To celebrate his fiftieth birthday, Andy Bell recently released his psychedelic summer single ‘Love Comes In Waves’. However, his half-century also led him to contemplate his mortality.
The seven inch is the harbinger of the new album The View From Halfway Down from the lead guitarist/co-songwriter/occasional vocalist of shoegaze legends Ride. The LP’s title was inspired by an unlikely source: a particularly dark (penultimate) episode of the cult animated series BoJack Horseman.
Inspired by BoJack and Bowie
A moment of clarity with BoJack Horseman
Like the show’s character, Andy found himself in a reflective mood, in his case as his big five oh approached. Andy provided a (spoiler-free) description of a poem used in the episode:
“The poem describes someone committing suicide by jumping to their death and the regret the protagonist experiences when he sees ‘the view from halfway down’. Although, of course, it’s too late to change what’s going to happen. I read this poem as having a message of suicide prevention: if you could see the view from halfway down, you would never go through with anything that would end your life. I’ve never been suicidal, but I felt really moved by this brilliant poem when I watched the show during Ride’s US tour in Autumn 2019. It’s an incredible message.
“There was a small kind of a parallel with me, sitting at home in London in March 2020. In the early stages of lockdown, you could feel the tension in the air, causing what felt like a global panic attack. But, in common with what I’ve heard from others who can experience anxiety for no reason in their everyday lives, I felt strangely calm in the midst of all of this, seeing things in my life very clearly. Such clarity allowed me to finally compile this record. In a way, to see my life flash before me and be able to curate moments of it into a 40-minute listening experience, then find a title that would fit. I also got a lot of DIY done.
“My upcoming 50th brought everything more sharply into focus. If you imagine that my entire life was a freefall jump to my death, and you were feeling optimistic about me reaching 100 like my Gran did and getting a telegram from the Queen, this album would be ‘the view from halfway down’.”
Getting focused with Bowie
Back in 2016, Andy was inspired by David Bowie’s death to be more proactive about finishing his songs, more confident about sharing them, and to channel all of this into finally making a solo album. He made a start in former Beady Eye and Oasis bandmate Gem Archer’s studio, but was diverted when Ride’s live reunion blossomed into a full return. Two albums, an EP and two world tours later, it would take a pandemic to give him the space to complete The View From Halfway Down.
It’s not his only solo record though. Bell released rather marvellous electronica as GLOK. Worth checking out.
Anyone is entitled to feel a bit trepidatious as they approach their personal half century, especially during a pandemic. It’s good that Andy Bell has taken the opportunity to call time on an unfinished project and present some uplifting new sounds.
The View From Halfway Down (Sonic Cathedral) will be released October 9. It’ll be available digitally, in a card sleeve CD, two blue vinyl versions, and a limited white and blue splatter edition (only available from Bandcamp). Pre-order the record here.