Wherein the advancing hordes, having travelled many leagues without food or sleep, stumble upon a peaceful valley where maidens are fair, the roads are littered with preC1ous stones, and Craig McLean engages in animated discourse wrth Laurence, the drummer from Ride. What is it with this particular band? Why have this group. with all their emphasis on de-emphasis. become so fixed in the national pop consciousness? Ride‘s image is a non-image. their indistinction is their distinction. their defining characteristics are indefinite. As if to give some ! sort of focus to their out-of-focus manoeuvres. to provide signposts along their upwards. onwards. ever-upwards progressional route. they label their records with apposite tags. First there was just ‘Ride‘. then ‘Play‘. then ‘Fall‘. then an album from i Nowhere. Now. they‘re on the verge of Going Blank Again. On the covers. ﬂowers. penguins. a wave. their decorous sleeve statements as abstruse as their musical textures. There‘s something good. appealing. to be discerned in there; grasping quite what it is. is another matter. 3
Are Ride overrated? ‘I don‘t think we could play very well at the start. and I feel that we can play i better now. This is my thesis about it: musicians are the last people to know what they‘re good at. Which kind ofexplains it all really! You may think we‘re crap now and I‘ll be saying. “But we can do this now. we can do that now“. What people see in a band is amazing.‘
What I see in this band is muddy enigma. Supplying the cloudy clues as to the secret of Ride‘s strange allure is their drummer. Not Mark
Gardiner. the swoonsome. croonsome. head-downsome singer. but the drummer. Says he. ’l'm quite happy to be quite anonymous and do the music. But at the same time it‘s nice to have people know what you are and what you do in a bandf
Well. he‘s Laurence and who knows what his second name is and he plays the drums and. er. that‘s it.
Talk to perhaps the most shaded member ofan. at best. half-lit group and the realisation dawns that Ride may well be a shrug of the shoulders set to music. For all the piling rush of ‘Chelsea (iirl‘. the first track on that first EP over two years ago.
and the eight-minute thundercloud that is the lead track on their last EP. ‘Leaving Them All Behind‘, they retain the stoop of a half-shut knife. the haze of half-drawn curtains.
Are Ride misconstrued? ‘I‘d be amazed if anyone saw the band the way I see it. ‘cos I‘m involved in it.‘ the drummer says tautologically. ‘They [the fans and the media] get it wrong. but everyone gets it wrong — even within the band we get it wrong. The main thing is Ride. which is what happens when we‘re all together. . .‘
Thanks for elucidating that for us.
‘We‘ve always re-invented what we‘re about with each EP. It‘s different faces of Ride. you don‘t buy the same record three or four times. there‘s totally different sides of Ride.‘
Sounds like the pre-emptive retort to a
‘sameyness' swipe at the band. Not that I uttered such a blasphemy, but I must profess that these supposed ever-shifting facets revealed in Ride‘s
first few releases slipped by me. That said. that last
single, the one that socked into the charts at
T Number Eight says its piece with a new
confidence, seems more definite somehow. If this
is indicative of a new Ride. and presages a new
clean-cut assertiveness on the forthcoming album,
then maybe Ride have finally got a grip, got a life,
got a clearer picture of how to sharpen the songs at
the centre of their — whaddaya call it? — ‘sonic maelstrom‘.
Are Ride remoulded'.’ ‘We‘ve definitely gone for dryness on this album.‘ says our spokesman. ‘Before we even recorded a note we had ideas about it. and we certainly didn‘t want any swirly reverb. bloody floating on drifty cloud sort of thing. It‘s a lot clearer and just more musical a lot ofthe time.‘
lneffectuality no more. dryness, way to go! Ride. more than any oftheir numbnut. numb-brain peers. have re-defined what pop stars are meant to say. look like. do. This is their triumph and their tragedy. Sure. they‘re not beholden to raise their heads and proclaim their godly pop starness from the rooftops. Let the music do the talking. But when that‘s mumbling as well. the frustration deepens.
Let‘s just hope that this second album don '1 walk it like they talk it.
Ride play The Barrowland. Glasgow on Thurs l2.
Strange days. Pitiful institutions like the BPI excepted, no one seems to know quite whatthe rules are any more, so some bands you’d never expect to find outside their own particular ghetto are raiding the charts with the full force of the media and industry behind them. Odd? Yes, indeed, but if these crossovers are
going to continue, the crunching, running.
visceral strains of Therapy? (this isn’t a disjointed sentence, the ? is part of
their name), currently sitting at the top of the indie charts and selling out gigs across the country, could well be in the I
. you opened a club.’
‘lt’s only recently that people have got off their arses and formed hands,’ says Therapist(?) Andy, discussing their unpromising start as Beefheart i and Big Black fans in Belfast three
years ago. ‘There aren’t any venues in Belfast, so there’s not a lot of incentive for people to form bands. Most people over here seem to be into showbands and discos-there’s not really a great ‘°* live scene — and, because Belfast is so small, you’d probably lose money if
They broke through that barrier, with the single ‘Meat Abstract’ (on their own Multifuckingnational label), and the a two mini-LPs so far, ‘Babyteeth’ and
‘Pleasure Death’ (on Wiiiia). Now, ratherthan taking the foolhardy path of big budgets on bigger labels, they want to carry on proving that small is not only beautiful, it can be the only hope of survival.
‘Bather than get into debt with advances, we’re just trying to cover costs when they arise. Money from gigs goes into the bank, and it we need gear we pay it off ourselves. We don’t want to be one of those bands who are 210-11000 in debt, hoping they'll make it.’ (Alastair Mabbott)
Therapy play The Venue, Glasgow on . Mon 2 and The Venue, Edinburgh on i Tue 3.
ON FOLLOWING PAGES: JAN GARBAREK O GUN O HENRY ROLLINS
The List 28 February — l2 March l992 25