Although a lot of “’90s” acts of the alt rock persuasion who seem to have been a primary influence on pretty much every contemporary band worth listening to have been reuniting recently, few, in their present state, have appeared to be as profoundly significant as Oxford, England hyper-noisy rockers Ride. (I was at Terminal 5 in NYC for one of their very-few US headlining dates, which proved to be one of the biggest, sweatiest, and noteworthiest Rock’N’Roll experiences I’ve had in the past decade.) Well, the band, whose debut, Nowhere, which is often cited as the quintessential “shoegaze” album ever recorded (a term and genre that they tend to laugh off, as a bit of a narrowing cliché) is about to turn 25 next month, are about to kick off a 22-date US tour on September 17th at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC and will have them at our very own TLA on September 19th, for a show that seems like everyone in Philadelphia who knows a thing or two about all of the music of the past 30 years that actually matter is going to be attending.
One of Ride’s biggest selling points in regards to their legitimacy in 2015 is that they remain comprised of all and only original members, Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Steve Queralt, and Loz Colbert, and I recently got a chance to chat with bassist Steve Queralt about both the band’s original history and the recent months that they’ve been back together, playing music that they haven’t really touched in close to two decades. When I ask him about the highlights of their reunion dates, he tells me that both playing major markets as headliners and on major festival bills has been very satisfying: “Show wise, getting to play places like New York City has been great and also Field Day in London, and Primavera in Barcelona, and Fuji Rock in Japan have all been big highlights.” He also admits that he and his band have been very pleasantly surprised in regards to the audiences who are showing up, much of whom weren’t quite old enough to be there the first time around: “We expected it to be full of people who wanted to see us again, which was only about 10%, and we didn’t necessarily expect the younger generation, but that’s the power of Facebook and Twitter [laughs]. I mean, I remember Andy saying, ‘It’s so good to look out and not see of bunch of 50-year-olds, like us,’ [laughs].”
Although Ride’s first few records (Nowhere and Going Blank Again) were both critical and popular successes, the latter part of the band’s short history was plagued by a blend of “critical criticism” and arguments regarding “direction” between the band themselves. When I ask Steve about the high points of Ride’s initial run, he admits that it was definitely the early years that were the most exciting: “The first two years were absolutely full of highlights. The first EP, the first album, the first European tour, the first US tour, those were the best years of my life.” And when I ask him what the future holds for Ride, he’s admirably honest, with a sense of humor: “The simple answer is, ‘We don’t know.’ We have to think about it because we’re always asked about it, but we’re too busy to make these decisions. At this point we don’t know whether we could even be in a studio together [laughs], but there are no plans for 2016.”
While Ride’s reunion has been highly publicized, Steve tells me that for their upcoming dates, in smaller settings, they are actually going to be trying a few new things, considering that many mega-fans have already seen their initial reunion run. “The set we’ve been playing up until now has been the songs that we really want to play, but we’re going back to rehearse and try some additional stuff for people who have already seen us, things from Carnival of Light and Nowhere that we haven’t played.” I ask him what can be expected of the live experience this fall and he laughs and tells me that they actually feel tighter as a quartet than the first time around: “Hopefully it will be loud and intense, a better version of the band that existed 20 years ago. If you saw us 20 years ago and were disappointed, let us make it up to you.”