"In 2006, after my father passed away from cancer at the young age of 57, I decided to stop making excuses and put out the first Widetrack CD. Now, 10 years later, my 14 year-old son has joined the band as bassist and we continue this journey together." -Ron Tippin
Widetrack's "Alterna-Prog" sound has been described as, "Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling holds a group therapy session with members of Pink Floyd and Soundgarden."
The band has released two CDs: their self-titled 2007 debut, followed by 2009's Widetrack II. Both albums were recorded and co-produced by Andy Patalan, guitarist for popular '90s grunge-rock band, Sponge.
The songs strive to find a balance between the moody undertones of such progressive groups as Pink Floyd, Tool/A Perfect Circle, Porcupine Tree, etc., with a more flexible edginess of alternative/hard rock bands like Soundgarden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Deftones, etc.
"I'd been writing songs pretty much my entire music life", Tippin says, "But I rarely played them for anybody. I was known as a drummer 'who often sang because we couldn't find anyone else to do it' (ha ha). I really didn't think the people in my local scene would care too much for me reinventing myself as a singer/songwriter."
"But that all changed when my father passed away at such an early age. As cliche' as it sounds, I suddenly realized that this is the one chance we get to do the things in life that make us most happy. And so, I made a decision right then and there that I was going to bring this music to life one way or another, and ignore the inevitable criticism the best I could."
"Man, I can't even begin tell you what an amazing feeling it was to open that first box of CDs with my son... Absolutely priceless..."
In no time, Tippin had put together a "skeleton crew" band to begin playing live shows, eventually landing a side stage slot two years in a row at the 2007 and 2008 Voodoo Music Experience shows in New Orleans.
Given the opportunity to play at an event that featured such premier artists as Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, etc., Tippin gained a much greater sense of confidence in developing as a live performer.
"The Voodoofest shows were such an amazing experience", he says. "I was still finding my way as a singer/guitarist, and playing such a big event gave me a much clearer sense of what I needed to work on to be more effective onstage. I still had a long way to go, but those shows really helped me get on the right track."
But alas, progress was not to be so easily sustained, as personal setbacks and band member departures sidelined the group for most of the early 2010s. Tippin reflects: "Things were going great, then all of a sudden... BAM! My life was turned completely upside-down. My wife and I got divorced, my band members quit on me... I was back to square one in both my personal and musical lives. That was a really tough period."
Still, he continued writing and recording new songs, while searching for the right musicians to rebuild the group from the ground up. Then, one day in mid-2015, a casual conversation with a mutual friend led to Tippin reconnecting a long-lost high school buddy by the name of Brian Burleson. It seemed the passing years had done little to change their shared love for all things Pink Floyd and classic film.
"After all these years, it took all of about 5 minutes of conversation with Brian, and we picked right back up where we'd left off", Tippin says. "We hadn't even played together yet. But I just had this feeling... And so, I asked him if he'd be interested in joining the band, and to my delight, he said yes. When we finally did play together, our musical chemistry was even better than we'd imagined it would be. I thought, wow, we've really stumbled onto something here..."
By late 2016, Tippin and Burleson had recorded and released a "heavy reinterpretation" of Pink Floyd's classic Welcome to the Machine to rave reviews across the board. Reactions such as, "As good as the original, in its own unique way!", "Epic version!" and "Best Pink Floyd cover ever!" are just a few of the kudos the reinvented cover received.
"It couldn't have been more perfect", Tippin says. "I had this version of the song I'd put together and had been playing for a few years by that point. Andy and I had begun recording it, but somehow it had gotten shelved for a bit. Once Brian came into the picture, we just thought, what better way to consummate our music relationship? When I heard what he did with the song, it blew me away so much that I almost wanted to cry. And that intro he put together for it... WOW."
"We're both really pleased with the end result. Pink Floyd is sacred ground, and covering one of their songs is kinda like, 'What's the point? Their music cannot be improved upon, so why even go there?' To have people respond so well to it just warms my heart. It would be really cool to get to play it for the band themselves one day and find out what they think of it... Well, one can dream right? Haha!"
But fortune was about to get even more outrageous. In early 2017, just as Tippin and Burleson had begun recording Brian's lead guitar tracks for the long-delayed third album, Ron's son Zach expressed the desire to try out for the band as bassist. Much to Ron's and Brian's surprise, the then-12-year-old had already developed the skills to not only handle the job, but to actually push them even further as musicians.
Ron was beyond ecstatic at the prospect of joining musical forces with his son, but the most amazing part of it all was how well the three immediately clicked as musicians: "The chemistry was there from day one", Burleson says, "Zach's age didn't matter whatsoever; from the first time we all played together, everything just clicked."
And so, with this new-and-improved lineup in place, Tippin once again enlisted the skill set of Andy Patalan, and the group headed back into the studio, doubling their efforts towards completing the third Widetrack album - Zach's debut as a recording artist.
By January 2018, all twelve songs were complete.
"This is by far the best thing I've ever done, musically speaking", the elder Tippin relates, "So much love and pain and bliss and rage and thought and feeling went into the making of of this album. The emotional impact of finally being able to listen back to it is beyond words... I cannot wait to play this stuff for people!"
Currently, the band has just released Widetrack III to rave reviews and is preparing to get out on the road "to play for as many people as possible". It just so happens that the timing lines up perfectly with Zach's summer vacation. "My mom, dad and I have a deal that as long as I do well in school, I get to play music", he says. "So far, it's gone pretty well... but I know that when I start high school in September, there's gonna be a bit more pressure to keep on top of everything. I'm not too worried, though; I really love to play, so I'm gonna do my best to not let anything ruin that!"