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Friday, February 25, 2011
Beady Eye Interview with Shockhound
Oasis fans probably thought it was one more in a long line of crying-wolf dust-ups when the band’s perpetually scrappy siblings, Noel and Liam Gallagher, swore the band was over after a nasty backstage altercation in Paris in August 2009.
This time, however, the mouthy Mancunians were dead serious. Guitarist/songwriter Noel was fed up, and leaving his vocalist brother for a solo career. But it didn’t take long for Liam to issue his own blue-streak bulletin — he would be continuing on under the moniker of Beady Eye, with Oasis members Gem Archer (guitar), Andy Bell (switching back to guitar from bass), and drummer Chris Sharrock at his side. When they play an intimate-theater Stateside tour this summer, they’ll be joined by keyboardist Matt Jones and bassist Jeff Wootton
Liam — who’s also launched a posh clothing company, Pretty Green — wasn’t crying wolf, either. Beady Eye soon entered London’s prestigious RAK Studios with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, XTC, Morrissey), and emerged with a revitalized-sounding 13-track album with the sly title Different Gear, Still Speeding. From the sound of the album (which drops March 1), Liam is still firing on all Lennon-ized cylinders, especially on the horn-peppered anthem “Four Letter Word,” and the swaying acoustic ballad, “The Roller,” which chimes like "All You Need Is Love" meets “Instant Karma."
“You can carry regrets but they won’t let you live,” Gallagher observes in the keyboard-carpeted “Kill For A Dream,” and he sounds like he damn well means it. He and Archer checked in with ShockHound to talk about the new album, the decision to push forward as Beady Eye, and why Liam has no interest whatsoever in "going solo."
SHOCKHOUND: So how’s Pretty Green going?
LIAM GALLAGHER: It's going alright, mate, it’s doing well. I’ve got three shops now, too — one on Carnaby Street [in London], one in Manchester, one in Glasgow. And we’re gonna have one in New York, and one in Japan coming soon. New York is opening really soon, like June or something.
SHOCKHOUND: Do you ever drop by your own stores, just to see what’s going on?
GEM ARCHER: He’s not Mohammed El Fayed, man!
GALLAGHER: Well, I’ve been there a couple of times. I’m just making sure that...nah, I’ve only been there a couple of times, mate.
SHOCKHOUND: Have you been invited into the snooty Derek Zoolander fashion world now?
GALLAGHER: I don’t get involved in it. Just like the music business — I don’t get involved in that, either. I just do my thing and get out. If you have to start hanging out with them [fashion people]? No deal! Just like the music business. Do I go and hang out with the head of Sony? No, I don’t.
SHOCKHOUND: No fight between you and Noel has ever lasted this long. Is it true you haven’t spoken to him since the breakup happened in 2009?
GALLAGHER: Nah, I haven’t spoken to him. We’ve got nothing to say to each other.
SHOCKHOUND: In “Kill For A Dream,” you sing "I’m here if you wanna call."
GALLAGHER: Yeah. But it’s got nothing to do with Noel. It was written before all that. And Andy wrote it, and I’m sure he’s also had some personal shit going down, but you’d have to ask him.
SHOCKHOUND: What did you want to do with Beady Eye, creatively?
ARCHER: We didn’t sit around thinking about it. We just had a little plan to take some time off, because Oasis had a mega-long, 13-month tour. And then we thought, "Well, we ain’t hangin’ up our guitars just yet — there’s too much to do!" So it took about a week to get in the studio and start demoing. And then it just kind of...it just grew and grew and grew. Simple as that, man. Before you know it, you’ve got six tunes. Then you have a break for Christmas, and before you know it, you’ve got ten tunes. And then it’s 13. Then you go into the studio, and it’s kind of done itself — all we’ve got to do is just show up.
SHOCKHOUND: In Oasis, everybody wrote and submitted songs separately. How did the writing proceed in Beady Eye?
ARCHER: I’ll tell you what we did. We came together as a band massively on putting flesh on the bones of the demos, d’ya know what I mean? Andy will have just a Dictaphone demo, with just a voice on a cassette, and Liam will probably just play it on the guitar in front of ya. So then, as a band, we massively got involved in making it, making it fully formed. And that’s down to simply the drumbeat. Or, "Is it gonna be guitars? Is it gonna be piano? Is it gonna be fast, and where’s the key gonna be?" So with everything — we were all involved in that, and then the production, too.
SHOCKHOUND: So what do you learn from a guy like Steve Lillywhite?
