Reef Interview

Indie | Friday 16th December 2011 | Osh


British rock legends Reef hit the road again after a seven year break from the stage.

I caught up with bassist Jack Bessant during the lead-up to Reef’s eagerly anticipated London comeback gig this December at the Kentish Town Forum, to see how things have changed for the band over the years and what it’s been like finally getting back on tour with the guys.

“We’ve had some really good reactions to the reunion,” Jack Bessant stated, when asked about the general feedback from fans since the 2010 comeback. “In particular the Bristol and London gigs – obviously when you’re onstage you can’t really see much as it’s dark but I remember when the house lights went on in Bristol and I could see people really getting into it, and the same with London, watching people really rockin’ out. It was great to be back.”

Having previously toured with the likes of Paul Weller, Sound Garden and even The Rolling Stones, and with smash hits under their belt such as “Place Your Hands” and “Naked”, Reef have had quite a run, but since 2003 certain members have been exploring new directions musically. Jack Bessant explained to me about his latest slightly unusual musical project with Reef singer Gary Stringer, called “StringerBessant”. The two have been touring together with their new acoustic album “Yard”. It seems the guys have delved into a new altogether softer scene since the break with Reef in 2003…

“It’s that thing with art or music, where you hear a sound or you see a picture and you just want to try and complete it, you know? And I think personally I’d just heard a sound and wanted to put something new out there, so I spoke with Gary, and we just found we had a really good time doing it. We’ve been working on it a while and it all just came together this year when we recorded it. Happy days,” Jack told me.

However, don’t go thinking that Bessant and Stringer have gone completely soft – the guys have been more than happy to be back blasting out the mean riffs and edgy sounds nice and loud this year. Jack cheerily began to reminisce about good times on tour back in the good old days with Reef…

“We went on tour with Paul Weller once, that was really fun. We’d been playing places in London like the Kings Head and then suddenly we were playing three nights at Albert Hall, rockin’ in the van and supporting Paul Weller, it was absolutely awesome! It’s been really enjoyable touring like before, playing bass in front of loads of people again, and everyone in the band’s been playing really well.”

Of course, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing and glamour on tour – as with any band, things are always bound to go wrong now and then – it comes with the territory, and Reef have been no exception, as Jack explained to me, chuckling.

“Nothing’s ever gone too disastrously wrong at a gig, but sometimes things will go a bit wrong, like someone will trip over or something, but then that’s all just part of the gig. Although, we had to do a Radio 1 Road Show once and we thought our manager would be bringing the guitars for the gig, but then he didn’t, and we were stuck with no instruments in Cornwall! We had to run to a nearby guitar shop while Gary bought us some time on stage with a random crowd sing-along. But then we ended up smashing up the guitars we’d just bought!”

Typical rock stars… Fingers crossed the guys don’t forget their guitars this time round!

Having started out in 1993, almost unheard of, under the original band name “Naked”, with their rare demo “Purple Tape”, it is safe to say that West Country boys Gary Stringer, Jack Bessant, Kenwyn House and Dominic Greensmith have come a long way to form the Reef that now steps back onto our London stages in their triumphant joint return to the world of music. Don’t miss them as they storm the UK once again – hopefully WITH their guitars.