“I want to be in the best band in the world again,” ex-Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher tells SPIN.
At 38, Gallagher is attempting to reclaim his rock glory with Beady Eye, his new group with two other members of Oasis, which will release their debut, Different Gear, Still Speeding, in the U.S. on March 1 via Dangerbird Records.
But how did one of rock’s most notorious stars get here? It all started with a fight.
In August 2009, just minutes before Oasis were set to perform for 40,000 fans at Paris’ Rock en Seine festival, the longstanding tensions between Liam and his brother Noel, the band’s chief songwriter, came to a head. Punches were thrown and guitars broken, then Noel stomped off and the gig was canceled.
“He’d been acting like an old granny throughout the tour, and he felt that I’d been a dick,” explains Liam. “We came to blows and that was the end of it.” Noel released a statement shortly after announcing his permanent departure from Oasis, writing, “I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”
“We haven’t spoken since that night,” Liam says. “But who knows, maybe in the future it will sort itself out. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen.”
Shortly after the brawl, Liam and ex-Oasis guitarists Gem Archer and Andy Bell “went out and had a couple of beers,” he says, “and we decided to carry on. The idea of sitting at home, not making music, just makes me want to throw up.”
They formed Beady Eye along with Oasis’ touring drummer, Chris Sharrock, and began demoing songs for their debut LP. But this time, their success is up to them. Noel carried Oasis, writing the bulk of the band’s material, including all eight No. 1 U.K. singles. But Liam is convinced Beady Eye can top that.
For the first time in his 20-year-long career, Liam is now regularly contributing songwriting ideas and shares credits on Different Gear, Still Speeding with Archer and Bell. “I’ve never made a record without our kid [Noel],” he says. Archer, 44, interjects, “But it’s still same six strings, the same way ’round. It’s in our DNA now.”
“We’re up for the challenge,” adds Liam.
Beady Eye entered North London’s RAK Studios last summer to track the effort with Grammy Award-winning producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews Band, the Smiths). The quartet recorded 13 songs over 12 weeks, breaking to rock out to one of their favorite new albums, the Black Keys’ Brothers, or hit the pub to cheer on England in the World Cup. “It was a good time to be in North London,” says Archer. “One time Liam even bought a ticket for the sweepstakes [the lottery] as a joke and won a little money, not that he fucking needed it… [both laugh].”
They tracked the songs in as few takes as possible, in order to preserve the live quality of the sound. “We weren’t sitting around dwelling on it,” says Liam. “We’d do a couple tracks and move on.”
Among the tracks are the glam-rock jam “Bring the Light,” a “party tune,” says Liam, which “just means, ‘Let’s fucking go, man,'” and the Beatles-y piano ballad “The Roller”: “It’s a metaphor for how things are thrown at you in life,” says Liam, “and how they aren’t as bad they seem.”
The tracks, Liam continues, are classic rock’n’roll. “You’ve either got it or you haven’t,” he says of their songwriting chops. “Not everyone can say, ‘I’m going to write a classic today.’ If that was the case, we’d all be doing it.”
With keyboardist Matt Jones (Ultrasound, Jamie T, Minuteman) and bassist Jeff Wootton (The Black Marquee) joining them, Beady Eye will hit the road in March with supporting act Miles Kane, who plays in the Last Shadow Puppets with the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. Then, this summer, Beady Eye will head stateside for a tour of relatively intimate, 1,500-2,000-person theatres. “We’re gonna go everywhere and run this album down people’s throats, but in a nice way,” Liam says.
Meanwhile, Noel is preparing his solo debut. But will Oasis ever reunite? “It just isn’t going to happen, man,” says Liam. After all, he’s convinced Beady Eye will soon match, if not surpass, the success of his former band.
“Without a doubt,” he says. “We’re just doing it in a different way now. The passion in this band… there ain’t anyone touching it. It’s like a football team: You want to win the league.