Monday, 11 December 2017

TRM: Mal Tuohy back in Berlin

The Riptide Movement’s Mal Tuohy: “It’s an album we’re immensely proud of!”

It’s been some journey for The Riptide Movement: from Dublin’s Grafton Street to The Olympia and Glastonbury. Now, the four musicians return to Berlin, where they will treat their fans to an intimate club concert at Musik & Frieden and to some songs from their – in Germany still unreleased – brand new album ‘Ghosts’. ICE’s Franziska Kast got to talk to front man Mal Tuohy, who opens up about collaborating with legends and his love for playing live shows.

Q: Congratulations on your new studio album, ‘Ghosts’. You and the band mentioned you like playing in Germany after the “Getting Through” tour.  Anything you want to tell your Berlin fans about the new record?
A: Thank you! It’s hard to believe ‘Ghosts’ is our fourth studio album. We recorded it in Sonic Ranch studios in Texas, an amazing studio in an awesome setting, and the whole experience was life changing for us all. It was produced by Grammy award winning producer and all-round legend Ted Hutt, who also produced our last album “Getting Through”. It’s an album we’re immensely proud of and another step in the bands evolution. We can’t wait to release it in Germany later this year, and we can’t wait to play some of the new songs to our German fans on this tour.

Q:You sold out The Olympia, played the Glastonbury Festival, supported The Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi – an impressive career. Now you’re returning to the more intimate atmosphere of smaller clubs to present ‘Ghosts’. How does the size of a venue affect a gig you play? Is it easier to connect with the audience on a smaller stage?
A: Yeah, it’s been some journey, with some incredible highlights, but no matter how big or small the gig or audience is, we always give it our best performance. We love playing live. Smaller venues can be special, there is always an intimacy in the smaller shows, an intimacy that can be difficult to replicate on bigger stages. However, you can also not beat the energy and euphoria from the bigger stages.

Q: You and the band started out busking in Dublin like so many great artists. How did it influence your take on playing live and making a living as performers?
A: Busking had a big influence on us. It helped us hone our craft and confidence as performers. The street is the toughest but also the best place to learn, it’s gotten us this far.

Q: Your first album was produced by Tony Colton, famous for his work with legends like Rory Gallagher or Ray Charles. How did that collaboration come about? Would you say it was the turning point in the huge success story of the band?
A: Tony is a legend, and it was a fortunate meeting at Heathrow airport in 2006. Myself and JP – the guitarist – missed our flight back to Dublin, and whilst waiting for our next flight, a man in front of us in the queue turned to JP and said, “I like your T-shirt” – JP was wearing a Rory Gallagher T-shirt. “I produced his first two albums with ‘Taste’”, he said. Now we would all be big fans of Rory, just like JP. For us, Tony was a direct connection to the music we all loved, bands and artists like Heads, Hands and Feet, Ray Charles, Rory Gallagher and The Allman Brothers. He worked and played with them all. Later that year, Tony flew back from Nashville to produce our first album ‘What About The Tip Jars’. It was definitely a turning point for us. Tony really helped us find our sound, and he really helped us to get going in them early days.

Q: You’ve been compared to Mumford and Sons sometimes. Compliment or not?
We definitely have elements of folk in our sound, particularly on our second album ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’.
A: We’d be big fans of Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon and Nick Drake, so yeah, that would be a compliment. I like the ‘Mumfords’, they are a good band. I first saw them supporting another equally great artist who was part of the English folk scene around the time they exploded, a guy called Johnny Flynn. Check out his tune ‘The Box’!

Q: With the touring life successful musicians usually lead today, many find it challenging to balance life on the road and writing new music. How do you do that?
A: I actually don’t know, I just write as much as I can. Usually an album campaign and tour lasts 18 months, so within that period, a lot of songs and ideas for songs are written. We all get together after each album campaign ends and spend a few weeks jamming and going through all our song ideas. Usually, the path towards the next album begins to take shape during those sessions, it’s always an organic process.

Q: For many years, you didn’t have a management and organized everything yourselves. It’s an approach many bands and artists have these days, and they also create spaces for their and other artists’ music by launching own labels and studios, or organise own festivals. Any such plans for the future? If you do your own festival, who would you invite to headline it?
A: We released our first two albums independently, and the latest two we released through Universal. There’s pros and cons to going the independent route as there is with the Major label route. At the moment we’re happy with Universal. My own festival, yeah I’d love to put one on one day. Headliners, that’s a tough one – Bruce Springsteen, Kings of Leon, U2, Oasis, Blur, Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros, ACDC, the Rolling Stones…

Go here to purchase tickets for the show on February 7th, 2017, OR take the chance to grab your FREE ticket by answering our question. Ticket giveaway courtesy of Milestone Management and Contra Promotion .

Franziska is neither Irish, nor a Berliner, but managed to make herself at home in both cultural spheres. How the two combined to result in the launch of Irish Culture Events is a very long story which involves Irish pubs all over Berlin, fiddle music and St Patrick’s Day 2016. A writer, interviewer and critic, Franziska meets artists, blogs about Irish events in Berlin and reviews shows for you. Follow her and get the backstage insight of all things Irish in Berlin!