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The Riptide Is High
One of the defiant young bands in Ireland in aeons, The Riptide Movement have gone from busking on Dublin’s mean streets to getting radio airplay in Turkey! Now, with their second album safely nestled in the Irish top 10, they talk about the struggle for recognition, the perils of busking –and their plans to conquer America.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 25 May 2012
I first heard of The Riptide Movement from a friend who had been thoroughly captivated by their Sea Sessions performance a couple of years back. His feverish recounting of the gig included a plathora of superlatives, focussing mainly on the quality of the riffs, the band’s innate swagger and remarkable antics of the apparently unhinged drummer Gar Byrne – who reportedly spent the set banging his face against his kit! I was impressed.
The message was that the Riptides know how to put on a show, an ability they have honed through the hard graft of busking and gigging – and more busking and more gigging. Since their formation in 2006, the band have learnt their lessons step-by-step, done the gigs, and solidified their fanbase. Their debut album What About The Tip Jars? summed up their approach perfectly: from the outset, they were willing to put in the graft and had the confidence to rely on people coughing up voluntarily. Progress has been steady: they headlined The Academy in Dublin recently and packed it impressively. But the lads still love to busk.
“We were trying to plug The Academy gig, so we were out busking recently,” Mal nods. “There were two or three young lads out as well, and Jay [guitarist John Dalton] promised them they could have the spot after we finished. By the time we came down, they’d already started playing, so we left them to it for a while. Jay was going, ‘them little bastards are only here a week or two!’ When we came back, we saw this guy who’d annoyed us before. He was living on the street, necking naggins of vodka, in a bad way. But he’d successfully taken the guitar off the fellas, and was singing... well, I won’t call it ‘singing’ but he was gargling away! They didn’t know what to do. We just shook our heads and said, ‘those lads have a lot to learn!’ On the streets, if there’s any lunatic about, or if someone doesn’t like you, you’re a sitting duck. That’s part of what makes it interesting.”
They cite an appearance in HP’s Oxegen tent last summer as a real indicator of where they’re at. “That was an absolute highlight,” Gar beams. “The Hot Press Signing Tent was our first time doing a signing and we didn’t really know what to expect. Roisin Dwyer [HP’s commissioning editor] said, ‘don’t worry, if there’s not much of a crowd we can do a video interview or something’ but we arrived five minutes late to see a queue snaking all the way out the door. We were there for an hour and a half!”