Thursday, October 27, 2011

Retro Music Thursdays: Ride

I've been totally remiss on my Retro Music Thursdays! I might just start posting music with no comment at all, just songs I want to listen to, despite the stories I could connect to all of them. But this week is Ride. And I have to brag on this one; it's because of Ride I can officially say I was hit on by a famous person. ;)

Ride were the leaders of the shoegazer movement in the UK at the time: loud guitars, long hair that hung into their faces, staring at the ground as they played (hence the name of the movement) and they were loud. FREAKIN' loud. They were headed up by two young guys, Andy Bell (the one on the far right in the pic) and Mark Gardner, the Mick Jaggeresque guy on the left. They were the songwriters, guitarists, and singers. Their harmonies and the wall of sound they produced on album were extraordinary.

The first time they played Toronto I was too young to go see them, and my boyfriend at the time (now husband) went anyway. Bastard. They were playing with Lush, Ride's female equivalent (I'm sure I'll play them on here one of these days), and Rob came home with a t-shirt for me that I wore until it was just a bunch of loose threads. He also came home with what we thought at the time was serious hearing damage. You know that ringing in your ears you have after a loud show? It lasts a day or two... but after five days it was STILL happening and we thought oh crap, he's done it now. To this day I worry that his Pete Townshendesque hearing is a result of that show, and not all the gigs he played himself at the time.

But anyway, a couple of years later I was FINALLY 19, and I was off to see them. Andy and Mark had an obsession with the book, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" and the themes of that book permeated their first full-length album. Like on this song, "Seagull."

Rob and I were working at the student newspaper at the university (well, OK, HE was, and I always tagged along as the photographer because I was still in high school... back then you had grade 13 so you were much older by the time you went to university). I'd gotten backstage at a lot of shows as "the photographer" and no one ever seemed to notice that I didn't take a single shot (I had no idea how to use the fancy camera the paper had given me). So instead, I went into this glaringly bright back room and sat in the very soft couch, sinking almost all the way to the floor, and Rob set up at a table with Andy and the two began talking. Mark Gardner was in the far corner tuning a guitar, and I just listened to the interview. At one point Andy began asking Rob if he'd read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and Rob said no. I had actually just written a long paper on JLS for a World Religions course I was taking, and I retold the story as a metaphor of Zen buddhism and achieving nirvana. So I piped up and said something, and Andy turned and began talking to me. Mark jumped up from the corner and rushed over to the couch, where he sat down next to me and we sank even further into the ground. He began asking me what I thought of it, and the three of us were talking about the book and poor Rob was sitting there wondering how the heck he was going to get his interview back on track. Finally I said something like, "But anyway, I don't think we have much more time here, so..." and looked at Rob as the cue for him to keep going, and he did (he was actually really good at steering people back over). Andy continued talking to him, and Mark lowered his voice and kept talking to me. And then he asked me what I was doing after the show and could he meet me for a coffee or something.

Now, I was 19 and he was supercute but I loved Ride for their music, and not them. Oh, and not to mention my BOYFRIEND was sitting right there, now engrossed in a conversation about guitars with Andy Bell and not hearing this. I smiled and shyly said I lived two hours away and we'd have to get going after the show, and he said oh come on, we could find a way to get you home, and I said no, no that was OK.

During the show we were up near the stage and Mark blew a kiss at me. Melt. But just for the record, I have zero regrets about that. It makes a great story this way, and if it had happened any other way, I could have NEVER MENTIONED IT. ;) (Side note: when the Manchester dance scene band The Inspiral Carpets played Toronto, two of my friends went and the same thing happened with them, but they said yes, and became the band's in-town "groupies" for over a year. Weird. I heard things about those guys I really didn't want to know.)

While Nowhere is a fantastic album, I think this song is probably my favourite. Unfortunately you actually need the album and headphones (or a super-loud stereo and understanding neighbours) to truly appreciate the awesome sound these guys created.

1 comment:

yourblindspot said...

When 'Nowhere' came out, I lived in that record for months. Loved the EPs from that period, too, like the one called 'Today Forever' that had this track on it : Great stuff that I still pull out and spin on Saturday afternoons sometimes. Thanks, Nik!