Armed with a new album and documentary, the former Oasis frontman is still making up for lost time

By Steven Edelstone
September 18, 2019 at 11:30 AM EDT
Tom Beard

Liam Gallagher hasn’t been in this good of a mood in years. 

“Just looking forward to every second that comes my way,” the British rocker admits over the phone. “I’m loving life, man. Life is good at the moment. It’s good to be alive.”

But that wasn’t always the case for the newly-engaged singer, who is gearing up to drop his upcoming album, Why Me? Why Not (out Sept. 20). Following the highly public and dramatic breakup of his band Oasis with brother Noel in August 2009, he quickly started Beady Eye with the remaining members. The project was received with a relative shrug, particularly Stateside where their 2013 sophomore release, BE, failed to chart. Then there was fallout from his affair with an American journalist, leading Gallagher to split with his wife just as his post-Oasis band was dissolving.

Suddenly, his future was uncertain. As he explains in his just-released documentary, As It Was, “This is the first time in 20 years or whatever that I’m without a band. I was going, ‘F–k, what am I going to do now? No band, no songs, no niche.’” 

What followed were four years of extreme lows and, as Gallagher explains to EW, a period of missed opportunities: “When Oasis split up and then Beady Eye kind of didn’t happen, I had four years of starting to get me personal life back together; there was a lot of time wasted. I enjoyed the years with Oasis. We were putting albums out, we were doing big tours. I like to be busy. I like to go out on tours. I like to put records out. So I [was] making up for lost time.”

Then in 2017, Gallagher unexpectedly became a symbol of resiliency when the 1995 Oasis hit “Don’t Look Back in Anger” reentered the British charts after being sung at a vigil for the Manchester Arena bombings. Gallagher would later perform the track during a last-minute set at Glastonbury (“I just did it off the top of me head,” he says of the a capella performance. “I hadn’t rehearsed it or anything. I’ve got balls of steel, man”). Later, his subsequent debut solo record, As You Were, went platinum, outselling the rest of the top ten on the British charts combined the week it was released.

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That momentum has since carried into present day, leading to his new album, Why Me? Why Not, which is filled with classic rock-inspired hooks and gorgeous strings. None of it is radically different than what fans heard on As You Were, but it does feel more introspective, as Gallagher mines his childhood and early music career on songs like “Once” and “One of Us.” “They’re better songs,” he says, bluntly. “They’re better written songs. I think they’re bigger, they’re a lot deeper. It’s sort of the natural progress.” The release also sees Gallagher teaming up with some of the biggest pop songwriters of the moment, including Greg Kurstin (Sia, Adele, Maggie Rogers) and Andrew Wyatt (Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Beck). 

“It’s easy, man,” he says when asked about what it’s like bringing in songwriters into the studio. “I thought it’d be a lot harder and I thought I’d feel a lot worse, uncomfortable and that. I just go in there, you sort of say what you want and after that, you send them a few bits of s–t I’ve done and that sort of thing. We just get in and we do what we’ve got to do. We don’t mess about. We don’t waste any time.”

Gallgher obviously places a lot of importance on that working relationship — it’s why his collaborators were the second group he thanked in his 2018 NME Godlike Genius Award acceptance speech after his mother. “I also want to dedicate this to the army of songwriters that I’ve got, past and present,” he said. While the comment was likely a dig at his older brother, who wrote the vast majority of Oasis’ material over its 28-year existence, it’s clear he appreciates the people he works with. 

“I can sort of go, ‘Let’s do a tune a bit like Faces or the Stones,’” he explains. “I love music, full stop. I’d love to be able to write a whole album, but that’s just not the way it is. I don’t really sweat over it. I just want to be a part of good music. I’m not into music to make money. I already have enough money. So I’m not one of them persons who go out to write a song because I need to get a publishing deal. I couldn’t give a f–k about that. I just want to make good music and get out on the road and play good music to the people who come to the concerts and that’s it.”

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