PAUL GALLAGHER, the older brother of Liam and Noel, was A Celtic State of Mind’s first ever guest back on 11 June 2017. Since then, Liam has made a Lazarus-like comeback, reemerging from the embers of Beady Eye, whilst Noel has released one further studio album – Who Built The Moon? – with his High Flying Birds. Meanwhile, Liam recently announced his intentions on Twitter to reform Oasis – with or without Noel – to raise funds for the NHS following the coronavirus pandemic.Paul Gallagher’s appearance on ACSOM was well received and undoubtedly underlined his love and knowledge of Celtic. Listen back to the first episode of A Celtic State of Mind here:
I first interviewed Paul Gallagher back in 2009, following the demise of Oasis. Here is that interview in full:
The Beatles release their seminal eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band… Jimi Hendrix sets fire to his Fender Stratocaster for the first time at London’s Astoria Theatre… Elvis Presley marries 21-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas… Che Guevara is executed for attempting to incite a revolution in Bolivia… Glasgow Celtic become the first British football side to win the European Cup by destroying Internazionale Milano 2-1 in Lisbon… and Noel Thomas Gallagher is born at 2 Sandycroft Street, Longsight, Manchester.
The year is 1967 and at first glance the latter of these events may well be seen as something of an anti-climax when viewed alongside such a Glitterati of the past forty-odd years. However, the song-writing talents of Noel Gallagher were to ensure that he would become more than a mere footnote when it came to listing the defining moments in the history of popular culture.
Noel, it should be pointed out, cannot profess to being the first of Peggy Gallagher’s boys to be brought into the world in this modest two-bedroomed Manchester house however; that accolade belongs to his elder brother, Paul Anthony…
Paul Anthony Gallagher is 18 months the senior of the man who, for millions, wrote the soundtrack to the nineties with such era-defining records as Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? and almost seven years older than their younger brother Liam, who is undoubtedly the greatest rock ‘n’ roll frontman of his generation.
To have two brothers as famous and successful as Noel and Liam Gallagher was not without its drawbacks in the mid-to-late nineties, when Oasis were without doubt the hottest property in the music world. Following on from such Mancunian luminaries as Joy Division, The Smiths, Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses, Oasis went on to sell far more records than any of their fellow-city predecessors.
Paul looked on as his younger brothers quickly became tabloid fodder; the almost caricature-like sibling rivals who were known to the world simply as “Liam and Noel”. You know when MTV want to create a Plasticine version of you in Celebrity Deathmatch as drunken, obnoxious Manc-Irish oafs that your celebrity status is out of control.
So out of control, in fact, that Paul felt compelled in 1996 to write “the real story” of Oasis at a time when their career had reached its zenith after playing to a quarter-of-a-million fans in just two days at the record-breaking Knebworth shows: “I done it at a time when press intrusion was fierce and way off the mark. I said what I had to say and that’s it, leave it where it is.”
Indeed, at this time, the UK press were intent on unearthing every intricate detail on Noel and Liam Gallagher’s upbringing and their relationship with their mother (whom they portrayed as a Violet Kray-like figure), their elder brother (who was unfairly cast as the black sheep of the family), and their estranged father, Tommy (who played the violent and controlling misanthropist with the ease of a finely-tuned method actor). So, has the preceding thirteen years done anything to change the Gallagher brother’s relationship with their dad? “Nothing’s changed, we have no relationship. We never did and we never will.”
Of the three siblings, perhaps surprisingly it was Paul who became the first of the Gallaghers to own a guitar but when it began to gather dust, an eight-year-old Noel decided to practice on it himself for endless hours, locked away in his bedroom. At least Paul was able to escape the incessant playing of his younger brother: “I never shared a room with Noel but Liam did.” So if nothing else, fans of Oasis have Paul Gallagher to thank for introducing Noel to the instrument that he would later use to craft tunes of such resonance as Live Forever and Wonderwall.
