Today (Friday 16th August), shoegaze legends Ride release their sixth album ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ and DIY has an exclusive track-by-track run-through of the full album.
Recorded once again with Erol Alkan, who also produced their return album ‘Weather Diaries’, it’s a record which continues to push the band’s second era forward.
“In 2017, Ride released their first new music in 21 years, a polished album that simplified the band’s influential shoegaze sound and focused on taut songwriting,” reads our review of their newest full-length. “Sensing a winning formula, follow-up record ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ picks up firmly from where the former left off.”
Listen to ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ in full below, and read the band’s track-by-track commentary too.
Andy Bell: 'R.I.D.E.' was a demo by Loz which included lots of ideas, but all based around the riff he came up with on a sampler. Loz, Steve, Mark and Erol worked on making this into a track by playing live to it one day. I was away from the studio at a funeral, and when I got back, we were all buzzing with the sound of it - sounding pretty much identical to how it sounds now.
Steve Queralt: During August 2018, me and Loz spent some time rehearsing all the possible backing tracks for the album so that we would be up and running before recording started. During this time we worked on the drums and bass for 'R.I.D.E.' but were still stuck for something epic on the bass to match the hugeness of the beat. The studio team had just taken delivery of a bunch of new stomp-boxes, one of which was a massive overdrive pedal from India. This changed the whole mood and we suddenly found ourselves heading in the right direction, the track was finished off really quickly.
Andy: Written as light relief after a lot of heavier songs, it comes from me messing about with a John Martyn guitar tuning. I made a very “Solid Air” type track first, and then when the guitar was still in the same tuning busted out this one very quickly.
Loz Colbert: There was a buzz about this song from Andy’s demo onwards. I got goosebumps as the final take went down at Assault and Battery.. A pure RIDE track, it feels great to play live this one.
Andy: I was listening to a lot of Joy Division (‘No Love Lost’) and PiL (‘Public Image’) and built a backing track like that with lyrics all about our art school days in 1988.
Loz: It’s like an art manifesto in a song this one. Me, Mark and Andy recorded our voices in the basement at Vale to become the robotic ‘chant’ crew, in the chorus
Andy: Loz wrote this song and the demo was acoustic but really lo-fi and punky. Erol helped us work it up into a real beast at a band demo session at a studio owned by one of Jethro Tull.
Loz: We ended up summoning the spirit of The Stooges. This track was a punishing one for us to record live when we finally got to Assault & Battery, so you can hear some shouting at the start!
Clouds Of Saint Marie
Andy: Loz said he liked this when he heard it among some other demos of mine, it’s a bit like ‘Future Love’ in that it’s a melancholy love song set to a really upbeat melody.
Loz: There’s a bit of ‘Union City Blue’ by Blondie to this, just the feel of it. When I heard it I saw us playing on a roof or onstage at a festival and it felt good.
Andy: My favourite bit of guitar playing on the album - I had my jazzmaster tuned to DADEAA, a Thurston Moore tuning, which I used on every album track, and on this one it ended up sounding like ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince. It’s Steve’s track, with words by Mark.
Steve: The track has ended up sounding pretty true to the demo but Andy’s guitar part and Mark’s vocal elevated it to another level. It’s possible that the track will continue to evolve as we start to play it live. The parts are loose enough for everyone to keep exploring without having to stay too faithful to the recorded version. It probably means no two performances will be the same.
Mark Gardener: Another great instrumental demo and vocal idea from Steve. I kept the vocal top line close to his original idea. Before the recording took place, me and Andy knocked around some lyrical ideas I’d had and thought would work with this track. These words were the result of that session. A couple of the lines of the song “Now all is ahead and not here” and “Don’t look again” reference a moving and disturbing programme I watched about survivors first hand reports of the Bataclan Paris terrorist attack. The rest of the song references the loss of innocence and getting older!
Andy: The first song I used that Sonic Youth tuning for. It is influenced by late period Sonic Youth. One of the first songs written for the album.
Loz: When we heard Andy’s demo it spoke straight to our no-wave mentality. This was the first song we recorded for ‘///’. Track 1, day 1, at Assault & Battery.
Andy: Steve made the backing track and typically for Steve it has tons of synths on it. I wrote the lyrics, they’re about work. At one stage I wanted to call the album “wheels of industry”... but that didn’t last long.
Steve: The original demo was created in the wrong key which meant the singers struggled to get a comfortable take. So the song ended up being parked during the main recording session. Believing in the track, Andy’s guitar hook and vocal melody being too good to discard I gave it another go back at home, recording the parts again over Loz’s drum take but this time in B which is the tried and trusted ‘RIDE’ key (Leave Them All Behind, Seagull). This seemed to work well and it ended up replacing another song which we felt was not quite up to scratch. Erol and Andy added a layer of distorted growling guitars and Mark recorded the vocals at his new studio in Oxfordshire. The song is a truly collaborative effort.
Andy: Sonically it’s influenced by Beck, probably the least “live” sounding track on the record, thought it would be a challenge to get ready to play live but actually we just rehearsed it up and it sounds good to go..
Andy: We supported Mogwai a couple of years ago at a big gig in Glasgow and this is me trying to write a track with the same grandeur.
Loz: This one felt like recording a soundtrack; dynamically, it has a huge range...
Shadows Behind The Sun
Andy: One of my favourite Mark songs, lovely to play on. Reminds me of seeing him sing at the Nick Drake tribute concerts he did a while back.
Loz: There’s a great evolution to this: it starts small and just grows…
Mark: ‘Shadows Behind The Sun’ was written in a small batch of songs and writing before any thoughts / recordings / deadlines of ’This Is Not A Safe Place’ in 2017. I had originally earmarked it as a potential song for a more low key solo record after singing and performing Nick Drake tribute shows backed with a French chamber orchestra called the Colour Bars Experience for a small European tour. It definitely continues that kind of flavour and mood. I was greatly encouraged by Andy’s reaction to the song after he heard the demo. After that it entered into the running for the Ride album and - whilst keeping it pretty faithful to the original demo - it turned out really great with the band and Erol’s input, which took all up many levels.
In This Room
Andy: The title of the album came from this song. It accidentally became one of two “epic” tracks on the record - it was supposed to be 3 minutes 30 but when we recorded it, it became 9 minutes long and started feeling like a final track.
Loz: Another great ‘band take’ moment that took place last thing at night, lights low... When we heard the playback, it felt like a version of the song that was larger than the sum of its parts.
'This Is Not A Safe Place' is out now via Wichita Recordings.
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The band will take ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ on the road later this year.
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They’ll play alongside the likes of Foals, You Me At Six and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the Newcastle event.