THERE’S good news for fans of alternative rock next week – but potentially fatal news for the city’s fish.

Local heroes Ride bring their tour to Oxford’s Town Hall on Tuesday, promoting their critically acclaimed new LP This is Not a Safe Place. And the album’s title could serve as a warning to our aquatic friends, as guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Andy Bell recalls from the previous occasion the band played the venue.

“I remember that we got in trouble last time because the fish in the lobby fountain pond died of shock from the noise apparently,” says Bell. “I think we were banned from playing there again but now it seems like they have lifted the ban.”

It is four years since Ride – who began in Oxford in 1988 – re-formed after splitting up acrimoniously in 1996, and they’ve been prolific ever since. They released The Weather Diaries album in 2017, proving a hit with critics and fans alike, the Tomorrow’s Shore EP, and have another EP scheduled for release in 2020. So, are they making up for lost time?

“We are just working at our own speed,” says Bell. “The next album could take five years, you never know really.”

Bell – who had a spell as Oasis’s bassist after Ride split – has certainly been on his own creative ‘splurge’ in the run-up to recording the new album, partly inspired by the work of New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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He left the Basquiat exhibition Boom For Real early in 2018 with his imagination fired. “I was really inspired,” he says, “not just by the artwork but by him, the way he worked, the way he thought, his quotes. Arty, ‘80s, New York, music, post-punk, that was the backdrop of a lot of thoughts.”

Those thoughts became a statement of intent. A “splurge” of songs designed to prove the worth of his band – “it was a manifesto of what Ride was before any outside influences came in.”

Ride – formed by Bell and lead singer Mark Gardener when they were both pupils at Oxford’s Cheney School, later recruiting drummer Loz Colbert and bassist Steve Queralt when they were all at North Oxfordshire College – turned recent hometown shows at the New Theatre and South Park into incredibly special occasions. What can fans expect on Tuesday?

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“We’ll be playing a good few tracks from our new album, as well as a lot of old favourites,” says Bell.

And is there more pressure or less on the band when they’re in their old stomping ground?

“There’s no extra pressure,” he admits. “The only pressure is on your guest list!”

While Gardener and Colbert still live in Oxford, Bell – like Queralt – is now London-based. So what’s he looking forward to seeing on his return to his home town?

Read again: Ride reveal details of fresh new album...

“When I come back to Oxford I spend time with my parents and that’s about it,” he says. “We tend to stick around Headington, sometimes we’ll go for a walk on Shotover hill or something.”

The NME’s review of This Is Not A Safe Place claimed: “It benefits from a wealth of creativity and experimentation that Bell may have been suppressing for over 20 years.” How does he react to that?

“If you change it to the whole band, then maybe,” he says. “There was nothing holding me back from being creative or experimenting for the previous 20 years, but it’s fair to say that for all of us, it’s been a new lease of life to get together and use that part of our creativity which only relates to Ride music.

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“It’s hard to put into words, but the way the band plays together brings out stuff that we wouldn’t think of doing on our own.

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“The new tracks have been received really well and that’s why we feel we can put so many in the live set.”

It’s difficult to argue with that. The album proves the band have not lost their knack of creating great melodies, with the euphoric Future Love and the dreamy Clouds of Saint Marie, while taking their sound to new, unexplored places.

Queralt says: “It’s got some of our best stuff on it. On reflection it probably does sound like the whole catalogue of Ride on one album. There’s some Nowhere bits on it, there’s some Going Blank Again-style stuff on there.”

It was recorded in the adventurous spirit and attitude of the Going Blank Again sessions – when, according to Bell, the band “felt like we were all putting ideas in and everyone was feeling quite fulfilled with it all, we were quite open to experimenting”.

So how does the re-formed Ride compare with the band the first time around?

“The sense of humour is still the same, and the dynamics of how we all get on has stayed pretty similar,” says Bell. “The biggest difference is how technology has changed, and that’s really had a big influence on how we write and record new music.”

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Ride were at the forefront of the ‘Shoegazing’ scene of the early 1990s – a term the band was never particularly fond of. But do they think there’s been a re-evaluation of that scene recently and a greater appreciation of the music?

“I’d have to say yes,” says Bell. “The term means something new all the time, depending on what’s currently going on, but I’m happy these days about the association, although we never did operate only in that sphere of sound.

“It seems like we are getting new fans along with the original crowd,” he adds. “There was a resurgence of effect-laden guitar music a few years ago, which I think is what led Primavera to make us an offer we couldn’t refuse [to re-form in 2015], and that kickstarted this whole thing.

“At the moment it still feels like there is a wave of new guitar bands around who have been listening to ‘80s and ‘90s guitar music, so we still fit in with that.”

Ride play Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX, on Tuesday. Go to