You wait twenty years for new material from Ride, and then a whole blimmin’ record comes along at once. The band formed back in 1988, and made massive impacts in the shoegaze scene, releasing four albums together. After putting out ‘Tarantula’ in 1996, the band came to a natural end. And then, after Ride’s split, as you do, Andy Bell went and played bass for Oasis.
Three years ago, Ride got back together again, with the intention of playing some reunion shows and festival slots. Unexpectedly, they found themselves rejuvenated, and full with the new ideas they were lacking in ‘96.
With the Oxford band’s new album on the way, and with Ride playing Glasgow’s Barrowlands on Friday as part of 6music Festival, we caught up with Andy Bell to grill him on his current musical obsessions, the new Ride album, and what he’s learned in twenty years.
How you doing today?
I’m good thanks. Just finished a remix for ‘The Early Years’ and I’m sitting on the overground, off to rehearse with Ride for the next few shows.
What was the last album you listened to?
I’ve got a few on repeat: Sleaford Mods’ ‘English Tapas’ is great. They know how to develop their sound without throwing the baby out with the bath water. That’s something Ride could have learned from in the 90s. My favourite tracks are ‘Mop Top’ and ‘Snout’. Also, John Carpenter - Lost Themes; just something I came across, while researching for a DJ gig where I had to play all music connected to film scores. It’s a good listen. A.R.Kane’s ‘Complete Singles’ is brilliant. Only had a couple of tracks by them when they were going in the 90’s - ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’ and ‘Antina’ - but this collects everything and all the remixes from the time. It’s really aged well. A great mix of guitars, beats and dub techniques.
“Nothing surprises me about doing this anymore! Does that mean I’m old?”
— Andy Bell
What was the last album you bought that really amazed you?
Mica Levi’s soundtrack to Jackie. This is classical music I can get behind! I haven’t seen the film yet, but I saw that she won best score and had to check it out. The way she uses the orchestra is brilliant. Maybe it appeals to me because it doesn’t sound “classical” but I was really blown away.
Are there any bands old or new that you can see going on to headline festivals in years to come?
What is it that draws you to a new act or artist?
I listen to BBC 6 Music every morning, and often I just hear a great tune and Shazam it. Or if one of my mates starts banging on about a band I take notice.
If you were to give one piece of advice to new bands, what advice would you offer?
Rehearse and play music all the time - if you’re a new band I’m assuming you’re young, so you probably don’t have many responsibilities. Let it take up all your time.
Which formative albums did you listen to that made a big impression on you? Why do you love them and why do you think everyone should hear them?
I used to buy albums on cassette and listen to them on my paper round at the age of 14 or so. Music like The Cure’s ‘Japanese Whispers’ or Head On The Door’, The Smiths’ ‘Hatful of Hollow’ and ‘Meat is Murder’. I wore the tapes out! And my Dads’ Beatles / Simon & Garfunkel records (on vinyl) from the mid 60s. When I think back, these albums sunk in really deep and have always stayed in my playing and writing. It was all there was in the house so it got played every day - I guess that’s why.
“I guess The Smiths are the only ones that haven’t reformed - but I like it that way really.”
— Andy Bell
Are there any bands you loved growing up that you’d like to see reform?
They’ve all pretty much done it, or stayed together. It would have been My Bloody Valentine, or The Stone Roses. I guess The Smiths are the only ones that haven’t - but I like it that way really.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you most like it to be and why?
William Basinski. His music had a big influence on the Ride album and it would be great to work on a one off piece of music with him.
What’s your biggest interest or obsession outside of music?
What was the last new instrument you bought?
The last guitar I bought was a 1966 Fender Jazzmaster; that was in 2015 on the Ride tour, when we were in Chicago.
“I’m absolutely buzzing about the new Ride record. For me it’s up there with our best.”
— Andy Bell
It’s been two decades since the last Ride album ‘Tarantula’ was released.. What encouraged you the most to write and release a new album as Ride now?
It just felt like the natural next step. What encouraged us the most was, I suppose, the reaction to the shows we played in 2015. The tour seemed to open us up to a new and younger audience, and that encouraged us to make new music. Also when we split up in 1996, we left things hanging a bit musically. Quality had dipped in the last year or two before we split, just due to the tensions within the band. So it’s cool that we have the chance to pick things up again.
The new album came together slowly and naturally after the reunion tour was finished. We got home in December 2015 with a few ideas, and developed them into full songs over the following few months. By Summer of 2016 we had an albums worth of songs written and rehearsed. That’s when we brought in Erol Alkan, and with his help we recorded the album in 17 days. I’m absolutely buzzing about the record. For me it’s up there with our best.
As you say, Erol Alkan’s on production duties for the record - what was it like working with him and what do you think he brings to Ride’s music?
It was fantastic working with Erol. I don’t think it will be the last time we work together. He proved to be a perfect fit as a producer, and has a great mix of enthusiasm and patience which made him really good to work with on a daily basis. What he brought musically was an attention to the sonics and dynamics, and a kaleidoscopic imagination which helped us follow through all our ideas.
Were there any surprises that came from writing a new album?
Nothing surprises me about doing this anymore! Does that mean I’m old?
Ride play Latitude (13th - 16th July) where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.
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