Portland based SOMETHING TO DO Records released the aptly titled "Canadian Graffiti" of the Pop-Punk veterans from Ottawa, Ontario, THE RIPTIDES.
Once again the band delivers the goods with an album full of songs that will be stuck in your head and that you will be humming for days: "Goodbye Hawaii", "Fast Girls", "I couldn't care less", "Totally Wasted"......
This blog is a long time fan of the band so when the opportunity rose to have a chat with singer Andy Vandal, there was no hesitation.
The Riptides are a Canadian punk rock band who have been playing shows putting out records for 20 years. We put out our first record in 1998 and have been disappointing our parents ever since. I guess you could say the band “technically” started back in 1992 because our core, long-running members Andy Vandal (vocals), Bob Goblin (bass) and Doug Vermin (guitar) all met in our first year in high school in our school band. Yep, we were band geeks. We’d do big band stuff, Dixieland, swing, broadway – didn’t matter – we were pretty good at it and had so much fun. We have had quite a few drummers over the years but now we’ve got Bulltit who goes way back with us.
About the new full length record "Canadian Graffiti", what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a live in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?
We were pretty used to the recording process when we went down to Sonic Iguana to record this new record. We have done like seven records with so we know what he expects out of us, and we know how prepared we have to be. That being said, it’s a long, process. We recorded “Canadian Graffiti” in one week. The process consisted of first laying down the drums, then bass, then guitars. Those would be happening sequentially throughout the week while every night/evening was my time to lay down a few hours of lead vocals. So, during the day you had one of those 3 instruments, and then each night you had lead vocals. I’d get about 2-3 songs recorded each night for vocals. Most vocal takes were probably kept to an average of about 10 takes all the way through each song. Which is pretty decent. Then, after those 4 things were done, by the time we hit the following weekend we were recording the back-up vocals, lead guitar, and whatever extra bells & whistles we came up with during the week. We had to always keep ourselves in check: we had a notebook going to check off all our priorities and ideas, and we always, always, always kept our time on the clock. If something was taking too long to get right, we’d try it another way to save time. If something we felt just wasn’t working – we’d ditch it and move on. Our whole goal on this new record was to trim the fat and get to the point.
What are your favorite topics to write about or the topics that come easily when you write a new song?
A lot of our songs are about girls, relationships and where life takes you: fights, heartbreak, divorce, new found love, teenage love, puppy love, hating each other, and everything in between. But we write about other stuff like pop culture, comic books, b-movies, horror, sci-fi, surfing, zombies, surf instrumentals, spies, serial killers……also we always tend to chime in every once and awhile with some comment on current politics….not to try and stand on a podium and preach and shit – just put out a song about something that’s pissing us off – it’s just an outlet to get stuff off our collective chests. Overall, we haven’t changed this formula in literally 20 years, and we don’t intend to change it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what your subject matter is – most important is if you have a melody/hook that is catchy and memorable – that’s the only thing that matters in a song. You could write a song about watching paint dry and if it leaves you humming along to it the next day, then it was a good song regardless of the topic.
Is each of you guys composing his own songs (words and music) or are all the songs joint efforts?
Bob is kind of the one who comes up with most of the songs that make the cut. Usually Bob will pitch an idea to Doug and I and then we play around with it to see if it will work. I’m very picky about song structures, the proper keys, how a song plays out, so I love getting involved in that stage. I can’t say enough about the importance of having a strong melody down before anything else. Many times we just make up a list of cool song titles and the song just sort of writes itself; you say the title and the melody just flows from it. But yeah basically Bob will come up with the nuts & bolts to the songs, and me & Doug add our own stuff whether it’s lyrics, vocal ideas, arrangements, etc. We're our own harshest critics, so we always do our own filtering no matter who wrote what, and we all have to agree on the decisions 100%. There’s no “fuck you guys, I don’t care what you think, it’s going on the record” kinda stuff – because we all have the same understanding as to what each record should sound like collectively, with each batch of songs. Ultimately, we all want what’s best for the record.
To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager and does it still influence your today work? What was your favorite band as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.
Ramones, The Beach Boys and The Barracudas. I’d say those were the 3 bands that I grew up with loving and they still influence our work to this day. The Beach Boys’ “Endless Summer” was the first record me and my brothers ever owned. We played that thing every day for 10 years straight, bouncing off the couch air-guitaring to every note on that record. Once Teen Wolf was doing back-flips on the roof of Styles’ van to the tune of “Surfin USA” it was forever cemented in our collective consciousness. So if I had to pick out one single record that forever influenced us, it’s Beach Boys’ “Endless Summer”. The Ramones came naturally out of the Beach Boys’ influence – they just did it faster, louder and tougher than anyone before them. It wasn’t a huge transition to go between those two bands. So if Beach Boys have THE record for me, I have to say THE band for me has got to be the Ramones without question. They changed everything. But your readers know that so I won’t get into all the ways why. Then finally, The Barracudas. Lead singer Jeremy Gluck is originally from Ottawa (our hometown). You have to get their compilation of “Through the Mysts of Time”. That is essential pop punk, garage, rock’n’roll. When our good friend Jerry gave us their “Subway Surfin’” 7-inch when we were kids it was like “Whoa.” They fucking killed it. Huge influence on us. In fact, Jeremy Gluck co-wrote a song on our 2006 album “Hang Out” which we subtly paid our homage by calling it “Subway Surfin’ 2” Ha Ha! It was an honour to work with him on that and it was so much fun.
