The release of Step Into My World, Hurricane #1's anthemic debut single, on April 28 sees the return of Andy Bell who, along with Mark Gardiner, made up one half of Ride's songwriting partnership. Willing to forgive if not forget, Bell can now reflect on the positive repercussions of the split. "Mark disappeared for about two weeks towards the end of the Tarantula recording sessions. When he came back, he told us he was leaving," Bell says. "He did spring it on us a bit, but I don't bear a grudge. The way things have turned out, I've landed on my feet with a great band."
Anyone thinking that Hurricane #1 would pursue the swirling guitarscapes that characterised Ride's sound will be surprised. The band (who added #1 to avoid legal problems after a name clash) rely instead on solid songs set to arrangements fashioned by rock'n'roll sensibilities. Their debut album, still to be titled and due for release in July, oozes with melodies, rhythms and harmonies that combine to produce an eminently listenable pop noise.
The Who and The Beatles have been influential, particularly in the Lennonesque vocal of Stand In Line; The Small Faces can be heard in the Steve Marriot inflections of Faces In A Dream; while Chain Reaction borrows heavily from Tin Soldier.
At their recent headlining gig at the Buckley Tivoli, their use of drum loops as well as a live kit suggested the band have also absorbed the lessons of the dancefloor. Their live sound stomps and grooves in a manner which makes Hurricane #1 natural inheritors of the legacy of The Stone Roses. "Most of the songs were written in the space between Ride finishing and the band starting up," says Bell. After recording the bare bones of several songs, the tape was brought to the attention of Creation boss Alan McGee, who held an option on the guitarist. He seized on the potential immediately. "I've got to hand it to him," says Bell. "He saw something in the songs before there was much there. Basically, it was just me singing into a tape recorder."
McGee insists he was always confident in Bell's ability as a writer. "Andy was never properly represented," he says. "Because they were credited as a band, it took me until the end of the first album to realise he was the main songwriter in Ride. When he played me the demo I said, 'Your songs are great, but you don't have the greatest voice in the world. You'll have to find a singer'. That's the difference between being number 67 in the charts and number one."
After advertising for a singer in the music papers, they chanced upon the cracked and arid rock'n'roll strains of 26-year-old Alex Lowe. The line up was completed with the recruitment of ex-Thee Hypnotics bassist Will Pepper and 18-year-old Oxford drummer Gareth Farmer.
The album was recorded at Lincoln's Chapel with Steve Harris, producer of Kula Shaker's debut album. "Steve was great with us," Bell says. "Kula Shaker have made him rich but we're going to make him credible. He was meant for us. The band just seemed to fall together and it was exactly the same with Steve. He became one of us."
McGee expects the album to go platinum. "Everyone just wrote Andy Bell off as a guitarist, but I call him the most consummate rock'n'roll star," he says. "I have total belief in him. I always have done and he's going to confirm that with this record."