INTERVIEW: Lee Tobin – Feed The Rhino

With a new album just around the corner, FEED THE RHINO are raring to unleash a new wave of chaos across the country and showcase their famously raw live show. Frontman Lee Tobin took the time to talk to Distorted Sound Magazine as the band prepared to unleash four years of built up creativity, giving us everything from the creation of The Silence to the videos and their upcoming tour.

So here we have Lee from FEED THE RHINO, so it’s been four years since The Sorrow and The Sound was unleashed, which at the time introduced a load of fresh elements to the band, can you tell us about this album’s evolution?

Lee: For me I think it was a healthy break it was something we needed. The time apart that we spent on the albums really reflects on The Silence. I think it was something that we always wanted to try, and I’ve said this before but with every album for FEED THE RHINO written we always try to push the boundaries and ourselves, further our ability to write the sort of music that we write but in the way that FEED THE RHINO always kinda shows through. I think for the difference like from The Sorrow and The Sound is where we slightly explored the cleaner sound of things marginally. It was still a rawkus album and with The Silence you can really see how it’s progressed from that and transcended into this album. We’ve explored the cleaner stuff a lot more but in the same way I feel like we’ve evolved, like the five of us as FEED THE RHINO just in that time and having it off. I think with this album not to sound arrogant or anything, but I feel for us it’s quite a special album.

I’ll totally agree with you there, that leads me into my next question. You’re definitely pushing the boat sonically this time, one of the songs that stands out is Losing Ground with its melodies and slightly softer side of things but maintaining its edge. Are you excited to carry on down that route?

Lee: We released that one today actually! It’s a real challenge for a band like us and especially for me personally trying to do those kinds of vocals because in theory we’re exposing ourselves so much more. You can’t hide anything when writing songs like that. What that song is personally is like stripping FEED THE RHINO back to the bare bones, you can see everything inside and what the rhino is. I was chuffed when we wrote that song, it’s always nice to try and test ourselves and pushing the boundaries of what this band really is and what we want to be. Losing Ground, I think puts a really good stamp on what this album is trying to achieve.

I couldn’t agree more, it’s still a FEED THE RHINO song and it’s as you said its nice to see the evolution of the band captured…

Lee: It’s important as well to us, people ask us this question a lot and it’s like what is this band? Are you a metal band? Or this or that but we’ve always kinda pinched elements of a lot of musical influences and that’s the combination which makes FEED THE RHINO what it is.

Being your fourth release how did the writing process go down? you’ve said for the last album the process was more natural way of working together, was that the same this time round?

Lee: I think this was the easiest album to write, again if we go back to that time that we spent apart. It was an odd situation for us to be in, when we played Reading and Leeds on the main stage that was the opportunity of a lifetime for a band like us. It was amazing experience to get on that stage, but at the same time it felt like something was really wrong with the band. We never had that connection, but we knew we were going to try and write another album then. We wrote Featherweight just before Leeds and then we wrote Heedless. Even then something just didn’t feel right, it wasn’t the right time to get into the writing process, even then there was just this atmosphere in the band. We needed time off and time to clear our heads. With six months off we really did take our time to clear things up, spending time with our families which is really important for us. Then James who is one of the main songwriters; he showed me a few ideas about seven months after the break. We got together and started having a bit of a jam and it all started to feel really good. As for the writing process it was kind of peculiar, nothing was really thought of it was just literally we got into the practice room and we fucking jammed. Just playing stuff and improvising, obviously there’s certain plans and structures. It was a rejuvenating experience for me personally and I think for all of us; the songs just came together. There’s stuff that you write and at the end you’re just thinking that’s shit lets throw it in the bin, but then there’s stuff at the same time that’s literally like fuck! It felt good and we haven’t felt like that in a long time, it was refreshing. From then on the process was just easy, it wasn’t like anything was ever really pushed and even with the lyrics. We’re not one of these bands that just go out of our way to try and write over complicated melodies and hooks. I think this album just typically shows that; it’s quite a simple album and it came together simply.

I agree, after listening to it myself and hearing the songs you’ve said about how simple it was, to me that shows and it’s the mark of a good song in my eyes at least. Its got all the little elements of the band throughout and it makes listening to it a joy!

Lee: That’s so nice to hear man honestly! I mean we didn’t know how this was gonna be received, we had no ideas if people were gonna like it or if they’d think well you’ve not been around for ages who gives a shit! We don’t even know what’s gonna happen now, we go on tour in February and we’ll see how that goes! We love playing music, it means the world to us; FEED THE RHINO means the world to us it’s our creation. I believe out of the four albums we’ve made, and I hate to say things are better than other things, but this really is the best album that we’ve written.

