Liam Gallagher and his three grown-up kids give an exclusive interview. Just don't mention uncle Noel...
Liam Gallagher is standing on the side of the A1, holding a cardboard box full of trainers and telling me about his new album. His girlfriend and manager, Debbie, is somewhere nearby, trying to find our taxi — the shoes are hers. "Oi oi, mate, eyes on the road," Liam leans over my shoulder to address a car behind me. "Don't want to cause a crash now, do we?"
Suddenly, I realise that the cacophony of car horns is not just traffic. It's because Liam — strong nose, deep pout, high-collared parka; probably the most iconic side profile this country has produced since the Queen's — is standing on the side of the road.
It's been a rough decade for Liam, but you wouldn't know it as the well-wishers honk on past. "There's still love out there on them streets for me — never had any problem with the public, everyone f****** loves me, you know what I mean?" he says later with characteristic humility.
Ten years ago, his older brother, Noel, called time on their relationship, following an apocalyptic backstage bust-up involving a hurled guitar and some plums. Oasis, the biggest band in Britain, the band that defined the swagger and excess of the 1990s and took the Gallagher brothers — Noel the songwriter, Liam the snarling mouthpiece, together the complete package — from the Manchester dole queue to fame and adoration, was over.
After the ugly fallout, Noel came up smelling of roses — an acclaimed solo career, a Desert Island Discs slot, backslaps all round — while Liam spiralled. The all-day drinking intensified, his second marriage to the All Saints singer Nicole Appleton crumbled and his new band failed to spark. Meanwhile, the pair continued to trade increasingly nasty barbs: Liam calling his brother out after he allegedly declined to appear at the One Love charity gig for victims of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 was a particular low (Noel says he was never asked).
Liam's future looked washed up — and probably would have been if it wasn't for Debbie. Debbie Gwyther is a member of his management team and they started dating shortly after the end of his marriage to Appleton. "She's got me back working, which is good. She's mega, man — just no nonsense. When you're slacking in life, she don't mess about. She's a grafter, Debs. I like that," he says. These days, Liam has his own solo career and a new member of the family: 21-year-old Molly Moorish-Gallagher. The decade horribilis that began with him losing a brother has ended with him finding a daughter.
Molly's mother is the musician Lisa Moorish, with whom Gallagher had a relationship after he married Patsy Kensit, his first wife (a week after their wedding day, according to Kensit). Until last year, father and daughter had never met. Now the pair, plus Gallagher's two sons — Lennon, 19 (from his marriage to Kensit), and Gene, 17 (from his marriage to Appleton) — have just returned from a family holiday in Greece. And he is desperate to show her off.
The taxi finally arrives and we make our way to Liam's local in north London, where the kids are waiting for their first full family interview. What has brought us to this happy place, I ask. "Debbie said, 'Shall we do this thing for Father's Day?' and I was, like, 'I could do with some good press,' " Liam explains, settling down in the pub garden with the first of many vodka, lime and sodas. "So I jumped at the chance. If anything to get some pictures of us …"
"Because we're all very good-looking people," chirps up Gene, the younger, cheekier, more Liam-like of his two sons.
It's true: Lennon, who has Kensit's ice-blue eyes, is a professional model, while Gene and Molly are also in demand by fashion brands eager to capitalise on their big social media profiles. There is another daughter, too, whom he has yet to meet. Gemma, 6, is the daughter of Liza Ghorbani, a New York Times journalist with whom Gallagher had a brief fling while still married to Appleton. Will he ever meet her? "Yeah — I mean, I guess so. It'll just have to happen naturally." But she'd be welcomed into the crew? "Without a doubt."
"She's got the eyebrows," Gene adds.
Like their father, the kids are a hilariously rowdy bunch. Gene, the joker, and Lennon, the quieter, plummy-voiced one, converse almost entirely in irony. Molly, who is studying for a politics degree in London, is more mature, helpfully decoding the boys' impenetrable teenage banter for my benefit. They all rib each other mercilessly, completely comfortable in one another's company.
Who initiated the reconciliation between father and daughter?
"It sort of just happened, didn't it, Molly?" Liam stutters, swirling the ice around in his glass, uncharacteristically shy for a moment. "Me and Molly met in a pub across the road. Then we came here, got really drunk and that was really good."
Were you nervous?
"Yeah, man, there were tears and all that," Liam says. "Then we all met at the [Rolling] Stones gig."
