When Noel Gallagher abruptly quit Oasis in 2009, the remainder of the group – his brother Liam, guitarist Gem Archer, bassist Andy Bell and touring drummer Chris Sharrock – elected to stick together to form a new band, Beady Eye. Though Beady Eye doesn’t sound much different from Oasis, the first few singles from their forthcoming debut Different Gear, Still Speeding (out March 1st in the U.S.) display a joyful, freewheeling spirit that had been lacking on Oasis’ later, more ponderous records.
Rolling Stone caught up with Liam Gallagher and Andy Bell to discuss the new album, the weirdness of writing lyrics and why they will never perform Oasis songs in concert.
You guys were both writing songs for Oasis near the end of that band’s run, but Noel Gallagher was still writing a majority of the songs. How does it feel to be working without him?
Bell: I wouldn’t say it’s good to work without him, but it does feel good generally. It was good then, and it’s good now.
What is different for you now without his input?
Bell: Everything is different, really. Oasis finished, but we decided to keep playing together but under a whole new band name. So I moved from playing bass to playing guitar. We didn’t decide to, but we ended up sharing all the songwriting. Working on the arrangements together, producing the records together, deciding on the sleeves together, the videos and really keeping our hands in a democracy.
Liam, did you write the lyrics for this record?
Gallagher: No, I didn’t, mate. I wish I did. I wrote the lyrics for the songs I composed, but Andy writes the lyrics for his songs, Gem writes the lyrics for his, I sort of write mine.
I guess you’re used to singing other people’s lyrics.
Gallagher: I’ve got no problem with it, as long as they’re great. You just have to own them. As long as they turn me on, and give me a little kick, I’ll sing it.
So when you do write the lyrics, is it a more personal thing for you?
Gallagher: Not really, no. I don’t think that much about it. Lyrics I find pretty hard, and it’s a weird thing to do. To me it’s like opening your heart to the world, you know what I mean? I guess I’ll have to get used to it.
Did you guys intend for this record to carry on from what you were doing in Oasis?
Bell: It’s a whole new thing. I understand that people might think that it sounds similar, but from our side it’s just a new beginning. But saying that, we’re all into the same kind of music as we were, we haven’t changed. It wasn’t like we got on a mission to be different. So some things are going to be the same, like the influences and Liam’s voice.
I did notice that there was a bit more of an old school rock and roll sound, like “Bright the Light” sounds very early Sixties to me. Was that something you went for?
Bell: There’s a bit of that kind of rock & roll piano on “Bright the Light” and “Beatles and Stones,” and also “Standing on the Edge of the Noise.”
Gallagher: Once the music gets in you, it doesn’t leave you. We didn’t go out and try to make that sort of record, that kind of stuff just comes out, and thank the lord for that.
Going forward, do you plan on keeping Oasis separate from Beady Eye, or will you play Oasis songs in concerts?
Gallagher: Oasis is over. There’s no longer Oasis. This is Beady Eye, and that’s what we’re doing.
Bell: No Oasis songs are going to be played in Beady Eye gigs. We just feel that Oasis was a different thing. That was Noel’s songs, mainly, and he should be the guy playing them, if anyone.
Has Noel heard the Beady Eye record yet?
Gallagher: We don’t know, but we’re sure he’ll like it. And if he don’t like it, he’s just being stubborn.
Do you feel like you learned anything about songwriting from doing his songs for so long?
Gallagher: No, not me anyway. Noel Gallagher wasn’t the first guy to write a song. He was writing from somewhere, and my stuff is coming from me and the people I listen to.
Bell: Liam has his own particular style of songwriting. He’s got his own style of playing the guitar. It’s an expression of him, really. And I think Noel had his own style too. I’ve learned, and this is a kinda boring answer to the question really, that Noel never comes out of a chorus the same way, and that’s something I picked up from him when writing a song.
Do you have plans to come tour in America?
Gallagher: Yep, in June, apparently we’re coming over for a small tour, small places. I can’t wait, we’re exciting about it. We love America, and New York’s my favorite city.