I’m with you there, it’s a cliché but I agree. I thought the Sorrow and the Sound was a belter in its own right, but I can’t wait to see people reacting to The Silence. That leads me onto my next question; you’ve had singles released being Heedless and Timewave Zero with Featherweight being released a couple of years back. Has the reaction to the singles been as you expected?

Lee: I feel Timewave Zero was really gonna excite people, Heedless for the first single wasn’t my first choice. We all sat down and had a chat and Heedless seemed perfect. If you look at it as a song it is the bridge from the sorrow and the sound into the new album. I think it’s the closest song to the previous album but at the same time it passes over and introduces The Silence. It’s got the catchy chorus and everything, but it’s still filled with slamming riffs and the vocals are still venomous and potent. Timewave zero for me I remember when we wrote that song and thinking fucking hell this is a good song, it feels amazing and it sounds amazing! The video; it was the best video we’ve ever shot and that was down to Robin Fuller and his team, it’s just mind-blowing. That songs a beast and its gotta be up there with one of my favourite songs from the album. It’s a bit of a curve-ball as well, that intro at the beginning and coming into it, people are gonna just think what is this? Is this FEED THE RHINO? Featherweight was never really a single, but we had to put it on this album, I love Featherweight and I love the video as well. Losing Ground, I thought was the one that would be getting a mixed reaction, but it seems to be the one that’s being mentioned by people such as yourself. The reaction so far has been brilliant, it’s a scary song for us but it’s going well! I think the singles are doing well and they do the album a lot of justice, but there’s so much more to come.

They definitely show the breadth of what the album has to offer, the album needs to be taken as one whole substance though. I think once it’s been taken entirely you can appreciate it more…

Lee: I agree there man that way you can hear the mechanics of the whole album and there’s so many different directions it flows, it’s not just slamming your skin off for 12 songs which don’t get me wrong I love that! But at the same time, I do believe you need to bend and flex, taking you in different directions. I believe with that album we’ve done that!

That’s definitely true, you’ve mentioned the videos that came as part of the singles Heedless, Timewave zero and of course Featherweight in support of the album: the latter of which was praised for its use of 360-degree cameras, does it feel important to push the boundaries visually as well as musically?

Lee: It always has been, everything that we do regarding things visual to the band everything even down to the artwork. You can even see connections from the videos to the artwork and especially on Heedless, the artwork and the video are very similar. The last time we did a green screen shoot for a video before Timewave Zero was for The Burning Sons. It was nothing to the level compared to what we’ve pushed these videos to, it’s great watching your favourite bands perform in videos but I feel you need to have something interesting and engaging on the outside of that. We do love performing in videos to try and kind of bring you into what we’re all about when we’re live. But at the same time being able to shoot Timewave Zero, I remember looking at the proofs we were just like what the fuck! This is awesome!

I can understand why they’re pretty amazing. You’ve linked me into my next question; FEED THE RHINO is known for its utterly chaotic and raw live shows, what can we expect with this new album tour?

Lee: We’re gonna have a jam and see how things feel and then we’ll start working on what’s happening tour wise. We’ll definitely be playing a lot of songs and for quite a long time which will be good! The sets gonna be slightly strange due to the softer songs we now have in there, it’s gonna be quite different to what we do anyway. At the end of the day we’re never gonna take that element away from what we’ve done already, I think that’s why a lot of people come to watch us!

I think that’s definitely true, I wouldn’t expect to come to a show and see you sitting down with a load of acoustic guitars!

Lee: I couldn’t imagine that myself! Who knows what the future holds though mate!

Well you’ve done Reading and Leeds and shared the stage with a lot of big names, is there any bands left you’d still dream of sharing the stage with?

Lee: I think we’re about to tick off a bunch when we do Hellfest! There’s A PERFECT CIRCLE and DEFTONES Playing! NINE INCH NAILS are playing, Jesus! UK scenes also got some great bands at the moment and it’s exciting to still be a part of it, at least I think we’re still a part of it we’ll see what happens! This might be the fourth album for us but this is just a new beginning for FEED THE RHINO! I just hope that we can push on and still pull a crowd, playing some good shows and playing the stage with a lot more bands! I don’t see this as being anywhere near the end, we’re not even halfway through the book.

I think you’re just starting and I don’t doubt your ability to draw in a crowd at all, People have been waiting for you guys to come back! We hope to see you in the pit soon, finally do you have anything you want to tell the readers of distorted sound?

Lee: Definitely, we hope you enjoy the album and try and get out to a show! Come and watch us! We’re a band that love the UK music scene and we wanna bring the party like we usually do!

The Silence is set for release on February 16th via Century Media Records.

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