This Q&A is pulled from a little phone interview I conducted back in 2011 with Gary Stringer – frontman of the band Reef and currently StringerBessant.
It will always stick out in my mind because it was my first time interviewing somebody ‘famous’ and also because I forgot to press Record and had to phone him back post-interview and politely ask if he would be so kind as to do it again…
He was a cool guy – which was fortunate for me, really. I won’t be making that mistake again!
The transcript was published in a Bournemouth newspaper for whom I was completing work experience at the time. Reef were set to perform at a local music festival that summer.
After a string of successful shows after your band’s reformation in 2010, you’re playing again in Bournemouth this weekend. How do you feel about that?
Yeah I’m really glad we’re coming to Bournemouth. I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve played some really good gigs and they have always been well supported when we come to Bournemouth. So yeah I’m really stoked about it.
Did the reformation of Reef last year change the group dynamics in any way?
No, not really. We didn’t have much time to think about it as we were all concentrating on different things and when we finally got to rehearsals we suddenly realised that ‘Oh my god, this could be awful’. But it was absolutely fine.
From the first show it was obvious that everybody had that fire in their belly that the group have always had. We have always felt comfortable with our performance and I think it has something to do with having that spring in your step and fire in your belly, and not just playing the songs like you’d hear them on a CD, but actually perform the songs for the audience that you’re playing in front of.
Ten years ago Reef played in Bournemouth in aid of Surfers Against Sewage. Are green or environmental issues something you feel strongly about?
Sure yeah, we’ve played a handful of gigs for these sort of things over the years. This year we’ve done a couple of gigs for Surfer’s Against Sewage. Previously we performed at Lusty Glaze and also played the Boardmasters which is supporting Surfers Against Sewage.
Who would you say are the majority of fans who flock to you gigs since Reef have reformed? Are they mostly fans from the nineties or more recent admirers?
I would think that there’s plenty of people who came first time around, so there will be plenty of thirty-somethings and yeah a few younger and older people as well.
During your time in Bournemouth, do you plan on checking out many of the other bands playing at Musicosity festival?
As of yet we don’t really know what our schedule is going to be like but I think we’re going to spend the night. So we’ll see what happens, but yeah it would be good to check out some of the other bands.
You’ve shared the stage with a number of big names but who would you say has been the biggest or best artist you’ve performed with?
Without a doubt it would have to be Paul Weller. He looked after us so well and when we were just starting. He treated us with a huge amount of respect and we walked away from it having learnt a lot about him and the way that he interacted with us was incredible. So yeah, top man.
Have you got any favourite memories from your musical career or any specific performances that stand out?
Yeah, well playing at Glastonbury has always been very special. I’m from Glastonbury so it was quite incredible and also just things that ten years ago we might have taken for granted, you know. We did a TV show in London and got on a private jet flying over to Denmark to play a show the same night. If you look at our schedule from 1997 it’s pretty incredible really, you know? We were doing Spain and then we’d be going to Norway, then be in Glasgow the next day, which probably would have meant flying through London.
It was just crazy, crazy times really. But yeah playing Glastonbury festival, especially the first time. I can remember turning up with my shorts on in the sun and had a really cool time, you know, and playing the festival that I had attended as a youngster, it was great.
What have you currently got planned for your acoustic project StringerBessant?
We’re gonna make another record, so we’re gonna work until the end of October. We’ve got UK shows lined up and we’re gonna go to New York for a week or so. Then we’ll probably call it quits and take a breather and then go write another record.