Paul quickly realised that he could not compete with Noel’s talent and so he dumped his interest in playing the instrument himself, deciding to “leave the guitar thing to people who know what they are doing.” When asked if the success that Noel and Liam have since had has ever tempted him to pick the guitar back up, Paul concedes without regret: “No, I never get back on the bus.”
Noel, on the other hand, never got off the bus and continued to practice and improve his guitar-playing and song-writing skills to such a standard that he effortlessly put Liam’s early violin-playing career in the shade. By the time that Paul got Noel a job at Kennedy’s Civil Engineering he was an accomplished player, who took the silver lining of being on light duties after a JCB dropped a section of gas mains on his foot, by bringing his acoustic guitar to work.
It was during this time, in between handing out nuts and bolts to labourers, that Noel Gallagher composed four of the songs that were to later appear on Oasis’ debut album in 1994. Was Paul aware, even back then, just how special Noel’s early songs were? “Of course. You know a good song when you hear it, then it’s for others to create the snowball effect… and whoosh!”
Yet, despite Noel having already written a number of bona fide classics, it would still be some time before anyone else would get the opportunity to hear them. He played briefly in the mid-eighties with Paul Bardsley in a five-piece called Fantasy Chicken and the Amateurs before auditioning to be the Inspiral Carpets‘ front man in 1988 at the tender age of 21.
Although Noel, along with Tim Burgess, failed to get the gig and it went to Tom Hingley, the Inspirals offered him a job as a roadie and instrument technician. Was this the biggest oversight since Ronaldinho was offered to St Mirren as a 21-year-old? “I’m not sure if you would have seen Oasis if Noel was frontman of the Inspirals. Be careful what you wish for…”
By the time that Noel left the Inspirals in 1991, his younger brother Liam had finally begun to show an interest in guitar music, leaving his electro and hip hop days behind him to become a fully-fledged member of the Stone Roses appreciation society: “I think by Liam seeing the Roses at Spike Island, and that Ian Brown to him was just an ordinary fella, it made him believe that he could achieve the same thing and more.”
Paul himself had sampled Manchester’s finest throughout the eighties and stuck to the cigarettes and alcohol when everyone else seemed to be sampling the ecstasy-fuelled hedonism of Madchester through 1989 and 1990: “I seen the Roses at Manchester International 2, Blackpool Empress Ballroom and Spike Island – Glorious days.”
It wasn’t long before Liam found a band of his own when he filled the void left by Chris Hutton by joining Paul Arthurs, Tony McCarroll and Paul McGuigan in The Rain: “Liam didn’t form The Rain, it was a band already named. He came in and renamed the band Oasis. Then Noel joined, and the rest… well you know the rest.”
Oasis played their first gig, still without Noel, in August 1991 at the Boardwalk in Manchester and Paul was there from the very beginning to offer early support to his youngest brother’s musical career: “I have seen most UK shows since ’91.”
Having been one of only around 50 people to have witnessed such a landmark performance, did Paul see any early song-writing potential in Liam Gallagher’s first compositions, such as Take Me, Alice or Reminisce? “Liam? No. He’s coming into his own now, though. He always wanted to be a frontman and leave the song-writing to others. Though now he has the means to do both.”
Within three short years, Noel had joined Oasis and taken on song-writing duties, which culminated in the release of Definitely Maybe, the fastest-selling debut album of all time in the UK when it was unleashed. The release of this album came at a time of otherwise lost opportunity for other Manchester bands. The Stone Roses had become embroiled in legal wranglings with both their record company and former manager and the Happy Mondays had finally ingested too many pills, thrills and bellyaches during the making of Yes Please in the West Indies. Oasis stepped up boldly to grab the mantle and the Roses and Mondays were never quite the same again. “(the success of) Oasis never had anything to do with the Roses’ demise. And the take off from Definitely Maybe? It was a juggernaut. Nothing could stop it.”
