With reissues of their first four EP’s, as well as their first two studio albums, Nowhere (1990) and Going Blank Again (1992), we speak to the drummer of Ride, Laurence Colbert.
The reissues will follow on from Ride’s live tour through the year in support of Nowhere’s 30th anniversary – an event that was postponed (no points for guessing why).
Nowhere, which gained critical and commercial success, has been deemed instrumental in the newly reappraised ‘shoegazing’ scene, which peaked before the arrival of Britpop.
Which bands inspired you to form a band, and why?
Here’s some you might not expect: The B52s, Joy Division, The Stupids, Public Enemy… and some you probably would: The House of Love, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine. The B52s just had a manic element to them. It was about pop, but quirky and obscure, I always liked that. Joy Division were the polar opposite, like a cold, hard, rocky and bleak, but always with interesting musical lines, and there was the sort of contemporary art side of them I loved.
The Stupids were like anarchic fun, get on with it and make some noise, make some music and maybe have some fun – they stopped me worrying about it all. And I loved Public Enemy for the disruptive aspect and of being part of what felt like a mind revolution. They had manifestos and music and they brought the noise too.
You’ve often been part of, and important to, the newly reappraised ‘shoegaze’ scene – but was this something you deemed important at the time? Or was it simply a “boring” tag that you felt was restrictive?
It was a derogatory term at first, I think, but has been regained as a more ‘neutral’ genre term – it even seems to have some kudos now. People want to use this reference now for their bands; it’s more like a badge of honour, even a mark of quality.
What does ‘shoegaze’ mean to you now?
I guess it means hazy, textural music; but there is a purity and an innocence, a bravery almost to be vulnerable… musically, it would be something where the beat or the vocals aren’t particularly prominent.
But you can get shoegaze electronica now; there are all kinds of ways it’s turning up in different styles of music. I guess, visually, for me it would be the kind of art that Rothko might make…
What, in your view, has been your most successful moment as a band and why?
When we made our first record, when we played our first gig to be honest. But also, more realistically, the reunion. I think there is really something to be said for having the guts and the belief to do what we did, and the sense of still being around and creatively active 20 years later; writing new albums, and just being a creative musical force again. I’m always proud of that.
What was your most challenging moment as a band and why?
Challenging moments for any band are just keeping it together really… that, and deciding who eats the blue M&Ms.
Your debut album ‘Nowhere’ was a critical and commercial success – what was that experience like for you and how did you deal with the pressures of success?
Well, we were very young, and the album itself was very close-to-home, emotionally, for us so it could be hard to mix the sense of baring your soul with success and being recognised. We were teenagers at the time, so it was kind of a challenge… If we were making house music maybe it would have been easier.
You’re reissuing both your classic albums ‘Nowhere’ and ‘Going Blank Again’, along with the first four EPs. Why now? And what do you think the legacy of those albums is?
They’re coming out again now because they went out of print; also, we’ve put several albums out in the last few years like ‘Weather Diaries’, ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’, there was an EP, ‘Pulsar’ and ‘Catch You Dreaming’ were on BBC6 playlists. It just felt right to have these, our founding steps, back out there again, [which are] also part of our history. Going Blank Again is the classic ‘just before Britpop’ album.
What motivated you to reform in 2014 and how did it feel to perform together again, especially at Coachella Festival in 2015?
Personally it was really a sense of this band never got to show what it could be or do or how creative or powerful live or innovative it could be. We were cut down too short. So it was really great to have a chance to swing our pants again…
This Is Not A Safe Place’ charted at UK #7 on release in August 2019, the band’s highest chart position in 25 years. How did that feel, to have had another successful album after a quarter of a century?
It was a great process making that album, I loved working with Erol Alkan, and each album we make now is a story, a contribution, like it always should be with bands: it typifies an era, it allows you to pour all of your heart, soul, angst, imagination, anything you got really, into a musical product that lives on after you’re gone and is a marker in the journey. The next project is always different. That is always a great position to be in and I hope I can always have that as an option.
You’re going on tour again soon, for the Nowhere 30th anniversary tour. How much are you looking forward to reconnecting with your fans? And what can fans expect to see?
The obvious thing to note is post-pandemic era! It’s been two years since our last gigs so I’m looking to blow the cobwebs away a bit.
If you could replay one gig from your past, which one would it be and why?
Probably Reading Festival when we supported Public Enemy, but also the first gig we ever played. That went in a blur and I would like to re-live it a bit more slowly… but I would probably find out that it wasn’t half as good as I thought it was at the time though, so that too could be a bit risky.
Which emerging bands excite you today?
Mandrake Handshake, I look forward to seeing them live. Also Little Simz has been emerging so well as an artist, I think ‘Sometimes I Might be Introvert’ is an ‘almost’ masterpiece… and we were watching Khruangbin from the side of the stage a fair few years ago – now they are mega-stars. Such a perfect band.
I don’t know if they are emerging but I enjoyed ‘Wilds’ by the Soundcarriers, I think that’s an interesting album sonically as well as musically – it’s quite fresh…