For singer songwriter Mark Callaghan, the release of The Riptides' first album more than thirty years since it was originally recorded runs parallel with the greater evolution of the music business over the last three decades. From cult status with indie-darlings The Riptides to mainstream commercial success with GANGgajang and onto a successful career in the music industry, Callaghan has seen a lot over the last 35 years.
It's a journey book-ended with -Tombs Of Gold', The Riptides' debut album. Recorded between 1981 and 1982 the album has lain dormant, waiting for its moment, while music, the business, the world has inexorably changed.
The story around the album's -cryogenic stasis' contains all the usual elements of such tales – youthful exuberance, bad deals, conflict, line-up changes and eventual demise. The story of the album's resuscitation however, has much to say about the music business: where is at and where it's headed.
Arriving in Sydney from Brisbane in 1980, The Riptides soon established themselves in the city's thriving live music scene, drawing big crowds and gaining a reputation as one of the country's best live acts. Like many of their contemporaries they survived, and thrived, outside the -music business' of the day: funding, producing and distributing their own recordings, designing their own artwork, photography and posters, booking and running their live shows and even building their own PA system, housed in their very own truck. They were the DIY kings!
Then they signed a record deal – and the wheels fell off, not just the truck, everything. The Riptides had great songs; they had a huge fan base. The only problem was the bit in the middle: The music business.
Fast-forward to 2014 and the internet has ensured that music and fans have an instant connection. Back then -DIY' was seen as -outside' the music business; now, DIY is the music business.
Which suits Callaghan perfectly. After re-acquiring the rights to -Tombs Of Gold' he set about using his DIY smarts along with the web's potential to reboot the dormant project - within the new -music business' paradigm.
Reaching out through social media and using the direct-to-fan site PledgeMusic he launched a campaign to fund the project's completion. The results have been stunning with the project achieving its funding target and growing daily, after only a couple of weeks.
Responding to the -build it and they will come' call, The Riptides' fans are re-appearing and spreading the word. After years of kids, careers and mortgages they've finally got some time for themselves; to listen to the music they love, to remember those heady days when they screamed at Selina's and danced - drunk at the Dee Why or until soaked at the San Miguel!
But -Tombs Of Gold' is not just re-release or re-issue nostalgia. After tracking down the original analogue tapes, the recordings were transferred to digital format and, using the funds provided by fans, completely re-mixed from the ground up by renowned producer Rick Will (No Doubt, Johnny Cash, Dave Matthews, Hunters And Collectors, etc.). The outcome has been spectacular: the record sounds authentic but fresh; energy leaps from the tracks as digital mixing technology meets 80's analogue recording techniques.
Callaghan said today, 'The album is finally finished and sounds just like I always wanted it to. It was recorded in our prime but thanks to these great mixes, it also sounds like it could have been recorded this year".
The album will be released as a limited edition gold vinyl LP, on CD with 8 bonus tracks, and digitally. Check out www.pledgemusic.com/projects/riptides to support the project through album pre-purchase and/or other pledges for exclusive items.
'I'm absolutely loving this," enthuses Callaghan. 'I'm sharing stories and emails with fans one-on-one. It's amazing to think that The Riptides fans have always been there and that, thanks to places like PledgeMusic, they're emerging to support this project. It's both very humbling and incredibly exciting. Despite all I've achieved over the years, it's the hands on approach, the direct connection with fans – the whole DIY thing that's by far the most satisfying. Just like it always was."
Turns out that spending three decades in suspended animation might have been the smartest move The Riptides ever made! With their self-sufficient, enterprising, innovative ethic, the band was always ahead of its time – now, with the release of -Tombs Of Gold,' it looks like the music business has come full circle to meet them.
Available in limited edition Vinyl, CD and digital formats. To pre order the album and find other exclusive pledges visit www.pledgemusic.com/projects/riptides.
Tombs Of Gold vinyl LP:
The Tombs Of Gold CD will have an additional 8 bonus Tracks:
For more background, photos and images visit www.theriptides.com.au and to connect on Facebook search: The Riptides Re-Entry