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If you’ve ever wondered how to cram seven gyrating band members onto a smaller-than-usual stage, you’re in luck; Ripe is poised to demonstrate for you.
A walking game of what the group calls “human Tertris,” the Boston-based troubadours recently sold out two back-to-back shows at the Paradise Rock Club this year, and are slated to take the stage at Levitate Festival in Marshfield in July. And yet, over their seven years together, a full-length record had never been part of their winning equation.
Working as one complex but blissed-out unit since 2011, Ripe have finally reached a point of perfect cohesion, resulting their debut album Joy In The Wild Unknown, out today (April 6).
“I think two things happened,” frontman Robbie Wulfsohn tells Vanyaland of the recording process. “First, I think that we finally arrived at a point where we felt cohesive enough (both in our music itself and in what we wanted to communicate with our music) that we wanted to release a longer, more expansive piece of music. Secondly, I think that through the process that eventually led us to working with Cory Wong, we finally learned to approach songs that we had been playing for a while with the fresh eyes necessary to translate that stuff into the studio.”
“It took us a long time to get to this album,” drummer Sampson Hellerman explains. “It never felt right to do a full-length until now. Everything finally locked into place. Just prior, we’d been on the road for a year-and- a-half. So much was happening, growing, and changing. It was the moment to make the record.”
The recent milestones, Wulfsohn says, have been welcome but unexpected for the group, whose roots trace back to Berklee College of Music. From their pride in never performing the same show twice (“That can pretty much be chalked up to seven members operating in a flat democracy,” Wulfsohn notes), to cranking out juicy jam-band tunes meant to incite dancing sans-synthesizers, Ripe’s recipe for rhythm has only grown stronger over the past few years.
“It feels completely surreal,” Wulfsohn says. “One of those moments where even as it’s happening, you’re only 80 percent sure it’s actually happening. Speaking personally I wasn’t sure we’d ever get to play the Paradise, much less do what we did with those two shows. The next few months are viscerally exciting to all of us, almost unbelievably so.”
“Simultaneously, this was the ending of a lot of things and the start of something new,” he adds. “This serves as our transition from a band that brings the party towards a band that brings an edge to the party.”
While gearing up for their gig in Marshfield this summer, Ripe are flaunting their funk-tinged freshness across the country on their Joy in the Wild Unknown Tour, collecting toys from fans at each location to donate to local Boys & Girls Clubs of America in each tour market. The tour hits up New York City and Toronto this weekend, and wraps up in early May in New Orleans.