Ride (Credit: Andrew Ogilvy)
Emerging from a two-decade break with a wonderful new album...

Ride’s incredible ascent was matched only by the speed of their downfall. A string of enthralling Eps essentially laid bare the blueprint for shoegaze, before seminal debut album ‘Nowhere’ soared all through the record-breaking summer heat of 1990.

Initially a solid, amorphous grouping – sometimes it was impossible to tell who was even taking lead vocal – the band’s unity splintered, and fractious creative differences pulled them apart.

By the time Ride called it quits in 1996, they were barely in their mid 20s, but in the eyes of the industry that – as it were – was that. “It felt very cruel to have it whipped away,” the band’s Lawrence Colbert admits.

Singer Mark Gardener adds: “I was happy to keep doing music in whatever form. Lots of collaborations, production, mixing… it’s all good for me. To me, that’s success – just to be able to continue doing music was great for me.”

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To me, that’s success – just to be able to continue doing music...

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Yet, somehow, the fragments of Ride managed to find one another again. Deciding to reform for a short burst of re-union shows in 2014, the band found themselves imbued with a new energy, reacting against the music climate that had once again embraced the nebulous realm of shoegaze.

Agreeing to three weeks’ worth of shows, Ride found that their rehearsal sessions were creating a strange sense of flux, with new ideas sparking off old songs. Mark Gardener: “I think from the word go with us – the first time around – any time we got in a room to rehearse or prep or do anything we’d end up writing and creating new things. It’s as natural as that. It just happens.”

“And this time around, when we were supposed to go in and start rehearsing for the reunion tour the first thing we did was just play lots of new things and see what was happening. I think in your own mind then it makes it feel more real.”

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It just felt like there was a lot of unfulfilled potential that we missed out on before...

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Nostalgia, it seems, isn’t Ride’s strong point. “Any creative endeavour should feed on what’s happening now, really,” the singer continues. “It’s nice to dip into the past, but I think personally I really need that feeling of moving forward, otherwise it’s just a bit too caught in nostalgia. And that’s a tricky beast, nostalgia, for the people in it and for the people listening to it. It’s a tough one.”

“It just felt like there was a lot of unfulfilled potential that we missed out on before,” Loz admits. “I never knew whether it was going to happen but I think we were all secretly thinking: oh, it would be great if we could record. Even though all we agreed to do was play three weeks worth of shows.”

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As the shows grew in success, though, the commitments put in place almost forced Ride to re-assess who they were, and where they were going. This wasn’t some trip down memory lane, it was a creative entity working in a starkly different climate.

“If it’s just about repeating something, then it’s an ever-decreasing circle in a way,” Mark says. “I mean, that’s how I’ve always viewed it. For something to go on it needs new blood, new life.”

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For something to go on it needs new blood, new life.

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New album ‘Weather Diaries’ is packed with fresh ideas right from the start. It’s a wonderful return, matching their potent live energy to some superb songwriting, all shot through with a powerful group dynamic. Musically, it’s pitched somewhere between the band’s debut LP and follow up ‘Going Blank Again’, reaching back to their initial glorious arc and wondering… what if?

“I think we all felt that there was still some more to do,” Loz insists. “I think that was quite a big thing. I don’t think anyone really felt – when the band finished – that that was it. We hadn’t actually really run out of steam or anything we just needed a break. And it ended up being a very long break.”

“I don’t think anyone had any doubts that it would be worth having a go, but we just didn’t know that we would have a change to have a go. And luckily we did.”

Ride’s second chapter doesn’t dismiss the musicians various dalliances over the previous two decades – rather, it embraces them. “We had a journey together, and we had a journey apart individually. I was really pleased because in a lot of ways we’re more aligned. Not just with our lives but in all sorts of ways than we ever were because we’ve all had more of a chance to think about that and experience life and our own journey.”

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In a lot of ways we’re more aligned.

