Coachella 2015: Ride announces Roxy gig, talks reunion, guitar pedals

Coachella 2015: Ride announces Roxy gig, talks reunion, guitar pedals
Ride will return to perform at Coachella after nearly 20 years. The band just announced a pre-set gig at the Roxy. (Emilie Bailey)

Though the British guitar band Ride called it quits in 1996, the thick guitar layers and washes of melodies it made during its mid-1990s prime are likely still echoing somewhere in the galaxy.

Until a few months ago, those reverberations were all fans had to sustain themselves. The band, which rose as part of essential English label Creation Records' roster, has lain dormant for nearly two decades but is returning for round two when it hits the Coachella Music and Arts Festival next weekend.

Area fans not making a trek to the desert, though, will have a chance to see them early at the Roxy. The band has announced a pre-fest set for Wednesday, April 8, at the same venue where it made its Los Angeles debut in the early '90s.

In the band's absence, Ride's sound has endured. Like those lucky few artists whose work becomes a signpost, Ride helped create its own genre, the unfortunately named "shoegaze" movement. Along with fellow Creation band My Bloody Valentine, Ride and its peers have spawned a legion of admirers and imitators.


That's encouraging for Mark Gardener, who cofounded Ride with fellow guitarist-singer Andy Bell in 1988. Gardener is blunt, and humbled, about his impressions of today's guitar music.

"I think [we] would have had to live in a hole in the ground ... not to have realized that Ride and the influence of our music has been growing and growing in our absence," he told The Times. "That's extremely heartening."

Born in Oxford, England, during a particularly ripe time for melodic, feedback-happy guitar bands, Ride never achieved the status of My Bloody Valentine, but the quartet crafted a sound that at its best channeled the spirit of British guitar pop and post-punk and merged it with the harmonic vibe of Los Angeles in the 1960s. The band released four albums between 1990 and 1996.

Though their 1996 split wasn't without its drama, Gardener recalls sitting with his bandmates around a table in 2014 after they had decided to commit to the reunion.

"It was such a warm feeling. Like, we really did something right," he said. "That we're even having this conversation, or even talking about the offers that we're talking about, that we can go out and tour the world again and play Ride music for people, is an incredible feeling."

The band's biggest concern was one of sound. Guitar texture was paramount in Ride's work, and the group found those tones through use of myriad effects pedals and electronic units. Gardener said he had to undertake a little sonic archaeology to uncover the buried tones and settings.

"I became like a white-coat lab technician," he said. "They weren't all pedals. There were units like the Roland GP-16 and stuff, which we used a lot in the early days. I had kept all of the Ride sounds in the machine. I guess I maybe thought one day, or if we ever did play again, I should keep all these sounds in there."

A few months ago he went digging, "looking at every sound that I used, every effect that I used on every song. Then I went out and found amazing pedals to augment those presets, to make it a whole lot deeper and a whole lot wider and a whole lot better. That's been a big part of what I've been doing over the past few months."

To fans of the band, the notion of a deeper, wider and better Ride surpasses even the loftiest expectations.

Tickets for the Roxy show April 8 go on sale at 3 p.m. Pacific time today.

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit