Happy Birthday: Laurence “Loz” Colbert of Ride

Friday, June 27, 2014
Happy Birthday: Laurence “Loz” Colbert of Ride

He’s probably sick and tired of hearing people describe his former band’s music as “shoegaze,” but if you wanted to try wishing Loz Colbert – late of Ride – a happy birthday instead, we expect he’d appreciate that quite a bit, actually.

Colbert first encountered his future Ride fellows Andy Bell and Mark Gardener when they were all going to school ‘round Oxfordshire way, and after picking up Steve Queralt from behind the counter of a local record store (okay, so maybe he’d gone to school with Bell and Gardener as well, not to mention having already played in an earlier group with Bell), the foursome had themselves a band. By most reports, Ride was formally formed in the summer of ’88, played their first gig at a Christmas party, and by the end of ’89, they’d signed to Alan McGee’s label, Creation Records, and were on their way.

Ride found success straight out of the gate, with their self-titled debut EP making it into the UK top 75, the subsequent pair of EPs – Play and Fall – both entering the top-40, and their first full-length album, Nowhere, making it to #11 on the UK album charts. (Keep in mind that every one of these releases emerged in 1990. Ride was nothing if not prolific in their early days.)

But, of course, this was in the UK. With EPs rarely proving successful in the States, Ride and Play were combined and released in the US under the title Smile, with Nowhere hitting our shores about six months later (and about two months after it had already been released in the UK). Were either of these releases as successful here as they’d been in the band’s homeland? Presumably you realize that we intended that as a rhetorical question, but clarified as much, we’ll add that Nowhere has still managed to earn enough admirers over here over the years that, in 2011, Rhino Handmade released a special edition of the album, featuring seven bonus tracks, a previously-unreleased 1991 live performance at the Roxy in Los Angeles, and a 40-page booklet, with the whole kit and caboodle packed in a pretty awesome lenticular cover.

Okay, sorry, we kind of hijacked Loz’s birthday post with a bit of self-promotion…not that that sort of thing ever happens around here. Before we move on, though, we’ll just add that “Vapour Trail” is one of the best songs of the ‘90s, period, and very much in contention for one of the best songs of all time. If you put it on and clear your mind, you can get lost in its beauty. It’s just that good.

In the wake of Nowhere, Ride continued to rise up through the chart ranks, with their subsequent two albums – 1992’s Going Blank Again and 1994’s Carnival of Light – both hitting #5 on the UK charts, and their 1992 single “Leave Them All Behind” providing the band with their lone top-10 hit. There were other singles that scored significant airplay as well, including “Twisterella,” “Birdman,” “I Don’t Know Where It Comes From,” and their cover of The Creation’s “How Does It Feel to Feel?” Unfortunately, by the time the band’s 1996 album Tarantula hit the shelves, Ride’s ride was over: the album still did pretty decently, hitting #21, and it scored a minor hit single with “Black Nite Crash,” but it’s hard to get much promotional push from a band when they issue their break-up announcement in advance of the release of their final album.

Since then, Colbert’s been keeping busy, having teamed with Gardener and Sam Williams to form a band called The Animalhouse, and if Wikipedia can be believed, he’s also worked with Gardener and Bell in a Bob Dylan tribute band called The Zimmermen, but beyond that he’s also played drums with Supergrass, Jesus and Mary Chain, and a group called the International Jetsetters. Currently, though, he’s playing with former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, which ain’t a bad gig when you consider that, as a result, he gets to play Glastonbury on his birthday.

So, yeah, if you get a chance, tell Loz that you hope he has a happy birthday – you can find him on Twitter at @DoctorLoz – but given where he is today, we’re guessing he’s already having one.