One of the best live bands on the circuit, Reef are enjoying what can only be described as a second lease of life.

An early career studded with chart hits petered in 2003 out after 10 years when frontman Gary Stringer decided to call it a day. But he couldn’t quite leave it alone, and eight years ago relaunched Reef to widespread celebration.

It has proved more successful than he, or the rest of the band – which now also features Jesse Wood, son of The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, alongside original bassist Jack Bessant – could have hoped. And they are once again on the road with a tour which next Saturday, December 15, reaches Oxford.

“I can’t wait to go rock out in Oxford – and have a nice day by the river,” he says.

“Yeah, let’s get into it,” he continues. “I can’t wait. Oxford is nice for a drink; a good place to go. I actually went out there not so long ago for just social vibes, met a friend and hung out.

“I’ll tell you where we used to play in Oxford: the Zodiac. That was a really, really cool place to play, always a really exciting gig. I’m looking forward to it.”

The show, the last date on the tour is actually back in what was the Zodiac – now the O2 Academy.

“Lets charge up and have a headbang!” he says.

Best known for their 1996 hit Place Your Hands, which reached number six in the charts, and the following year’s Come Back Brighter, which got to number eight, the band have been winning friends with new album Revelation – with some insisting it is their best yet.

“It’s the one I’m most happy with, yeah I’m proud of it,” says Gary. “I’m stoked about it. We really had a good go with this record and tried to make the best we could. Is it the best record we’ve done? I don’t know, I haven’t really listened to the first four to be honest,” he laughs.

“A lot of people have got very excited about it, which is wicked. I am too, so, it feels pretty good to me.”

Reef as a band date back to 1993, at first trading under the name Naked, before being told to desist, as the name was taken. They instead went for Reef, though that later also landed them in court – the lads being threatened by the US owners of the trademark for flip-flop makers Reef Brazil. The band won.

They started big, involved in a campaign for the now all-but-forgotten Sony MiniDisc, and supporting Paul Weller, The Rolling Stones and Soundgarden.

The Oxford Times:

First album Replenish went gold, but it was their second, Glow, recorded in Los Angeles with Black Crowes’ producer, George Drakoulious, which hit the stratosphere.

Their third album, Rides, was also cut in LA – this time at Ocean Way Studios, famous as the birthplace of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was another massive hit, reaching the top three.

Follow-up Getaway was critically acclaimed but didn’t hit the heights of its predecessors. Gary and Jack then focussed on side act Them Is Me and an acoustic project called, reasonably enough, StringerBessant, until Revelation was released earlier this year.

It was the first album featuring Jesse. So what did he bring to the record?

“Definitely his writing,” says Gary. “Jesse’s brought new energy to the band. When you’ve been playing with people for a long time, you build up a relationship. You fall into the roles of how you should be, like maybe with your mum and dad. You act a certain way, you’ve always acted that way, kind of always will, that’s what it is, and that’s cool. But when one guy leaves and another guy joins, it’s new blood.

“You can remould yourself; you can be different. You don’t have to be the same. He’s brought in a new dynamic, and a new energy, which is fantastic. It’s really helped us. Changing the blood has made all the difference with regard to writing. It means we can start again.

“It’s exciting and Jesse has been brilliant.”

They also teamed up with Sheryl Crow, for a track, My Sweet Love. How did that come about?

“I met Sheryl Crow for the first time through the internet,” Gary laughs again. “I had already sung My Sweet Love out in Ireland, and we thought maybe this could be a song that was good for a duet. She nailed it. She was actually fantastic, brilliant. Really good.

“She’s done a great job and she knew the song great. Her voice sounds beautiful, it gives me shivers. She’s super talented and she nailed it.”

Is there any chance of performing it live together?

“Yeah, that would be fun, wouldn’t it? We’ve got to be in the same part of the world at the same time... that’s the thing. She came to the UK last month but we were in Japan or somewhere else. But maybe one day!”

For most of their fans, the highlight of any show is still Place Your Hands. Far from being bored of it though, Gary loves its enduring popularity.

“I genuinely love it,” he says. “I don’t even understand those people that grow to hate their biggest songs. You’ve had a hit!

“I guess if you weren’t happy with what you’ve done and it became really successful then that could maybe be a bit of a grind, but so what? It makes other people happy, and it puts a few quid in your pocket.

“Maybe some people are bit more uptight about all that sort of stuff, but for me, I love listening to it.

“Not many weeks go by where I don’t get a story, either through the internet or in the pub or bumping into someone saying something like: ‘Oh, I was in Adelaide and I heard Place Your Hands at this bar at 3am, and the whole place went up’ or ‘I was in Abu Dhabi in a restaurant and it come on’. It’s wicked! It’s the way it connects to people, man. Weddings, funerals, parties.... weekend, morning, evening – it’s just rad, man.”

He goes on: “You know it’s got its own Twitter page, right? You can go on there, @placeyourhands, and see how many it’s sold each week. Yeah, it’s daft, but it’s brilliant as well. It’s crazy that a song that I wrote is still selling roughly 1,000 records a week. It goes all over the world; it’s that one song!

“I love it mate. I’m really proud of it. It still sounds good.”

So with the current album ending an 18 year drought, do we have to wait a similar time for the next?

“I would hope not!” he says. “I’m really enjoying myself at the moment. I’m really excited by the music and it’s really, really cool. I want to keep going and keep writing. A lot of things have happened in that time, but it won’t be another 18 years!”

  • Reef play the O2 Academy Oxford next Saturday, on December 15. Tickets from ticketmaster.co.uk