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“Someone might have joined a weird clan or something,” he laughs, “you don’t really know until we all come back together. It can go anywhere on those life journeys. But thankfully the chemistry is totally there still, and if it wasn’t then music is really transparent. You’d hear it – it just wouldn’t work any more, and we wouldn’t have been able to make this record.”

Gradually stockpiling material during those lung-bursting runs across the globe, Ride turned travel almost into a point of inspiration.

The song ‘Impermanence’, Mark explains, owes a debt to a Pacific flight. “We stopped off in Hawaii – we were on our way to Japan – and we had this strange show in Hona Lulu,” he says. “But it actually turned out great because we basically had an extended soundcheck and then we started recording this jam we were doing and that’s what ended up on the album. It’s completely from that.”

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Communicating via email and Whatsapp, Ride used 21st century means to re-locate that initial sense of unity. “It’s more about a collective approach,” argues Loz. “Taking people’s strengths. Not just discounting something because they’re not the writer, or whatever, but looking to see what people can bring to the party. And entertaining those ideas, and that creativity. That feels more like where things are going, and certainly where we’re going. Ideas can come from anywhere, they might be an iPhone recording from a soundcheck, a demo, or a set of chords. And then it’s what we do with it, and where we take it.”

Somehow, Ride managed to capture that essential feeling of daring that runs through the finest moments of their catalogue. “For me, the feeling of Ride has always been a little bit on a tightwire, that you could fall off at any minute,” says the singer. “And I’ve always really liked that about the band, and I think that’s why initially at certain points we fall off, or the thing would crash.”

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The feeling of Ride has always been a little bit on a tightwire...

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“I think in order to keep the feeling going you don’t want to repeat yourself, you don’t want to worry too much about what happened – why you were successful or any of that. And you don’t hold yourself to any rules, in a way, and then you’ve got the chance to get the feeling back, where you’re back on a creative thing and something interesting comes from that feeling.”

Seeking an outside voice, Ride turned to Erol Alkan to fill the producer’s chair. An outspoken advocate for the band’s music, he seemed to be a perfect choice. “We talked about carrying on and finishing the record ourselves, but I think at the same time you learn as time goes on there’s a real power in letting go at the right time,” says Mark.

“I think Erol had obviously heard the songs, and what we’d done anyway, and had also seen a gig and he was really vibed by it. I think that’s the right way to do it because then we got to talk to someone who was vibed by what he could bring in, that energy in reaction to what he’d heard. And to really take it up a level.”

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Working furiously, Ride pushed themselves further and further, embracing fresh influences, fresh feelings in the process. Mark continues: “There are certain things that Ride do that always sound like Ride, but it was important to make a record – for me, anyway – that sounded like it was made in 2017 and reacted off what’s happening now. And Erol’s great at that.”

“Also, personally I feel quite secluded by the nature of being in the studio a lot, so with Erol was off doing his Djing at weekends to thousands we could tap into that energy. I think that’s really important.”

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You can’t look too far in the future. 

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Out now, ‘Weather Diaries’ is a triumph. It fuses the band’s neo-classicism – the guitar jangle of ‘Home Is A Feeling’ or ‘Lannoy Point’ - with distinct, fresh elements – the crunch of ‘Lateral Alice’ or the pirouetting electronics that dapple virtually the whole LP. Fans have reacted rapturously, leading to the simple question: well, what next?

Mark smiles. “Personally, I can’t look a lot further than this list of dates that’s ahead of us. That’s as far as I can see at the moment. But then, who knows? It’s a cliché but we’re enjoying the moment. I’m enjoying this pint, and talking to you right now. And I’m alright with that – it almost puts too much on things when you think about the future.”

“I’ve got an equally hopeful feeling that we’ll get another swing at this, to do another one at some point would be great,” adds Loz. “Maybe that’s one of the lessons we’ve learned. You can’t look too far in the future. You make your plans and God laughs at you!”

With a fine new album and a succession of international shows under their belts, Ride have every reason to smile.

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'Weather Diaries' is out now.

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