Beady Eye’s Liam Gallagher and Gem Archer
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One of the most tumultuous bands in rock history came to inauspicious end (for now, anyway) in 2009 when Noel Gallagher suddenly announced he was leaving Oasis after one last blow-out with his brother Liam the night before a Parisian show. A defining band of ’90s Britpop, Oasis was characterized by Noel’s outsized anthems and Liam’s insolent sneer—as well as the seemingly never-ending well of bad blood between the brothers—on classic albums like 1994’s Definitely Maybe and 1995’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. Considering the apparent lack of camaraderie in the Gallagher brothers’ relationship, perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Liam Gallagher quickly marshaled Oasis members Gem Archer and Andy Bell for a new band, Beady Eye, almost immediately after Noel announced his departure.
As Noel Gallagher continues woodshedding for his solo debut, Beady Eye released its first record, Different Gear, Still Speeding on February 28. While Noel was regarded as the creative brains behind Oasis, Different Gear suggests that Liam and his bandmates are more than capable of kicking up similarly feisty, classicist arena-rock songs without him. The A.V. Club recently spoke with Gallagher and Archer about why Beady Eye absolutely does not sound like Oasis, and whether Liam regrets drinking so much in the ’90s. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.)
The A.V. Club: What’s it like having to prove yourselves again with a new band?
Liam Gallagher: We don’t have to prove anything, mate. All we’ve got to do is make great music and play to our best ability, which is amazing.
AVC: But is it exciting to start something new?
LG: But of course, man. That’s what we gotta do, you know what I mean? It was forced upon us. You don’t just stop making music because Noel Gallagher leaves the band, you know what I mean? If people think it was all about Noel, they’re very wrong. We’re all music lovers, we’re all into it. Maybe it’s good that people have low expectations of us.
AVC: It’s inevitable that people are going to compare Beady Eye to Oasis. How comfortable are you with that?
Gem Archer: People obviously will compare. I suppose to the innocent bystander, we look like Oasis and we probably smell like Oasis, but it ain’t Oasis, you know? This is a time in our life when we’ve been given a whole new set of tailors, man.
AVC: Different Gear, Still Speeding sounds very much like a continuation of Oasis. Do you feel like Beady Eye is picking up where that band left off?
GA: Not at all. I don’t see it as a continuation at all, really. That band is over. Noel with Liam was Oasis, and that’s obviously not there anymore. You’ve got a whole load of different angles to look at it.
AVC: How is Beady Eye different?
LG: I think it sounds a lot fresher, a lot grander. The playing, the singing, it’s got a real zest to it. So a continuation? No. This couldn’t be an Oasis album. It’s got a brand new feeling about it.
AVC: Once Oasis folded, how long did it take for you guys to decide to carry on as a new band?
LG: About four beers.
AVC: Is there more to that story?
LG: We went back after the gig where it happened and sat around and had a couple of beers. There was no crying or weeping or anything. We all wanted to carry on, and stay on our musical journey, you know what I mean? We decided to meet up in November, and have a crack at making some demos or whatever. We couldn’t wait that long, so we met up the following week and got cracking. And it’s been nonstop ever since.
AVC: You said earlier that you didn’t have any choice but to start Beady Eye once Noel left Oasis. But did you have any sense before then that Oasis had run its course, and that you wanted to try something else?
LG: Nope. It never crossed our mind. We thought we’d have some time off and then do another record. But I think Noel really wanted out, to be quite honest. He wanted a long time-out. But we’re not getting any younger, and me for one doesn’t want to be sitting at home for five years twiddling me thumbs. I need to be making songs and making music.
AVC: It seems like there was always so much drama and tension in Oasis. Is it more relaxed in Beady Eye?
LG: Yeah, I think so. We’re jumping in and we’re doing our thing and we all have a lot of respect for each other, you know what I mean?
GA: The tension and all that in Oasis, sometimes, if you weren’t in the know, you wouldn’t know what the fuck was going on, man. Because it would all be unsaid, with a tip of the hat and nod and a wink and all that. It wasn’t like they were coming in and knocking each other out every day, you know what I mean?
LG: Yeah, it wasn’t WWF wrestling or anything.
AVC: It seems like Beady Eye is more of a democracy, where Oasis was a dictatorship ruled by Noel. Is that an accurate perception?
