During the Britpop movement of the mid-nineties, there were few bands that made a lasting dent that would see them still going strong some 20 years later. Reef are one of those bands. Well equipped with a hefty catalogue of notable single releases including All I Want, Weird, Come Back Brighter, Yer Old and the outfits signature hit, Place Your Hands; an anthem that is as popular today as it was when it was released back in 1996, Reef made a lasting impression on British music that has transcended 3 decades and helped carve an envious legacy for the band.
Despite continuing to regularly tour Europe and play the stages of the UK’s biggest festivals, Reefs last studio record was released back in 2000 (Getaway) so the band are long overdue for a commercial comeback. They are now preparing for just that with the release of brand new single, How I Got Over and taking back to the road to test out some of their new material.
We caught up with bass player Jack Bessant recently to chat about the bands return to the studio and their latest trek around the UK in support of their upcoming studio release. Here is what Jack had to tell us…
Brendon Veevers: How are you guys and where in the world does our interview find you?
Jack Bessant: Hi there, Renowned for Sound! I am currently at home in Somerset, hanging out in between tour dates..feeling excited and loving music!
BV: Let’s start things off with the bands new single! Reef have always been a little shaky in terms of committing to putting out new material. You have a new single currently doing the rounds called How I Got Over. Can you let us in on a few facts about the track and what the inspiration was behind this new single?
JB: The track was put to us along with a few other choices by George Drakoulias who has produced REEF in the past. The idea being to find an interesting cover for us to record and put out as a single as an introduction for Reef back into radio and the current scene. How I Got Over appealed to us and when we started playing the song it had an amazing energy right from the start. Reef are fans of Aretha Franklin now and when we first started out and this track was a lovely challenge – something for us to get into and record whilst working on new material for the forthcoming releases.
BV: Upon first listen, its quite a different song to previous Reef material. You’ve ulitized gospel and southern blues elements quite heavily here. Is this the direction that we will see Reef head in moving forward or a feel you wanted to created for this single only?
JB: It’s just a great song to play and we have such a vast array of musical influences. We love playing rock but have such a respect for the great players who have backed up Arethra Franklin and other musical stars. We love music and this track How I Got Over has such an up and moving feel. Love it!
BV: The single is a teaser for a new album which is currently in the works. What can fans expect from the new album and when can we expect the collection to land?
JB: We are working on the new songs and are currently trying them out on this tour with the hope to go into the studio in the spring to record it. There are some pretty heavy rocking tracks and I am enjoying playing music with Jesse Wood who is our newest member.
BV: Where would you say you have drawn the most inspiration from hen writing and recording the new songs that will form the new record?
JB: We have written some strong songs when we have been the four of us jamming in the room which is a good vibe. Inspiration from life and happening events.
BV: What would you say will be the key differences between your new material and previous Reef albums?
JB: New guitar player, plus we have had time doing other things which has involved song writing and playing music so hopefully this will have helped. Plus, we are just loving playing and writing for creativity sake and no other reason.
BV: You have a handful of songs that you are and will be widely remembered for; Place Your Hands easily leads that pack. Do you think your hits have stood the test of time?
JB: Yes, the songs still sound great now and pretty timeless.
BV: Are there any songs from the Reef singles vault that you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved. A song that the band considers a career masterpiece but perhaps didn’t go over so well with the fans or the scene at the time of release?
JB: No, I think its all been what its been and I have no problem with any of it.
BV: The band has had its ups and downs but you are still going strong after almost 25 years. What would say has been the secret to the longevity of Reef?
JB: The secret is loving doing it for the right reasons. Song writing and doing the best to keep ego out of it and keeping grounded and finally to give people energy from performances from the studio and live.
BV: Looking back on the nineties, when Reef were at their mainstream peak, what would you say you miss the most about those days, if anything?
JB: Nothing because we still have raw energy now.
BV: With new material starting to see the light of day, are there plans to take to the stages of any festivals this year? Perhaps a Glastonbury reunion?
JB: Yes we have quite a few festivals coming in including Glastonbury. (www.reefband.com for details)
BV: Festivals aside, Reef do have concrete touring plans with a 20-date run around the UK and Ireland which started this month. What type of show can fans expect from you this time around?
JB: Will it be a mix of old and new or will the focus be on the new material?Old and new material for sure Again the energy is great ***Raw*** and with a keyboard player called Andrew Wallace who is making an excellent sound with us. We have a choir at the London and Bristol show from Falmouth University. They sung on the new live album we have released from St Ives Guildhall that you can purchase at the forthcoming shows. It has two new songs on there that are well worth a listen.
BV: Anywhere you are most looking forward to playing and are there cities that you get a little more out of playing because the fans are just that extra bit more in tune with the band?
JB: It’s all gonna be great. We have the best fans and they go crazy at the shows. We have just done two warm up shows and the vibe in the crowd was brilliant both nights.
BV: Do you see the tour expanding and the band heading more further afield at all?
BV: Thanks for your time Jack – all the best with the new record and tour.
JB: Thank you and much LOVE!