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Thursday, May 19, 2011
“The alternatives at the time were to either keep playing together or go home and sit there watching daytime TV,” says Andy Bell, who was Oasis’ bassist and is now playing guitar in Beady Eye, the band he and Oasis mates Colin “Gem” Archer, Liam Gallagher and Chris Sharrock came up with. Its debut album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, came out in February. The decision to stick together wasn’t a hard one.
“I don’t think any of us really had the urge to go out and find anybody else to play with,” says the 40-year-old Bell, who had fronted the British band Ride before joining Oasis in 1999. “We were very happy playing music together, so it seemed like the most natural thing in the world that me, Gem, Liam and Chris would continue. So we just kind of decided to do it as a new band.”
A new band, perhaps, but one with a musical pedigree few new acts can boast, as well as a history both laudable and notorious. Oasis did, after all, have a run that included eight consecutive No. 1 albums in the UK and 70 million records sold worldwide.
America was less enthused, but Oasis still had three platinum-or-better releases in the US, with ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995) selling more than four million copies, and enjoyed hits such as Live Forever (1994), Wonderwall (1995), Don’t Look Back in Anger (1996), Champagne Supernova (1996) and Don’t Go Away (1998).
Oasis was undone, however, by the very public feuding between the Gallagher brothers, to which the various other band members – eight in the group’s 19-year history – were mere bystanders. Noel Gallagher had often spoken of striking out on his own, and the final blowup in Paris included Liam breaking one of Noel’s guitars. Even so, Bell says, the end came as “a bit of a shock.”
“I guess I should have been prepared for it to end that way,” the guitarist says, speaking by telephone from his home in Manchester, England.
“But, when you think back, (the conflict) was happening constantly, really, so who knew when it was really the end, you know?
“But, in saying that, I don’t want to give the impression that it was always bad,” Bell hastens to add, “because, if you fight every six months, then you’ve still got six months of good times in-between. Basically most of the time it was a brilliant laugh, and then there were dark moments. That’s the best way I can describe it.”
It would be easy for the spurned musicians to trash their former leader, but Bell will have none of it.
“I would never slag off Noel,” he says. “Oasis was a band that definitely worked. It was a great band to be in, and I think it’s true to say that we would have carried on with Oasis until we all dropped dead if that was what was wanted. But it was Noel’s baby. Noel was the leader and he called the shots, which is only right. And some great music was made, man.
“But Beady Eye is kind of the opposite of that,” Bell continues. “It’s a democratic band. We all have an equal say. We all come in with ideas and songs, and we’re all involved with the sleeve design and the video treatments and photographs and everything. We’re trying to do this as a unit, and we kind of like the novelty of it at the moment. It kind of appeals to us.”
Bell and company didn’t take long to get Beady Eye up and running.
“We came back to London having decided to continue in some way,” the guitarist recalls. “There was no mention of a band name or anything. It was like, ‘Let’s just continue doing stuff.’ In a way it was an experiment.” The attempt could easily have failed, he admits.
“It could have turned out that we didn’t play well together in that new way,” Bell says. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. The quartet started working on new music immediately, beginning with Beatles and Stones, a song which pays homage to their musical forebears and, Bell says, also “sums up the idea that we want to stand the test of time.”
The group made a series of demo tapes in a small studio, operating the equipment themselves and knocking out tracks such as Millionaire and The Roller, both of which ended up on Different Gear, Still Speeding and established Beady Eye as a worthwhile endeavour.
“Once those three were done we started to feel like, ‘Yep, this is going to work,”’ Bell says. “There wasn’t much of the, ‘Let’s have a meeting and decide what the Beady Eye sound is going to be.’ The sound of the album is really just the sound of the 13 songs we came up with.”
There was instant excitement when word of the band leaked out. Producer Steve Lillywhite, whose track record includes the Dave Matthews Band, the Psychedelic Furs, the Rolling Stones, U2, XTC and more, actually approached Beady Eye about working with them, rather than the other way around.
Different Gear, Still Speeding sounds a good deal like, well, Oasis.
“Well, we all were in that band, and Liam was the singer,” Bell says dryly.
It’s closer, however, to the ascendant Oasis of the 1990s than to the band in its more convoluted later years, when Archer, Bell and Liam Gallagher joined Noel Gallagher in the songwriting.
It brings the same kind of reverence toward its British pop and rock forebears, aware of being part of a musical lineage and defiant in its claim to the same melodic and sonic elements as its predecessors. The Roller sounds like it’s about to break into John Lennon’s Instant Karma! (1970) at any second, while The Beat Goes On nods to the Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie.
“There really isn’t a message other than that it’s just about the songs,” Bell says. It’s just about the music, and our drive is all about making the records the best they can be and being the best live band that we can be, and that’s the end in and of itself. It’s very simple.
via L4e / Times of Oman
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