We chat with Reef
In the late ‘90s, Reef famously went a little nuts on the set of ‘Hey Hey Its Saturday’; Reacting to the poor treatment of some young Red Faces contestants, they trashed their gear whilst screaming out an even crazier version of ‘Your Old’. They then threw down their instruments and literally did a runner from the studio, leaving Daryl Sommers to boldly claim that Reef, “will never work in this town again!”
Well Daryl who’s the one not working in this town anymore? That’s right! Reef are back, and I spoke to lead singer Gary Stringer about their upcoming Australian tour.
Reef seem to have been keeping themselves limited to a tight UK festival circuit over the past two years, so why Australia? “Why Australia? Why not Australia!!”, proclaimed Gary down the phone. “We always did well in Australia, we went there three times and we had gold records there and its always a good vibe there. I love the Metro Theatre in Sydney and were going back there. I’m really looking forward to it, I have a lot of time for Australia, I’ve never had a bad vibe there”.
Speaking of good vibes, how did the reunion take place in 2009, and how does it feel to be together as Reef? “At the time I was knocking around with a band called Them Is Me and at the end of 2009 we were asked to Reef, and we had some time spare in April the following year and it just felt right.”
“Our manager, Tank, got us together for curry and a few beers and talked to us and it felt pretty natural and I knew straight away, but I still thought about it overnight. I rang Tank back the next day and said ‘all right’, it just felt right, I am a singer, I sing, it makes sense to sing the songs that you did over ten years ago and are still paying you money. So we did a couple of shows and they all sold out, then off the back of that we did Glastonbury and Isle of White and then did some touring of Europe and Ireland and now we going to Australia!”
So essentially what happened to Reef, why did you guys break up? “Look from 1993 we had a good ten years, we were a real band and there was no one we were frightened of, we respected other musicians but we were able to go anywhere in the world, play any festival and win the crowd over, play well and enjoy ourselves”.
“Everything was good but it was only the last six months from about August 2002 to last few months were it just felt like work, but we were blessed to have those ten years and charge around the world, Canada, Japan, Australia, Spain, Norway, all over the world really, and you know staying in plush hotels and hanging out with models and having a laugh. But then it became like work and at the start of 2003 we downed tools and decided to put our feet in the sand and decided just to hang out a bit.”
It would be remise not to talk to Gary about their huge hit, ‘Place Your Hands’ from their 1997 Glow album. It’s an evergreen song, a song that sounds as fresh today as it did back in ‘97 and so does their uber cool music video. “People still say the song sound fresh and relevant, but not the video! Bless your heart. The song still gets played all the time on Radio 1 over here, I guess the song just connected with people in the past, and it must connect with people now, I just cant think of any other explanation… it’s best not to poke around it, the production on that album [Glow] was fantastic, you know with George Drakoulious [Black Crowes producer] Jim Scott [engineer] you know a lot of heavyweights worked on that album.”
It looks like there will be no new material from Reef, so for the moment you will have to compromise and listen to Striner Bessant: Gary Stringer, Jack Bessant (Reef bassist), and as a guest star, Dominic Greensmith (Reef drummer) – ‘Reef three-quarters’ if you will.
Although if you are a hardcore fan, Reef have just launched their massive nine CD/one DVD box set, ‘Reef 93/03’ last week. It contains everything single song they have recorded, including their original demo tape, yes that’s right, the Purple Tape for those hard core, in the know, Reef fans.
So what was behind the launch of such a massive catalogue, was it to give something back to the hardcore fans? “Yes it was, but to be honest there was some self-interest there as well. When we started doing the shows again we were playing some decent size venues and decent sized crowds, and when your singing these songs and the crowd is singing them back at you, well, that must have pricked our radar back up to our own music. I mean we had moved on to different things but it made me think what else have we [Reef] got?”
‘Then we did a show a show at The Forum and we meet a guy called Ian who came up to us and said he wanted to do a boxed set, at the time we thought ‘you know we don’t have time’, we were busy with our own things. But we meet Ian again down Metropolis Studios and it is flattering that he wanted to do this, so there was a bit of ego stroking. And it is good to give back to the fans and to show what we have done, I am really proud of it.”