"No," Gene interjects. "I met Molly outside a club. She pushed in front of me in the queue with two boys and I got really angry and went, 'What you doing?' and she was, like, 'You're my brother!' "
The kids collapse into laughter.
"So it was kind of getting to that time where everyone was bumping into each other, but not saying anything," says Liam. "It was time to just …"
"Seal the deal," completes Gene.
"We met when we were young, right?" pipes up Lennon. Molly confirms.
"See, I didn't know that," nods Liam thoughtfully.
Molly, did you always think of Liam as your father?
"Yeah, I guess so. Me and Gene followed each other on Instagram. It was always a known, spoken-about thing. It was just …when it feels right, it will happen."
Liam has written a song about her on his new album: "Now that I've found you, I won't let go … I can lay down with my ghost," go the lyrics.
"It's a shame that it didn't happen earlier," he acknowledges. "But you can't live in the past — you just have to draw the line and get stuck in with some super love going forward."
How does Molly feel about that? Has she ever asked him where the hell he was for those first 20 years?
"I don't really feel the need to," Molly says carefully. "I don't have any anger. I'm 21 now. I'm actually thankful for how I was brought up with my mum and how my life's been. I wouldn't be who I am now if … it's all happened the way it was meant to happen. We just got on and I'm happy to have him now."
Do they ever talk about their feelings as a family?
"No, we just get pissed," smirks Gene.
"No, that's not true," Liam says. "If something needs to be said then it gets said, but it's normally in a pub or when we're on holiday. Touch wood, nobody's had any problems." So you haven't been to family therapy?
Liam: "God no."
Molly: "We were meant to go on Jeremy Kyle, but it got cancelled."
"You've got to simplify life and the only person who's going to simplify it for you is yourself," Liam expands. "It's all a waste of money, all them people [therapists]. What do they know?"
"We all know a lot of famous kids from our parents' friends …" Molly begins. "But when I met Gene and Lennon, it's different, they're both so down to earth compared to a lot of people that you meet in that scene. We've got a lot in common, even though we haven't been around growing up. It was really natural and normal, straightaway."
Time to chuck a bomb into the domestic bliss. Is Uncle Noel a big part of their lives?
"Who's that?" shoots Lennon.
"You mean Noel. He's not an uncle," says Gene.
"Molly saw him a lot …" begins Liam.
"Until she joined the dark side," interrupts Gene.
"Until me and Molly started seeing each other and then it all kind of went a bit quiet," Liam continues.
There is little love lost between Gene and his cousin Anaïs — Noel's 19-year-old daughter — either. He has previously taken to Twitter to insult her modelling credentials.
Liam is the first to admit he only spends so much time bad-mouthing his brother because he misses him. "Without a doubt. Even if I hate him, I miss him at the same time. I miss what we had."
They had always had a combustible relationship, but the finality of Noel's decision, not just to break up the band, but also the brotherhood, still troubles Liam. How did it get to that place?
"He was definitely out for himself, definitely moving in circles that were forbidden," he says of their final tour. "In Oasis, you don't mess about with the press. You don't have the tabloids in your dressing room. When you've got people writing crap about your family and the next minute you're pouring them a drink …"
Why was he doing that?
"I don't know, maybe they've got pictures of him in fluffy handcuffs somewhere," he jokes. Unsurprisingly, that was not the explanation Noel offered in a statement after leaving the band. "The level of verbal and violent intimidation towards me, my family, friends and comrades" that he described was widely thought to reference Liam's behaviour.
Last year, it wasn't Noel but Liam whom the tabloids seemed to have something very serious on. CCTV footage — since plastered all over the internet — showed Debbie and Liam having a row in a corridor at an A-list London nightspot, the Chiltern Firehouse. The short, grainy footage appears to show Liam barging Debbie out of the way and later lurching towards her neck with an outstretched hand. Debbie throws her head backwards and Liam walks off. "Liam Gallagher grabs his girlfriend by the throat" became the headline, though both Debbie and Liam denied he had touched her.
"Fake news," says Lennon when the incident is brought up.
"What happened there that night," Liam begins. "It got way blown out of f****** proportion as far as I was concerned. The next day I apologised to all of these," he gestures to his kids. "Not because there was anything malicious in it, but because it was all in the press. [I was] going, 'Look, it wasn't like what they're saying.' I apologised to Debbie's parents and my mam and the kids, 'cos it's just bullshit."
But what happened?
