Ahead of the release of their fifth album on Friday (16th Feb), Feed The Rhino frontman Lee Tobin took some time out to talk to us about the return of the band, the new album and Jamie Lenman.
First of all, congratulations on a fantastic new record! It feels just as angry but more controlled than your past releases – do you feel the band has matured in the last 4 years?
I definitely think we’ve learned a lot, not just now but in the last nine or ten years. Over the last four years definitely. Parting ways for a while to do our own thing, having our own space to contend with ourselves. You find out how involved you were in the band. You have to mature really, it’s the only thing you can do.
In terms of lyrics, has your approach changed since The Sorrow and the Sound?
I don’t think it’s changed that much, really. If anything, I always wear my heart on my sleeve to try to write what I personally feel and say. At the same time, there are a few different elements on this album where it’s not too personal to me – one of the songs is about someone else for a start. It’s about finding the right words to say and put forward for that, as well as trying to connect a bit at the same time. My general way is putting across a good feeling in the music and use that to try to put out what’s in my head to the best of my ability.
Yellow And Green is a fantastic melodic tune from the album – will it be one for the setlist or will it be a while before we hear it?
It’ll be one to wait for, to be honest. That track was a late bloomer really, we finished writing it in the studio. I love that tune – it’s one of the tracks that I find really sets the album up and it’s a lovely transitional song in the album. It was great fun to record and write as well. I’d love to play it live though because I think it would sound amazing. I don’t know how well I’d sing it but I’d definitely give it a go.
Was it one of the more vocally challenging songs for you to record then?
It’s not so much the fact that any of them are difficult. I think it was always something that was always in the back of my mind; I always wanted to push the cleaner vocals a little bit more and we wanted to write a bigger chorus. It’s just a challenge really, going from heavy into clean vocals. It’s something I’m not really used to but it’ll be a really big test on this tour. I really want to do it and I hope I can do it well.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
It’s changed a lot. First of all, I really like Losing Ground because it was different from every one of our albums. Not completely different because we’ve always written those interlude songs on our albums like Tides [on 2012 album The Burning Sons], Empty Mirrors [on 2010 album Mr Red Eye], Sitting Ducks [on Mr Red Eye] and now this on this album. Losing Ground is more of a song than a transition like those though, less of an interlude track. It’s a song that means a lot to me and I thought we connected really well writing it. I think we’ve made it sound really good, but I really love [album opener] Timewave Zero too because it’s a bridge between the old and the new. It’s still got the heavy vocals, the real slap-heavy riffs and a bit more of a polished sound. It’s got that clean chorus too which we’ve tried to do on this album more. I’ll listen through the album and end up sticking on All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy – that song is a thumper. That reminds me of the old us, it really brings nostalgia. For me, it’s probably that song really.
What do you hope this album will do for Feed the Rhino?
Just give us the opportunity to tour again really. We’re a live band; we love playing live. It’s our heartbeat. Other than that, maybe just to show people a different side to us which hopefully they like. It’s going to get mixed reviews because it’s something slightly unusual for us to take this kind of direction but if we didn’t try we wouldn’t know. The thing is for us – this is really stepping back in. We love the music industry, the scene, we love playing music live. We’ve always written the stuff we want to write and we always will. If it sounds good to us and it sounds like Feed The Rhino then we’ll write it. We want people to see this album as something new that is still very us. We want it to get the excitement back to bring people to watch us again.
Do you feel the UK heavy music scene has changed in the time you’ve been active?
I think it’s changed a lot. Coming back now, it feels different. We’re going out now for the first time in a while and there are bands we toured with back then that have gotten a lot bigger and doing bigger things, but there is a new crop of bands coming through playing different kinds of music. The good thing about the industry and the heavy scene is that the change and new feel is good, but at the same time it’s good to see old dogs doing good things as well. Look how long Jamie Lenman‘s been around but what he’s writing at the moment is genius! He’s the Beethoven of the industry at the moment, and I love that. It’s good to see bands like While She Sleeps doing the shows they’re doing, and Architects deserve everything they’re getting at the moment. They’re just great at what they do. Everything they’ve written has been really, really good but bands have to progress. Doomsday, just wow. Everything they’re writing now is brilliant. Those boys should be proud of themselves.
If you could have written any one song in the world, what would it be and why?
I don’t know what song it would be, but it would have to be a Rage Against The Machine song. I mean, for one they’re the best band ever. Their songs just make you react. Off the top of my head, probably Killing In The Name but they have so many good ones.
What albums have you been listening to recently?
Jamie Lenman‘s new album, a lot. I actually listened to Black Peaks for the first time recently too which is great, because I didn’t know too much about them. I haven’t got round to listening to new Marmozets‘ but I will do, definitely.
Where do you see the band in 5 years’ time?
Still kicking the s*** out of it… I’d like to think we’ll still be here in five years’ time, and I can see us doing bigger and better things. We’re making a start on that now, and we’ll build on it and build with it. We’ll keep writing, stay Feed The Rhino and re-establish us as Feed The Rhino really.
If you could create a dream tour lineup including yourselves, who would accompany you?
Feed The Rhino, Rage Against The Machine and Pantera, easy. There would be nothing left of anywhere. Obviously with Dimebag though. I’d dream about that stuff. That’s one of those situations where you’d get asked who you’re touring with and you’d say ‘the two best bands ever!’
Have you got any specific hopes for the upcoming headline tour?
Hoping people come out to see us and have some fun. The shows are going to be some really good times. There will be new stuff and old stuff, because people that know us know we love a party and that’s what’s going to happen on these shows. We’re playing some great places, playing some cool little venues with some bigger venues and selling the album out on tour too. Just come and party with us!
Thanks to Lee for talking to us and best of luck to the band for the album release!
The Silence will drop on Century Media on Friday 16th February across all platforms, and you can catch Feed The Rhino on tour at these dates:
Feb 20 – Bristol @ Exchange
Feb 21– Exeter @ Cavern
Feb 22 – Southampton @ Joiners
Feb 23 – London @ The Underworld
Feb 24 – Norwich @ The Owl Sanctuary
Feb 27 – Nottingham @ The Rescue Rooms Feb 28, 2018 – Newcastle @ Think Tank
Mar 1 – Glasgow @ G2
Mar 2 – Manchester @ Rebellion
Mar 3 – Birmingham @ The Flapper
Mar 15 – North Wales @ Hammerfest