Colin Murray Archer (born December 7, 1966 County Durham), better known as Gem Archer (pronounced with a hard 'G', like 'Get'), is an English musician best known for his work with Heavy Stereo and Oasis. He joined Oasis as rhythm guitarist in November 1999, and now handles lead guitar as well. He also contributes towards the writing of some of the band's songs.
The Edge and Whirlpool
Archer began his musical career in a group called The Edge in the early 80's. They released two singles Take A Walk and Little Girl Blue.
He later moved on to Whirlpool in the mid-80s. In 1987, when Whirlpool were auditioning for a drummer, he stumbled across a young Alan White (then just 15 years old) who impressed everyone at the audition. Archer remembers "I thought he was mega but the others were worried what a 15-years-old kid on the road and on the lager would be like. I rang his dad and told him, Sorry. But don't worry he's fantastic. He'll go all the way". Archer's words were to prove true when White joined Oasis in 1995. Archer was to join him 12 years after their initial meeting.
When Whirlpool split in the early 90s, Archer graduated to singer, principal songwriter and guitarist status with Contenders and then with Creation Records signing Heavy Stereo, a glam-rock sounding band that he formed with bassist Nez and guitarist Pete Downing of fellow Bull & Gate regulars 2 Lost Sons. Despite supporting Oasis at their historic Knebworth and Loch Lomond concerts in 1996, the only Heavy stereo album, 1996's Déjà Voodoo did not enjoy much critical or commercial success. However, Heavy Stereo's next release did receive more attention through demos of new material, a critically acclaimed contribution to The Jam tribute album, Fire and Skill - Songs Of The Jam, and opening on a Paul Weller tour. Archer recalls "We'd got a Paul Weller tour and our new music was our best ever... I thought '99 really might be a good year for us." However, work on the record was put on hold when Archer's mother fell seriously ill.
Whilst at home in Newcastle, having returned to care for his mother, Archer - lying in front of the fire - heard a report on The Big Breakfast that Bonehead had left Oasis after a massive row with Noel Gallagher. He claims "I thought, Shit! They'll split now. I was a real fan, and I'm not just saying that. For me, Oasis had breathed life back into rock 'n' roll." He was unaware that Noel Gallagher - who knew Archer from both their days on the Creation Records label - had rung his home in London where it was Archer's son Joel's birthday party. Once Archer's mother had recovered, Gallagher invited him to Olympic Studios, where Oasis were mixing Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. "We went to the pub and I couldn't stand not knowing if I was a part of the band. After less than half a pint of Guinness I said, "What does Liam say?" And Noel said," It's my fucking band. I'll have who I want." Archer claims the rest of Heavy Stereo were pleased for him to join Oasis.
As Archer did not perform on the Giants album, he received no royalties and, for the first few performances, was paid a standard session wage, about £85 a gig, as the new Oasis rhythm guitarist. His first official duty was to appear on the "Go Let It Out" video - on which he played lead guitar, as Andy Bell had yet to take over bass, so Noel played bass with Liam on rhythm - and played his first rhythm guitar set at a session for alternative radio in Philadelphia.
Though Archer is officially referred to as Oasis' rhythm guitarist, his role in Oasis is much more than that. In live setting he and Noel often switch between lead and rhythm guitar and both Noel and Liam Gallagher have praised Archer for his contributions in the studio. Archer also has a role as a songwriter. His first songwriting contribution after joining Oasis was "Hung in a Bad Place", which appeared on Oasis' 5th album Heathen Chemistry and was said to resemble Heavy Stereo. This song was picked up for use in a commercial for Victoria's Secret in the US. His role was expanded on Oasis' sixth studio album, Don't Believe the Truth, which features Archer's "A Bell Will Ring" and "Love Like a Bomb", the latter of which he co-wrote with singer Liam Gallagher. He also contributed the B-sides "Eyeball Tickler" and "The Quiet Ones" - an acoustic song. Archer has said that he finds it quite daunting to submit songs for consideration to the band because of Noel Gallagher's stature as a songwriter, whom he cites as one of his favourite songwriters.
Andy Bell highlights Archer's significance to Oasis saying "Oasis has completely evolved. Noel's old mates have left, he's been divorced and really changed his own life around. He still has Liam but his relationship with Liam is different — It's more tempestuous. He needs a less extreme mate and Gem's it. Gem chills Noel out. And that makes Oasis a more stable ship."
Outside of Oasis Gem Archer has collaborated with a few other artists, most notably Paul Weller for whom Gem has contributed acoustic guitar to the song 'One x One' on Paul Weller's 2002 album Illumination and guitars and Mellotron to the song 'Echoes Round The Sun on the 2008 Paul Weller album 22 Dreams. Archer also participated in an acoustic tour of the USA with Paul Weller when Steve Cradock of Ocean Colour Scene was unavailable. Archer also had a role in making the Nine Inch Nails' record With Teeth in middle-2004 before starting final sessions in October 2004 for Don't Believe the Truth. He also assisted Noel Gallagher in producing the first Proud Mary album, a band signed to Gallagher's Sour Mash record label.