Still shoegazing after all these years
The group – who were reluctant figureheads of a musical movement that the NME dubbed “shoegazing” – broke up just before the release of their fourth album in 1996 but, 19 years on, with their influence apparent on a new generation of bands such as Beach House, Crystal Castles and M83, they’ve reconvened.
Though rumours had been circulating about the reunion for some time before they announced shows this year in the UK, US and Europe bass player Steve Queralt puts the timing down to serendipity.
“It wasn’t necessarily the right moment in terms of progressing a career or anything like that; it was simply all four of us felt that it was good for us personally,” he says, explaining he, co-frontmen Mark Gardener and Andy Bell and drummer Laurence Colbert all had “space in our diaries”.
The end of Beady Eye, for whom Bell had played guitar, “allowed us to play more than just two weeks of shows in the summer”, he adds.
“It was really all about timing. It felt right for us and that was the important thing.”
Unlike a lot of band reunions there were no major disagreements for the members of Ride to resolve before they got back together. Indeed it seems that over the past two decades they had all stayed on friendly terms.
“Going off our separate ways there was no animosity hanging over, we were all good friends, we would all regularly meet up maybe once or twice a year just for a chat to see how things were going with each of us, there was nothing really to resolve – it’s all very dull.”
While Gardener and Colbert had formed Animalhouse after leaving Ride, and Bell led his own band, Hurricane #1, before joining Oasis then Beady Eye, Queralt played in a dub reggae band before leaving the music business altogether.
“Circumstances meant that I went and got a regular job,” he says, “but my passion for music never waned, actually that became stronger. Music has been a huge part of my life.”
The reformed Ride’s first gig took place in their home city, Oxford, earlier this year and was followed by high profile slots at music festivals in the USA and Spain.
“Initially it was terrifying, as you can imagine, having not done it for 20 years,” Queralt admits. “But it’s the best job in the world. It really is exciting. Every gig is different so it never becomes monotonous.
“Each venue has its own unique characteristics and the audiences are unique. You could be playing in Switzerland one night, Belgium another, the audiences are very different so it remains very exciting, I haven’t got tired of it yet.”
The bass player has fond memories of acting as Ride’s unofficial record doctor, back in their formative days when he also worked at the Oxford branch of Our Price. “Working in a record shop you really are overwhelmed with music, you make a new discovery every single day,” he says. “You find a new piece piece of music and you immediately want to share it with other people, so they were good times.
“The My Bloody Valentine album or the House of Love album would come out and the first thing I would want to do was go and share it with the guys.”
By the time Ride released their first album, Nowhere, in 1990, they were regularly having chart hits. “It sounds a bit conceited to say but the trajectory was very quick and very steep. It was a huge amount of satisfaction for us to be one of the first bands on Creation to ever chart.
“When it all started slowing down that’s when we got our big shock and [realised] that we had been very lucky.”
Queralt admits that between Going Blank Again, their second album, and its sequel Carnival of Light the dynamic within Ride changed.
“The main writers within the band, Andy and Mark, started writing separately and I think that their confidence as writers grew to the level where they pretty much had a finished picture or a finished vision of what each of their songs would sound like whereas previous to that the finished sound of a song was very much down to the band, the way we played it, the way Loz might have an idea for a keyboard line or I might suggest some strings.
“It was very collaborative on the first two albums. On the following two albums it was very much Andy and Mark’s vision for most of the songs.”
Creation famously deleted Ride’s last album, Tarantula, a week after its release.
“I still think we made a pretty good album,” he says. “Maybe the songs weren’t that strong but certainly the performances, the playing, the production, the sound, I’m very happy with all of that. But yes, the game was up, we knew it was before the album was released that we weren’t going to be making another album.
“We’d had our famous discussion where Mark was leaving the band so it was a formality, unfortunately.
“The album came out, it sold what it sold and was deleted and forgotten about for the next few years.”
In the intervening decades the band’s reputation grew. Queralt says that was a surprise.
“We thought we’d be forgotten, the whole musical style of movement, the whole shoegazing thing, it was quite sweet while it lasted but we thought no one would remember it in a year or two years’ time, so to be able to do it 20 years later with the whole shoegaze thing burning gently in the background for that time it couldn’t have gone any better for us; it’s been great to be able to play again on the back of that.”
• Ride play at O2 Academy, Leeds on October 11. For details visit www.ridemusic.net