Reef to comeback brighter

eGigs talks to Gary Stringer, frontman of Reef on Monday 18 January 2010

eGigs had a quick chat with Gary Stringer frontman of the newly reformed Reef who will be back with a mini-tour in April after nearly seven years apart. The quartet, who had chart success with hits including 'Naked', and 'Place Your Hands, broke up in 2003, now they're back and Gary is optimistic that they'll 'Come Back Brighter'.

What are you up to at the moment?
Just about to start recording an acoustic record, with Jack the bass player from Reef. We've just put in place where we're going, and we have a studio in Somerset here, and I think we're going to start in the middle of January, so I'm pretty excited about that, actually. I'm actually just outside Glastonbury, I grew up in Glastonbury.

What made you decide to reform?
I had a phone call from Tank who was our old manager, and basically he said that we'd been offered some shows by Live Nation, and I took the night to think about it, spoke to him the next day and said yes I was up for it. We finished in 2003 with Reef, and that's the best part of six years, and it felt normal and natural to do. At the end of the day I love singing, so, why not play with the boys again?!

Is the acoustic album going to be a Reef album?
No, it'll be something called Stringerbessant (our surnames) we've just put some demos up before Christmas on myspace. Before that between Reef, especially over the last two or three years called Them Is Me.

Is that band now on hiatus?
Not really, we've got some gigs in April, so after the Reef shows we've got some Them Is Me shows, hopefully this year will be a couple of months doing the acoustic record putting that together, then it'll be a month or Reef, and then Them Is Me. So I'm just trying to keep busy I guess.

You put in some great appearances at Glastonbury over the years...
Yeah, good times loved it. I love Glastonbury Festival full stop, I mean growing up in Glastonbury obviously...

There's no chance of you playing this year?
You never know do you, I don't know when they'll start announcing it, but I'd love to, we'll see. The April shows are selling really well at the moment, so I guess it will be a case of seeing how that goes, and seeing if anyone fancies it. We'll see, I haven't heard anything yet.

You used to throw in a few covers in live shows, are you likely to do that in April?
I doubt it, I should imagine it'll be pretty much an amalgamation of all the albums we did put into one, a greatest hits set. That's what we're working on at the moment, between us, trying to get thirty songs up to scratch and probably end up playing 25 of them. Then we'll get a set together, and probably play the first couple of nights the same. We'll probably be doing a warm up show on the Tuesday somewhere, probably either in London or Bristol.

What's your favourite Reef song?
Jeezus, that's a good question pal. I think it probably changes from time to time, I really like the song 'Steal Away' I really like that. I really enjoyed a lot of the stuff we did on the greatest hits record. The extra songs like 'Stoned For Your Love', and 'Lucky Number' I think is a great song. We went and recorded five original songs, and then they put out, I don't know how many top 40 hits we had, nine or ten something like that, they stuck them on as well. So 14 or 15 songs and I thought that we made some really good music on that album, basically we didn't have enough songs for a full album, which was why we did that. That's some of the best stuff we did.

It would be great if the radio played one of your other hits rather than 'Place Your Hands' all the time.
(Laughs) Well, it's a double edged sword, I love that song it means a lot to me, and also it's stopped me needing to get a real job for the last three or four years, so I can't really complain.

After Reef's break up have you just been concentrating on Them Is Me?
Well, for a couple of years I didn't really do anything, at the end of 2003 when it all stopped for us, I didn't really want much to do with music. I did a couple of DJ slots in 2004, and I put together a covers band doing a gig at a festival down in Cornwall that July. That was really good fun, playing 'Ballad of Hollis Brown' by Bob Dylan, 'I'm Bored' by Iggy Pop, or 'No Rain' (Blind Melon) those sorts of songs. I really enjoyed that, but afterwards I tried to forget about music for a while. I had a young family and got into that, and I find myself up late at night, about 3-4 in the morning, naturally, humming words and trying to put them together or singing melodies.

So, I guess in time I started recording them and writing them down, met up with Jack and actually started writing this acoustic album that we're doing now. We've probably written half of it, because we thought if we're going to come back we'd probably come back with a rock album. We formed Them Is Me and that's gone great. We made a record, everything from writing the songs to barcoding it, and manufacturing it. It's been an interesting few years really, and then when Tank rang up about the Reef, I thought why not.

