade hadn’t come in yet. But even the shit bits after were good y’know what I mean. Even when the band was breakin’ up it was still fuckin’ good. We were good at breakin’ up y’know what I mean. There’s bands out there that just fuckin’ limp off. We went out with bang man.

People have maybe forgotten that you went from being signed to playing those Knebworth gigs in such a short space of time.

What we did in three took the Beatles eight. Good, y’know, fuckin’ rightly so. I thought we were the bollocks and I thought we’d be doing that all over the world. I thought America would buy it, everyone would buy it… But that my friend is cocaine for you.

Why do you think it didn’t really happen for you in America in the same way it did in the UK?

I don’t know man, they like all the razzmatazz don’t they and we weren’t given them any of that. They thought we were cunts and they didn’t know how to handle us so it was move along boys y’know what I mean. But I’m fuckin’ glad about it. We could’ve gone over there and married an American actress and got a house in Malibu and started wearing biker jackets and pointy shoes and all that shit.

We originally had a coda about going over to America and deliberately fucking it up, but it just felt like a sour note to end on.

Yeah but again it was a lovely fuck up y’know what I mean. I’m glad we ended on Knebworth though cos’ we had a laugh man and we’ve not had that for a while. It’s nice to remind people that we had a crack and we had a good time together because that’s what I loved about it.

Tags: Liam Gallagher Noel Gallagher Oasis

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