LOWRIDER’S JOE BRAITHWAITE, PAUL BARTLETT, JOHN BARTLETT AND SCOTT DUNCAN JOIN RIP NICHOLSON TO DISCUSS THEIR SECOND ALBUM, COMPARISONS DRAWN TO THEIR EFFERVESCENT APPROACH TO MUSIC SHOWS AUSTRALIA WIDE.
LOWRIDER interviewed @ 14.30 AEST – Friday 2nd July, 2010
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
As a band who have played near on 900 gigs at a pace of five nights a week, Lowrider is more than ever ready to dish out new long-player Round The World live. The new album follows on the coattails of Lowrider’s first LP Diamond Amongst The Thieves, a most celebrated capturing of the aesthetic of live Australian music in 2008. On top of their game, a band may feel obliged to follow the blueprint to the success of the first when making the follow-up, however the second finds itself being narrated through dark tinted glasses with a view to setting a different mood.
“Lyrically I set out to write a more darker album,” admits Lyricist, Joe Braithwaite. “More shades of darkness rather than Diamond Amongst the Thieves which was more happy-go-lucky.”
“We were touring a fair bit when we started writing this album and you can definitely hear that in the music,” keyboard wizard and co-producer John Bartlett chimes in. “And this being our second we had a lot more time and wanted to draw more of the live shows into this album rather than making a live show out of the album after it’s release.”
“The music always comes first, then the lyrics and so forth – which is strange, most bands don’t go about it that way,” drummer and co-producer Paul Bartlett interjects. “These songs are pushed even further to be produced and written as instrumentals. Then Joe would take them and put the lyrics over the top of that. Which – a testament to Joe’s ability – they never actually sound like something we’ve put on top of something else.”
Trying to capture the band’s invigorating live appeal onto CD is a feat of strength for a production team that prefers to recreate rather than sample. As Paul insists, it’s all part of the fun of making a record.
“The challenge is to replicate the sound when we engineer it. It’s the same principle of the photographer taking a photo of the landscape compared to a painter painting it. Sure it’s harder work, but it’s got more of your style to it,” Paul explains. “Because most of the songs on this album were written from a producer point of view. The songs were written around the sounds. And drum-wise, the fun of trying to make a kit sound how you want it to sound is the challenge. And people don’t wanna play an album and say ‘well I’ve heard this sound, and that sound before.’”
While warming up crowds along Alicia Keys’ recent tour of Australia, the brothers Bartlett employed the services of her horn section Chops Horns to bring a soul-drenched tan to the LP. Then in an effort to seal the crispness of the album’s cluster of instruments, they mailed it out to New York for mixing and mastering by six-time Grammy nominated mix engineer Jason Goldstein. “One of the main things that we identified that we wanted to improve on,” states Paul “was the sound quality – especially with all the cool sounds on this album.”
Reviews of Round The World have heralded its extensive use of instruments, applauding the well-juggled output of the finished product. Packaged from components of classic Motown and Stax over funky basslines to a hip hop beat wrapped up with live rock, this makes music that most critics and retailers have found hard to categorise. Unsurprisingly comparisons have been called upon when describing the Lowrider sound, and parallels drawn to the Cat Empire, Missy Higgins and even so far as Michael Buble have been met with the frontman’s dismay.
“Sometimes I find it quite flattering but also confusing. I don’t know how they drew a comparison to Michael Buble, that’s really strange to me,” Braithwaite admits. “You cant dwell over that.”
“If everytime we put a song out they say ‘it’s that band that sounds like Michael Buble,’ you’d shoot yourself,” Paul laughs. “But the fact that they’re so varied it means people are noticing a ton of different stuff. There are so many bands out there that get lumped together and if all they get is the same comparison, then there’s something obvious there. But when our comparisons are so varied it’s like, we’re doing something right.”
Numbers don’t lie. Over there last tour shows were sold out before Lowrider rolled in. With great reception from their last LP, they’re doing something right and fast becoming a premier live act for Australia. With years of shows to their credit, the band chalks it up to two things – bringing something new to the live tracks and having fun, because it shows.
“Coming from a fans’ point of view,” John points out, “one thing i’ve heard is that they can see that we look like we’re having so much fun together up on stage.” Braithwaite jumps in to add, “also because we play so many shows together in a group, as a unit we are very close and it’s nothing but fun.”
“We certainly look at the new songs on the album and go, that’s how they sound on the album and say what can we do to it live,” Paul explains. “We see how far we can do solos, extensions and jamming shit together. We very much view them as two separate things. This is the studio version, this is the live version and we try to make this as fun and interactive as we can.”