“The spin on Noel versus Liam is basically the hook that brings people in to read about the band.” Guitarist Andy Bell reassures Kitt Di Camillo that Beady Eye welcome Oasis comparisons if it means more sets of ears hear their music.
On its release in early 2011, the debut album by Beady Eye was met with mixed reviews from critics but peaked at number three in the UK charts. A roaring success for most rock bands, it was a slightly underwhelming result for a group born from the demise of the British rock institution that was Oasis. In the aftermath of the Gallagher brothers’ suitably explosive bust-up, it was Liam who took the first step towards a new musical beginning in 2009, joining forces with fellow Oasis members Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock to create Beady Eye. Different Gear, Still Speeding was released 18 months later, a debut album that not so much dominated the airwaves as provided a gentle reminder that they were still around.
Which made its follow-up all the more important. Teaming up with TV On The Radio member and renowned indie-rock producer Dave Sitek, the whimsical pop and ‘60s rock’n’roll of their debut was moved aside for darker psychedelia and a penchant for experimentation. Despite various quotes from Gallagher suggesting he’d quit music altogether if it failed, there were hints of self-doubt seeping from the Beady Eye camp.
A founding member of Oxford shoegazers Ride, Bell didn’t feel any pressure. “I just was excited about the prospect of going into the studio with Dave Sitek,” assures the laidback guitarist. “That was a massive incentive for me just to be in the studio: that for me is like a reward in itself. So I don’t feel any pressure in the studio, especially when you have such a good session. Pressure is the enemy of good music.”
With second album BE released to solid reviews in June last year, Bell’s enthusiasm was clearly warranted. Songs such as Soul Love and Don’t Brother Me should be Oasis-aping anthems, but instead tread a darker, cosmic place. Flick Of The Finger is the best song they’ve written, but doesn’t contain a chorus and is dominated by a horn section. Sitek’s touch can be felt all over it, and takes the ‘60s-obsessed rockers into much-needed new territory.
“I still think it’s pop music. It’s still listenable, but it’s just more interesting and more different sonically than we would’ve done if we had gone and done it ourselves. They’re very visual sounds; they really help. Guitarists especially, ‘cause you can get stuck in a guitar thing where everything is just two guitars, bass, drums – you rehearse it, it sounds great, it kinda rocks on that level of things rocking, and if you stop there and record it and put it out, you end up with something pretty good like our first album.
“[But] if at that point you take a left turn or a right turn and just start going, ‘Well let’s throw all that out, we all know that we can play, we all know that we can do this down-a-sort-of-route one. But let’s take a detour’. That’s something that we haven’t done. We didn’t do it much in Oasis and we haven’t done it much in Beady Eye until this point. So it’s a good thing to do.”
Since the day they formed, Beady Eye have been dogged by comparisons to Oasis. Outside of the diehard fans, the general public tend to side with one Gallagher brother over the other, most often the well-spoken Noel over the paparazzi-punching Liam. The upcoming Big Day Out tour will be the first time Liam and co have visited our shores since Oasis’ 2005 Don’t Believe The Truth tour. With former Kasabian bassist Jay Mehler now a permanent member, the five-piece are in peak form.
“I feel lucky to be in a band,” enthuses Bell. “Making music, signed to a label, doing gigs, and if you’re lucky enough to be in that position you’re not allowed to complain, you’ve just gotta keep plugging away and hope that if people have these preconceptions that’s really their issue to deal with. They’re gonna have to learn at some point that maybe we’re worth a listen.
“We’re comfortable with ourselves, and the only time when you ever come up against that [negative] side of it is probably when you’re being asked in interviews what you think of it. And then you have to come up with an answer, you have to quickly form an opinion on it in five seconds. But I don’t think there’s a negative side to this. The spin on Noel versus Liam is basically the hook that brings people in to read about the band, and then if they read about it maybe a few of them go, ‘I’m gonna go and check out that album’ and maybe they like it. So great!”
Kitt Di Camillo
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