Liam Gallagher: The German police pulled my teeth out with pliers

The former Oasis singer is up for a Brit this week and riding high with a hit solo album. He may be very zen at the moment, but hes still got plenty to say about everything including an infamous 2002 bar brawl and, of course, his brother Noel. Photograph by Richard Saker

In the middle of the Highgate branch of Caf Rouge on a Monday lunchtime, Liam Gallagher is re-enacting what he calls the ding-dong: the infamous 2002 brawl in a Munich hotel bar that led to the loss of his front teeth. We are talking about his apparently impregnable self-confidence, something that seems to mystify even him. I dunno where it comes from, he shrugs, but Ive always been a bit of an arrogant cunt, even when I was digging holes for a living in Manchester, sitting there going, What the fuck am I doing here? Even the way I dressed to go to work digging holes was fucking cool. I ask him whether there was ever a moment in his career where he felt startled or overawed by a situation he found himself in.

I was rather expecting some kind of celebrity-related anecdote, perhaps involving one of Gallaghers pantheon of 60s rock idols, but no: hes up out of his seat, miming the events that led to the cancellation of Oasiss German tour, his arrest for bodily harm, trespassing and material damage, and a 50,000 fine. Its quite a saga, that, in his telling at least, begins with one of Oasiss roadies giving some bird the fucking eye and that, and said ladys inamorato expressing his displeasure in no uncertain terms.

I remember we were sitting at a table under a balcony, and our security guard just grabs us by the neck, drags us over the fucking table, and the next minute, theres a geezer on the balcony drops a fucking glass table on our heads, but the securitys got us out of the way, or it could have fucking killed us. And then it went off, man.

According to contemporary reports, 80 police officers were called to quell the ensuing melee, which involved both much of the nightclub furniture being reduced to matchwood and Liam Gallaghers front teeth being knocked out. Or perhaps not: Gallagher has formulated a theory that his front teeth were in fact pulled out with pliers by the fucking German police while he was unconscious, as retaliation for his part in the fight. If I was to hit you in the mouth, youd think youd have a fat lip, right? I didnt have a fat lip. I was still fucking whistling while I worked, mate. Heres what I think happened: it all went down after I kicked a copper at some point in the fucking lobby, I think, because after that I woke up in the fucking nick. So I think they give me a whack over the head in the back of the fucking van and I think theyve just gone, Fuck you, you cunt, later on. Because they were pulled out completely perfect. They were going: Oh, as you were coming up the stairs, you tripped and they whacked on there. But theyd have broken, wouldnt they? You dont fucking have them completely fall out like that. And I woke up in a prison cell, handcuffed, no teeth, but I could still he whistles and no other marks on me. So Im going: they fucking ripped them out because I did one of their geezers, thats what happened there.

He sits down again. So that was one time I thought, What the fuck am I doing here? Learned my lesson there, mate. Does that answer your question?

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div class=”u-responsive-ratio”> Oasis

Oasis at the Brits in 1996, with Noel centre and Liam right. Photograph: Richard Young/Rex Features

It does, in what has now become clear is characteristic Liam Gallagher style. Like a lot of his answers, it is lengthy, funny, digresses in an unexpected manner, involves both a phenomenal amount of swearing and the speaker repeatedly leaping to his feet to underline various points he is making. Furthermore, it is delivered with a curious, impassioned, poker-faced intensity that seems to be Gallaghers default mode of speech. For all his repeated claims that he is currently very zen Im drinking green tea, he notes he talks about everything from Oasiss back catalogue to his daily morning run as if he is delivering an address designed to rouse a crowd to action. He is, as countless interviewers have noted before, hugely entertaining company, albeit hugely entertaining company of a kind that makes you wonder at the fortitude of his band mates past and present. You do get the feeling that eight weeks on a tour bus with him might jangle your nerves a bit.

Still, bearded, 45 and sporting the kind of feather-cut hairstyle that would and indeed does look ridiculous on anyone who isnt Liam Gallagher, he seems in buoyant mood and with good reason. Conspiracy theory about the German polices propensity for ad-hoc dental work aside, these are high times for Gallagher. His debut solo album, As You Were, has gone platinum. Its success is testament to the way a plethora of blue-chip songwriters for hire buffed up his songs. Ive worked with songwriters all my life, he says, when the subject is broached. I came out of the trap singing other peoples songs. Its not like I started off as a songwriter and then fucking lost my way and needed some help. It feels natural; I dont give a fuck if they wrote fucking Adeles song.

It also comes down to a general lack of what he cheerfully refers to as fucking meat and veg rocknroll in a world where such things are deeply unfashionable, and one suspects, the enduring myth of Oasis among fans for whom the bands much-vaunted heyday represents ancient history: a little terrifyingly, we are now as far away from the release of Definitely Maybe as Definitely Maybe was from to use a suitably Gallagher-esque example the release of the Beatles Let It Be.

