Ride on “Weather Diaries” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Ride on “Weather Diaries”

Impossible to Disembark

Sep 19, 2017 Issue #61 - Grizzly Bear Photography by Derrick Santini Bookmark and Share

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Timing is everything. Seminal early ‘90s U.K. group Ride broke up prior to the release of itsat the timefinal album, 1996’s Tarantula. Much was made of this split, marking it as acrimonious, when in reality it only lasted a few weeks with the members returning to each other quickly, albeit as friends, not band mates. The disbandment of the shoegazing pioneers was the result of too much: too much living in each other’s pockets, too much independence away from their families, too much fame, too much success, too much excess; all far too soon at too young of an age. Months shy of the release of Nowhere25, the 25th anniversary edition of the group’s 1990 landmark debut album, Nowhere, Ride made the formal announcement that it was whole againsomething the four had decided long before they made the information public.

“When you’re 20, you feel like you’re immortal and do crazy things,” says Mark Gardener, one of the group’s vocalist/guitarists, sitting in his pleasant home in the colorful Cowley Road neighborhood in Ride’s birthplace of Oxford, England. “As time goes on, you realize it’s not forever and you’re not immortal. You focus on what’s important to you, the things that have set you up in your life and that you’d like to experience again.”

“The bad side of being in Ride was all to do with youth,” states Andy Bell, the group’s other vocalist/guitarist, puttering around the home he shares with his family in North London. This version of Bell is a wispier one than previously experienced, but also more grounded and content. “We started out as 17-year-olds in a band and it all happened too fast. We were just very young and couldn’t deal with it.”

Since Ride’s dissolution, Gardener has performed solo, become an accomplished producer, mixer, and composer, lost a parent and gained a child. Bell formed the short-lived Hurricane #1, took a break to be a stay-at-home dad, then had a long spell in Oasis, and later, Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye“It seems I fall into the right situation at the right time,” he chuckles. Drummer Laurence “Loz” Colbert became the drummer-for-hire playing for the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Supergrass’ Gaz Coombes. Bassist Steve Queralt did some house husbanding of his own.

“I thought our next musical projects were going to work just as well as Ride and they didn’t,” admits Gardener, who may not have the mop of hair he used to hide behind, but what his face reveals now is openness and honesty. “You learn a lot in life from things that don’t work out, i.e., life after Ride, more than the ones that do, i.e., Ride. It was a lot of unfinished business, and it was so stupid how it all crashed. But there was immense relief as well because it needed to crash at that point. People should have just told us to take a break, then come back and get going.”

Speaking of Ride’s reformation, Gardener says, “I personally felt had I not done this, it would have probably haunted me for the rest of my life. Ride wasn’t going away, even when we weren’t doing it. The demand for us to play again was a deafening roar that was getting bigger and bigger. In the space of two years, I went from playing an acoustic show to 40 or 50 people, to Ride headlining Primavera Sound to 40,000 people.”

Furiously rehearsing for the abovementioned festival, which was preceded by Ride’s appearance at 2015’s Coachella, and followed by numerous tour dates, the four inadvertently started writing new material. The result is Weather Diariesan album that is as quintessentially and identifiably Ride as the group’s early critical and commercial releases, but is not clinging to nervous self-reference in the least. Rather, Weather Diaries sounds contemporary and fresh, is reflective of its time, and most importantly, is a showcase of some of Ride’s most superb output.

Weather Diaries spans Ride’s evolving sounds over the years. From the delightful “Charm Assault” and “Lannoy Point,” whose gorgeous guitar riffs bring to mind the best of Smiths era Johnny Marr, to the psychedelic layers of the sticky “All I Want” and the wandering, lullaby-like title track, the effects-driven “Rocket Silver Symphony,” and the heavy “Lateral Alice,” all musical Ride needs are met.

“The songs go from being insular to being alive,” says Bell. “Even though they start separately, the work we do together on them and the way we play them is really important. It has always been good in the studio with us. It was slightly bad on Tarantula when we were just about to break up, but generally, recording is always good.”

“Music and bands are very transparent,” says Gardener of Weather Diaries. “If things weren’t working and if there wasn’t that chemistry, then this album would sound terrible. We keep each other in check, and that’s also where some of the tension comes from because we demand a lot out of each other in a silent sort of way. No one’s slacking, or taking a rideexcuse the pun.”

The group gives a lot of credit to producer Erol Alkan for his direction on Weather Diaries. Coming from a dance background as a well regarded DJ and label owner, but also known for his production skills for the likes of Late of the Pier and Mystery Jets, Alkan’s different perspective is exactly what Ride needed.

“You’re inviting another head into this intimate space and that’s kind of embarrassing,” says Bell. “That’s the nitty gritty of being in a band. It’s not being cool in any way. You’re bringing your offering to the band and you’re trying to make it work and when you have someone in that place with you that shouldn’t be there, it’s so wrong. [Alkan] is this easygoing guy with music who has a great mixture of patience and enthusiasm. Left to ourselves, we’d be more skittish and move from idea to idea, not do the things we’d thought of ourselves and get bored quickly. It wouldn’t have been seen through in the same way.”

“I’ve done a lot of work with other bands, and with Ride, I want to be guy back in the band, so personally, it was liberating for me, the power of letting go,” adds Gardener. “We are also totally aware of how strong the legacy is. If you want to kill your legacy, come back as a pastiche of what you were. It’s the ultimate challenge, in a way.”

He continues, “Ride grew in our absence. We’re the people, but the music has a its own life. I’m really pleased it has done what it’s done. That’s all we could have hoped for, that anything we set out to do stands the real important test, which is time.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Summer 2017 Issue (July/August/September 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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