Singled Out: The Tripping Souls Share The Story Behind The Riverbed

02/05/2014
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Today Paul Makris from The Tripping Souls tells us about the song "The Riverbed," one of the fan favorites from their group's 2013 self-titled "The Tripping Souls" release. Here is the story:

So much has happened for The Tripping Souls since we released our self titled, debut CD last March. It's been incredibly well received being added to the playlists of stations all around the US. We've also had way too much fun playing some incredible gigs; opening for Deer Tick at the Rock On Foundation's Sneaker's and Speakers Festival, playing the IPO - Boston Festival, and opening for the very hip, L.A. indie swing band, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy for an audience of over 800. We released a single this past fall, called Narrow Road, which was featured on the UK's JosieJo Show. We've also been in the studio working on our forthcoming full length CD, scheduled to be released in 2014. And last but not least, have met and gotten to know a bunch of really cool fans… and that's been incredible! We're especially grateful for all the support.

And even with the focus of the EP tracks, "Stand Back" and "Place That I Love", I still get a number of people asking me what "The Riverbed" is all about! So, here's the story…

A couple years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I'd be interested in going to Africa with him. Considering his wife was standing next to him when he asked, of course I thought it was a trick question. And I certainly wasn't going to get into the middle of that! After convincing me otherwise, I figured it was safe to answer. Always up for an adventure and having been through a couple of pretty tough years personally, my response was, "When do we leave?" A few months later we were off to Tanzania.

Once there, we hopped in a single prop plane and flew west for about three hours. We landed on a dirt runway in a remote region, tossed our backpacks in the back of a jeep, and it began. To say the trip was incredible is a vast understatement. For me, it was more about checking out for a while, unplugging, reacquainting myself with the universe, and really, in somewhat of a spiritual way… more an introspective about what's truly important in this world… we had our clothes in the backpacks and really nothing else. And we didn't need anything else. Just food, shelter, nature. We met locals who had what many here in the U.S. might call, nothing. Barely a roof over their head and food, certainly, no big bank accounts or fancy cars. I still can't get over how happy they were, so friendly and always smiling.

We spend a few days in camps in various regions. The last night in the first camp we were in was so different, though. The camp was on the bank of a river. As this was dry season, the riverbed (hence, the name of the song) was bone dry. The last night we were there, we had dinner in the riverbed by a huge bonfire with torches all around (to keep any wild life away). With just a handful of people in camp, and being in an environment like that, we got to know the others pretty well, very quickly. So naturally, embracing the company of our new friends, the wine started to flow…! In fact, the lyrics "people dancing, people laughing" was no exaggeration. As more wine flowed the numbers started to dwindle (my friend was one of the first to head back to our hut!). Before I knew it, and several bottles of wine later (we stopped counting somewhere around 7…) there were four of us left in the middle of the African wilderness, (lions roaring in the distance), full of wine, with the bonfire barely alive, still sharing some pretty deep thoughts with each other. At that point, it hit me just how rare and very real that night was.

When I got back to the States, I shared this story with my close circle, and that's where the idea and lyrics came from, telling the story of a night I'll never forget. When I brought the demo into the studio (Zippah Studios in Boston), I told Brian (Charles) the story of how the song came about, and how I wanted to try to convey that feeling through the sound. Brian and I think a lot alike in terms of approach (recording through his vintage equipment, etc.). So as expected, he totally got what I was trying to do and captured my vision of what the song should sound like as we laid the tracks down. Brian's so good to work with! And as literal some of the lyrics in the song might seem, it's really about the spirit of that night on the riverbed. It's one I'll never forget.

By the way, I still stay in touch with a few of the people who were on the riverbed that night.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!

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