The Big Interview: The Riptide Movement

Motley’s Entertainment Editor Amy O’Regan speaks to Mal Touhy, vocalist for Irish band The Riptide Movement, about making music, touring the world and their serious passion for live shows

“When we write albums we generally get a house and move in all the equipment and spend a weekend thrashing out the ideas we have, bringing all of them together and going through it like we do for every album.”

It’s not just anyone that can endure those long hours of practice and commitment. Dublin natives The Riptide Movement have really carved a place for themselves in the Irish music scene over the last few years and judging by their latest hit ‘Elephant in the Room’ they’re aiming to expand on an international scale within the next five years. Their new album, Ghosts, is due for release on October 21st and Motley was lucky enough to get a listen to it early.

Born on the Ring of Kerry and Raised in El Paso


The Riptide Movement are not just a group of men who come together to perform a few tracks and head home afterwards. They’re long-term friends who’ve come together since they were fifteen of sixteen, we---nt to school together and formed a band together. Mal explains that the inspiration for their band name came from an incident that took place over in Australia.

“I got caught in a rip tide on Bondi beach on Christmas day and it was kind of a scary experience, so it kind of stayed with us. So we were thinking of just calling the band Riptide and then Jay said it be cool to have something with a bit more with depth I guess, so he kind of came up with the movement part and that’s how the name came about.”

Last year the boys took over the main stage at Electric Picnic, singing their heart out. “It was so easy because there’s 2,000 people there and it’s just like you can nearly do no wrong, it kind of carries you through.” Their dedication and passion in engaging their fans while making music made me pause to catch my breath. Here are four young men from Dublin completely excited about gigging, touring and writing their own music on a consistent basis. Even more thrilling is the fact that they are headed for Cypress Avenue in Cork to perform on October 29th.

The boys highlighted the importance of intimate venues like Cypress Avenue, Whelans and Dolans, showing that they are far from being a one-trick pony. However, it was disappointing to find out they hadn’t been able to perform at Electric this year.

“I think it was mainly because we played the main stage last year and we’ve been flat out the last two years since the album Getting Through was released in April 2014. We were gigging right up until the 23rd of December and then we went off and did the album over in El Paso and we got back and finished off ‘A Few Drops’ and ‘Windmill’ and it was around April by the time we finished. Then we kind of had it set out that we weren’t going to gig until the album came out in October.”

“That was what we wanted, to just take a few months off and recharge the batteries. In saying that then, we ended up going back and doing two or three small festivals to road test a few of the songs, but we’ve been off the scene gigging wise since the 23rd of December last year.”

At Home and Abroad

Mal was TRM Portraits CNquick to point out the band’s love for touring and what spots were of particular interest for them. “I just love America, I love New York. There’s just a great vibe in America and a lot of our musical influences are drawn from there as well so it’s just a great place to play and a great place to tour. I guess the most interesting place we were in was India I think. Delhi was just like a different world from here.”

The band, who generally write positive songs, chose a fresh angle to explore with their hit ‘Elephant in the Room.’ Although the song is more pop than anything else, the lyrics are of a much darker tone. The boys shared the meaning behind the song with us, saying that: “It’s basically like a ghost is undefeated, it’s blatant, people know what’s going on but they don’t actually tackle the issue because maybe it’s a bit uncomfortable.” As Mal was quick to point out, the song is completely up for interpretation and the in-depth and dark set of lyrics give it much more meaning than your average song in the charts.

However other set tracks like ‘Our Time’ tend to strike more of a chord with the audience when performed live due to it’s pumping and engaging nature.“It’s the 9th track on the album. It’s just a real pumper, it’s a rocking tune and we road tested it during the summer. We just played a few days over the summer, kind of at small festivals and stuff and it was cool to road test some of the songs on our new album.”

You can Make Anything by Writing

What about writing the album? Did the Dubliners enjoy it as much as their touring? “They’re two different things. We bring a new album out every 2 years, then we turn it for a year and a half then you’re kind of burnt out at that stage. It’s great then to get into the studio and get into the creative environment and start making new songs.That in itself is a great change from the road and then coming near the end of that recording process then it can be intense. You’re burnt out at the studio and you’re back on the road.It’s a nice thing to have, where they’re two different animals altogether and when you’re tired of one you can go do the other. I think it’s great that you can have those two things.”

It’s definitely a great asset that the boys can take on both touring and writing their own music all at the same time, because for some artists the strain of working and writing in sync could be overpowering and burn them out. We have to say we’re so proud of our young Irish musicians, who have made a great name for themselves and have set a high standard for Irish bands at both a national and an international level.

The collaborative effort of the team is proving a serious success for the group.

“Basically before we go away on these writing weeks, you’d have a load of songs written yourself like a verse or chorus on the keyboard or guitar. We’d all have our different ideas that we’d bring down and you’d say to yourself ‘that’s a good song.’ We just jammed them all out and we’d listen back and say ‘there’s definitely something here’ and start working on that and then we would build the song as a group.”

Before it was time to end the call with Mal, I had to squeeze in the last and most important question: What’s your ultimate direction for the band for the next 3-5 years? “Well definitely we want to build internationally because we got a good start with ‘Getting Through,’ so we’re kind of building something in Germany and we’re getting a good start in the UK. Basically we are replicating what we’ve done here, across Europe and across the UK and we want to get a start in the States as well. For us we’ve invested ten years of our lives into it at this stage and it’s something that we’re in for the long haul, it’s gonna be our lives I guess. So wherever that road may take us, we’re here for the long haul.” The future looks bright for Riptide Movement, and Motley eagerly anticipates their new album Ghosts.