"Well, nothing happened. We just had a disagreement, there was drinks involved, it was all blown out of proportion and it was all sorted the next day."
So you didn't touch her?
"No, not like they said it was. We went to the police station — and that was another load of bollocks too, they all looked starstruck. I've been through this a million times before. There's always little bumps in the road, but people blow it out of proportion. But these know it, they wouldn't be around me if that's how I was."
Liam grew up witnessing his father's violent behaviour towards his mother, Peggy, and two older brothers, Noel and Paul. I am keen to understand the impact that had on him. Your father, I begin, was a bad role model …
"No, he wasn't. He was a shit husband. He was all right with me, to be fair."
He wasn't violent with you?
"No, not with me. But I've seen him being violent with everyone else, which is not cool. He was violent with my mam, which is bad, but with me he was half decent, which is even more f******-up because you're seeing that and you're seeing this."
What did he learn from the way he was raised?
"I got nothing from my old fella, all from my mam. Any good that comes out of me is all from Peggy and all her sisters and brothers — they were a good, close bunch of people. The last time I saw my old fella, I was 17 or summat. I'm kind of glad that he weren't there. But I never missed a geezer being around because my mam was pretty much both. She was there with the cuddles, she was also there with the whack. I'm generalising dads there [because] dads give cuddles as well. But if I needed bringing down a peg or two, she could do that, as well as elevate me."
"She was a mother and a father figure," nods Gene. "It sounds like most mums."
"Mums don't get enough credit," agrees Lennon.
Does Liam keep in touch with any of his children's mothers?
"Nooooo, no," he shakes his head. "If I see them, I wouldn't run or owt like that. It's all as grown-up as it can be."
All things considered, the family seems remarkably functional; and I'm struck by how accepting the boys are of Debbie, the new woman in their father's life.
"The lads get on with her really well and vice versa. And so they should, 'cos she's good to them — everyone's good to each other," says Liam.
"I feel like Debbie's a best friend and a big sister and a stepmum all in one," smiles Molly.
And what does Debbie see in Liam?
"She's got really bad eyesight," suggests Molly.
"And she's pretty deaf as well," adds Lennon.
"She has actually [got bad eyesight]," laughs Liam. "I did say to her, you should get your eyes lasered, because 'ba-dah'," he stands up, pointing at himself, "you don't know what you're missing! Me and Debs love each other. We have a good laugh and as much as she runs around after me, I run around after her. I don't know, she sees something. I hope she sees the right things."
Will they be adding any more kids to the family?
"Oh God, no. No more babies, no more children, man. Too old for that now."
Although Lennon was only a year old when his father and mother divorced, he spent a lot of time in Liam and his younger brother's company.
"Lennon and Gene went to the same school, so after school and all that," explains Liam.
"I'd go back to yours and stay there for the weekend. It was a good childhood," recalls Lennon.
What was Liam like as a father?
"What have I told ya? Inheritance, matey, inheritance," Liam shoots the boys a stern warning. "No, tell them what I've been like," he laughs. "I've been mega."
Gene: "I turned out pretty cool."
Lennon: "I've got a few problems, but I'm pretty normal, I guess."
"I wouldn't say I'm a normal dad," declares Liam. "I'm not like one of those dads that get up and cook."
"Imagine dad cooking," snorts Gene.
Did you change their nappies when they were babies?
"Oh, too right. Without a doubt, I did all that. I'm just not one of them dads who comes bounding down the stairs going, 'Right kids, breakfast!' I'm more of their mate.
Are they allowed to get away with murder? "Listen, if they're being smart and being rude, I'll tell them, without a doubt. And vice versa — they'll tell me if I'm being a dickhead. I think I'm pretty relaxed, in fact I know I am. They get an easy ride, I think."
How tolerant is he of drugs?
"I'm their drug dealer," he deadpans. "No, they don't do it near me. But you'd be a fool to sit there and go, 'They don't do it.' We definitely have a drink and a cig and that. But then again, if they get into some shitty stuff, I'll definitely be piping up and saying, 'You'd better be knocking that on the head.' Because as much as you haven't got a leg to stand on, you still find a toe. You can definitely rein them in, whether you've done it all before or not. That's the way I see it."
Does he worry about them having to grow up in his shadow?
"Everyone casts their own shadow," Gene emotes.
"Oh, nice," whistles Liam.
"Yeah, deep," reflects Lennon.
