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Saturday August 17, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday August 19, 2013 MYT 12:01:50 PM
by michael cheang
Face the crowd: Beady Eye, featuring (from left) guitarist Andy Bell, frontman Liam Gallagher, guitarist Gem Archer, bass guitarist Jay Mehler and drummer Chris Sharrock, take a huge leap forward with producer Dave Sitek on its new album BE.
Beady Eye’s Andy Bell says their new album is an even further departure from the trio’s Oasis days.
IF you think being in a band is hard, imagine being in a band with Liam and Noel Gallagher. The former frontmen of Oasis are arguably the most recognisable and infamous pair of brothers in British rock, and their bickering and differences eventually spelt the end of Oasis in 2009, when Noel walked out on the band while on tour.
With the spotlight shining so constantly on the Gallaghers, one tends to forget that Oasis was made up of two other members as well – bassist Andy Bell and guitarist Gem Archer, who joined Liam and formed Beady Eye after the split.
Bell and Archer joined Oasis in 2000 after Paul McGuigan and Paul Arthurs left the band and the first album they worked on was 2002’s Heathen Chemistry.
During a phone interview from London with Bell, we asked the bassist what it is like being in a band where he had to deal with the mega personalities of the Gallagher brothers.
“I joined Oasis about the same time as Gem, so that was a big help, because it was cool to have some one who had just joined as well. We soon got used to it (the brothers) and we became good friends,” said the former Ride and Hurricane #1 frontman, adding that he was happy to let the Gallaghers take the limelight, both with Oasis and Beady Eye.
“It’s just the way it is. The spotlight chooses those who have special charisma, which they have and I don’t. But I’m not upset. With Ride, I was the front man, but I realised it just wasn’t ideal for my personality, and that I work better when I’m not the main person.”
The addition of Bell and Archer into the Oasis line-up also heralded a marked change in Oasis’ modus operandi – Noel began relaxing his grip as the band’s primary songwriter, and for the first time, Heathen Chemistry, saw song writing contributions from not just Noel and Liam, but also Bell and Archer as well. In fact, Bell’s Turn Up The Sun was the opening track of that album, a fact that he was very proud of.
“That’s the song I’m most proud of (when I was in Oasis), we opened all the gigs for the whole year with it!” he said. Funnily enough, the song was one of those songs that he thought sounded the least like Oasis’ style, but Bell said that after Liam and Noel heard him demo it, they immediately said they had to record it.
Things have changed a lot since then, of course, with the disbandment of Oasis and the formation of Beady Eye. With Noel no longer around, Bell and Archer have had to step up their game and contribute more to the band.
“We were happy with the Oasis method, where Noel was pretty much running everything; but now we have to work a little bit harder, and as a team, which was a new thing for us,” he said. “That being said, it’s been good to be involved in everything, including the song writing, production, and mixing.”
“I’ve always been an songwriter – with Ride and Hurricane #1, I was the main song writer, but I slowed down a bit after that, and that period coincided with me being in Oasis,” he said, adding that with Beady Eye, each member brings a different style to the table.
“Gem works very hard on the melodies and arrangement, and has a well-structured personal style, while Liam tends to write a lot of off the wall, stranger songs. For me, my style is more classic with the verse, chorus, and bridge etc.”
Beady Eye’s second album BE, released in June, raced up to No. 2 on the British album charts. Clearly the masses have not forgotten Liam Gallagher’s rock appeal.
“For BE, Liam came in with a load of ballads ... I think he just happened to get into an introspective place in terms of song writing. Because of that, I decided to bring in a couple of rock tunes,” recalled Bell.
Compared to the band’s first album Different Gear, Still Speeding in 2011, which was made in the wake of the Oasis break-up and saw the band struggling to break away from being called “Oasis-lite”, BE is a much more assured and mature record, one that sees the band start to form their own style.
Produced by Dave Sitek (from TV On The Radio), the new album’s singles Second Bite Of The Apple and Shine A Light have further underlined the band’s neo-psychedelic leanings. “We came straight into the first album with a lot of the songs we had written while we were still in Oasis. We didn’t consciously try to make it sound more or less like Oasis,” said Bell.
“Most of songs on BE were written while we were touring the first album, and I think our style has got broader, and is probably a more genuine picture of where we actually are now, as a band.”
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