An Interview with Andy Bell of Ride & Oasis

All images courtesy of Andy Bell


By Andrew Daly
andrew@vinylwriter.com

Image credit: Total Guitar Magazine/All images courtesy of Andy Bell

The 1990s UK music scene is highly revered and with good reason. Bands such as Ride, Oasis, Hurricane #1, and Beady Eye ran the proverbial musical gamut, and at the center of all these groups, at one point or another, was guitarist, bassist, and songwriter, Andy Bell.

Andy’s journey dates back to the early 90s Shoegaze scene, where he was an integral part of Ride. As the band’s lead guitarist, Andy set the bar at the highest level, and along with his bandmates, recorded several albums which would become sign markers for the genre as a whole.

As the 90s wore on, Andy formed another classic band in Hurricane #1, and while the band’s initial run didn’t last long, it was from here where Andy moved on to the seminal 90s and 2000s legends, Oasis.

As a newcomer, and now handling bass guitar duties, Andy, along with fellow newcomer, and veteran Alternative Rock stalwart, Gem Archer, pushed Oasis musically to create some of the band’s finest work.

Eventually, Oasis gave way to Beady Eye, which featured the remaining members of Oasis sans Noel Gallagher, and once again, Andy played a huge part in the creation of two fantastic records before Beady Eye came to an end.

Present-day, Andy is a member of a reformed Ride, and also has a burgeoning solo career underway. I recently caught up with Andy about, among other things, his early musical origins, the formation of Ride, joining Oasis, what gear he uses, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about Ride, you can head over to the band’s webpage. If you would like to dig into Andy Bell’s solo output, head over to Andy’s Bandcamp, and dive in. Once you’ve done that, enjoy this interview with Andy Bell. Cheers.

Andrew:
Andy, thank you for taking the time. How have you been holding up? What have you been up to?

Andy:
You’re very welcome. I’ve been working with my bandmates on the very early stages of writing a new Ride album, and in-between times working on various solo things. Aside from that, I’m healthy and happy. Thanks for asking.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your career, I wanted to go back a bit and touch on your origins. What first got you hooked on music?

Andy:
My Dad had three Beatles albums, and a Simon & Garfunkel album, and I just got hooked on listening to those in the house.

Andrew:
While many know you as a bassist, you’re actually an accomplished guitarist as well. So, as a bassist, and guitarist, who were your primary influences? As you’ve moved forward, how has your style shifted, and changed over time?

Andy:
I was a guitarist originally and grew up listening to The Beatles from around the time I started playing guitar, which was around nine years old. By age thirteen, I was getting into The Smiths, and Johnny Marr was a big formative influence. I was soaking up new and old music from that point onwards, guitarists such as Pete Townsend, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell Paul Simon, and The Cure were all on my stereo as a teenager.

Image credit: Andy Bell Bandcamp/All images courtesy of Andy Bell

Andrew:
Let’s touch on recent events. In 2020, you released an excellent solo record called, The View From Halfway Down, and you followed it up with your 2021 record, Pattern Recognition. I’d like to dig into the writing, and recording of those albums.

Andy:
When David Bowie died, I was at a loose end, it was just after the Ride reunion tour, and before we started work on Weather Diaries. I was talking to Gem Archer and asked him if I could come, and record at his studio. I was feeling my own mortality and felt compelled to start making music as just “me” rather than as part of a band.

Andrew:
You’ve at times played something of a supporting role in your past bands, but with these two recent solo outings, you’re front and center. How different of a dynamic is it being the de facto leader?

Andy:
It all just depends on the dynamics of the band you’re in. I just do what comes naturally.

Andrew:
As a songwriter, what lyrical themes are you touching with your newest music? What do you most want your listeners to take away from these recordings?

Andy:
I’m not exactly sure, but I also think it’s probably not a great idea to overthink it.

Andrew:
You’ve been a member of several important, and seminal bands over the years in Ride, Hurricane #1, Oasis, and Beady Eye. This said, how important are these solo recordings to your personal and artistic expression as you move forward? Do you feel you’re finally showcasing a side of your musical self that the world hasn’t gotten to see prior?

Image credit: Peel Fandom/All images courtesy of Andy Bell

Andy:
All the records I’ve played on contain a part of me. It’s not that I’m revealing something that’s been secret until now, it’s more that I’m just being myself as always but on these records, it’s more obvious what it is that I like to do.

Andrew:
Going all the way back now. As I mentioned before, you were the lead guitarist for the legendary Shoegaze band, Ride. Take me through the formation of the band, and the events leading up to the recording of the band’s 1990 debut record, Nowhere.

Andy:
The scene was fully up and running when we formed. My Bloody Valentine was in full flow while we were doing our first rehearsals. We were listening to MBV, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Loop, Spacemen 3, these bands were there already. We just worked fast and assimilated a lot of different music into our own.

Andrew:
As the 90s moved forward, Ride recorded three more fantastic albums in Going Blank Again, Carnival Of Light, and Tarantula. Do you feel those albums received the recognition they rightly deserved?

Andy:
Thank you for the kind words! I think the first two Ride albums are deserving of the compliment. After that, I think all the other albums are just OK.

Andrew:
Ultimately, what led to the disbandment of Ride, and you subsequently forming Hurricane #1 in 1997?

Andy:
Various tensions played their parts in it, and in the end, it was Mark Gardener who left the band, while we were in the middle of recording Tarantula.

Image credit: NME Magazine/All images courtesy of Andy Bell

Andrew:
Hurricane #1 was label mates with Oasis on Creation Records, was that common ground what ultimately hooked you up with Liam and Noel in 1999? Were you a fan of the band’s music prior to joining? Take me through you officially joining Oasis.

Andy:
Ride was signed by Alan McGee who also signed Oasis. He was playing me tapes of the earliest Oasis demos between the second and third Ride albums, and I loved them. I saw the band many times while I was in Ride, and met them once or twice. By the time I was asked to join, a few years later, Hurricane #1 had just folded, and I’d moved to Sweden. I received a phone call asking me to fly over and try out with them.

Andrew:
As I mentioned earlier, many know you as a bassist, but initially, you were, and still are a guitarist. When you joined Oasis, you were asked to replace Paul McGuigan on bass, which was a completely alien instrument for you at the time. How did you manage to not only learn bass on the fly but then manage to learn the bands’ catalog additionally?

Andy:
Bass is not too hard for guitarists, it’s basically a guitar with two less strings. It was a challenge to learn all the parts though. I spent about a month over that Christmas in Sweden with headphones on, just cramming all the parts before the tour started.

Andrew:
You recorded three fantastic albums with Oasis in Heathen Chemistry, Don’t Believe The Truth, and Dig Out Your Soul. Most would say that the addition of yourself, and Gem Archer to Oasis brought a significant rise in musicianship to the band as a whole. How do you feel the band’s second leg and new lineup compared to the band’s initial, “classic” 90s run?

Andy:
I never felt there was anything wrong with the band’s earlier lineups. I just did my best to nail the parts and give them everything live. I took the bass playing seriously and tried to become a solid musical unit with Whitey, really stuck to him onstage, so much so that his cymbals literally deafened me in one ear for a few years.

Andrew:
What was it like working with the Gallagher brothers in the studio, and the live setting?

Andy:
It was fantastic and mainly fuelled by humor.

Image credit: Andrew Ogilvy Photography/All images courtesy of Andy Bell

Andrew:
In the years since we’ve seen Beady Eye come and go, and both Hurricane #1 and Ride reform. Take me through the formation, and reformation of those bands, and where things stand present day.

Andy:
With Beady Eye, we carried on because we didn’t want to stop playing together. The singer of Hurricane asked me for permission to use the band name to put together a new lineup, and make some new music and I said, “OK.” With Ride, we got invited to play some reunion shows, and it flowed from there.

Andrew:
On the gear side of things, what guitars, amps, pedals, etc. are you using these days in the studio, and the live setting?

Andy:
I play mainly a Trini Lopez, a Fender Jazzmaster, and a Rickenbacker twelve-string with Ride. The amp is a small Marshall 16W head, and a regular 4×12 cab. Pedals vary all the time, but I like 80s Ibanez, Cry Baby Wah, and some newer stuff like Caroline, Old Blood Noise, Fairfield, and Stacks. And I have a lot of Fuzz pedals.

Andrew:
There is great reverence for the 1990s UK Rock music scene. This said, looking back, what are your lasting thoughts, and closing words on that truly special time in Rock music? Lastly, what’s next for you, Andy?

Andy:
I’m very grateful to have been a part of it all. A new Ride album and more solo music.

Image credit: Total Guitar Magazine/All images courtesy of Andy Bell

Interested in learning more about the music of Andy Bell? Check out the links below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vwmusicrocks.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Inspired by the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, and Eddie Trunk, coupled with an immense passion for music, and a disposition for writing, freelance journalist Andrew Daly moved to found VWMusic in 2019. Over time, VWMusic has grown into a bustling music outlet harboring a staff who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles, interviews, and more. In addition to running VWMusic, Andrew is also an accomplished freelance journalist, currently writing for Copper Magazine, as well as a drummer, and lover of all things guitar.
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