Revitalised Reef Back On Tour – Jack Bessant Q&A

Following  their recent guest appearance on the newly resurrected 90s hit show TFI Friday, performing an acoustic version of  their worldwide hit Place Your Hands, London Alt-Rockers Reef are back on tour and heading to Cardiff’s Tram Shed venue on March 25.

Vocalist Gary Stringer, bassist Jack Bessant and drummer Dominic Greensmith will be joined Jesse Wood who replaced  Kenwyn House on lead guitar last year.  Formerly of the Ronnie Wood band/Faces/Red Racer, and a long time fan of the band, Jesse has given Reef a fresh impetus with his enthusiasm and energy. Andy Howells put questions to Jack Bessant about the bands current tour.

Reef are back on the road are you all looking forward to getting your music back out there?

We are all really enjoying playing so much right now and the sound we are making is really appealing to the modern rock fans out there. We are having a blast and Jesse on guitar is adding a fresh element along with the keys provided by Andy Wallace. Really happy to be a part of this tour and we have the best crew of people to travel and work with..

Whats been your best live experience as a band and why?

With this current line up the best experience has been doing our live recording at St Ives, Guildhall with George Drakoulias. He came over form America to oversee the gigs and we had such a great couple of days surfing, hanging out and focusing on the music. The live album sounds really good and can be purchased on the tour..

You’ve got a new band member – how has that affected the direction and style of the band as a whole?

It’s just a fresh time and we are enjoying writing, It seems natural. Some songs have been brought to the party in a near finished state but there is also the four of us jamming and coming up with songs and riffs in a spontaneous and creative way. Similar to the vibes we had going on when Reef first started. Jesse is a lovely gent to hang out  and work with in this creative manner. Nice one Jess!

You’ve got a new single called  How I Got Over – can you tell us about that?

Yes the new single came out on March 12 and it has just been A listed on Radio 2 which is amazing for us. As mentioned before we have been working with George Drakoulias again and we recorded this song on the Sunday following the St Ives Shows. We made our way up to London and recorded it in Richmond ‘State of Arc studios’. Then Gary went to L.A to record the vocal a few weeks later with along with some backing Gospel singers that George knew and extra keys. The song choice was different for Reef but we all liked it straight away and it was a real challenge for us.Super cool!

There’s also a new album in the pipeline. What can you tell us about that?

We are playing number of new songs on the tour and we are hoping to record an album or an EP after the tour to keep Reef’s momentum going. There is nothing better than trying the songs out in front of a live audience.We are just talking again with George to see when we can get down to it . Where, when, which songs? etc. It would feel and be great to continue working with George as he is a lovely creative music man.

You created such an iconic track in the 90s with  Place Your Hands – did you realise it would become such a classic when you were putting it together?

We were having fun with music at the time and had some interesting and experienced people working with us like Muff Winwood and Lincoln Elias. They picked up on the song as being a strong contender for a hit and when George put his magic touch to it anything was possible, the whole album ended up being a great sounding record and we are really proud of it..

Your visiting Cardiff soon, do you have any memories of your first gig in Wales?

I can remember playing at one of the Universities and it being a great punk rock n roll show. Massive buzz in the room after. A real rock out with energy coming off band and crowd. More please!

What can people expect from your forthcoming Cardiff show?

We would love for people to be going home with big smiles on their faces!

  • A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on March 18, 2016
  • For more information on Reef, visit their official website.

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