Artist of the Month – LIAM GALLAGHER
Unlike boxing, rock and roll is not renowned for great comebacks. A few missteps and then it’s usually farewell, have a good life, who are you again?
Occasionally, though, a true heavy musical champ loses a bout only to re-emerge even stronger later. David Bowie, for example, went through a long fallow period before his renaissance. Paul Weller had a rocky few years before finding his feet as a solo artist. Now we can add a third era-defining voice to that list of champions who returned to reclaim their belt: Liam Gallagher.
After Beady Eye officially split in 2014, Liam found himself “out of the bubble” of being in an organised rock group with all the appropriate management apparatus for the first time in twenty years. He fell hard. Suddenly just a regular geezer (“just a regular absolute legend” he clarifies), he had to consider what he was going to do. For a while, he toyed with the idea of moving to Majorca and living “Sexy Beast-style” around the pool in the sun. He had a few holidays. He went for lots of jogs. He had a few pints. And he got divorced. And when all that was done he took a long look at himself in the mirror and remembered who he is and what he does. He’s Liam Gallagher, son of Peggy Gallagher, of Burnage, Manchester, the best singer and frontman of his generation. So he decided to start singing some songs again. Majorca could wait.
“Even Paul McCartney didn’t just sit down and write ‘Hey Jude’ straight away”
Playing around in his own idiosyncratic style on a guitar at home in London, he surprised himself by writing a song. “I am definitely not a professional at it,” he says, modestly. “It’s proper Frankenstein tackle. But I suppose everyone has their ways. Even Paul McCartney didn’t just sit down and write Hey Jude straight away.”
The song that he wrote was a heavy dollop of soul-rock called Bold and strong enough to get him signed to Warners. There was something there alright. Eventually, he had a whole batch of songs written which he demoed with a multi-instrumentalist called Dan McDougall in London before he started to meet producers and co-writers. “Warners said to me, ‘Are you up for a bit of co-writing? I was, like, ‘never done that before. Why not?’” He flew out to LA, met a few, but really hit it off with Greg Kurstin. “Greg Kurtsin played me a few ideas, we had a chat, swapped some ideas, sorted it out and before you know we had some more songs. I’m as surprised as anyone that it worked, but the songs we did are top.”
These songs include Liam’s incredible first single as a solo artist, Wall Of Glass. If you had to make an equation of all the elements that made the early Oasis singles so apocalyptically good – i.e, huge waves of guitar hooks + melody you can’t shake for…ever + thunderous rhythm + LIAM GALLAGHER’S VOICE delivering an unbelievably catchy chorus – then Wall Of Glass fits in the lineage perfectly. It’s hard to recall a time he’s sung better – it’s like hearing him for the first time again, the same yearning menace that claimed a million hearts by the end of Supersonic’s first chorus. His voice is definitely on point.
“Yeah, well,” he almost agrees. “I’m a good singer, man! Nine out of ten times I nail it. In a studio, without a doubt. Never done a shit vocal there.”
Recordings for the album took place in two locations with two producers. In LA with Greg Kurstin, who also played all the instruments on the four songs he produced (Wall Of Glass, Paper Crown, Come Back To Me and the poppy psychedelic whoosh of It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way). And in London with Dan Grech-Marguerat. Musicians for the London sessions at Snap in Finsbury Park included Mike Moore on guitar, keyboardist Martin Slattery and Dan McDougall on drums. Moore and McDougall will also feature in his live band, along with bassist Drew McDonnell.
I didn’t want to be reinventing anything or going off on a space jazz odyssey
The sound that they cooked up in these sessions that would eventually become his debut solo album, Bold, is exactly what you would have hoped a Liam Gallagher solo album would sound like: the classic 60s/70s influences he’s always had updated for the here and now. Liam agrees. “I didn’t want to be reinventing anything or going off on a space jazz odyssey. It’s the Lennon Cold Turkey vibe, The Stones, the classics. But done my way, now.”
One of the most striking aspects of the songs that make up his debut solo album that all the songs have a purpose. There’s no flab, nothing to cut. They all feel directed at something or someone, setting the record straight or getting his side of the story over, be that the swinging, Bo Diddley-like Greedy Soul, which incinerates someone who’s the “ungrateful dead” or the mega-ballad For What It’s Worth which Liam wrote with Simon Aldridge of Cherry Ghost and serves up Bold’s biggest chorus. “I wanted to write an apology,” says Liam. “Not to one person, but to everyone, because I’m no good at saying sorry. That song is a tune.”
“Some of the songs are a bit of a ‘fuck you,’” he continues. “I know what I’m writing about. Just knobheads in general. Apart from the odd one that’s about people that I like but there aren’t too many of them.”
For now, Liam’s just champing at the bit to sing these songs in public. “I am ready. I’m more than ready. I just wanna get out amongst it again and show everyone what they’ve been missing. I thought someone might’ve come along to try and sort it out while I was busy doing nothing, but no. No one. So I guess it’s all down to me…again.”
Hard Rock is proud to name Liam Gallagher Artist of the Month for November 2017. We’ll be playing tracks from his new album every 90 minutes in our cafes worldwide.