And indeed, the Oasis juggernaut continued to captivate the musical world for another 15 years, with the British music and tabloid press following every tantrum and triumph blow by blow. One of the most memorable media frenzies came in the shape of the Oasis versus Blur chart battle in August 1995 that was billed as “The Battle Of Britpop” and which even catapulted both bands on to the national news bulletins. How much of this chart battle does Paul think was manufactured by the NME and Damon Albarn? “The times we lived in… The music business needed a North / South battle. I was never and am still not a fan of Blur. They say nothing to me musically.”
To the detriment of great British music, The Roses imploded quickly after the rise of Oasis and in the words of Ian Brown the seminal Manchester group, “George Best-ed it.” Of the former Roses, Brown himself has crafted out a hugely successful solo career but is Paul surprised at the current lack of success of some of his iconic ex-bandmates? “I thought Reni would have released something by now.”
There is no doubting the Roses’ influence on the Gallaghers, and Noel calls Spike Island his “blueprint.” He also paid tribute to the Stone Roses by claiming that they “kicked open the door and we nailed it to the wall” and both he and Liam were to later work with Ian Brown and John Squire on singles during their post-Roses careers. Does Paul believe that his brothers will again work with these Mancunian legends now that they are embarking on their own post-Oasis careers? “Noel, maybe. Liam? Who knows?”
By the time 1995’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? had sold 10 million copies worldwide, the band’s dynamics had changed and Tony McCarroll became the first of many casualties when the original drummer was replaced by Alan White. Being so close to the band throughout its lifespan, does Paul still see much of that classic line-up who adorned the Definitely Maybe cover in one of the most iconic images of the nineties? “Nope. I ain’t seen Bonehead for a few years. And Guigsy? Nothing since he left the band. And Tony? No, nada.”
What about Peter Sifter, who owned the second-hand record shop in Burnage and who was famously name-dropped in Oasis’ second single Shakermaker? “I think it’s still going, I dunno. Mr Sifter was a United fan I later found out…”
News of the band’s split was finally announced in August 2009 but with such a history behind them, what does Paul feel will be Oasis’ legacy? “Various shows: Old Trout, Windsor, 1994; The Point, Dublin, 1995; Madison Square Gardens, New York, 2005; City of Manchester Stadium, 2005… Records? All of ’em. Line-ups? All of ’em. Oasis is Oasis. People will always have their ‘faves’. I seen it for what it was: A great band… the last great band.”
When a longstanding band with a discography like Oasis finally call it a day, it is often reason enough for their record company to release a deluge of ‘lost recordings’, scrapped sessions and rare outtakes. Will Oasis fans finally get to hear the infamous Richard Fearless recordings? “Everyone has opinions on different sessions that never seen the light of day. Death in Vegas? Now come on, as much as I like the band, if it was that good it wouldn’t have been scrapped.”
After fifteen years at the top and with Dig Out Your Soul quite probably their best album of the noughties, was it really time for Oasis to end? “You should never leave anything you’re happy with to please others, always please yourself. In saying this, yeah, I think everyone needed a break. Is it over for good? Who knows… it’s a long life.”
As of yet, Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell, Chris Sharrock and possibly Jay Darlington are still ‘Oasis’ but should Liam make a clean break and start with a new identity now that he’s the only original band member left? “Liam should call the band whatever he feels. If he wants to continue as Oasis then let him. After all, he started the band. Then again, you could also say that Oasis haven’t split… Noel left. I dunno… all will be revealed at some point. Like me, we’ll all have to wait and see.”
The jungle drums are suggesting that Liam’s post-Oasis project may well release an album as early as this summer (2010) and that at least half a dozen songs are already demoed. Although Paul doesn’t have any suggestions for a new band name, he can confirm that they are working on new material: “I have heard some demos…”
And, as for Noel, has he stockpiled any of his own songs over the years with Oasis ? “I’m sure Noel has hundreds.”
So, 2010 looks to be a good year for Oasis fans then, with albums expected from both Liam and Noel Gallagher. A few years ago, the sensible money would have been on Noel to shine without his brother so how does Paul see their fortunes developing without each other? “I think they BOTH will surprise everyone.”