Oasis

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figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Happier days: Liam and (rear) Noel with Oasis in 1994. Photograph: Michel Linssen/Redferns

Gallagher himself thinks the albums popularity might be to down to him sticking to his guns. He wears a certain intractability like a badge of honour. He didnt get into music until his mid-teens, found his heroes pretty quickly the Beatles, the Stone Roses, the Sex Pistols et al and never really felt the need to find anything else. My record collection was built. I was done and dusted by the time I was 22. Its like your football team; Im never going to fucking change my football team.

On one level that seems a deeply odd attitude, but perhaps it means he perfectly understands a certain kind of unwavering and oft-mocked music fan: he knows what they want because, almost uniquely among artists, he thinks the same way they do. Im not here to change fucking rocknroll; Im here to give people what they want and if thats boring, so be it. Theres so much change in the world, and especially in the music business, I think its nice to know you can rely on me. I like certain things to stay the fucking same.

Whatever the reason, his recent tour sold out and, a decade after he complained that Oasis were no longer nominated for Brit awards he finds himself nominated for best male solo artist. Alas, the decision to ask him to present an award rather than perform live at the event has, as he puts it, given me the hump They can fuck off if they think Im going to go there and clap some fucking idiot. Im not going to go: Fucking great, Im nominated, lets get down there and do some fucking what is it people do these days networking? Get down there with your little fucking suit on and put your arm around Stormzy and RagnBone Man, do all this bollocks? That aint me, mate. Im arsed if Im going to the Brits. I was arsed the first fucking time around. It doesnt fucking matter.

It is all a far cry from 18 months ago, when it was widely assumed that Gallaghers musical career was over, unless his older brother deigned to reform Oasis, which did not look likely. Not if all the starving children in the world depended on it, was among Noels more piquant responses to the suggestion. Liams post-Oasis band, Beady Eye, had unceremoniously fizzled out after two tepidly received albums: We werent selling any tickets, and I thought: I aint fucking doing a third record to be fucking playing the 100 Club, Id rather do fucking nothing. Its either big or its fucking nothing. Im all or nothing.

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Gallagher performing in Australia in December 2017. Photograph: Lagerhaus/WireImage
He was mired in what he calls personal stuff that had to go down his
divorce from his second wife, Nicole Appleton, and a paternity suit involving the US journalist Liza Ghorbani, with whom he fathered a daughter during a affair and doing nothing, just on the phone to lawyers and all that bollocks. Drinking a bit. A bit depressed but not theres other people have got it a lot fucking harder. I was still sitting being depressed in a fucking 3m house. But that doesnt mean anything. I had nothing to do, I was just fucking het up and all that. Music wasnt speaking to me and I didnt see any way back.

He appeared to have announced his retirement on Twitter, in distinctive style Music in the UK has been abducted by massive cunts, thank fuck I got out when I did and says he did consider it. What did he plan on doing? Fuck knows, man. Because Im not very much without it. You can get into pottery, do you know what I mean? Or become a painter and decorator. I dont really want to do that. I might be good at it, but youre always going to have that thing over your head of Liam Gallagher from Oasis. Its scary to think about it.

He credits his partner and manager Debbie Gwyther for telling me to fucking snap out of all the boozing and miserableness and all that, stop looking at the past and get in the fucking studio. But a more positive outlook on life and a commercial resurgence does not seem to have altered his attitude to his brother. Throughout it all, he has kept up a constant war of words against Noel, in interviews and via Twitter. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes uncomfortable as when he accused him of faking tears during a concert for victims of the Manchester bombing sometimes it seems indefensible, as when he used a homophobic slur against him. Bum chum? Yeah. But I didnt mean it in a homophobic kind of way. Ive got gay friends, hang out with them constantly, 24/7, girls and guys, do you know what I mean? They know Im not. I know a lot of people go, Well, thats what you would fucking say, but I didnt mean it in the way that people presumed or assumed I meant it. He looks genuinely abashed. I shouldnt say them things. I didnt know it really upset people, but if it did, I apologise about it.

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Gallagher with his partner Debbie Gwyther in 2017. Photograph: Dave Benett/Getty Images

But no, he says, he doesnt think he should lay off Noel for a bit. Not, as I had assumed, because he enjoys getting a rise out of an older brother in the mischievous, needling way common to younger siblings. But because he is genuinely furious about Oasis splitting up. He did me out, mate, he threw me under the fucking bus, and I wont forget that. He split the band up and it meant the world to me. Just to further his career. So me having a little pop at him when he fucking needs it, I dont give a fuck if his missus gets a bit of shit on Twitter, or his fucking kid welcome to my fucking world. I was getting shit when you threw me under the bus and split the band up. My kids get shit, too. Get off Twitter if you cant fucking handle it.

