The Riptide Movement talk track’s starring role in Christmas Guinness ad

by James Hendicott

‘Keep The Lights On’ is the heading under which Guinness have released this year’s latest in a stream of acclaimed Christmas ads.

The 2020 version focuses, naturally, on what an odd year it’s been for Irish pub culture, shining a light, in particular, on small community pubs that are struggling to keep their doors open.

The musical background to the ad is provided by Dublin rockers The Riptide Movement, with their track ‘Turn On The Lights’, which Guinness asked for during production, a real honour for any Irish band given the brand’s cultural associations here in Dublin.

“For us it was a good campaign with a strong community message, that idea of us all been in this together, and we felt that our song was the right song to promote that message. It’s a song full of hope and is truly of these times,” the band says.

“The song took quite a journey, from the iphone of Mercury prize nominated artist Kath Williams, through Sonic Ranch studios in Texas, to Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin with the SUSO Gospel choir, and then it was released to little fanfare in November 2016 and almost forgotten about until it was unearthed and re-energised in this Guinness campaign.”

“The song was recorded in Texas back in January 2016 and produced by Ted Hutt. It was a song called ‘Same Time Every Year’ that a friend of mine, Kath Williams, had written with Josh Kumra and Joel Sarakula. Kath showed me an iphone voice recording of the song on a writers retreat a few months prior to the recording of our album ‘Ghosts’. I loved it and so did the band and we decided to record and put it on our ‘Ghosts’ album. When we got back to Dublin we had a 70 piece Gospel Choir called the SUSO gospel choir sing on it with us in Windmill Lane studios in Dublin under the directorship of Eimear Crehan.”

Despite the song far predating our current circumstances, the band feel it is a perfect fit in its messaging, which revolves around hope and looking forward positively.

“There’s a lot of good energy and good people involved in this song and the message is truly of the time, even though it was written nearly 5 years ago now, it really articulates what alot of us have been feeling during this year of covid restrictions, lockdowns and the year of no hugs and handshakes, but importantly it’s got a hopeful message.”

The Riptide Movement themselves, veterans of 15 years in Irish rock, have a Christmas tradition that they’ve had to lay aside: a boisterous annual gig. The live show has been replaced this year by a couple of streamed versions, from Whelan’s and from Heuston Station, the latter in honour of raising funds for Focus Ireland. Mid-December will mark a year since they last played a traditional live show.

That’s not to say there’s not plenty coming down the line. “Tomorrow’s a new day,” they insist, before revealing how the band will celebrate their landmark year next year.

“Next year is the band’s 15th anniversary so we have plans to release something really cool for that in partnership with the National Symphony orchestra,” they say.

“We’ve stayed connected with our fans mostly through social media which is brilliant for connecting with our fan base, the ‘The Lock In’ sessions really seemed to resonate with everyone. Life is good and the future is bright. Happy Christmas.”

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