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Members include Andy Bell, vocals, guitar; Laurence "Loz" Colbert, drums; Mark Gardener, vocals, guitar; Steve Queralt, bass.
Ride, who took their cue primarily from My Bloody Valentine, was one of most respected bands in existence during a short-lived, yet vital British music movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Dubbed by journalists as "shoegazing" for the musicians' habit of staring at the floor while playing live and "the scene that celebrates itself" because bands sometimes attended other like-minded acts' concerts, these bands musically created sounds at odds with traditional pop, rock, and punk.
Often described as ethereal or otherworldly, the shoegazing sound combined a myriad of distorted guitars, swirling keyboards, percussion, and voices--both human and instrumental--that were often indistinguishable from one another, obscuring individual identity. "We try to make the music the personality and keep ourselves quite anonymous," guitarist/vocalist Andy Bell once commented, as quoted by Gavin Stoker in Rock: The Rough Guide.
When grunge (imported from the United States) and Britpop swept across the United Kingdom, however, most of these shoegazing bands fell apart after they were suddenly ignored by the music media and the public. Ride lasted longer than most, staying intact amid critical derision and disinterested fans. The band released its final album, the highly acclaimed Tarantula, in March of 1996.
Ride was formed in Oxford, England, where Andy Bell (vocals and guitar), Mark Gardener (vocals and guitar), and Laurence "Loz" Colbert (drums) were attending Banbury Art College, and Steve Queralt (bass) was working in a local record shop. Bell had dreamed of starting a band since his childhood, citing the Beatles as his early inspiration. "I started playing the guitar when I was nine," he said in a Creation Records website interview, "and I always knew I'd be in a band. I wanted to put records out and play gigs and be a pop star." For Queralt, "destiny" played a role in his introduction to music. "My dad found a bass in a skip so he says and brought it home for me," he told Creation. "I was listening to lots of reggae at the time and was able to follow the basslines. Fate I guess."
Their first rehearsal took place in October of 1988 at Colbert's mother's home in Ramsden. During the next few months, the four young men--all sharing a love for the music of the Faces, the Rolling Stones, the Stone Roses, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, the House of Love, and the Jesus and Mary Chain--concentrated on writing songs and improving their instrumental skills.
When the quartet felt confident enough to perform live, they began to build their reputation playing gigs in Oxford; their first was at a pub, which has since been dismantled, called the Jericho Tavern. Ride soon attracted the attention of a local journalist and promoter named Dave Newton, who, after signing on as manager in 1989, helped spread news of the new band to the London media. Loud, intense, and driven by distorted guitars and indecipherable vocals, Ride seemed the perfect counter to the dance music resonating from the city of Manchester at the time.
Creation Records, an innovative independent label, signed Ride that same year. Later in 1989 the band recorded the highly anticipated Ride. Released in January of 1990, the four-track EP, featuring the songs "Drive Blind" and "Chelsea Girl," quickly outsold its initial press and climbed into the bottom of the United Kingdom charts. A few months later, in April, Ride resurfaced with a second EP entitled Play. Another instant success, the record made the top 40 with the standout track "Like a Daydream" and a steady touring schedule. Smile, a compilation of the first two EPs, was also released in 1990.
Ride spent most of the summer preparing for a full-length debut album, the early results of which were heard on yet another EP entitled Fall, released in September of 1990. Radio favorites from this record included "Taste" and "Dreams Burn Down." Finally, in October, Ride released Nowhere, living up to fan and critical anticipation with tracks like "Seagull" and "Vapour Trail." A fourth EP, the more mature Today Forever, followed in March of 1991, providing the group with its first British top-20 record. These early, well-received commercial successes, coupled with the group's developing songwriting and instrumental skills, suggested that Ride had staying power.
During the months of March and April, Ride headlined a United States tour with Lush, another shoegazing outfit. Afterwards, they toured Japan, Australia, and France, then returned to the United Kingdom to work on a new album. In February of 1992 Ride released the eight-minute progressive rock single "Leave Them All Behind," a Melody Maker single of the week and the quartet's only top-ten hit. March saw the release of the group's second album, Going Blank Again, another mainstream success. Following shows throughout Great Britain, Ride returned to the States, Japan, and Australia. That summer, the group played its second Reading Festival, followed by a fall tour of Europe.
By now, however, the members of Ride were beginning to feel less enthusiastic about the group's future. "The first tour went very well for us," recalled Bell to Magnet magazine's Corey Dubrowa. "We were still very happy as a band. The troublesome tour was the next one, spring 1992. Our second album had just come out, and instead of feeling like it was all a new adventure, we were overworked and didn't really want to be there. Plus, kids and marriages were starting to come into the band's lives. The music suffered, and I was putting almost nothing into the playing, which I now feel quite guilty about."
Consequently, Ride decided to take an extended break. Their next album, the psychedelic-inspired Carnival of Light, was not released until 1994. Although the effort received favorable reviews, it went largely overlooked by the public, who were now more interested in Britpop bands such as Blue, Suede, and Oasis. Furthermore, tensions among band members were at a peak, especially between songwriters Gardener and Bell. "Imagine an argument where the way you win is by saying, 'I don't want my songs on the same side of the album as yours'--and it actually happens," Bell continued in Magnet. "We were allowed by the people around us to behave like total babies."
In the early months of 1995 Gardener moved to New York City, announcing his departure from the band by midyear. Before he left, however, Ride recorded one last album, Tarantula, released in March of 1996, which earned positive press. Some even called it Ride's finest effort. Ride, nonetheless, had already announced that they planned to disband.
Thereafter Gardener began working with dance music producer Paul Oakenfold and Gary Stonedage, formerly of the group Big Audio Dynamite, though the project never came to fruition. After attempting to launch a solo career, he formed the Animalhouse with Colbert and producer Sam Williams, a former member of the Mystics. They released one album, Ready to Receive in 2000, before splitting a year later. Meanwhile, Bell formed a new group, Hurricane #1, and released two records for Creation. Following that band's the demise, he played briefly with Gay Dad and joined Oasis, on bass, in November of 1999. Creation released a Ride "best-of" album in 2001 that was subsequently released stateside in 2002 on The First Time Records.
by Laura Hightower
Group formed in Oxford, England, 1988; signed with Creation Records, 1989; released mini-LP Smile and debut album Nowhere, 1990; released Going Blank Again, 1992; released Carnival of Light, 1994; released Tarantula, disbanded, 1996.
- Selected discography
- Fall (EP), Creation, 1990.
- Nowhere Creation, 1990.
- Play (EP), Creation, 1990.
- Ride (EP), Creation, 1990.
- Going Blank Again Creation, 1992.
- Today Forever (EP), Creation, 1992.
- Birdman (EP), Creation, 1994.
- Carnival of Light Creation, 1994.
- Black Night Crash (EP), Creation, 1996.
- Tarantula Creation, 1996.
- Ox4--The Best of Ride Creation, 2001; reissued, The First Time, 2002.
- Buck, Jonathan, et al., editors, Rock: The Rough Guide, Rough Guides Ltd., 1999.
- Magnet, March/April, 2002.
- "Andy Bell," Creation Records, http://www.creation-records.com (August 30, 2002).
- "Hurricane #1: Touchdown," Hurricane #1, http://www.hurricanenumberone.freeserve.co.uk (August 30, 2002).
- "Interview with Steven Queralt of Ride," Creation Records, http://www.creation-records.com/ride/steveride.html (November 15, 2002).
- "Ride," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (August 29, 2002).
- "Ticket to Ride," Ticket to Ride, http://www.mareasub.it/ride/welcome.htm (August 29, 2002).
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