Andrew Piran “Andy” Bell is a Welsh musician who plays guitar in the band Ride. He is a songwriter, singer, producer, DJ and former member of the band Hurricane #1. He is also well known as the former bass guitarist for the British rock band Oasis and the guitarist for its successor band Beady Eye.
Bell formed Ride with Mark Gardener (guitarist), whom he met at Cheney School in Oxford and Laurence Colbert (drummer) and Steve Queralt (bassist), whom he met doing Foundation Studies in Art and Design at Banbury in 1988. While still at Banbury the band produced a tape demo including the tracks “Chelsea Girl” and “Drive Blind”. In February 1989, Ride were asked to stand in for a cancelled student union gig at Oxford Polytechnic that brought them to the attention of Alan McGee. After supporting The Soup Dragons in 1989 McGee then signed them to Creation Records. This was a key musical event in Bell’s life.
With Ride, Bell released three EPs between January and September 1990, entitled Ride, Play and Fall. While the EPs were not chart successes, enough critical praise was received to make Ride the darlings of music journalists. The first two EPs were eventually released together as Smile in 1992, while the Fall EP was later incorporated into CD releases of their debut LP, Nowhere, released in October 1990, which was hailed as a critical success, with the media dubbing Ride “the brightest hope” for 1991. There was a rumour that as part of the Great British Music Weekend concert in 1990 (approx) that Robert Smith (The Cure) refused to appear unless Ride were also in the list of acts playing. Ride did appear along with The Wedding Present, Carter USM and The Cure. Nowhere was followed in March 1992 with Going Blank Again. The twin rhythm guitars of Bell and Gardener, both distorted, both using Wah-wah pedals and both feeding back on each other was seen as the highlight of the album’s critical and chart success.
Despite having a solid fanbase and some mainstream success, the lack of a breakthrough contributed to intra-band tension, especially between Gardener and Bell. Their third LP, Carnival of Light, was released in 1994, after shoegazing had given way to Britpop. Carnival of Light was oriented towards this new sound, but sales were sluggish and the shift in musical tastes devastated much of their original audience. The band were joined at Creation Records by Oasis, who shot to fame in 1994 with their debut Definitely Maybe. As label mates, Bell came to know the band’s Gallagher brothers well and often shared in their partying, if not their success.
1995 saw the dissolution of the band while recording their fourth album, Tarantula, due to creative and personal tensions between the two guitarists. Bell penned most of the songs for the album, one of which – “Castle on the Hill” – was a lament for the band’s situation and contains references to Gardener’s self-imposed exile from the group. Upon release of the album, it was announced that it would be deleted after one week.
Since the break-up, both Bell and Gardener have been more reflective on the reasons why the group disintegrated, with Bell especially admitting his own part in the process.
In 2014 it was announced that Ride had re-formed and would perform a series of tour dates in Europe and North America in 2015.
Hurricane No. 1
Bell returned in 1997 with Hurricane #1, another Creation signing. Aware of his own vocal fragility, Bell had drafted in a more gutsy singer, Alex Lowe, who would sing the songs Bell wrote for him. The same year, they released their first album, also called Hurricane #1. Their first single, “Step into My World”, reached number 29 in the UK charts (a re-mix reached number 19 that year), and other less successful singles “Just Another Illusion” and “Chain Reaction”. Their second album, Only the Strongest Will Survive, was released in 1998 and the title track was released as a single reaching number 19.
Hurricane No. 1 drew criticism, bordering on ridicule, for their similarity to Oasis. Bell himself said “Hurricane No. 1 is not so much influenced by Oasis, it’s inspired by Oasis”. Their albums did not sell well and in 1999 Bell took time out to tour as guitarist with the band Gay Dad.
During 1999 with Hurricane #1 on hiatus Bell moved from Oxford to live with his wife Idha and daughter in Sweden. Bell was invited to join Oasis because they were looking for replacements for founding members Bonehead and Guigsy. At the last minute Bell had to learn to play bass as well as the entire Oasis catalogue before his first Oasis gig. As he had no part in performing on Oasis’ 2000 album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, he was originally paid the wage of a touring musician – about £85 a night.
Whilst with Oasis, Andy Bell regularly made songwriting contributions to the band.
Noel Gallagher quit Oasis in August 2009, following an argument with his brother in Paris. Gallagher placed part of the blame for his decision to leave on Bell and Gem Archer for a lack of support saying “the lack of support and understanding from my… band mates has left me with no other option than to get me cape and seek pastures new.” According to Gallagher, he is still on friendly terms with Archer and Chris Sharrock, however he has not spoken with his brother or Bell since.
Following the demise of Oasis, Bell became a full-time member of the band Beady Eye, together with former Oasis members Gem Archer and Liam Gallagher who are joined by drummer Chris Sharrock. For Beady Eye, Bell has changed from playing bass (as he did in Oasis), to play guitar both live and in the studio for the band, as he had previously done for both Ride and Hurricane#1. Beady Eye’s debut album Different Gear, Still Speeding contains four songs written by Bell and subsequently developed by the band, namely ‘Four Letter Word’, ‘Millionaire’, ‘Kill for a Dream’ and ‘The Beat Goes On’.
Bell also plays guitar, keyboard, and provided backing vocals on Beady Eye’s sophomore album, 2013’s BE (Beady Eye album).
On 25 October 2014, Liam Gallagher announced, via Twitter, that Beady Eye had disbanded.
In addition to being a songwriter and musician, Bell has for a number of years actively been involved in record production. He receives co-production credit for both albums recorded by Hurricane#1- the eponymous Hurricane#1 and Only The Strongest Will Survive.
During late 1995, after the sessions for Tarantula were completed but prior to the official announcement of Ride’s break-up, Bell undertook production duties on Britpop band The Kynd’s debut single “Egotripper”, which was released in October 1996.
Bell also undertook production duties for the fifth studio album Fear & Love by Swedish band Weeping Willows released in 2007 Weeping Willows has always drawn upon early Roy Orbison and The Smiths as their main influences. On Fear & Love, Bell brought some English folk music influences, and a some 1960s styled British Invasion sounds. The album was more or less recorded live in the studio, by playing the songs until the band got them right with minimal digital post production. Weeping Willows last two albums relied on a lot of post-production and remix styled studio techniques. Scandinavian music critics have given the album a warm welcome and compared some songs to The Coral, The Verve, Talk Talk and Oasis.
Solo activities and projects
Bell has been good friends with Magnus Carlson, the lead singer in Swedish band, Weeping Willows, together they have embarked on some musical projects. The two run and DJ at the club, Bangers ‘n’ Mash. Bell, also undertakes occasional DJ sets in UK clubs, for example, ‘This Feeling’ night club night in London. In 2003, Bell collaborated with the Stockholm based Irish-Swedish electronica/acid house duo, DK7, by providing guitar on the tracks “Heart Like a Demon” and “White Shadow” for their Disarmed album. During the autumn of 2006 Carlson and Bell teamed up (with Janne Schaffer) and performed at an event dedicated to the late 1970s singer-songwriter, Ted Gärdestad. In addition to his role as producer, Bell played a number of instruments on eight of the twelve tracks on the 2007 album Fear & Love by Weeping Willows ranging from glockenspiel, piano to guitar. He has also performed solo gigs at smaller Swedish summer festivals including the 2006’Fest-i-val’ in Umeå Sweden In July 2007, Bell appeared with friend and former fellow Ride member Mark Gardener onstage with Californian rock band The Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Oxford ‘Truck’ Music Festival. On 19 December 2007, Bell joined Weeping Willows on stage for an event called “An Evening With Weeping Willows at Chinateatern” He lined up with other prominent guests such as The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ Martin Hederos, Echo & the Bunnymen vocalist Ian McCulloch and Jens Lekman.
Andy Bell has worked with Swedish band The Most on various recordings and contributed guitars and vocals on the song “Now I Feel” from the EP Moderation in Moderation (a title suggested by Bell).
Bell has on several occasions stated his intention to record and release a solo album in the future: I will get around to it, it’s just waiting for the songs to turn up that suit my voice. I’ve got one so far, give me about five years and I’ll have an album’s worth.
During 2008 Andy Bell collaborated with SPC ECO a British American shoegazing/electronica/psychedelic group on the track “Silver Clouds” to which Andy Bell contributes by playing an electronic sitar drone machine and an old custom Dulcimer as well as devising the songs lyrics. ‘Silver Clouds’ was made available in 2009 as a bonus track to the Japanese edition of SPC ECO’s album 3-D.
2009 saw Andy Bell release his first solo recording under the Grapefruit name, an instrumental track also entitled Grapefruit which he contributed to the One by One: KZK Adidas Originals by Originals compilation album, a Japan only release via Sony Music.
In 2010, it was reported that a former member of Oasis had collaborated with Adam Ant on material for his album Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter (eventually released January 2013). Andy Bell was subsequently identified as the former Oasis member in question. In an interview for Bizarre magazine published in January 2011, Ant named the song co-written with Andy Bell as Cool Zombie. Initially Bell, allegedly at the behest of Liam Gallagher, attempted to block its inclusion on the album. This led to a quite personalised war of words between Ant and Gallagher; consequently Bell denied he had been put under any pressure. “It was totally my decision not to allow the track to be used,” he said “and I’m annoyed at Liam being dragged into this situation which has nothing at all to do with him.” Bell also gave further insight into the origins of the song, explaining that he and Ant have “a mutual friend who I had played around on a track with who then passed the music over to Adam without my knowledge. I then explained the track couldn’t be used for his album (this was just a rough demo) and thought the matter was closed. Adam then mentioned in the press he had recorded with one of Oasis, but Liam Gallagher had banned the track from being used.” Ant eventually rerecorded the song for the released album with two members of his live band, guitarist Tom Edwards and drummer Andy Woodard. Subsequently, in November 2012 the song became the first single from the album.
Bell was previously married to Swedish singer Idha Övelius. They have two children, a daughter, Leia, and a son, Leon. He currently resides in London and is married to Shiarra, a label rep from Universal Music. Bell revealed in an interview that he suffers from deafness in his left ear as a result of standing too close to Alan White’s drumkit whilst playing bass during his first tour with Oasis.
Rickenbacker 330- Used live with Hurricane No. 1 and Beady Eye
Fender Telecaster- Used live with Hurricane#1
Gibson Trini Lopez- Bell’s main guitar with Beady Eye; classic cherry body with Bigsby vibrato tailpiece
Fender Jazzmaster- Bell owns a blue one used in the song “Millionaire”
Fender Stratocaster- Used with Beady Eye on “Millionaire” as backup of the Jazzmaster
Gibson ES-335- Black one, used with Beady eye
Bell also uses a custom made guitar by Philippe Dubreuille, modelled over a Gibson Les Paul with handgraved metal cover and Bigsby vibrato tailpiece
Burns London Bison – Main bass with Oasis until 2008
Fender Precision – Sunburst model with the “love one another” sticker, used in the Dig Out Your Soul Tour