The Big Hurt: Liam alone

Can an Oasis spinoff help but suck?
By DAVID THORPE  |  November 9, 2009

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Everyone figured that Noel Gallagher would go solo — it’s been hinted at for years — but the break-up of Oasis has made it a grim inevitability. Liam, however, is in a tougher spot. Whereas guitarist Noel is a self-contained unit, singer Liam has usually needed a little help from his friends. It’s no wonder that he recently announced in an interview with the Scotsman that he won’t go it alone: “Don’t wanna do anything solo, it’s not my thing. I want to be in a band.”

On the surface, that sounds very egalitarian. While Noel is off pursuing his self-indulgent artistic whims, Liam will become a cog in a new machine. Looks good on paper, but rebound bands are a strange and terrible thing. Failures of chemistry, train wrecks of hype, and, most often, disasters of band dynamics. Hire a push-around band and you’ve got a famous guy plus three strangers who know people are just paying to see the famous guy. Find three famous friends and you’ve got, God forbid, a supergroup. Even the biggest rebound groups (Wings, for example) are scorned for not being the real thing, and the worst of them . . . well, they’re all the worst of them.

Liam should know that, since his UK rock contemporaries have a pathetic track record. Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker had the tedious Relaxed Muscle before wising up and going solo. The Longpigs’ Crispin Hunt formed Gramercy, who split up before they released anything. Blur’s Damon Albarn had his the Good, the Bad & the Queen project, which rose to the lofty heights of “decent, I guess.” The Libertines split into Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things, each twice as mediocre as the other. Bernard Sumner of New Order released his Bad Lieutenant album three weeks ago, and this is the last time you’ll read about it. Suede’s Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler reteamed with the Tears; the result was less like a reunion and more like two terrible solo albums teleported into each other à la Brundlefly.

The rebound band didn’t even work for Oasis’s formative idols. Johnny Marr & the Healers were a pile of shit, but I’d guess even Liam’s not dumb enough to use the “& the” scheme. La’s bassist John Powers formed Cast, one of the dullest bands of their era. (Liam did once say that Cast were one of the few Britpop bands he liked — of course, if he had good taste, he wouldn’t have been in Oasis.) Liam should definitely remember the Seahorses — the godawful band formed by John Squire of the Stone Roses — since he co-wrote one of the gruesome minor hits that earned them the revulsion of critics and the apathy of listeners.

Liam will also recall Hurricane #1, who were formed after the break-up of Ride by guitarist Andy Bell (who later joined Oasis on bass). That outfit was fronted by one Alex Lowe, who did his best to look and sound as much like Liam Gallagher as possible and then took offense at the comparison. Liam took some digs in an NME interview: “He [Lowe] copies my haircut and then slags me off! What’s that about? Who’ll I batter?” The two did indeed get into a fistfight later, but even that wasn’t enough to keep anyone interested. Hurricane #1 split after a couple of poorly reviewed albums, and Liam checkmated Andy Bell with the ultimate musical humiliation: hiring a great guitarist to play the fucking bass.

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