Oh what became of the likely lads. Oasis splitting up in 2009 was felt as a mild tremor in Australia and as an earthquake in the UK. A cultural institution had come apart at the seams; the band that had epitomised Cool Britannia, sound-tracked the rise of New Labour and chronicled an entire generation's adolescence had finally imploded under the weight of two of the biggest egos in modern music.
Out of the ashes, Beady Eye was formed; aka Oasis sans Noel. And the band have split the critics down the middle in the UK, much like their previous incarnation. Unsurprisingly, for every voice claiming their latest album BE to be the freshest and strongest Liam has sounded in years, there is another berating its delusional rock pretence and telling the youngest Gallagher to either rebuild the wonderwall with his brother or jog on.
On the eve of their last-minute call up to the Big Day Out, guitarist Gem Archer remarks candidly on the glory days of being in the band that was supposed to be bigger than The Beatles as well as the fall back to Earth and regrouping as Beady Eye.
TheVine: Considering Oasis were so ubiquitous in the UK, did you find it hard to carve out a new identity for Beady Eye when you first came together?
Gem Archer: I don’t think we ever thought about having to carve out a new identity, it was more a case of everybody realising that we weren’t going to get back together in one month’s time. We thought when we played our first gig that people would be shouting for the Oasis tunes, but by the time we had recorded the album and were ready to go on the road, it was fully formed.
But being associated with Oasis is inevitable, you can’t run from your own history and Liam’s voice will always be associated with those songs.
When it all unfolded in Paris, was it hard for you personally to come to terms with the fact that Oasis was over?
To put my head in that space again, I think it was a great run, it was ten years of my life spent playing some of the best music all around the world to some of the best fans. I just tried to remember that and I tried to tell myself not to get too greedy, not to hold on to stuff. It’s kinda like *makes sound of bomb dropping from sky* count the good times and just hope there’s more coming. It wasn’t as if Oasis had been around for a year and it was a case of what could have happened. It felt like it was time.
Well there must be many aspects of the transition from Oasis to Beady Eye that have been a joy. You’ve played smaller venues and had a lot more freedom; do you feel like a new band again?
Definitely, but there have been certain challenges we’ve faced as well, like writing a whole new set of material after a career of performing Oasis’s music. It was like hitting the reset button. And we did say at the time that it was a good little spur on, because we stopped resting on our previous achievements.
If you know you’re only going to need two or three songs from your new album when you go on tour then maybe that informs what sort of album you make. But if you said to most bands that on their next album they could only play that material on tour, they would dig down deep inside themselves.
And have you enjoyed playing a bigger role in the song writing of Beady Eye, away from the autocracy of Noel?
When Andy and I joined Oasis, Noel was always asking if we had any songs to bring to the band. Although we knew Noel was the writer, he was always very encouraging with all of us, and if we did have any tunes, we’d always demo them.
And so now, we’re still writing the music, but we’ll do one of Liam’s and then we’ll do one of Andy’s and then one of mine and then back to Liam. But we flesh out all the songs together by jamming. Like on ‘Bring The Light’, Liam suggested we add more keys, he said he wanted it to sound like The Sex Pistols meeting Little Richard and so Andy (Bell) was just ‘avin it on the keys like a madman, it was a great laugh.
Well both albums have made the Top 5 in the UK but only one single has broken the Top 40. So you’re writing good albums but do you need to write better singles?
Well the charts aren’t what they were and the radio isn’t what it was and the whole thing is ever changing. It’s not the time for guitar music at the moment; it’s a different era. And how do you even calculate it now? All the teenagers are listening to music on Youtube.
Does that carry over to your opinion about critics as well? After so much rhetoric surrounding your former band, do Beady Eye care what the critics think of them?
We do, of course we do. We don’t avoid reading stuff, but we don’t chase it either. As long as they give the record a go, I don’t mean attention, I mean if they properly sit down and find out what we’ve done, then it’s all good. But if it’s just gossipy shit, then you turn the page before the end of the sentence.
What was the conversation like with the band before you started adding Oasis songs to the Beady Eye live show?
It all came about when we were asked to play with The Stone Roses at their comeback gig in Manchester and Liam suggested we play a few Oasis songs. I saw it as being the right place and right time, because it was The Stone Roses that awoke Liam to music as a teenager, it would have been mad for him not to play some of those tunes. From then on there was no discussion about it, because we had our own album and the genie was out of the bottle.
Are there any particular songs from the Oasis canon that you wouldn’t play live?
I don’t think we’d do anything that Noel sang the vocals on. But then again, you never know…
Maybe you could step up to the plate on lead vocals like back in the Heavy Stereo days?
No no no no man, Liam’s the voice of this band.
Do you miss having Noel around?
Yeah of course, we see each other every now and again and we text each other, so it’s not like he’s vanished off the face of the earth. But he was always was great to play next to and to shoot the shit with in the studio.
Well I am a massive fan of The Stone Roses and if you’d said to me a few years ago that I would see them play live in 2013, I would have thought you were crazy. But it happened. So if you were a bookie, what odds would you give me for an eventual reunion of Oasis?
An eventual reunion? Well I’m not a gambling man but the answer is it could happen, so it’s worth a wager.
So what’s the best and worst thing about working with Liam Gallagher?
I couldn’t even say what’s pissed me off, because Liam is Liam and I like Liam. People find it hard to believe because of this public image made by lazy journalists, but he’s a really top bloke. There is not a gig in the world he would turn away from, it could be Madison Square Garden or it could be upstairs in the boozer, it doesn’t matter, he’s unafraid.
Finally, did you notice the irony of replacing Blur on the Big Day Out?
No not really, it was never brought to us as replacing Blur; their cancellation wasn’t even a story over here in the UK. It was brought to us as whether we wanted to go play the Big Day Out and we thought it was a fantastic way to start the new year.
Beady Eye are on the 2014 Big Day Out tour.
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