“You name it,” says Mal Tuohy, frontman with The Riptide Movement, “we’ve played it. We’ve played up and down Ireland. We’ve played India. Russia. America. We’ve played on top of a pool table in Germany. Back in the early days, to get our name out, we busked on Grafton Street in Dublin. I had some drunk guy come up and spit in my face. I just laughed it off. Another guy tried to rob the money from our case…”
Eight years and three albums out of the blocks, it’s fair to say The Riptide Movement have paid their dues – with interest. Last year, with slightly fantastical timing, Tuohy was passing the band’s old busking pitch when he took the call from the band’s label confirming that latest release, Getting Through, had topped the album chart in their native Ireland.
“We got two bottles of champagne and drank them on top of the shopping centre where we shot our first music video,” he recalls. “Then the label took us out for a session. Then we came back to our home town of Lucan and all the locals had a massive party for us in the pub. It was a great day. We work hard and play hard. We enjoy being in a band and we have a good time while we’re doing it.”
Tuohy will take all the domestic success you put his way, but with Universal’s corporate muscle now propelling the band he’s eyeing the international market. At the same time, the band’s folk-inflected sound has been likened to the Gaslight Anthem and Frank Turner.
“We self-released our first two albums, and we only signed with a major last year. Since then it’s gone to another level. This latest album has shot off. We’re looking forward to moving on, trying to break the UK and get the album out across Europe as well. I haven’t really thought about the fame. Here in Ireland we do get recognised, and I’m not sure if I like it. For us it’s all about the music, that’s the real stuff.
“This album is a good one for people to start with,” Tuohy adds, “because we’ve really found our sound. Our first album was very blues-influenced. Our second had country in there as well. With Getting Through it’s got all that stuff, but also elements of folk. There’s a couple of songs about how a lot of our generation had to emigrate from Ireland after the crash. But I think it’s quite an uplifting album. It’s rock’n’roll, first and foremost.”
The sound might have evolved, and the career trajectory spiked, but the band’s egalitarian attitude to gigging remains the same. “We’ve played Glastonbury and we supported the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park in 2013,” says Tuohy. “That’s the kind of stuff that we dreamed of when we started out, and now it’s happening. But we love playing small venues, big venues, wherever. We just love playing. Put us on a stage and we’ll rock it out.”
Getting Through is released on June 1 via Caroline International/Universal.
FOR FANS OF: The Rolling Stones
“We’re definitely very influenced by the Rolling Stones, and by albums like Sticky Fingers. Also by American bands like CCR and tunes like Down On The Corner and Proud Mary. We love The Kinks, and Bob Dylan is a big hero. I like his lyrical content and delivery. Rory Gallagher as well – Live In Europe is a good one.”