All your previous full length were always released both on CD and Vinyl. So it is only natural to ask, for the buyers who prefer CD over vinyl, Will there also be a CD version of this record or will this stay a vinyl only thing?
Nope. Where we’re from, nobody buys CD’s anymore so it wasn’t a business model that made much sense in investing in anymore. I looked at my own world, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I even played a CD…maybe like 5-6 years ago? No, not worth our time investing in something nobody has an interest in buying. We don’t have a lot of space in the van when we play shows so we always need to pack merch that’s going to sell. These days, we’re selling vinyl records and t-shirts and it’s working for us.
"Drop Out" was released on Rally, "Hang out" on Red Scare, "Tales from Planet Earth" on Asian Man records and the new one, "Canadian Graffiti" on Something to Do Records? What can you tell us about this constant change of label?
I’m not sure about “constant change.” I think being in this business for over 20 years, there’s been a lot changes. The business model has changed, technology has changed and we’ve really just rolled with the punches. We manage all of our own stuff digitally now, where even a few years ago it was much more difficult to do that. Labels don’t make the ’90’s money they used to so the whole industry has had to adjust. “Drop Out” was only reissued on Rally. All of our early albums were released off our own label called Goblin Records. The first record outside of our own label was Red Scare who put out “Hang Out” in I think 2006. When the chance came up with Asian Man - to be on the same label as two of our favourite bands The Queers and Screeching Weasel, we jumped at it. From 2009 on we put out about 5 records with Asian Man Records alone – one full length and four 7-inches. Working with Mike Park was so awesome. He’s a great guy; honest, up front and totally transparent. Very humble dude too. We’re big fans of Mike and his label. When we came up with this new record, there was this kid from Portland, Oregon who wrote me out of the blue with an interest in putting out something of ours and his enthusiasm, his drive, and his creativity was really refreshing. His name is Matthew Ostrom with Something to do Records. Keep an eye out for him – he’s a good businessman and cares about the quality of every product he puts out so much. He’s a record collector first and foremost, so he wants to put in the hands of fans stuff that he would wanna see. We couldn’t be happier. I’d advise any pop punk fans out there to check out his label, and if you’re in a pop-punk band maybe get in touch with Matthew if you’re interested in putting something out.
What can concert goers expect at a gig of The Riptides ? Are you playing any famous cover songs?
They can expect something that’s not boring, and certainly not pretentious. That’s why I love bands like the Ramones, Dwarves, The Queers – simple, fun bands that play the hits in about 30-45 minutes and then go home. So our live shows try and emulate that (without the talent those bands have/had). We have always played covers of Ramones’ “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” and Dwarves’ “Drugstore”. We’ve been playing those 2 covers for almost 20 years and people seem to like it so we’re not changing it.
What are the plans for 2018 as far as The Riptides are concerned? Are you guys planning to tour Europe this year?
Yeah we’re busy in 2018. We’ve already started writing songs for the next record, we’re booked for some festivals, we’re playing shows again, and we have several tours coming up with some of my favourite bands for the fall. We’ve been wanting to play Europe for years now. My parents use to live in Rome, Italy for a while so I’ve been over there many times. Love it. We have a lot of people writing us from Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Denmark, Italy, Germany, UK, etc. to get over there. So we’re totally into doing it. Any booking agents reading this interview send me a message. Let’s do something!
Do you have a video on Youtube featuring a track from the latest release?
We shot a really fun video last summer for a song off the new record called “Goodbye Hawaii” directed by Petr Maur. It was shot in our hometown of Ottawa, ON at Britannia Beach. If you’re ever in Ottawa in the summer season go grab a juicy burger at Baja Burger Shack at the beach. It’s the best. Anyway, yeah – if you wanna check out the video we shot here’s the official link:
Anything you would like to say to the viewers of this blog?
If you’re at the bottom of this- thanks for taking the time to read it ha ha! Thanks for still caring about small punk bands with big hearts. Don’t ever grow up. Support independent labels. Come out and have a beer with us next time we play in your town. Reach out to us anytime – we like to keep in touch and respond to just about anyone. As long as you’re not a dick, we’ll be your friend. That’s the greatest advice to live by - “Just don’t be a dick.” See ya in the pit!
PURCHASE A DIGITAL COPY HERE:
OR A PHYSICAL COPY OF THE RECORD HERE: