When Liam Gallagher initially listened to the songs composed by John Squire for their upcoming joint album, he had two immediate reactions: that they were amazing and that he had a natural ability to perform them. This is because he has been singing Squire’s songs since he was a teenager.
Gallagher declares, while sitting at a studio in Kentish Town, north London, “I am a huge fan of the Stone Roses and they are the reason I became a musician. I am familiar with their rhythms, so it’s not like I’m trying to imitate Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails. I’m not saying it was effortless, but I make it appear that way.”
Released alongside the latest psychedelic-infused track, Just Another Rainbow, this collaboration brings together two highly acclaimed figures in the Manchester music scene: John Squire, the incredibly gifted guitarist of the Stone Roses, and Liam Gallagher, the frontman of Oasis whose bold attitude embodied the optimism and indulgence of the 1990s. Even for those who don’t sport a generous hairstyle and Adidas Sambas, this partnership feels like a significant event. Just Another Rainbow has already climbed to the top spot on the midweek chart and has potential to maintain its position today.
The collaboration, named after themselves, gained popularity when the guitarist made a special appearance at Gallagher’s massive Knebworth concerts in 2022. Excited to hear that Squire was writing music again, the singer expressed interest in joining in (“When rock and roll calls, you have to answer”), but with two conditions: the songs had to be guitar-driven and Squire would write the lyrics. No other guidelines were established; there were no formal meetings with record label executives. “That’s how it should be,” Gallagher states. “Setting up meetings is too much like being a real estate agent, isn’t it?” This was not the first time Gallagher and Squire had worked together; they had previously collaborated on “Love Me and Leave Me,” a track for Squire’s band, the Seahorses, after the Roses disbanded. However, both parties’ recollections are fuzzy on how that came about.
Text messages were exchanged between Squire and Gallagher. Squire shared demos of his unfinished works while Gallagher shared YouTube videos of various artists, such as Sex Pistols, Jimi Hendrix, Faces, and the Bee Gees. According to Squire, this happened shortly after he sent his first demo, Love You Forever, which he had sung in a high register that was out of his range. Squire (who I spoke to in a separate room, as the publicist was concerned that Gallagher might dominate the conversation if they were interviewed together) initially thought that Gallagher was mocking him when he received a Bee Gees track in response, suggesting that they needed to rethink their approach. However, it turned out that Gallagher had never actually received Squire’s demo and had sent the Bee Gees track and other videos as a sincere guide for how he envisioned the album to sound.
In May 2023, Gallagher went to Squire’s home studio in Macclesfield after working remotely for a few months to record some initial vocals. Four months later, they traveled to Los Angeles and spent three weeks recording 10 tracks. Greg Kurstin, who played bass and piano, also produced the album. Squire and Kurstin bonded over their shared appreciation for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu, as well as for Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. The drums were played by Joey Waronker, known for his work with Beck, REM, and Roger Waters. Their goal was to avoid creating a mechanical-sounding album, as Squire believes that perfection is subjective. He prefers a slightly imperfect, “sloppy” sound and points out that many iconic songs by The Stones and The Beatles feature percussion that may be slightly off but still considered perfect.
The outcome is an impressively light and airy psychedelic blues album, with Squire’s guitar melodies flowing happily and Gallagher’s vocals often soaring above his typical harsh tone. In The Stone Roses, Squire’s playing was more drawn out, exploring the expansive spaces created by the band’s grooves; here, he is more focused and intentional, allowing the songs to guide any improvisation. His playing sounds refreshed, while Gallagher has found his most comfortable fit post-Oasis. The final track, “Mother Nature’s Song,” is a wide-eyed tribute to the beauty of our natural world, accompanied by acoustic guitars and a George Harrison-esque slide guitar, making it one of the most poignant songs either artist has ever recorded. When Squire first heard Gallagher’s vocals on this track, he was moved to tears, something he says has never happened before with any of his own compositions.
When I inquired about whether Gallagher had the ability to veto the lyrics, Squire stated that the subject was never discussed. However, Gallagher responds with irritation to the same question, saying, “If there were any inappropriate or questionable actions occurring, I would have addressed it! But I distinctly remember receiving the lyrics and feeling like they were reflective of my style.”
Dressed in the required green parka and using profanity freely, Gallagher remains true to himself. As we converse, I can’t help but sense that his youthful bravado may be giving way to the wisdom of age, only to have him revert back to his classic swaggering persona. He mentions that he would enjoy verbally tearing into rival bands, but there are currently no worthy opponents. “It’s a shame, because they would certainly be receiving a verbal beating,” he adds reassuringly. “No one wants to be in a band and share success these days. It’s all about individual solo stars.”
Despite releasing three successful solo albums, Gallagher’s true talent lies in collaborating with others. After his departure from Oasis, he formed the band Beady Eye. His former Oasis bandmate Bonehead has also joined his live band on tour. This year, Gallagher will be performing songs from Oasis’s debut album, Definitely Maybe, during an arena tour and as a headliner at Reading and Leeds festival. His goal is to keep the band’s music alive and prevent it from becoming one of those groups that only releases new music every decade.
However, Oasis has technically been inactive since 2009 following a physical altercation between band members at the Rock en Seine festival in Paris. After Noel Gallagher left the band and never returned, would Liam have handled the situation differently if given the chance to go back 15 years? He admits, “Yes, I would have fought both of them” (referring to Noel and manager Marcus Russell). He then stands up and walks around the room, expressing his frustration. “They betrayed me. My whole life fell apart.”
According to Noel, he had always planned to pursue a solo career, as evidenced by his solo acoustic performances during breaks from touring with Oasis. He also stated that if any band member wanted to do their own thing for attention, they were free to do so, but he would choose to relax in Barbados for six months instead. He did not want the band to be broken up because of individual differences. In 2009, Noel officially stated that he left the band due to the unbearable verbal and physical threats towards him, his loved ones, and his colleagues. He later described the altercation in Paris in 2021 as the final straw that led to his departure from the band.
Liam argues that he was unfairly blamed for the group’s downfall due to his drinking. He illustrates his consistency by drawing a straight line on the table. He believes his behavior, along with his brother’s, shaped the success of Oasis. However, Liam feels that his brother has suddenly changed and has become too concerned with maintaining a certain image. He expresses frustration that his brother is now touring with Tom Meighan, who has a history of assault. Liam is confused as to why his brother won’t reconcile with him, despite calling him derogatory names.
He refers to the five years after Oasis broke up as a difficult time. He had no management, no office, and no one to talk to, while his brother Noel, as the main songwriter and creative force in Oasis, still had a team managing him and was being arrogant and disrespectful towards others. In hindsight, it’s easy to say “you’re a big boy” but after relying on that support for 20 years, it was hard for him to manage his own life and business. While everything was taken away from him, Noel still had all the support.
He says, “At Oasis, there were around 40 or 50 employees who suddenly lost their jobs. Meanwhile, Noel is enjoying his time with his guitar and wife.” Has he ever directly spoken to Noel about it? “No, we haven’t had any conversations. I haven’t seen him and we won’t cross paths. They are all self-absorbed.” According to him, the difference is, “I have been humbled and I’m grateful for it because it has made me a better person. But he hasn’t. He still believes he’s superior, but we’ll see.”
After being left to deal with the aftermath, Gallagher explains that he created Beady Eye as a temporary solution for himself and the other remaining members of the group. He mentions that Gem Archer and Andy Bell had put a lot of effort into Oasis but were ultimately discarded. Beady Eye was never meant to be a big success, it was simply a way to maintain their sanity. The band released two albums before disbanding in 2014. Gallagher’s solo career began in 2017 and his three successful albums led to two sold-out shows at Knebworth, where Oasis had their greatest live achievement in 1996. He may no longer feel humbled, but he is still affected by the past.
As I enter the adjacent room with Squire, I can feel a noticeable change in the atmosphere; it seems as though he carefully considers the impact of every syllable before releasing it into the air.
In June 2022, he joined Gallagher on stage at Knebworth, marking his first live performance since the Roses disbanded in 2017. Their unexpected reunion had been ongoing for five years, with successful stadium shows and headlining festivals, quieting those who doubted the durability of their turbulent relationships within the band. However, recording a new album proved to be too much.
“It became evident that it was unlikely to occur,” Squire states earnestly, his eyes peering out from beneath his bangs. In 2016, two new songs titled “All for One” and “Beautiful Thing” were released, but at that time, “the overall sentiment was that nobody was truly committed to being in a band together, let alone creating a new album.”
Afterward, the members of The Roses went their separate ways. Singer Ian Brown focused on his solo career and utilized social media to express his strong opinions against the Covid vaccine. Meanwhile, Squire returned to his passion for visual art and even collaborated on the cover art for Just Another Rainbow. He believes that any form of creation contributes to his overall happiness and identity, regardless of its size or medium. Ultimately, the act of creating is what drives him.
He had not planned on pursuing music, but everything changed in 2020. During a game of basketball with his son, Squire fell and injured his dominant hand, specifically his thumb. “It was a scary moment,” he recalls. “I wasn’t sure if I would fully recover.” With the help of physiotherapy and dedicated guitar practice, he was able to regain his previous level of skill.
The injury not only compelled him to continue playing, but also reignited his passion for it. He admits, “I am still drawn to key changes, chord changes, and meaningful lyrics. When I am able to create that magic, it is truly thrilling.” When questioned about his decision to not release more music throughout the years, he reflects, “There would have been sacrifices. I may not have a happy marriage, a large family of six children, or have been able to spend as much time with them. I don’t believe I have made major mistakes.”
When collaborating with Gallagher, Squire had high expectations but their chemistry exceeded them. He believes their guitar and vocal tones complement each other well and that his songs fit well with Gallagher’s voice. However, Squire chooses not to explain the meaning behind his lyrics, stating that it is up to the listener to interpret. This leaves intriguing lines like “I know you’re content in your suburban routine / You should have taken a chance on me” (One Day at a Time); “This journey of self-discovery has my plans going up in flames” (Mars to Liverpool); and “Thank you for your well wishes and prayers / And also, screw you” (Make It Up As You Go Along) to remain a mystery.
Gallagher and Squire are optimistic that this marks the beginning of a continuous musical partnership. They have plans to go on tour later this year and Squire suggests that he is already working on a second album. He exclaims, “The guitar is fighting back!”
“If John comes up with another load of songs that are banging, they’ll get it as well,” Gallagher says. “Squire’s got a lot more in him. People look at John as this guitar hero, but he definitely knows how to write a fucking song.” As I get up to leave, I compliment Gallagher on the record and suggest that while he has always rocked, Squire has given him some roll.
After seven days, Gallagher asks me to call him back. He brings up something I had previously said about John giving me some “roll”. I admit it and he tells me that it rubbed him the wrong way. He thought, “Screw that.”
“I have consistently been associated with rock and roll. However, I must credit John for inspiring me to join a band. In a way, he provided me with both the rock and the roll.”
The latest album, titled “Just Another Rainbow,” has been released. The collaborative album from Liam Gallagher and John Squire is set to be released in the spring.