Beady Eye: The Rollers
Back in 2009, the tumultuous relationship of brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher – frontmen of arguably one of Britain’s biggest rock bands – came to blows when Noel announced that he was leaving the band. A solo project ensued, but for the remaining members of Oasis – Liam, guitarists Gem Archer and Andy Bell, and drummer Chris Sharrock – a new project was on the cards: Beady Eye. Enlisting Kasabian’s Jay Mehler for bass duties in 2013, the line-up was complete and it was time to make way for the band’s second studio album, BE. With Australian audiences already being treated to one Gallagher at the 2012 instalment of the Big Day Out, it was time for Liam and his cohort to step up – replacing headliners and one-time arch-rivals Blur, no less – and deliver their brand of modern Brit rock. BLUNT managed to score a chat with members Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock to talk about the ups and downs of taking on a new musical endeavour and the changing nature of rock’n’roll.
Just going back to the formation of Beady Eye, we’re curious: Is there a sense of freedom that comes from starting out on a new project when you do already know each other quite well?
Andy Bell: Yes, yeah there is. It felt fresh to be working on new music even though we’d been playing together for I guess probably 10 years.
Gem Archer: Even longer.
Bell: It felt like a new thing because the main guy in the band was gone, you know, Noel [Gallagher, Oasis] wasn’t there so we had to sort of do it ourselves, the whole creative side of things. It was kind of cool getting into that.
On the other hand, have you ever felt disadvantaged with Beady Eye since you do all come from such a renowned background? Have you found that certain people already have preconceptions about how you should sound?
Bell: We try not to get bogged down in that, I mean, you’ve just gotta try and look at the positives, you know, feel lucky that you’re being noticed rather than looking for things to complain about. It’s all right. People that like Oasis are gonna listen to Beady Eye, some of them don’t like it, but a lot of them will like it. You’re always gonna get people that will knock you whatever you do, that’s something you learn in life.
Archer: And we’re not on the run from our past either.
Chris Sharrock: We don’t really take any notice of any of that.
Bell: The media always need something to hang it on, they need something to write about and that’s an easy thing to go for.
With this being a new project, when you have all been playing together for so many years, was it difficult to switch off from the Oasis style and move on to something new?
Bell: I think in the beginning, we ran on momentum and it was simply fuelling off Oasis-type music. Most of the songs we recorded on the first album [2011’s Different Gear, Still Speeding], most of them had been written or started during the Oasis era and we didn’t think too much about it, we were just faithful to that thing. I think now with the new album BE, we have kind of stepped out of that sonic palette a little bit and tried something different and you know, without negating the other stuff, we’re just taking a detour for a while and trying something new.
It doesn’t just sound like another Oasis record, you can tell that it’s its own entity.
Sharrock: Whatever we do, it’ll sound like Beady Eye. Whatever it is, even if it’s four synths.
Bell: I think there’s an element as well that anything we do with Liam [Gallagher, Oasis] singing will remind people of Oasis because his voice was the sound of Oasis, the voice of Oasis, so you’re always gonna have that thing pulling you back to familiarity unless he starts singing in a falsetto voice or something which I can’t see happening, but as long as it’s sounding like Liam, you’ll always have that familiarity. The music then can be almost anything in theory.
With the writing process as well, for the most part you’re all sharing the load. Does that tend to make it a more collaborative process from what you’ve experienced in the past?
Archer: That’s our dynamic. It is all very much a group effort, you know? And we’re all open with each other and we can change stuff and turn really quickly. The way we were before, it was a different dynamic ‘cos we’d joined an established thing. But even that was allowed to grow over the years anyway.
Bell: It’s a natural process, all of it. The set-up with Noel, with Oasis, was natural, it was the natural way they worked and it was great. This was started from, like we’ve been talking about already, most of us are from Oasis and started a new band without that main person and you have to figure out a new way of working, so we’ve just kind of taken baby steps each time, all the time, with this idea of working as a team.
Archer: It’s always comfortable. It really is.
Bell: Say for example “Flick Of The Finger”, the first song on the new album, that’s the first time we’ve actually written a song together in terms of collaborating on the writing down of words and in that complete way. Before that we’d always be pulling in songs that were most of the way there or all the way there and then finishing them off together.
Where do you tend to draw your inspiration from nowadays when it does come time to sit down and write a record? Have you noticed that over the years, your sources of inspiration have changed as well?
Archer: Well personally, it’s not like I feel like you sit down to write a record, you’re just always writing bits, little pieces, and sometimes there might be a lot of a bit and it doesn’t need much finishing, and sometimes it’s just a title. We were talking about this the other day, you’ll have stuff in notebooks and on your phone and sometimes there’s a time where you go, “Right, well what shall we start with?” and it might be one of Andy’s, one of Liam’s, one of mine, and you tend to go for the ones that are most of the way there. We’ve never really sat down and gone, “Right, let’s write a song”.
Bell: Inspiration-wise, I don’t listen to as much classic rock as I used to. Musically, inspiration can come from anything. It’s almost like, the music from the ‘50s to the ‘90s I see as one story, and then since then, it’s just all kind of “now” and I don’t really have that same thing of… I don’t know if you have it, but I couldn’t tell you what year The Strokes started, or what year N.E.R.D. started or what albums came out when or what movements came when, it’s just sort of been a perpetual “now” since the noughties started. Previous decades were very defined, even down to individual years. I mean, it probably is an age thing, but it seems like music is now in that era that I’m talking about, the last 10, 20 years for me, you can basically cherry pick any style you want and as long as you do it in a fresh kind of way, then it’s new.
Archer: If you’re owning it, that’s it. And I don’t think that will ever change because every generation, like the Arctic Monkeys are havin’ it for a certain age group in England. That’s their band. But you know, if it was me on that bus stop, it would be The Jam. And people did used to knock The Jam and say, “Oh, it’s just rippin’ off The Who” but I heard The Jam before I heard The Who.
Bell: The history of music, rock’n’roll, it’s got a start and an end I think. I’m not saying it’s ended or it’s going to end but… Anyway, let’s not get into this now.
Archer: [Laughs] I was gonna say!
Bell: We’ll tell that story next time.
Beady Eye are appearing at the 2014 Big Day Out. Catch them at the dates below!
Big Day Out 2014 Dates
Sun Jan 19th – Metricon Stadium & Carrara Parklands, Gold Coast
Fri Jan 24th – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Sun Jan 26th – Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney
Fri Jan 31st – Bonython Park, Adelaide
Sun Feb 2nd – Arena Joondalup, Perth