On the 27th January 1989, following a chance encounter with Dave Newton in Cornmarket Street, Oxford, I unexpectedly found myself upstairs at an almost empty Jericho Tavern pub watching a four piece of a similar age to me thrashing through the Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. The performance was extraordinary and as it ended I clapped vigorously, before realising with embarrassment that this was just a sound check…so started a long love affair with Ride.
When the gig proper started (Ride were supporting a local thrash band called Satan Knew My Father) it was apparent that the rest of the set was just as special – if you are interested, the (lucky) 7 song set featured: All I Can See, Chelsea Girl, Hit Me Like A Train, Drive Blind, Intro-154, Close My Eyes and a cover of The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows (from which the band’s newsletter later took its name).
Immediately I knew that the connection which the music made with me was something special and that I wanted to become more directly involved with it than just being a passive fan. I also decided that I wanted to see the band live at any opportunity going forwards, these two germs of ideas resulted in the formulation of ‘The Ride Network!’, and a year and three months later with the publication of the first issue of its associated fanzine: ‘Ride – The Network!’.
After months of travelling around the country trying to see the band it became apparent to me that I wasn’t the only one doing this and that a community of like-minded acolytes was rapidly forming. I started to compile a scruffy sheet of A4 paper which I then copied and passed among the other fans, this featured nothing more than just a list of names and addresses and a key showing who on the list could provide tickets or offer somewhere to sleep in each city on a tour, it also enabled people to swap live tapes (remember this was pre-internet), exchange press cuttings and memorabilia etc, I called this sheet ‘The Ride Network!’, and those on the list became members of the Network…
In April 1990 I decided to expand the idea of the Network a bit further, I wanted to spread the word through a publication which would enable me to eulogise about my new found obsession, whilst also providing a souvenir of the fun that we were having on tour and binding the followers together – this would become the ‘Ride – The Network!’ fanzine (‘the official magazine of The Ride Network’ – the magazine would continue to publish the contact information of those involved).
The early issues were cut and pasted together, then photocopied (by hand), and hand stapled at Oxfin (the Oxford Free Information Network), a local anarchist collective. The copiers were poor, second hand and often broke down, this resulted in ‘shambling’ (Andy Bell’s word), ink stained copies. The fourth issue was passed through a copier twice (changing ink between stages) to create a bi-colour cover…for issues five and six I switched to Will print (a now defunct OX4 litho printers) and the quality (slightly) improved. The DIY ethic was inspired by legendary punk fanzines such as Mark Perry’s ‘Sniffin’ Glue’ and ‘Zigzag’, the A5 size by Geoff Parkyn’s ‘U2 Info’ (although the
size also meant that copies could easily be tucked into pockets at gigs).
All six issues sold well, were reprinted, and indeed sold out. They often now appear on eBay at silly figures (£15-35 is not uncommon). A seventh issue was planned (and mainly written) in 1994 for the Carnival of Light tour but the increased size of the venues coupled with a lack of support from the band’s then merchandise company, meant that I folded the ‘zine in a cloud of twenty-something anger.
With confirmation of the band’s reformation in November 2014 I thought of starting the fanzine again (and indeed was poked electronically by others to do so). So I sent a tentative email to the band and their management asking if they would support this and was overwhelmed at just how supportive they were. I then compiled a list of potential articles and suggested how the band could contribute – they delivered in spades (see contents section for issue #7).
The new fanzine is bigger (80 pages) and better (litho printed with full colour, gloss, card cover) and out now. You are able to buy the new issue from here, on tour, and in selected record shops. Please let me know what you think…
I am also planning to publish a special, limited edition hardback book compiling the six first issues of the fanzine, plus some additional new content. Please join my mailing list if you want to be kept up to date with how that progresses and for news of future issues.
Finally, the Network of fans has now moved online for faster and wider communication, please join me and others on Twitter and other social media.
Thank you for the support, see you on tour!
All the best,