These days few rock bands survive five years let alone ten and with that in mind we set off to meet Gary Stringer of Reef. Now if they can survive for 10 years and still get those Top 40 hits they must be doing something right. In a rare moment Gary lets the rock & roll image slip and faces his demons head on - The torture of leaving a child and girlfriend behind while he tours the world. Read on for a very honest and very public confession.
Q: Apparently last year you were the saviours of UK
Rock music. What do you think?
A: A couple of the cynics started to say that we were doing the schools tour to get the kiddie market. A couple of other people started saying we were Saving Rock and all this. We weren't saving anything and we basically did it because we had fuck all else to do.
You're in a tricky predicament in a band because whatever
you do gets criticized. If you hang out in your castle burning £5
notes you get criticized for being too snooty and if you actually go out
and do something for the community you get slated as well. There's always
cynics out there.
Q: The recent single "All I Want" could easily compete
with the boy bands though?
A: With our success at the moment we've had number 15's so I'd like to make the Top 10 again. I don't think we've had a single in the top ten for the last two albums. Nowadays it all depends on whether Radio 1 playlist it, but I don't think music has lost its meaning. There's always been pap pop. I'm happy with what I do and I'm happy we sell enough records to keep make another record.
I don't think I've ever done anything in my life that I didn't want to do. That's really why I got into this. I was 19 and I thought what am I going to do - get a real job or try and sing for a living. I've never sucked anyone's cock, yer know what I mean. I've never bent over. I've always done what I felt was right.
You take a look at Hear'say and they're number 1 off the
back of the TV. Not a bad little song, but someone else has written it.
And they get told what to do. I couldn't be in that, it would be like a
factory job for me.
Q: One of the things you've always done is keep your
personal life separate from the rock & roll lifestyle. Is that to keep
A: Yeah, I wouldn't want to live in that way. I think you can court that sort of thing. If I go out tonight on the piss and have three or four bouncers with me and go into some top Manchester club its more than likely you'll get probably a snap.
We had a bloke from the Daily Mirror come down the other day who was really nice and we were just chatting and I just said "I'll be totally honest with you. I've never wanted this - its not what i'm about" - we could have sold 3 or 4 times as more records if we'd done that.
If I got caught in the toilets snorting cocaine off some supermodels arse its going to make the paper and go "Rock Star Gary Stringer" - And I've got to live with that. I've got a beautiful girlfriend who I've been with for years and a little kid so I don't want that type of thing.
Q: You must find it hard being away from your family
all the time?
A: I find it hard when I start thinking about it and that might sound callous. For the first couple of tours I never took a photo of the baby and people were thinking "what a wanker". But my missus gave me two or three photo's about six months ago and said "go on, take those with you". I stuck them in my bag and I don't find myself looking at them because as soon as I start to look at them I start to get all gooey.
Its tough being on the road, especially in a fucking bus with a bunch of lads. You've got a little beautiful baby at home and you kind of want to keep it separate. You kind of want to leave that as a thing you come home to - the precious thing that is beautiful and is good - rather than us fucking smelly Herbert's smoking, drinking and swearing and talking about bollocks.
I find that if I think about it too much i'll just go
mental. You're not going to see him for 3 or 4 weeks at a time and you
can't torture yourself.
Q: On a lighter note, the other thing in your life
apart from music is surfing?
A: I can't surf at the moment cos' my knee's blown up and I can't even jump around on stage according to the surgeons. I'm biding my time and I've got a surfing trip booked for June in the Maldies. I'm what they call a soul surfer - a nice long board and just ride a few waves.
I'd say surfing and being on stage are similar ball parks, that rush that you get on stage when all 4 members of the band are playing really well. That connection is a very peaceful feeling - you're excited but inside you're really calm - and that's similar to the feeling you get when you ride a wave. Its like the moment after you've made love to your lady, you're just blissed out on bed.
Those are the great moments in life and I put them in the same category. I think that's why we used to upset a lot of media people they were like "you can't be serious". I used to say that if you volley a football in the top right from 20 yards out that connection is a beautiful thing. They were like you can't compare that with art.
"All I Want" is out now