The youngest Gallagher has also been making waves in the fashion world recently with his own clothing range. Does it surprise Paul that Liam is spreading his wings and exploring different avenues outside of the band? “Liam loves clothes and music. Pretty Green is perfect for him, it’s another outlet.”
Liam and Noel’s movements and activities have been documented intrinsically now for over a decade-and-a-half but the focus on their elder brother tapered out once interest in Oasis peaked in the nineties. Did Paul decide to stay in Manchester once the Britpop dust settled? “No, I still live in London, though I’m always in Ireland.” It’s understandable that he wants to spend so much time in Ireland with his family roots and memories of seemingly endless childhood holidays in County Mayo with his uncle Paddy to look back on: “For me, it’s different. I love the place, the people.”
Indeed, a succession of Manchester guitar bands have been of Irish descent. Does Paul think that these Celtic roots play an integral part in the work ethic and desire to succeed of bands such as Herman’s Hermits, The Buzzcocks, The Fall, The Smiths and many more right up to Oasis? “I think you see a hunger to escape from where they all sit. That should be the case for British bands also, but it doesn’t seem to be, historically anyhow. If you’re happy with where you are from, then why would you feel the need to escape.”
That “need to escape” for working class lads often lends itself to having true passions for both music and football and it was no secret to the Oasis-loving nation that Liam and Noel were avid Manchester City fans. A fact never better epitomised than on two days in April 1996, when they played to 80,000 fans at City’s Maine Road.
Paul’s interests were no different and when growing up, he once viewed contentment as having a job that paid more than £120 a week and Man City winning a game. So with his family tree firmly planted across the water, when it comes to supporting a national team, where do his loyalties lie? “Ireland always. I have never classed myself as English.”
This Irish heritage often leads to a football fan also having an affinity with one half of Glasgow’s great divide. Paul confirms that this is definitely the case with him as well: “City, Celtic and Ireland are my teams.” And his love affair with football doesn’t end there: “St Pauli of Hamburg. It’s a great city, though not a hugely successful team. I can relate to that.”
Most football fans are born to support a specific team. It is like a religion where the decision is made for them before they are able to formulise a reason for themselves. Was this the case for Paul with Man City and Celtic? “Celtic always played with a swagger, whereas Rangers didn’t. Celtic had numbers on their shorts, green and white hoops, great songs, great football. No comparison. City? Cos we were taken there as kids.”
Like many die-hard City fans over the years, Paul has suffered through a succession of under-performing sides. With the incredible financial backing of the Abu Dhabi United Group behind them, can they finally take that extra leap into the upper echelons of the English Premier League? “Again, careful what you wish for. City are the most infuriating club you’ll ever find. One minute brilliant, the next diabolical. Though, I will say that after nearly 40 years of my affinity with them… maybe, just maybe, they will finally achieve something.”
And what if that “something” leads to football’s biggest prize? Devout United fan Mani once famously quipped that his ex-band, The Stone Roses, “will reform the day after Man City win the European Cup.” Will John Squire have to swap his paint brushes for plectrums and give his old mates a call anytime soon? “The Champions League? That’s what the owners want and who’s to say we won’t win every trophy once we get the first one in the bag? I’d say Mani better get his four strings ready around 2014.”
With the spending power of Manchester City making them the richest football club in the world, it wouldn’t be unthinkable that they could win the Champions League within four short years. But what of Britain’s first European Champions, Glasgow Celtic? Is this achievement something that fans of the Hoops will have to reminisce about for another forty-odd years? “The lack of finance in Scottish football is there for all to see and with this, you have to live within the financial restraints of the league you play in (apart from City). Celtic need to be where the money is. Now whether this is England or an Atlantic league, that’s for others to decide.
“Celtic are a huge club in terms of fan base, stadia, trophies… but if they continue in the SPL? Well it doesn’t bear thinking about. Celtic have to leave the SPL, it’s as simple as that.”
