Ride Exclusive Interview: ‘Stone Roses & My Bloody Valentine Inspired Us To Reunite’

Beady Eye’s loss was fans of searing shoegaze’s gain: earlier this week, following the recent split of Liam Gallagher’s group, guitarist Andy Bell spoke to NME to confirm pioneering ’90s racketmakers Ride are reuniting. Ressurecting their caustic sound for a 2015 tour, the news has had a massive reaction. NME’s Andy Welch spoke to Bell and Mark Gardener about the comeback, and whether there’s new material on the horizon…

How’s it feel to be back?

Andy Bell: “I’m buzzing. It’s going to be really cool.”
Mark Gardener: “Sitting on this news has been torture. It was nice to do it properly and announce it without it being completely leaked on Twitter beforehand. I did enjoy the independence of being solo, moving wherever, doing shows on my own. But it’s great to be back with my brothers, without sounding too Spinal Tap about it.”

When was the reunion decided?

AB: “Recently. There’s always offers coming in, over the years. Ride finished acrimoniously, but a few months after that me and Mark patched things up. It was pretty soon, and it didn’t take much. But Ride had run its course at that point and it was a quick thing. We were only together about six years. Anyway, me and Mark patched things up soon after and we’ve been mates ever since.”
MG: “We decided it a few months ago. We’ve discussed it every year since we broke up pretty much, and we all knew we wanted to do it. It was just working out the timing. I don’t know why it felt different this time, but it just did.”

Have there been many offers over the years to reform?

AB: “Every year we get together with our old manager and go through offers, but every year our diaries have been busy. Mark has got his solo career going and has been producing, I was in Oasis and then Beady Eye, Loz has been playing with everyone from Jesus And Mary Chain to Gaz Coombes, keeping it Oxford, and Steve has got a real job. So there just hasn’t been the opportunity to do anything.”

So it could have happened before?

AB: “Yes, in theory. if things had been different. We did get together for a day in 2001. We were invited to get together by someone who was making a TV programme about Sonic Youth. They said ‘We’re doing a show called Pioneers and we want you to play on it’ and we thought ‘Great! We’re pioneers! Let’s do it,’ and then they said it was about Sonic Youth. But they are definitely pioneers, and it felt good to do something together again. That was just us going to a studio and being filmed jamming.”

You fell out when Ride split…

MG: “Yes, but we made up pretty quickly and have been mates since. People seem to think we still hated each other, and I was always asked cautiously ‘Have you spoken to Andy Bell?’ and I say ‘Yes, I’ve been speaking to Andy for years, I saw him last week’. But Andy and I have been friends for years, since we were 13 in school and we were in each other’s pockets for a long time. That didn’t stop with Ride, Ride was even more intense, and by album four, six or seven years into the band, we crashed the car, so to speak. I think that’s completely normal under the circumstances. We didn’t want to be in each other’s pockets, and we needed to be free of each other for a bit I think.”

Your last gig was in 1995 – a long time ago…

AB: “We didn’t play much live after the ‘Going Blank Again’ tour in 1992, really, it was fits and starts. We did a little bit of touring for Carnival Of Light’ but we didn’t go to the US with that one, and we didn’t go anywhere with ‘Tarantula’, because the band was done and finished while we were making it. I think the last gig we ever played, in Britain anyway, was supporting Oasis.”

Did you think there was unfinished business all these years?

AB: “Yes, that’s a way to put it. We were friends again, and we all thought when the time was right we’d do something again, and now the time is right. We’ve run out of reasons not to do it. It definitely helped seeing bands like the Stone Roses come back and the joy it’s brought to people. We did quite a few gigs with them and you’d see people just wild with excitement. Also the reformed My Bloody Valentine, who were so much a part of me getting into music and guitars and sounds. Seeing them come back was incredible. Their reunion at the Roundhouse was the best I’ve ever seen them, and I saw them 10 times or so first time around. I didn’t use the earplugs, either…”

Are you worried about the reaction to reforming?

AB: “There was a time when people were very sceptical about reunions, but I think we’re past that now. These guys are my oldest friends, I’ve known Mark since we were 13 and I was a tiny kid with glasses holding a Spanish guitar and he was a body popping soul boy. He was the cool one even then.”

The two of you have played together since Ride broke up, haven’t you?

“Yes, a few times. He was passing through Sweden on an acoustic tour so I got up and played a whole set with him. I was on a year off from Oasis at that point so we played a set of Ride songs. Grown men were crying.”

You should probably expect a bit more of that when you play the first show.

AB: “My Bloody Valentine handed out earplugs when they played. We could hand out tissues.”

Did you have any hints about the appetite for the reunion?

MG: ” Andy and I have both done a lot of interviews over the years and every time the question about a Ride reunion comes up. 15, 20 years I’ve been answering that question, and there was a time we thought it probably wasn’t a great thing to do, but the past few years has changed. It’s an incredible opportunity and I can’t think of anything better than getting back together with the band and playing some shows.”
AB: “Since Beady Eye announced our split my Twitter feed’s been going pretty mad with Ride-related comments. That let me know there were at least a few people out there who wanted to see it.”

Is it going to feel weird playing Ride songs again?

AB: “Yes. That’s the funny thing – your band breaks up and you just never get to play those songs again. There’s never really a reason. And in order to hear them again live you have to reform the band. I just feel very lucky that all of us are fit and healthy and up for doing it, the original line-up, and that makes it all the more special. I’m really looking forward to playing these songs.”

Any particular songs you’re paticularly looking forward to ressurecting?

AB: “We haven’t discussed the live set yet, but I’m sure it’ll be 90 per cent the first two albums and EPs. The early stuff that was just dead-on. Most of our fans would want us to concentrate on that period too.”
MG: “With the time that’s lapsed since we split, we’ve definitely come to understand what the strengths of Ride were. You don’t see those things when you’re in the band still, you’re too close. That’s the beautiful thing about having this time. You become disconnected to the music we were playing each night, too, but now I might hear a song crop up on 6Music and it’ll make a hear it as a fan again, and I realise what was good about the band all over again. So in answer to your question, the first two albums.”

Shoegaze has never fully come back into fashion, but there continues to be bands influenced by it, doesn’t there?

AB: “Yes, I think so. When Ride broke up I didn’t feel like people around the world thought it was a great loss for music. But gradually I started feeling that people were out there that were carrying a torch for our music. A lot of it was in America too, and when I’d be touring the US with Oasis, it would be the American bands coming up to me backstage to say how much they liked Ride. I think it’s been simmering for a while. I’ve got a 16-year-old daughter and she likes guitar bands, and we went to see Tame Impala. It was a nice feeling hearing the threads of our music in their set, and also my daughter saying she liked Ride without having to push it on her.”
MG: “Shoegaze has dated better than Britpop, which has dated horrendously. I think shoegaze was always more substance over style, which was why it was hard for the press because all the bands were quite boring. We weren’t the biggest personalities and egos, which is difficult for the media, I know, but the substance of the music has really stood the test of time.”

Will there be any new material?

AB: “Nothing is impossible. We’re just doing shows at the moment. There’s a lot of rehearsals to do. I’ve got to learn the chords and guitar parts and lyrics again. There’s enough to learn without writing anything new. It could happen.”
MG: “We’d be idiots to go out and play a new album. That’s not to say there won’t be new writing – that happens when get together and rehearse, but we will play to our strengths on this tour.”