Reef Get Back Together… Over A Curry!
West Country retro-rockers Reef are back in the saddle after seven years away. Previewing a six-date UK tour, also a spot at the Isle Of Wight Festival that was announced after this interview took place, frontman Gary Stringer advises to enjoy the reunion while it lasts as no long-term plans have been made.
Interview: Dave Ling
Only last summer you were busy expounding the virtues of Them Is Me, the post-Reef band you formed with bassist Jack Bessant. Now Reef are back. What happened?
The four of us decided to meet up for a curry. Although I’m still close to Jack, I hadn’t seen much of Dom (Greensmith, drums) since Jack’s wedding the year before. I’d spoken to Ken (House, guitar) a bit. I didn’t think too much about what I was letting myself in for till I crossed the road to the restaurant. But it was fine. There was no major trauma. Nobody burst into tears or hit anyone.
So how does it feel to be back?
Absolutely amazing, mate. I won’t be coy or modest about it. The London and Bristol shows are already sold out. We’re also playing a secret – or not-so-secret – one in London on or around the 14th (of April]) then it all begins. After so long, you don’t know how your band will be remembered. But all you have to do is go onto YouTube to realise that we still mean a lot to a lot of people.
In your last Classic Rock interview you said the final nine months of Reef’s original existence were “tricky” and that it was starting to feel “like work”.
I’ll stand by that comment. It was a tough period, but only because we’d had such a ball during the previous ten years. We’d been a gang; we were frightened of no one. Every single penny was split four ways, no matter who wrote the song. In a way, that democracy was also part of our downfall. We just became a bit burned out. Had one person been a bit more assertive, maybe the band would have carried on. But everything has its natural course, doesn’t it?
Does this reunion mean the end of Them Is Me?
Absolutely not. A Reef tour is only three weeks of work. On Monday, Jack and I start work on an acoustic record. I love Them Is Me; we have a right old laugh.
Did Dominic bring back some good tales from touring with Mick Jones from The Clash and Gen X’s Tony James in Carbon/Silicon?
A few. He’s been enjoying himself by all accounts.
What has Kenwyn House been doing?
He’s in a duo called The Bliss (www.myspace.com/thebandthebliss) but I don’t know the details. You’d have to ask him.
Will the tour’s set list pretty much write itself? You know the songs the band want to play and the ones the fans will expect to hear?
To a large degree, yeah. We’ll start off in Glasgow and tweak it as we go. I dare say we’ll learn around 30 songs and play 26 or 27 of them. We had nine Top 40 hits, so we’ll play them. There’ll be a lot off the first and second records (1995’s Replenish and 1997’s Glow), a couple off Rides (1999), Getaway (2000) and Together (2003). A fella that runs a Reef website sent me a CD of all our B-sides, which I’d not heard in years. Steal Away and Life’s Seems So Clean are both cracking songs, so it’s possible that they’ll also be in the running.
How far ahead are you thinking – will there be a new album?
I don’t know about the new record bit. I’ve only done a handful of interviews so far but they’ve all asked that question. I don’t have a clue. Honestly, it’s not even been discussed. We’ve agreed to do these (headline) dates and there will probably be a few festivals in the summer, but we’ll have to sit down in the autumn and see.
Never say never, though?
Oh, definitely not. But we’re not daft. Let’s do a gig first!
Reef play the following gigs:
April 17: Glasgow ABC
April 18: Norwich UEA
April 20: Birmingham Academy
April 21: Bristol Academy
April 23: London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
April 24: Manchester Academy
June 13: Isle Of Wight Festival
Tickets are available from: www.livenation.co.uk