In his version of events, Oasiss turbulent personal history was deliberately orchestrated throughout by Gallagher Snr. He wormed his way through that band and used people and sacked people and then fucked us all off at the end for him to further his fucking shitty little cosmic pop career. Sacked the fucking drummer; made it impossible for Bonehead to be in the band; Guigsy left after; Whitey went. But it still werent enough. But he didnt have the bollocks to sack me. One minute Im there, next minute Im under the bus, like some fucking drummer. Fuck that, Im Liam fucking Gallagher, sang my balls off, Im the voice of that band, and now you want me to just fucking disappear and have a little laugh about it? I dont fucking think so, mate. I see you in Marylebone, I see you fucking out, youd better have a fucking security guard with you and youd better be paying him good money, because youd better fucking run, mate. Thats how pissed off I am, man, completely. He smiles. But apart from that Im quite happy, do you know what I mean?

Oddly enough, I do. For all the intensity of his delivery and the ranting on about Noel and the Brits, he does seem happy: chatting proudly about his eldest son Lennons ongoing modelling career and encouraging his youngests aspirations to be a drummer, cheerfully admitting that he gets on with Gwyther because she doesnt take my shit, shes a bit like my mam. But then, he says that he has always been at his best when he feels he has something to prove. Isnt everybody? We got mollycoddled in Oasis: too much fucking money and too much time on our hands.

It was the same during Oasiss early days: he was driven by angst, whatever that word means. Certainly, he wasnt overburdened with other career options. I couldnt see myself working in fucking Dixons, couldnt see myself working in the fucking pub, couldnt see myself taking orders from any fucking knobhead, I just If I werent in a guitar band, Id either be selling drugs or Id be in the nick or Id be dead, because thats where a lot of my mates are these days.

That is why he was never rattled when Oasis got so big so fast. I was comfortable walking straight into that suit. It didnt freak me out at all. I always thought I was important from day dot. I felt I was destined for more than digging fucking holes. Success and that, all that stuff, fitted my fucking aroma. He frowns. Thats not the word, is it?

Persona?

Persona, thats it. He nods. But it fitted my aroma too.

The Brit awards will be broadcast live on ITV at 8pm on Wednesday 21 February.

Have you ever been lost for words? Readers put their questions to Liam Gallagher

Liam
No one just comes up and goes, How are you, man? Photograph: Richard Saker for the Guardian

Whos the best person in rocknroll to go for a pint with?
Ryan Prenderville, Harrow

Me. Because I buy them and I fucking drink them with you and we have a good laugh. Oh, does he want to know who I thinks the best? I mean, not many people drink these days, do they? Theyre all fucking soft. Richard Ashcrofts a good drinker. Weller used to be, too, but hes stopped now.

If you could delete one thing for ever from the world, what would you choose?
Chris Mutter, Baldock

Man United. All they do is bang on about their past. Listen: the past was yours but the futures ours. Or mine.

Have you ever asked for a selfie or autograph, or been so starstruck that you have been lost for words?
Alan Gregory, Stockport

I asked Paul McCartney to sign a programme once, but it wasnt for me, it was for the headteacher at my kids school. It was his 60th, he was a massive Beatle-head and a massive music-head. It was backstage at the Royal Albert Hall. Obviously, I always bang on about Lennon and that, but I was starstruck when I first met McCartney. Starstruck when I met Ringo as well. He was the first Beatle I ever met. Ringos a dude, man.

If you could choose the headliners at Glastonbury, who would you pick?
Yen, Korea

Obviously, the fucking mighty Oasis, man. Id love to do that again with them, whenever our kid fucking falls and bangs his head and comes around. The Roses. The Smiths. The Jam. Theres a lot of people who hold the key to that, but their fucking heads are up their arses; they think theyre a lot bigger and better than the other people that used to be in them bands, so Im sure theyre a no-go.

Is there anything money cant buy?
Soo Parker, Lancashire

It cant buy you happiness, man. It can fucking put a Band-Aid on it and all that, you can keep the wolf from the door, but real happiness comes with fucking knowledge and acceptance, do you know what I mean? And it cant buy Man United the league, apparently.

What irritates you most about what people do?
Proserpine, Peru

Its the selfie thing. Even though I dont mind doing it. That generation, its like a fucking disease. No one comes up and fucking asks for autographs any more, not that that was any better. No one just comes up and goes, How are you, man? Id fucking sit and quite happily have a five-minute chat with someone. People are just not fucking paying attention to people any more. Fuck knows whats going on.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/feb/19/liam-gallagher-brits-noel-german-police-pulled-teeth-pliers

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