"You've just got to find out which way to face the sun," continues Gene.
The table erupts into whoops and applause.
"Stoner!" hollers Liam. "Ganja! You've been practising that one, mate."
The boys might look like their father, but they certainly don't sound like him. How does man-of-the-people Gallagher feel about having such well-spoken sons?
"A lot of their friends go, 'Oh yeah, youse posh.' But they're not posh because they're from working-class backgrounds. They live in nice houses, they went to nice schools, but the money was from working-class people who grafted and got lucky and all that other bollocks. There are a lot of kids out there who are posh and uptight. These are not posh and uptight, they're normal people who have a laugh. And they are well spoken, thank you. And that's obviously nothing to do with me, 'cos I've got a filthy tongue, so respect to your mams," he says, bowing his head and clapping.
Both boys play guitar. How would he feel if they started a band together?
"I think they should start a band together, but they don't want to. They want to do it themselves."
"If it happens, it happens, we're not ruling it out. Early days," Lennon says.
Molly thinks she'd like to work in human rights when she graduates. "I want to work with homeless people. That's the biggest thing I care about," she says.
Gene, who has been booted out of school, astounds me by mentioning he worked on a building site recently. Really?
"It was for a week," clarifies Lennon.
"It was a couple of days, weren't it," hoots Liam. "It wasn't even a week!"
What did Gene do to get thrown out of school?
"Nothing to be proud of," he replies.
"Oh, it is!" objects Liam. "King Alfred is the most laid-back school in the world."
How is Liam raising his own boys to be good men and fathers?
"They're raising themselves. Everyone's got their heads screwed on. They're not snide. These are just good kids. With school … he was just not interested, so they asked him to leave politely and he left. I was a bit gutted, but then he wanted out. So it was best for everyone. But you can't sit at home now for ever, you've got to go and do something, whether that's out labouring or being in a band or modelling or whatever. It's all right to have a year off or whatever to see what's going on, but then you've got to start going in for the kill and doing things. But …" Liam turns to Gene and his voice is kind: "No pressure. It must be pressure having a famous parent, whether it's me or their mams — they've got famous mums as well — so it must be hard, but you've just got to go with it."
Speaking of famous family, Molly has a half-brother, Astile Doherty, from her mother's short-lived relationship with the musician Pete Doherty.
"Astile!" Liam shouts. "We've been out with Astile. Astile's out there! He's a legend. His imagination is mega, it's proper trippy."
"He's 16 in a couple of months," Molly says. "He's just the best person ever. Obviously he's grown up with me and my mum and my nanas, so he loves these three because it's like having three extra men around. He absolutely loves them."
This surprises me, given that there has been a long-running rift between Liam and Astile's father in the media. Only last month, Doherty challenged Liam to a boxing match in an interview.
"That was taken out of context one hundred per cent," says Molly. "My mum spoke to him and it was definitely a joke."
"It's banter," says Liam. "Pete don't want to fight me and I don't want to fight him."
"You guys couldn't fight each other," frowns Gene. "You guys are way too old."
Liam talked a lot about his anger as a younger man. Has that now subsided?
"I've still got anger. Anger is good. It's called passion. People call it aggressive. I ain't aggressive, I'm a loving person." How does the public perception of Liam differ from the reality?
"He's a feminist," says Gene.
"What's a feminist?" asks Liam.
"Yeah, you are," exclaims Molly. "You get angry about things. You got angry about [the repealing of abortion rights in] America."
"Oh yeah, I am," agrees Liam. "Even the stuff in the house, I'm the one who does all the things people would class as the natural things geezers wouldn't touch — the dishwasher, all the cats. I do the curtains."
Sorry? "I look for the curtains — I'm obsessed with interiors. I've had that house painted four times. It's still not quite right."
He returns to the idea of his laddish image: "I go on stage and I do what I do and I like football and I wear certain clothes, but it's just armour. I know loads of ladies who wear lovely frilly dresses, but behind it they're bitches. Not even bitches," he corrects himself, "just a bit sneaky."
What do the kids make of his career?
"You've got a few good songs," concedes Lennon.
"I don't think they're big fans of Oasis," says Liam. "I mean, they come to my gigs, but you can see they're just going, like [he yawns], 'He's doing Wonderwall, that's got to be near the end.' Or you look round for them and none of them are there — not even Debbie. They're all backstage, getting off their heads."
At least they still love him on the streets.
Written by: Krissi Murison
© The Times of London