Widetrack intentionally creates the perfect sonic circle.
The Waterford alt-prog, father-son duo of Ron Tippin (vocals, guitar, drums) and Zach Tippin (bass, guitar) will fittingly return to their musical birthplace of Pontiac for a Saturday show at The Crofoot.
“We are absolutely stoked to be playing our first Widetrack show together as a two-piece, premiering the public live debut of songs we wrote together for our newest album, The Unwakening,” said Ron Tippin, Widetrack’s founder.
“What makes it really special though is that The Crofoot is literally right across the side street from my old rehearsal and recording facility, where Widetrack was born back in 2006. It’ll be kind of like coming full circle for us.”
Widetrack will join eight other bands – Loud Thoughts, Roc Steady, Negative Gravity, Mars Hill, Stompbox, Cicrus, Letters from Abel and Motor City Vibrations – for Smash Concerts’ “November Two Remember” show and perform a six-song, 30-minute set with haunting, introspective tracks from their mystical four-album catalog.
“We’re really looking forward to playing that same stage with The Crofoot’s amazing sound and lights. We hope that people who’ve never heard us before will find our music and on-stage energy to be inspiring. Inspiring others is our deepest desire as musicians and as a creative force,” said Ron Tippin.
A Spirital Unwakening
With the Tippins at the helm, Widetrack continues to unleash their dark, proggy creative energy since releasing their hypnotic, otherworldly album, The Unwakening, in April. The reflective project ventures through a dozen digital tales to uncover the conflicting duality of our personal and online identities in a “Black Mirror-like” dimension.
“The idea of The Unwakening is how we immerse ourselves in this digital landscape, and it just makes our worst tendencies come out; we just wallow in it. All of our wisdom goes out the window and so does our better nature,” said Ron Tippin.
Widetrack slowly built that alternate digital world by releasing a new song and companion video each month in 2019 from The Unwakening. As Zach Tippin’s foray into writing and recording music, a gradual build allowed father and son to thoroughly shape the album’s evolving virtual storyline, philosophical lyrics and prog-filled instrumentation.
“We had quite a few songs written or partially written before we started. The first few were just really easy to do because they were already kind of up and running. As Zach got better at playing and recording, the standards for what would be allowed to be on the album became higher. There are probably 10 songs we didn’t use,” said Ron Tippin.
“But after spending all of 2019 writing, recording and releasing one new song each month for what would ultimately become our fourth album, and Zach’s songwriting and recording engineer debut, he looked at me and said, ‘I need to get away from doing this for a little while.’”
At that time, Widetrack shifted their focus toward honing a dynamic live set for 2020, but then the pandemic hit and unexpectedly shuttered the live music world overnight. In March, the Tippins reverted to songwriting and penned new tracks while simultaneously preparing for the digital release of The Unwakening.
Connivance and Seeksorrow
One of the tracks that emerged from those quarantine-fueled songwriting sessions includes the band’s latest atmospheric, gliding single, “Connivance,” which weaves soft drums, tingling cymbals, placid bass and vibrant electric guitars in a lost online universe. While being trapped in an empty virtual world, Ron Tippin cries, “No place in your world/For their opinions/No need to know their/True lives/To wise up feels/A challenge so pointless/The ones you decide/Now know best.”
“When I sit down to write, I naturally gravitate toward things that are weighing heavily on my mind. Increasingly over the past few years, many of us have been spending a significant amount of our time interacting through the severe limitations of social media. This carries with it a host of new problems and interpersonal complexities,” said Ron Tippin, who dropped Widetrack’s latest single in September.
“‘Connivance’ was inspired by sort of, ‘You present yourself with one thing, but I see what you’re really doing. You’re not fooling anyone, and you’re contributing to the problem,’ type situation. Getting the thoughts and emotions down lyrically helped me to exorcise the poison and avoid further contributing to the online drama.”
Widetrack wanders deeper into the digital abyss on “Seeksorrow,” a dreamy, melodic Pineapple Thief-esque track featuring swirling shoegaze electric guitars, thumping bass, steady drums and delicate cymbals. Ron Tippin softly sings, “Cognitive biases/Howling for justice/From the exempt/And I feel/Crushed by the load/Drawn in and lessened by/These truly vile norms.”
“When Zach presented it to me, it really threw me. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the timing. It took me quite a while to get the drum part right, and I really practiced hard for this one. Once I got it flowing, it came easier, but it was initially quite difficult to figure out. I absolutely loved that my 16-year-old son was pushing me beyond what any musician I’ve ever played with has pushed me,” said Ron Tippin.
“Once the lyrics for ‘Seeksorrow’ began to materialize, it really felt like I’d gotten something down that I’d not been able to quite put into words up to that point. It’s been difficult at times, reconciling the all-too-often opposing realities of everyday life and the digital realm, which can bring out such ugliness between people. The song was a way for me to process my thoughts and feelings about those who thrive on that ugliness.”
Widetrack’s Maiden Voyage and Road Ahead
For their two latest tracks, Widetrack collaborated with Saline producer and Sponge guitarist Andy Patalan at The Loft while Zach Tippin mixed the final versions. Patalan had previously produced Widetrack’s three striking alt-prog albums, including Widetrack III (2018), Widetrack II (2009) and Widetrack (2007).
At the time, Ron Tippin decided to write and record original music after playing in several cover bands throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. With Widetrack, Ron Tippin quickly assembled a skeleton crew and started playing live shows, including side stage slots at New Orleans’ Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in 2007 and 2008. He played alongside Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against the Machine.
During the next seven years, Widetrack experienced a series of lineup changes and ultimately resulted in the father-son duo of today. At age 12, Zach Tippin asked his father if he could play bass in the band, and a new musical bond formed between the two. Together, they sought alt-prog inspiration from Rush, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Soundgarden, The Mars Volta and Tool.
By 2018, Zach Tippin played bass with Ron Tippin on Widetrack III, an exquisite 12-track album that served as the alt-prog gateway for writing, recording and engineering tracks for what would become The Unwakening.
Since the release of their latest album and two newest singles, Widetrack relishes the rare opportunity to perform live at The Crofoot on Saturday. As the live music world remains largely on hold, it’s hard to say when Widetrack will return to a metro Detroit stage. In the meantime, they’ll focus on writing, recording and releasing new material for a growing national fan base.
“We genuinely dig each other’s ideas when we write together. And there’s the idea that this could happen less frequently in the future, depending on where Zach ends up going to college and how much of his time is spent on other commitments as he gets older. I’m always pushing to get as many things written and recorded as possible while we have this time together, and that will surely include livestreams in the absence of live shows,” said Ron Tippin.
4:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. | Saturday, Nov. 7
The Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St. in Pontiac