LG: Yeah. Oasis is probably more of Noel’s thing. He had the vision of it and all that. But this is four guys that are on the same page, doing the same thing. There are obviously different roles, people better equipped to do different things. No point in us all doing everything.
AVC: How motivated were you during the making of Different Gear, Still Speeding to make a record that would top whatever Noel ends up doing?
LG: Not in our mind. We don’t care what anyone else does. We just do what we do, man. We give it our all, our best shot, you know what I mean? Then we’ll be happy. We’re not in competition at all.
AVC: When was the last time you talked to Noel?
LG: Not since that last time we mashed out a few things at each other at that festival, that was it.
AVC: Noel has given numerous interviews over the years where he’s talked about how hard you are to work with, Liam. Did that ever bother you or hurt your feelings?
LG: Well, it hurt my feelings, but I’m a big boy. But I’m not hard to work with. I’m pretty easy to work with. I think you’ll find that he was probably talking about himself.
AVC: Gem, is it easier for you to be in Beady Eye than it was being in Oasis?
GA: Oh man, it’s not my job to compare. It all seems so long ago now. But working with Liam is honestly incredible, man. In Oasis, I’d be working on Liam’s demos, and the next week I’d be working on Noel’s demos. To me, that was the dynamic of that band, and that’s how it was established when I came into it. The dynamic of this band is still unfolding.
LG: You’ll never hear me having to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the microphone. I’m the first one that wants to get in there and make records. It’s not a chore for me.
GA: With Andy, too, I’m the one going, “Whoa whoa whoa, hold on a second, lads.” Because they’re there, white-hot, ready to go, and I’m like, “Fucking hell, man, hold on a second here.” You’ve got an idea, and you’re setting up the mics, and Andy’s already on the fucking drum kit, ready with a drum part. It’s like, “Chill out, man.” I’m the guy who’s trying to keep people level-headed, sometimes.
AVC: It sounds like Beady Eye might have enough material to do what Oasis did early on with its singles, where you had two or three B-sides for each release.
LG: Yeah, we’d like to do a lot more. But I think them days are gone of releasing like, three B-sides on every track. But we’ll have new B-sides on every track, no doubt.
GA: We had to put our foot down, keeping the album at 13 songs, because some people wanted it to be 10. We were just like, these 13 have got to be together.
AVC: Did you have a lot of songs left over from the Oasis years that you were able to use for Beady Eye?
LG: None of these songs are rejects, you know what I mean?
AVC: Sure. What I mean is that Noel was the chief songwriter in Oasis. Did you ever feel stifled creatively by that?
GA: I genuinely felt encouraged by it, because when me and Andy both joined up, Liam and Noel were goin’, “Do you got any tunes? Do you got any tunes?” It was all about passing the guitar around. It was a pretty fucking established, mega band you’re joinin’ with a fucking ridiculous set list, and your tunes are going to go somewhere amongst that. You’ve got to stand up and be counted as a songwriter. It was always great, it just so happens this is an absolute blank page for all of us.
AVC: Will you be playing any Oasis songs live?
LG: Beady Eye music, mate.
AVC: What’s touring like for you these days? Is it less crazy than it used to be?
LG: We’d like to think it won’t be as mad, and doing massive, massive tours. We just booked the year ahead and it’s shaping up pretty well. But we don’t want to run it into the ground. We want to keep it special, you know what I mean?
AVC: Liam, you had a reputation for living the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle in Oasis. Has that leveled off as you’ve gotten older?
LG: We can go when we go. But we’re old and have kids. You don’t want to be up until 4 and then it’s 8 o’clock and your kids are going to school. But if anyone wants to fucking challenge me to drinking, we can go.
GA: We can go for days, but it’s not the point anymore.
AVC: Do you ever look back on the ’90s and wish you hadn’t drank so much?
LG: I look back and wish I drank more.
AVC: What about at the massive Knebworth shows in ’96, when Oasis played for 250,000 people over two days? You’ve said you don’t remember those gigs.
LG: No, I don’t. But I was obviously there.
AVC: Liam, you’re now an elder statesman of British rock. How do you feel about your legacy?
LG: I’m very comfortable with it, man. There’s a lot more to come. You haven’t seen fuck-all.
AVC: Let’s say Noel Gallagher rang up tomorrow and said he wanted to get Oasis back together. What would you say?
LG: I’d say, “Behave.”