West Country boys Interview: Reef

Interview: Reef

West Country boys Interview: Reef, dominated the charts and the brains of a whole generation with their rock music and in particular their smash hit track ‘Place Your Hands’ which still has fists pumping to this day.
The laid back lads are commemorating ten years of music-making with an incredible box set compiling all of their albums, photographs and a DVD. They are currently preparing to embark on their first tour of Australia in 12 years, playing throughout June in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
BBM’s Amy Baker chatted with bass player, Jack Bessant about his memories of Australia from his last visit and what he looking forward to most about being back on the road with the boys…

What’s up? What are you up to at the moment? Interview: Reef

I’m just at home in Cheddar in the West Country of England. Been chilling out and enjoying the beautiful sunshine. I was down at the skate park today, which was sweet. I’ve been playing a lot as well, I’m just loving playing music at the moment.

This is Reef’s first time touring in Australia for 12 years – are you excited to get back there? Any shows that you are particularly excited about playing?

I’m pretty excited about going to Perth actually – I have really good memories of that from the last time. I met a really nice guy one day when I was out in the water, we got chatting, he came to a gig and we decided to hire a car and go surfing down in Margaret River, a place called Lefties? It was brilliant mate. So amazing. I saw a whale while I was surfing – that was lush. We were only down there a couple of days but the surfing was awesome.
I hope I get to do some surfing when we’re over there…we’ll see. I’ve been surfing here a bit recently so I’ve got it in my blood. As a band we spent quite a lot of time in Australia; Avalon Beach, the northern beaches in Sydney, Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road. Australia is just the perfect place to tour if you’re a surfer and you’ve got time off.
Frazer Island was great too. A mate and I blagged a Land Rover and camped on the beach in bivvy bags, I remember popping my head out and being surrounded by dingoes.

Last time you were here you famously offended ‘national treasure’ Daryl Somers on his show “Hey, Hey it’s Saturday” – can you tell us a little about that?

Ha ha – I forgot about that, it was so good! The show is like the equivalent of Noel Edmonds’ House Party. This dude was so cheesy. There was a guy on the show called Red Spider or something like that and it turned out that his job was just to be nasty to people.
There were these two twin girls who were dancing on the show and he was being really mean to them – calling them ‘freaks of nature’. We were watching it backstage and not digging it at all. It was unnecessary, a bit much you know.

The show is live and we’d sound checked a sweet ballad but we decided we’d do a proper heavy punk rock song instead and we ended up smashing the set up a bit. It was funny, the cameramen were laughing and loving it and so were the audience. Daryl Somers was shouting at the audience to stop cheering and telling them all to boo us!

I don’t think any act was allowed to perform live again after that. Ha ha. When we played that show, hardly anyone knew us in Australia, after that people were stopping us in the street and telling us they had seen us on the show.

Reef were together for 10 years – is there a secret to staying mates and staying together so long?

Nah. Not at all. We’re just mates who work well together. Everyone’s good at their individual instruments and we’re all different characters. We’ve written some good stuff that people seem to enjoy, if they weren’t enjoying it we’d back off but whilst people like it and we enjoy it, we’ll keep doing it.

Tell us a little about the box set that you are releasing…

It’s really well put together. We’ve worked with the designer, Richard Bull before; he’s done quite a lot of our artwork. He’s got so many good pictures of us that are all in there. There are 9 albums, a DVD and a picture book. It’s all in a nice box the same shape as our logo. It’s good to have a collection of everything that we’ve done all in one place rather than just loads of VHS tapes piled up everywhere!

In a slow, progressive way, we’ve all individually grown, moved on. I’ve had the chance to travel. When I see the dates that we were together, it’s crazy that it was so long ago – where has that time gone?

You and Gary have a project StringerBessant – will you be playing any of your stuff at the Reef gigs or playing any of your own when you’re over here?

It’d be great to play a few gigs when we’re over there this time but I’m not sure we’ll have the chance. I really enjoy StringerBessant. ‘Yard’ our album sounds lovely and we’re in the process of writing another album at the moment. We’d love to go to Australia and tour as StringerBessant so hopefully that might happen.

We’ve been playing a few gigs in the UK. Gary has a VW Camper van so we just put our gear and our surfboards in that and go and play nice low key gigs to chilled out crowds – I like those kind of gigs. We’re playing at Surf Experience Festival in Portugal in May, that’ll be cool

What can people coming along to the Reef shows expect?

A really heavy rock band, moody blues, lovely heavy sounds. An hour and a half of that rattling around in your head has got to be fun right? People should enjoy it.

What’s next for Reef after you finish the tour?

At the moment there are no plans to record an album. We used to all live together and that made it easy to jam and write. It’s harder to do that when you’re not in the same place. We’re all a bit older now, we have families, it’s a shame but it’s harder to get together to jam. Maybe when we’re away we’ll have some time.

We’ve all got our own side projects as well. We’re playing the Godney Gathering in the West Country this summer. We’ve got a nice little summer ahead of us, touring, a few cool gigs, it’s going to be a good one.

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By Amy Baker