So do you think Reef will be back now for a few years?
I honestly couldn't tell you, and that's not me trying to be difficult or evasive, but I honestly don't know pal. We've been offered six shows, and I've said yes to it, and that's all we’ve said yes to far, and by the looks of it, it's going to sell. We'll see really, and play it by ear, we've got no grand masterplan anymore for Reef. That doesn't mean we won't continue to do a few gigs, we'll see what happens.

Did you have a masterplan for Reef?
Oh yeah, we had a masterplan, wake up and have the best time of your life. We had a right ball. I wouldn't change it for all the tea in China, we had a right laugh. We were a right gang, we weren't scared of anyone, we could play with anyone, and I think we were a great live band, yeah it was great fun. Enjoyed it.

Do you still go surfing?
I haven't gone surfing since September last year, I blew my knee out. I'm just on the downhill part of getting better from that, I've got another week and then I can back into exercising, and this that and the other.

Did you do that surfing?
Well, no I actually did it in a swimming pool, but I won't go there. Jack popped off the other day, while we were doing this acoustic thing, and went and had a surf in the snow.

With Reef having reformed who would you like to see get back together?
I don’t know really Jane's Addiction have reformed I was always a big fan of them, and AC/DC have never stopped, I was a fan of them, who would I like to see reform, no idea. Most people are either dead or they're reformed. I went out for a couple of days drinking in Ireland just before Christmas to hang out with a couple of friends and in town was Lily Allen, Basement Jaxx, Simple Minds, OMD, all staying in the same hotel. It was crazy the amount of artists there were in town. I think even Depeche Mode were there but they weren't doing a show. So, there's plenty of bands still out there.

Who was the first band you ever went to see?
My first paying gig was a local band called Que Pasa, and I was bang into my metal so I went to see Iron Maiden, Dio (embarrassingly enough) that was the bands I was into when I was 13-14. As I got older I got into Jane’s Addiction and that sort of thing. Then Rage Against The Machine came along didn’t they, happy days.

Who's been your musical influences?
Bon Scott, no question about it, he was the reason I started singing, actually that’s not quite true. Bon Scott was my first hero, I thought he was absolutely amazing at 13 years old. I turned up, all my friends in Glastonbury turned up and we were all into our metal just because friends were really. At that age it's a bit of reaction, like tapping you knee and you leg flying up, there's no thought behind it maybe. Turned up there, and they had a drum kit and guitar amp there, and I started singing over the top. Definitely Bon Scott was the bee's knees when I was that sort of age.

What was your most memorable Reef gig?
Glastonbury Festival, got to be. We ended up playing it a couple of times, three times I think. We headlined the Other Stage which was great in the mud one year. I went home and had cauliflower cheese and bacon with my mum and came back on site and did the gig, it couldn't get much better than that as far as I'm concerned. What a night, they stuck a few of the tunes up on the internet from that gig and they sound great, so that was cool.

Also in the sun in my shorts on the main stage, early doors as one of the first times we played, and then later on a mid-evening slot on the main stage as well, when Ian Dury passed away and we covered 'Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll', good vibes.

So you don't camp when you go to the Festival then?
Oh yeah I do, I just popped home to go and see my mum, like I said I grew up in Glastonbury. Last year I turned up and did half and half, went in parked my van up, had a good time, crawled back to the van at 5am, sleep until 10-11am and then saunter back for a shower. So it's a half in, half out vibe. But, I've camped there, yeah, plenty of times.

Do you like touring?
Yes, I loved it, I loved it on the tour bus, I have no problem with touring at all, really enjoyed it.

When you're on tour what do you take with you?
Now it'd be my computer (it wouldn’t be back then), digital radio, book, and a few clothes, that's about it really, I guess.

And what's your favourite comfort food on tour?
Porridge, I like, and then pasta, meat, and it's good fun taking your bike on tour too. Like a mountain bike or something, so you can nip off somewhere.

Thanks Gary
Happy days man, I'm stoked about the shows. Enjoy yourself bye.

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article by: Scott Williams

published: 18/01/2010 11:47

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