GALLAGHER: To iron your shirts!
ARCHER: Seriously! To keep your shirts well-ironed. And don’t eat too quickly, and let other people pick up the ping-pong balls.
GALLAGHER: He’s a good producer, man. He had experience. And I’ll tell you what, man — we’re not being arrogant, but we already know a lot, anyway. And Gem certainly knows a lot — he really knows what he’s doing in the studio, d’ya know what I mean? So we don’t often learn a lot.
ARCHER: But the good thing with Steve is, he had a lot of experience, and he didn’t just come in off the last two records he’d done. He hasn’t just got a name — he’s got a career. And I think he’s adaptable. And I know he loves Liam’s voice. And the thing is, he just didn’t wanna get in the way of the record. And he was properly up for things like just opening all the doors and letting it all be live — shit like that. He’d never say no to us, and he was really brave in that respect.
SHOCKHOUND: He must've had fun with all that Lennon déjà vu slapback on “The Roller.”
ARCHER: It’s funny that you say that, because I’ll tell you what — we wanted to try some double tracking on the vocals to get that Lennon thing; we wanted to try it, because we like that Lennon sound. But Steve? He’d be dead set against it! So the double-tracking was just us having some fun.
GALLAGHER: Yeah. That’s all us, man — that whole Lennon vibe.
ARCHER: And I wrote “The Roller,” too. And lyrically, I’d say it’s about being bulletproof, not letting life crack ya. I mean, we all get cracked. But sometimes, it’s good to have a mate who’s bulletproof, isn’t it? And then they can sort you out. So maybe he’s "The Roller."
SHOCKHOUND: One of your songs is called “Beatles and Stones.” I never understood why you had to choose one over the other.
GALLAGHER: Me neither! That’s why it’s called “Beatles and Stones.” I wrote that one, but it’s not about the Beatles, and its not about the Stones, exactly; it’s more about wanting to stand the test of time, with anything that you put down. I want our music to still sound great in 20 or 30 years’ time.
SHOCKHOUND: How long did it take you to decide to carry on as Beady Eye? And not do a solo album instead?
GALLAGHER: Well, if anything, I couldn’t have done a solo record — it’s not in my nature. And I can’t even fucking play an instrument, really; I’m not a solo guy, so I wouldn’t do it even if I could. I need to be in a band — I need a bunch of people around me, d’ya know what I mean? Plus, I really enjoy being in a band.
SHOCKHOUND: How did you come up with the Beady Eye name?
GALLAGHER: Well, we tried a few names, but they’d all been taken. Like Monkey Eyes, Cat’s Eyes. But I dunno — you’ve gotta call yourself something, and that was the one that everyone was kinda buzzing about. And it means being aware of things. Keeping an eye on things and not letting things get out of hand.
SHOCKHOUND: You speak of a "different gear" in the album title — have you actually slowed down?
GALLAGHER: A little bit. But not musically, though. Musically, we’re fucking on fire, man! We’re picking up pace, we’re fucking buzzing, man. But as a person? Yeah, I’ve slowed down a little bit. But not too much.
SHOCKHOUND: So, in a spiritual sense, do you believe it was all meant to go down like this?
GALLAGHER: Yep. You’ve gotta take whatever’s in front of you and you’ve gotta go for it, haven’t you? You’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do. So we certainly didn’t plan it. This is just what happened — Oasis split up. And I think there could’ve been more Oasis records, but it wasn’t meant to be.
SHOCKHOUND: What do you think of the new UK band Brother? The one everyone is calling "the next Oasis"?
GALLAGHER: Not a lot. They sound like a really shit Blur and Elastica. They sound fuck-all like Oasis, and I’m kind of insulted that people think they’re gonna be the new Oasis. But at least they’ve got guitars. At least they’re trying. So I kinda take back what I just said about ‘em, because at least they're having a go at it. But they’re nowhere near Oasis!
SHOCKHOUND: The Vaccines are pretty great, though, right?
ARCHER: Yeah. I like a couple of songs of theirs — they’ve got this one song that’s really got a proper Lee Mavers chorus. But we’re really more involved in our own stuff, so when we do get excited, it might just be from random places, here and there. Like, Andy is really, really excited about this new thing he’s found called Rasta Mouse, this TV program. And I just found out that the Go! Team are bringing out a new album, so I’m excited to hear that.
GALLAGHER: I’m excited just to be having my dinner in about half an hour! I don’t know what it sounds like, but I’m betting that it tastes good!
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