Jimmy Recard is a thing of the past. Paul Ridge (aka Drapht) is back on the tour bandwagon after the release of his latest record, ‘The Life of Riley’. The Perth-based MC has had more than his fair share of cruelty and misfortune thrown his way during the album’s production; prevailing with a finished piece embedded in despair, mockery and self-belief. From a Hobart hotel on an otherwise standard Tuesday evening, the man feeds our inquisitive minds for your reading pleasure…
Tell us about the journey of your new album, The Life of Riley.
Off the back of my last album, The Brothers Grimm I stopped touring about a year and a half ago. I had a six-month writing process for this record, going back and forth with Trials focusing on marrying the subject matters I had in my head with his production. It was a six-month recording and arranging process in Perth at our home studio then it got to the point of the album being released on Friday. It’s been a whirlwind year in general.
How is it different to your back-catalogue?
It’s pretty similar. The style is evolving a little more and I’ve grown as an artist. Off the back of Brothers Grimm, I was lucky enough to have music turn into my livelihood and now I can spend more time on it. That, I think, is the main thing. Working on Brothers Grimm, having a full-time job, having a girlfriend which was another full-time job and then doing my record on the weekend for a couple of hours. With The Life of Riley I’ve been able to spend every waking moment on it, which has been pretty unreal.
You’ve said that the “making of this album broke me and drove me to insanity on so many different occasions.” How so?
I’ve suffered from stomach issues for the last ten years. It really put a hardcore place in the making of this record. It got to the point where I could only eat meat and vegetables and that was three times a day so I was waking up and having chicken and broccoli and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I wasn’t allowed any sugar, nothing…I lost a lot of weight, was really fatigued and working from home I really had no energy to focus on the album. Going through Perth’s hottest summer on record everything kept piling on top of each other. I had no air-con at my house, which was even worse. I literally got to the brink of insanity for three songs on this record, Rapunzel being one of them. Now all is good and winter is on its way and I feel amazing!
What drove you to start your own label, The Ayems Records?
My contract with Obese expired; I thought it was a really good time to start putting out my own records and to start putting money back in my own pocket and no one else’s. Potentially I have been working on this for a year and a half and it has been my blood, sweat and tears.
I feel with this record, more than any, it was a perfect time for it.
What’s your vision for the brand? Signing any other artist’s down the track?
Not at the moment, just focusing on my own stuff and potentially putting out another record. I’d love to do it down the track but I suppose I don’t really have enough of a bank-well behind me to focus on anyone else.
Your first track off the album, Rapunzel gained heavy radio rotation and #12 spot on Triple J’s Top 100. How are you dealing with the expectation of the album?
I didn’t feel any sort of pressure to back it up. I think with every record people try to put pressure on you. With my last record Brothers Grimm and Jimmy Recard, I was asked how am I going to back that up? The same with Rapunzel, the albums come out and people seem to be pretty happy with it. There’s always an expectation and people in the industry try to put pressure on you…
What was the idea behind the animation of theRapunzel film clip?
Off the back of Rapunzel being an animated story and a fairytale, it ran hand in hand. The guys put it together and did an amazing job.
What can we expect from your upcoming tour?
A pretty energetic show. I have four albums of back catalogue I can run through, which is pretty rare for me. I used to be able to do 45 minutes and then have no other songs to play, now I can play majority of the tracks off Brothers Grimm and all of The Life of Riley. We have a pretty big set-up actually and we’ve rehearsing non-stop for the last month so it’s all pretty tight. I’ve got a drummer, a bass player, a DJ and another MC on board and the supports The Tongue and Mantra from Melbourne, which are two of the best MC’s in Australia.
Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
I used to have just a couple of beers before a show but with my stomach issues I couldn’t drink the whole last tour and I felt that they were some of the best shows I’ve ever done so I stopped drinking before all my shows…but not really, I don’t have anything at the moment. I’ve got a lucky pair of boxer shorts but I can’t wear them every show because there are too many shows!
You need to make something up…
That’s right, forty pairs of that one particular pair of boxer shorts.
Post album release and tour, what’s next for Drapht?
Because I’ve just finished the record a couple of months ago and I’ve been doing an infinite amount of press and rehearsals, I haven’t had time to relax just yet. So after the tour I’m going to go on a well-needed holiday. Then probably just come back and try think about the next record in three or four month’s time. Keep on rolling…thinking about the next tour and the next record.
Drapht’s latest album, The Life of Riley is out now. Suss out all the important details and tour goss at drapht.com.au.