GLEN HANSARD’S starring role in the 2007 movie ‘Once’ is semi autobiographical: the Dublin icon did in fact rise from playing his guitar on Grafton Street to headlining major stages, fronting The Frames, and eventually to New York’s theatrical stages, too.
The Riptide Movement – a somewhat more snarling, riff-loving outfit than Hansard’s laid back group – can trace something of a similar trajectory, though their reasons for taking to Grafton Street were perhaps a little more practical.
“We haven’t busked in a while,” guitarist and vocalist Mal Tuohy laughs. “We wrote our first album around the time that CDs were starting to sell a little less well, about ten years ago. We were a bit optimistic, and we ordered 10,000 of them. It was very naive, looking back.”
“They weren’t selling anything like enough in the shops, so we went out and played on Grafton Street as a way to sell the CDs. They were gone within the year, and we got shows in Russia and India out of it. I think we learnt to entertain on the streets, too, how to hold a crowd, so it worked out in the end.”
That debut album ‘What About The Tip Jars’ did chart at an impressive number 16 in Ireland, and everything the band have done since has done better. All three follow up albums charted in the top ten, including a number one with 2014’s ‘Getting Through’.
In a sense, though, the band have left the idea of an album behind them, at least for now. “People don’t really think in terms of albums anymore,” Tuohy says, with The Riptide Movement having released a flurry of singles over recent years. “In a way we’re an album band; each one if kind of a snapshot of two years of our lives, and we’ll probably have one out next year. It can be better, though, to release an EP with a couple of hits instead.”