The frontman of South Aussie indie soul outfit Lowrider has returned to the stage in solo project: Ripley, which he’s bringing to WOMADelaide this weekend.
Joe Braithwaite spent a successful 12 years with Lowrider, and now the band have gone their separate ways, Joe has dedicated his new project to being himself.
“Ripley is a family name, all the way from Mount Gambier; well, further back than that but it’s an old family name which my brothers have as their middle names, but I don’t. I think the story is that they just forgot to give it to me,” he laughs.
“Because it’s a family name, in a small way, it sums up what this project is about. It’s about being very real, not trying to push anything. It’s about writing real and honest things; I’m not trying to be anyone else, I’m just trying to be myself.”
During their career, Lowrider made several albums and toured with the likes of Hilltop Hoods, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Lupe Fiasco, and Joe is disappointed their time came to an end.
“It was sad; horrible. I was not particularly pleased about the situation. I don’t think many of us have talked openly about it, but I was not happy to see it end. I was a big fan,” he laughs.
“I guess it was essentially the artistic differences; we couldn’t all decide on a direction to focus on. I wanted to keep writing music and touring, but other members had different ideas, so we were all between a rock and a hard place. None of us were prepared to budge, so there you go.
“But, so many bands never even make it to twelve years, so we were pretty happy to just go ‘Ok, there it is’. I seriously hope we can do something again one day. It was really fun writing and touring with those guys and we all still talk, so hopefully one day we can do some more music.”
The Adelaide guys went out in style though, with a farewell gig that Joe says was a commemoration and a celebration.
“What we realized in the last few months of the band was that we never really celebrated any of our achievements; we were always so focused on the next step so it was nice to have that final show here in Adelaide,” he says.
“People flew from all over the country to come and see us play a final time. It was great, and we really celebrated that. It was a nice thing to do, to be able to say, this is it, let’s celebrate it, because we haven’t really celebrated anything.”
The singer, who has recently released his debut EP Bigger Than Me is thrilled to be playing WOMADelaide this weekend.
“It is great. Lowrider played WOMAD a few years ago now, and I have to say, that was one of my most memorable shows with them, so hopefully this one is similar. I’m on at 7pm on the Moreton Bay stage, which I couldn’t have hoped for a better spot, I have to say. The sun will just be going down, and it’s on the Friday night, so people will be arriving or been there for a few hours and I might be the first thing they see, which is great. I couldn’t have asked for a better spot. I’m very happy with that,” he says.
“Also, last time I saw Cat Empire at WOMAD, it was an absolute party, so they’re on the Friday night as well, so I’m really looking forward to that. Every time I see them live, I can’t help but get involved.
“What I love about WOMAD is discovering new stuff. There’s so much stuff there that I wouldn’t stumble upon on the internet, being world music, and I always find myself loving some band from Afghanistan or something like that. That’s my favourite bit; the discovery.”
If you’re heading along to WOMADelaide, go and discover the stunningly gritty sounds of Ripley; if not, check out his EP, or head along to a show in the near future. You won’t regret it.
By Libby Parker