"I don’t think we ever thought about stopping..." - Ride talk new album This Is Not A Safe Place
When bands come back together after decades apart, the reunions generally go one of two ways. Either it's a short-lived burst of euphoria and a lucrative run, but the divisions that forced the band's members apart in the first place resurface and they quietly shuffle off back to their separate projects. Maybe they'll reform again, if the price is right, but there's no will to do anything more.
Or, the other option. Things go well. Really well. So much so that you want to make a record and then tour that. And then go again, because the fire that you felt when you first a band is back.
Luckily for us, the latter is the case for reformed psychedelic indie types Ride.
The foursome, guitarist/singers Andy Bell and Mark Gardener, bassist Steve Queralt and drummer Loz Colbert, decided to keep the ball rolling. For new album, This Is Not A Safe Place they've stuck with producer Erol Alkan and mixer Alan Moulder and continued to experiment with their psychedelic-tinged indie. It's a wild journey of a record.
As it arrives in shops, we spoke to Bell about the band's decision to keep going and the darkness that inspired the LP...
Did you always plan to keep going after you finished touring Weather Diaries? When did you decide to get straight back to work?
"I don’t think we ever thought about stopping after Weather Diaries, but we didn’t decide to make another album either. It just happened that we wrote a lot of songs while we were still touring Weather Diaries so it became sort of obvious that a new one was on the way. The idea of making a decision on it became unnecessary."
How did you want this album to move on from what you did on Weather Diaries? Did you want to do anything differently?
"The overall feel of the songs was a bit more specific and band-oriented than Weather Diaries, they had a real identity as a bunch of tracks. So it was kind of natural, and built-in, that there was a progression. So we didn’t feel the need to change things up too much with the production team because they are all very talented and versatile people who we felt would be able to help us realise what we were going for."
"We used a separate studio for the drums because we were after a specific drum sound, that was the main change. But after that, it was back to the regular studio and the regular team."
You worked with Erol Alkan again on ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’, why did you decide to do that?
"He and Alan Moulder are fixtures now in my book. Erol is very good for us, good at helping us reach for great things musically, a fellow adventurer, and Alan and his brilliant team at Assault and Battery are there to bring it into a Ride shaped end result. Caesar Edmunds mixed the record with Alan and did a great job."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"It’s pretty heavy and dark most of the time, for the most part, it deals with themes that are not happy. Betrayal, anxiety, anger, sadness, melancholy. In places it’s also really light - 'Future Love' is massively optimistic - but in truth, that track was written as light relief from the heavy themes on the record."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"'R.I.D.E' went through a lot of changes, only to end up pretty much how it started."
And which came together most quickly?
"Most of the tracks were really easy. I’d say maybe the easiest could have been 'Future Love'."
When did you decide on This Is Not A Safe Place for the album title? Were any other titles in contention?
"It’s a line from the lyrics of 'In This Room' and takes inspiration from Jean Michel Basquiat. He tagged /// after his graffiti in the 1980s, which is thought to have been a symbol from the Hobo Code, which means “This is not a safe place”. And the three lines, ///, was at one stage going to be the album title. But we went with the phrase instead."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"We have just been rehearsing. So far we have eight of the songs in a state that I would say is ready to play at a gig. But, of course, they will get better the more we do them. We are off to Australia and North America soon, we’ll be throwing a few new songs in here and there."
You’ve got six records now, how do you pick what makes it into the live set?
"It’s hard. We need some kind of mathematical formula!"