The financial struggles of Scotland’s club sides has had a severely adverse effect on a proud footballing nation and the Tartan Army have not enjoyed attending a major finals in over twelve years. What does Paul think that Scotland can learn from their Irish counterparts in terms of establishing regular qualification in European Championship and World Cup finals? “Ireland haven’t competed in the big tourneys for a while either. Teams need to come together as one. The fans, the players: Everyone needs to have the same goals.”
Paul, like any football purist, would surely be disheartened then at the manner in which Ireland failed to qualify for the World Cup recently. What should FIFA do to punish the behaviour, during the France v Ireland playoff match, of the biggest sporting villain of 2009, Thierry Henry? “Henry should be banned from the World Cup. France should have been thrown out also and Platini and Blatter should have been forced to resign.“
“The ‘seeded’ playoffs? That wasn’t in the rules at the start of the qualifying campaign. They were there to preserve the bigger country’s qualification. It’s all a shambles and they (FIFA) know it.
“But nothing happens because France is a big country with big business involved. FIFA doesn’t recognise Ireland as a sporting country, therefore Ireland should have withdrawn from all FIFA-run competitions.
“We live in an apathetic world. It’s not a democracy, it’s pure dictatorship. I’m still pissed off with the whole thing, to be fair.”
As well as spending his time watching football, ex-band manager and one-time author Paul, has been busying himself with another passion that he grew up with: DJing. The Gallagher’s father, Tommy, regularly DJ’d himself and Paul used to help him out around the Irish clubs and pubs. So what got him back into it after all these years? “I just love music, always have done. I started DJing in the late ‘80s, then took a 17-year break. Though these days I’m firmly stuck in the past. ‘50s, ‘60s, Northern Soul, Motown… Whatever I like, I play.”
Some of Oasis‘ most revered shows were on British soil, so where does Paul enjoy playing himself? “I love everywhere. I have been resident in Ghent, Belgium, for nearly two years and am recently back from Rome. They are just nuts. I never knew there were at least thirty Oasis tribute bands in Rome alone. That’s fucking mental.” Has he sampled the legendary Scottish fans yet? “No, nothing in Scotland. I tend to stay outside the UK, but that could change in 2010.”
What of any other bands that are making the grade with Paul? Are there any out there to join The Jam, The Specials, The Who, The Small Faces, Teenage Fanclub, The Stone Roses and Super Furry Animals in his list of previously cited favourites ? “I don’t like any new bands, for many reasons. If I had to name one band, then Exit Calm from Barnsley. They’re ok, nice kids.”
Does the eminence of his DJing mean his band management days are numbered? Does he continue to manage bands? “No, I just fell outta love with it all, the whole shebang. I signed Wireless to Creation Songs. They were on Chrysalis Records and I managed a few others. These days I manage myself, I can trust myself.”
Paul Gallagher talks about music with an awareness that symbolizes his insightful knowledge of the industry that comes with having two brothers who have sold over 70 million records worldwide, but too often has he been unfairly typecast as an imposter by the unabating and contemptuous tabloid press: “I never cared what journalists said or didn’t say, write or whatever. They don’t know me, end of.”
His past record shows that not only has he written a best-selling book and managed bands for a decade but he is also a popular DJ in his own right. So what else does the versatile Gallagher have up his sleeve? “I’m currently curating ‘Templehouse Festival’, which is taking place in Ballymote, County Sligo, Ireland, between 9th – 12th September 2010. It’s a first for that part of the country and I’m excited to see what we can pull together.
”And of course I’m still playing records that l love around Europe and beyond, and a few other projects.”
There are millions of fans around the world who are currently contemplating a life without Oasis. Not since 1994 have we been without our favourite sibling rivals. Of course, Paul Gallagher has seen a lot more than most and there are sure to be a few chapters left in the epic journey of the Gallagher brothers yet. As we await the first albums on which Noel and Liam don’t lend one another a hand, Paul is in reflective mood: “Of their time. The movement of people around the world. You’ll never see a band like Oasis again.”
Paul John DykesWatch Sophie Millar’s stunning rendition of ‘Come Back Paddy Reilly’: