Andy Bell Biography
Andrew Piran Bell (born 11 August 1970 in Cardiff, Wales) is a Welsh musician, and former member of the early 1990s shoegazing band, Ride, and later, Hurricane #1. He currently plays bass guitar and is a songwriter for Oasis. However, on latest albums, the band have taken less clearly defined roles and Bell was able to contribute guitar on his tunes.
Bell formed Ride with Mark Gardener (guitarist), who he met at Cheney School in Oxford and Laurence Colbert (drummer) and Steve Queralt (bassist), who 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 Poly that brought them to the attention of Alan McGee. After supporting The Soup Dragons in 1989 McGee signed them to Creation Records.
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 incorporated into their first LP, Nowhere, released in October 1990, which was hailed as a critical success and the media dubbed Ride "The brightest hope" for 1991. This 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 inter-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 groundbreaking debut Definitely Maybe. As label mates, Bell came to know the bands Gallagher brothers quite well and often shared in their partying, if not their success.
1995 saw the dissolution of the band while recording fourth album Tarantula due to creative and personal tensions between Gardener and Bell. The track listing of Carnival of Light gives an indication of the tension that was mounting between the two guitarists, with the first half of the album being songs written by Gardener and the last half of the album being songs written by Bell - one or both had refused to let their songs be interspersed with pieces written by the other. Bell penned most of the songs for Tarantula, 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. The album was withdrawn from sales one week after release.
Since the break-up, both Bell and Gardener have been able to be more reflective on the reasons why the group disintegrated, with Bell especially admitting his own part in the process. It appears that they had just been too young and too stubborn and had no real idea of where the band was heading when they changed their style.
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", number 29 in the UK charts (a re-mix of 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 #1 drew criticism, bordering on ridicule, for their similarity to Oasis. Bell himself said "Hurricane #1 is not so much influenced by Oasis, it's inspired by Oasis". Ill-advisedly, they let one of their songs be used on a TV ad campaign for The Sun. Their albums did not sell well and in 1999 Bell took time out to tour as guitarist with the band Gay Dad.
Around the same time as Bell was touring with Gay Dad, Oasis were looking for replacements for founding members Bonehead and Guigsy. Bonehead was quickly replaced with fellow Creation signing and former Heavy Stereo frontman Gem Archer. Guigsy proved harder to replace and the video for "Go Let It Out" had to be filmed with Noel on bass, Archer in Noel's role as lead guitarist and Liam in Archers role as rhythm guitarist. Whilst unsuccessfully testing other bass players (such as David Potts), Liam Gallagher read in Melody Maker thet Bell had left Hurricane #1 to join Gay Dad. Noel pointed out that Bell didn't play the bass, but Liam convinced him that Bell would make a suitable replacement for Guigsy. Bell jumped on the opportunity to join Oasis but was obliged to learn playing bass and the entire Oasis catalogue before his first Oasis gig at the last minute. 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.
Bell is also a member of Oasis' songwriting team, contributing Heathen Chemistry's instrumental "A Quick Peep", Don't Believe the Truth's the snarling "Turn Up The Sun", and the uplifting "Keep the Dream Alive", as well as b-side "Thank You for the Good Times", which appeared on the "Stop Crying Your Heart Out"-single.
As the token southerner, Bell is the butt of many jokes. On stage, during the Familiar to Millions album, in response to the arguing chants of "Noel" and "Liam", Noel Gallagher appealed for the crowds to "fuck all that "Noel" and "Liam" shit. Can I have everybody singing Who the fuck is Andy Bell?".
Bell is married to Swedish singer Idha. Together, they have a daughter named Leia and a son named Leon. He splits his time between Sweden and London.
He claims to have written the song "Turn Up The Sun" in a forest near his Swedish home, on his own in the middle of the night. The song was the first track on 2005's Don't Believe the Truth and was often used as the show opener on the tour to support the album.
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. 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.
The Weeping Willows released their fifth studio album Fear & Love with Bell as producer in February 2007. Bell played a number of instruments on eight of the album's twelve tracks ranging from glockenspiel, piano and guitar. 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 Verve, Talk Talk and Oasis.
In 2003 Bell collaborated with the Stockholm based Irish-Swedish electronica/acid house duo, DK7, on the tracks "Heart Like a Demon" and "White Shadow" for their Disarmed album.
He has also performed solo gigs at smaller Swedish summer festivals.
On December 19, 2007 Bell will join Weeping Willows on stage for an event called "An Evening With Weeping Willows At Chinateatern" He will line up with other prominent guests such as The Soundtrack of Our Lives' Martin Hederos, Echo & The Bunnymen vocalist Ian McCulloch and Jens Lekman.