This past Thursday felt like a long time in the making - for me, personally, anyway. Both my wife and I have been waiting a long time - maybe the entirety of our marriage at this point, 7 years - to catch them live. When I saw that Tides of Man was finally coming to Cincinnati as the opening act, along with I The Mighty, on Polyphia’s “Look But Don’t Touch” tour, I was hopeful we could set something up. And since they were playing the Southgate House Revival, we knew it was going to be a special night.
For a four-piece instrumental post-rock band, Tides of Man brings a thoughtful, tight, and huge presence to the stage. If you’re familiar with either of their first two albums - highly frenetic progressive rock with emo tendencies, caustic vocals, and riffs aplenty - their shift to a slower, more methodical and vocal-less 4-piece outfit might come as a surprise. Young & Courageous marked a big, bold, and yes, surprising shift for the band, but never felt forced or unnatural. Their latest, Every Nothing, only expanded on that and should firmly cement their place in the modern post-rock pantheon. Live, it should be even more obvious that maybe this is where they belonged all along.
Check out my brief chat with Dan below.
There was a 4-year gap between the new album and your first as a 4-piece post-rock outfit, Young and Courageous. I’m curious to know about the time off and what you were all up to in the interim?
Well, we spent some time touring. We did a headliner with our friends in Covet back in 2016, and we went to Europe multiple times. The remaining time was spent writing and crafting Every Nothing, our new album.
Maybe this was covered in previous interviews or conversations, but I’ve always found band dynamics - on and off the road - to be really interesting. As you were moving towards where you are now as a band, what was the thought process behind the transition to post-rock?
It was a gradual change. When we split with our singer back in 2010, we planned on replacing him. As we were trying out vocalists, we were writing new material. After a while, we couldn't find the right person and we felt stagnant. Someone suggested maybe playing some of the new material instrumentally, and then said maybe we should do a show. So we did, and it went really well! So we decided to do an album and it all evolved from there.
Since your transition from progressive rock with post-hardcore elements, you’ve released 2 albums of instrumental post-rock and have essentially transformed yourself in the process. Going into the release of Every Nothing, did you want to approach things differently than you had before?
We definitely wanted to incorporate more atmosphere and mood. We also wanted to improve and really make each instrument count at every point in the record. We tried to give each part a real purpose within the bigger picture.
The new album released in August of last year (and it’s great) - what’s it been like to tour on the second album as a post-rock band? Do you feel like you’re finally far enough away from what you had done before and are able to breathe as this incarnation of Tides of Man?
We're finally able to tour more and have been getting bigger and better opportunities. We're really grateful for that. I think overwhelmingly, people accept the transition and embrace us as we are now, which is great.
You just released a video for the track “New Futures,” which was 4 years in the making. Can you talk about the process of bringing the video to life, and how you worked on it over such a long period of time?
We posted some behind the scenes stuff on Instagram. Check it out, it’s really cool. Basically, our friend Clyde Cronin and his company The Clipper Society had a video treatment about going to Mars, and they wanted the right project to bring that vision to life. They got to talking to us about making a music video and doing this story.
They ended up building multiple sets in an apartment in London. They made a full-size spaceship cockpit, they did a miniature set for the rocket launch, and a cubicle set for the beginning of the video.
Then for the Mars shots, they flew to Tenerife, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean that has terrain that looks otherworldly. The crew actually ended up getting kicked out of the national park there, but luckily were able to piggyback on another productions permit so they were able to finish the shoot.
The tour your on with Polyphia and I The Mighty follows on the heels of a smaller run with Columbus’ The End of the Ocean. What’s it been like on each tour, especially following the release of Every Nothing? Tying into earlier questions, do you feel like you’re finally making headway as what you are now as a band versus what you were before?
Every tour just keeps getting better and better. We have seen our draw steadily grow, and now we are bringing in all new people from these Polyphia shows. Feels good to be alive and thriving as a band, after going through a rough few years.
Have you been to Cincinnati before, in either incarnation of the band?
I don't believe so! Been to Columbus and Cleveland for sure, but was my first time in Cincinnati.
After this tour, what’s next for the band? Do you think it’ll be another five years between album releases?
Haha, hopefully not! We want to write and release more music asap. Hoping to do another Audiotree Session and tour during summer, then we head back overseas in October.
Is there anything else you would like to add or mention?
Thanks so much to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions, to the band for an outstanding show at Southgate House Revival. Can’t wait ‘til next time.
Oh, hey, while I’m at it, if you want some more Tides of Man content, a big shout out to my buddy Mark - co-host of The Weekly Hookup on Radio Artifact. He challenged the band to Mario Kart, interviewed them while they were playing, and recorded the whole thing. Be sure to check that out here.