All the Roads We Have to Walk Are Winding

How Ben Katzman's Oasis obsession (and a pilgrimage to Knebworth) helped him navigate depression this year.

Liam Gallagher is an icon. A guy whose voice, style, and outrageous Twitter feed inspire people to embrace life and live fearlessly. I know it’s mega cheesy, but let me tell you: Liam at Knebworth was a biblical experience I flew halfway around the world for, and will cherish as a top five moment for my entire life. But bear with me, because for you to know how important this Liam Gallagher concert was for me… we have to shred a little re-cap of my life leading up to that moment.

Something happens when you reach the end of your 20s. Things change, bands break up, friends move away, and life becomes more complicated than you imagined. I felt like I woke up one day and asked myself, is my life even worth pursuing anymore? Running my record label ended friendships; being in touring bands was thrilling fun, but never brought security. In the back of my mind, I craved stability. I spent my teenage years and all my 20s chipping away at my big dream of rock stardom, but when you chip away at something that consumes you for so long, you burnout, and I burned out HARD. I moved back in with mom and dad (who totally rock) and for the first time, I think I felt small and like a failure. Add the lockdown into the mix, and it was a wrap. 

Something about failure can make you feel paralyzed and numb to moving on, like a breakup with an ex. Not playing live meant not being able to express myself the one way I felt comfortable. I didn’t really believe in much anymore, let alone myself. The world was locked down and as insane as ever, with a reality numbing my emotions at every level. The music I wrote and the music I loved didn’t do it for me anymore, and everywhere I looked I found no escape. My world did not rock. When it opened up and things slowly started coming back to normal, I decided to put out an album I recorded before the pandemic. But I found myself just living life on autopilot. Afraid to truly express myself. I wanted to be expressive, romantic, and hungry for life. Instead, I found myself hiding behind my sunglasses persona, subscribing to being a character that was more comfortable being the life of the party than one who wore his heart on his sleeve.

Now, how Oasis relates to all of this isn’t such a stretch. Oasis was a band I could never take seriously, I always said it was music for people who thought about their feelings too much. Until one day for some reason Oasis’s “Supersonic” came on shuffle… and all of a sudden, it was like a dam broke. I was in my feelings for the first time in a long, long time. ‘I need to be myself, I can’t be no one else.” Such a simple, juvenile lyric that could be written by a teenager, but fuck… did that one line hit me harder than anything else. “You need to find a way for what you want to say, but before tomorrow.” At that time, I couldn’t express my emotions to collaborators, romantic interests, and I couldn’t conceive telling my friends I was in a funk while promoting an album and making content where it looked like I was loving my life.   

It’s important to note though that this obsession wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for one small nudge from a very important friend. A Scottish penpal named Frieda for who, when I complained about all the heartbreaks of my life over the phone, didn’t make fun of my new found interest but actually encouraged me to dive deep and check out HER favorite Oasis songs. And thus, my new obsession and the next chapter of my life began.  

I didn’t just like Oasis, I felt Oasis. It was an energy that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Oasis were a working class band from Manchester with songs about attitude, being yourself, and most importantly, expressing yourself. Not the self you think others want you to be — there was no time to be the self others wanted you to be. I found myself listening over and over the first few albums, the B-sides, watching every interview Liam and Noel ever gave. Who woulda ever thought British dudes in parkas would make you laugh and inspire you to push through the glums of life and go for the gold? All of a sudden, I realized I was obsessed. I became an Oasis super fan and, more importantly, a Liam super fan. Here was someone embodying the fearless rock attitude I lost from my life.

As I embraced being an Oasis super fan, I found myself inspired to pick up the guitar, say what I really felt, think from the heart and not the head, and write new songs. I was inspired to approach life harder than I ever have before. So when it came time that Liam Gallagher (my favorite Gallagher, I might add) was announcing his return to Knebworth, it was a no-brainer: I had to call Frieda, cash out on my life savings, and make the pilgrimage for Liam’s glorious round two. Oasis played what is often considered the two most biblical shows of their career in 1996. 2.6 million people applied for tickets to see Oasis in Knebworth 1996 — that’s, like, 5% of the British population at the time.

But as Liam says in “Wonderwall,” “All the roads we have to walk are winding,” and let me tell you, the same day I bought those tickets, I got booked for my first UK solo tour! Life was starting to feel on track again, and of course, once the day came and I finally landed in London, Frieda gave me a much needed UK crash course leading up to the concert. I was shredding the vegan sausage rolls at Greggs (it’s like Starbucks in the UK, but way ssiker), sampling every gas station candy from Fudgie Wudgies to Curly Wurlies, watching Paddington 2, and just feeling present, open, and like my life was worth living.  

The night before the show, Frieda helped me make a sign that said “Came from Miami to BE HERE NOW” (a reference to the third Oasis album, Be Here Now, duh). As we rolled into the festival ground, the sign started getting attention from every angle. Everywhere we went someone would ask if I really flew all the way around the world for Liam, and then they would nudge me a little closer to the front row. The whole day people were sharing stories about their love for Oasis and what it meant to them — and I know it sounds cheesy, but every story made sense. Music helps us describe the emotions we can’t put into words, and for some reason that I’ll never understand, Oasis and Liam did that for me.

Having Liam point shake his maracas at me during “Rock N Roll Star” was dope, but it almost wasn’t even the concert itself that did it for me. YES, it was the best big rock concert I’ve been to, but when I think back, it was more about feeling like a teenager again adventuring with my penpal in a swarm of Oasis fans all crying their heart out. There’s something about being in a crowd sharing one huge moment together that makes you realize you are a part of this world. We all feel the ups and downs, wading through our emotions, and it’s more than OK, but every once in a while we should be encouraged to drop our guard and do something that makes us feel like we’re living. 

Next time you crank “Champagne Supernova” and hear the line, “Where were you while we were getting high?” Just imagine me front row, living my best life at Liam Gallagher Knebworth 2022. 

Channeling 50 years of hard rock heritage, Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser deliver heavy shredding and posi vibes. Currently based out of Miami, they’re dedicated to spreading the shred worldwide.

Formed in 2014 amidst the dirt and frenzy of Boston’s electric DIY community, DeGreaser is the unruly lovechild of one Ben Katzman (previously of Guerilla Toss), a self-trained shredder with deep roots in Miami’s metal scene yielding an undying love for KISS, Van Halen and the Ramones. Playful yet earnest, DeGreaser celebrates the rock and roll ethos, but with a dedication to the core belief that you can only be cool by being yourself. Mix in an obsession with astrology, cults, soaring guitar solos, and all things John Travolta, and you have yourself a potent cocktail of rippin’ good times.

The band has toured and played shows across the U.S. with La Luz, Mannequin PussyColleen Green, Tall Juan and countless other fellow shredders. Their new album, Astrology 101, is out now on Starburns Industries Press.

(Photo Credit: Leeanne Drucker)