GLOK ‘n’ Spiel: Andy Bell interviewed

Ride’s Andy Bell chats with We Are Cult about GLOK, his new project.

One of the shoegaze trailblazers of the nineties, Ride showcased Andy Bell’s precocious guitar abilities from the band’s celestial debut and beyond. Reuniting in 2017, Ride re-ignited a generational flame, opening the millennial domain to the jangled terrain. Between Ride albums, Bell worked with Liam Gallagher, writing punchy riffs for chest thumping bands Oasis and Beady Eye. A chameleon songwriter, Bell’s palette extends to the cabalistic chordplay of GLOK, his first instrumental project, one that should whet the appetite for fans awaiting Ride’s newest album. Andy spoke to We Are Cult‘s Eoghan Lyng about the project…

You’ve chosen a moniker for this album. How did you coin GLOK?

Apparently I spelled it wrong but it’s German for “Bell”. I was looking at various translations of my surname and another cool one was “Kolokol” which is the Russian spelling. But then I found out that in Russia they also use that word as a nickname for a poison used in assassinations and I thought it might be a bit dark to use for an artist name – although I did call a song that.

Did the writing of this record differ to writing a Ride piece?

There’s no set way of writing a GLOK song or a Ride song. For me there’s often a point where a song can go either way, before it becomes clear if it will end up as a band song or something else. The fact that I was writing so much music that was going “somewhere else” led to GLOK.

Opener ‘Dissident’ is one of your most ambitious songs. How did this labyrinthine piece build on itself?

It was always super-long, it’s just one of those tracks. It happened very quickly initially. I had set up an arpeggiated line and started laying chords over it with a Logic synth pad, I did that for about 12 minutes and that was the first version.

There are lots of ambient textures on display. Was this part of the song-writing process?

I just enjoy those kind of sounds. I had my Ride guitar pedal board in the studio at all times, so a lot of the ambient sounds both on guitar and on synth are going through a lot of reverbs and delays.

It’s a multi-layered album, how was the recording process, interweaving keyboards and guitars?

I just took my time and got the tracks to a place where I got excited about hearing them. As I mentioned with the guitar pedal board, there’s a lot of overlap between the instruments. It’s not important whether an instrument is a guitar or a keyboard, a sample, an analogue synth, or a midi note playing a soft synth. All that matters is the feeling you get when you hear it.

There are thematic and narrative changes on display. Do you consider the album a conceptual piece?

It’s very lucky it comes across that way because the tracks were all made individually, and not conceived to be part of an album at all. But I do think they work well together – I was checking the Test Pressing yesterday and listened to the entire album twice and I really think it works, it’s as if I planned it this way.

‘Weaver’ sounds idyllically sixties in scope. Was that a decade you wished to pay tribute to?

Not intentionally, no, but I guess it does have something 60’s about it, it has the 12 string Rickenbackers and a shuffley beat, the mellotrons, yeah, I get it. It’s really interesting hearing it through other peoples ears. My musical palette definitely owes a lot to the 60’s, I can’t deny that. But I’ve also heard different people say it’s really 90’s, and really 80’s, which it is, actually, in other ways.

‘Projected Sounds’ sounds wonderfully and assuredly confident in avant garde atmospherics. Is that a fair assumption? 

That song started off being called “Reich Now” and you can hear the influence of “Music For 18 Musicians” in the use of percussive marimbas and pianos. But it ends up in a kind of Robert Fripp meets Neu! wig-out. So I don’t know if that answers your question!  But the question contained a nice compliment so I’ll take it, thanks.

Will the album translate from the sound stage to the live stage?

That’s a really good question. I have no idea how that would work. I think I need to make some more GLOK music before I figure out how to get it to work onstage. But it’s certainly something I’d consider.

How would describe the album for Ride/Andy Bell fans? 

The ratio of synths to guitars on this record is roughly opposite what you’d find on a Ride record, and there’s no singing on this, but if that hasn’t totally turned you off, give it a go, you might enjoy it. Come on in, the water is lovely.

‘Dissident’, the new album by GLOK was released July 5, 2019, available from Digital Album includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more; £6.99 GBP. Limited Edition Record/Vinyl + Digital Album; £18.99.

 A regular contributor to We Are Cult, Eoghan Lyng’s writing has also appeared in New Sounds, Record Collector, CultureSonar, Punk Noir Magazine, DMovies, Phacemag and other titles. Follow him on TwitterVisit his homepage.

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