Saturday 9 June 2012

Horn Of The Rhino Interview

Horn Of The Rhino 2012

Following Steve's amazing review of the frankly awesome Horn Of The Rhino record, Grengus, for which I tipped him off about (Steve you can thank me later). Firstly, I hope you bought the record and second of all, I thought it would be cool to speak to the band, to get their perspective on all things metal and also to talk about their incredible band.  Personally, I have been a fan of the band, since their second album, Dead Throne Monarch, which to me incorporated fat heavy sludgey riffs with amazing vocals to boot and they were something fresh.  The band are very cool dudes and were even gracious enough to sign some records for me, which I thought was amazing.  They are genuine guys and live and breathe what they do.  So, when I was asked to write for The Sludgelord, it made sense to ask them to talk to us and they were gracious enough to answer the questions I put to them.  I genuinely love this band and hope you do too.  I am truly grateful to Javier Gálvez from Horn Of The Rhino for answering my questions, I hope you enjoy!  Here is what Javier had to say.

Hi Javier, you're one of my favourite bands and I have all your records, however for those people who are unfamiliar with your band, tell me a little bit about the history of the band? Where you're from, band members, when you formed?
We are a three piece from Bilbao, North Spain. The band was formed at the end of 2004 by myself, Javier Gálvez (guitars/vocals) and Julen Gil (drums). At the beginning we had another bassist but Sergio Robles entered the picture just after the recording of our first full length, Breed The Chosen One in 2007. Previously we released a 5 song demo to begin playing live in our area. Since then we have played several gigs and festivals with tons of bands and released four records, including the aforementioned debut.
Is the band a full time project?
Yes, totally. Personally I don´t want to play around in another band or project. I focus on HOTR since day one. Apart from the fact that Sergio plays in a soul/funk group, it is full time.
How would you describe your sound?
Very fat! Wide, heavy, low, but not for the sake of it; we make songs, first and foremost, in this dark and heavy atmosphere we breathe. We have speed too but, it is fat speed haha!!
What made you start the band?
I was in a self imposed hiatus since the break up of my last band, I was burnt out. Then I played for a couple of months with a bunch of guys around here that were lost and didn´t decide where to go musically, apart from being a pack of assholes. Then me and Julen talked about playing together, and in December of 2004, we rehearsed for the first time as Rhino. We were on the same page since the beginning and I was sure that the band will work.
Is there a metal scene in Spain?
Musically, Spain is pure crap, I can tell you that. There are bands of all types, like in every country out there, but most of all are shit. But answering your question I don´t think there is a scene at all. I see lots of bands emulating other bands without shame; this thrash revival, stoner, trad metal…hahaha, it´s ridiculous!
What's it like being a metal band there? Is it a struggle?
Yes, definitely. I think that for the fact that we don´t usually speak in English like in other countries, the media, the labels and the fans didn´t look for bands around here, I think that is one of the big reasons. Don´t get me wrong for the last question: there are a few great bands here, but they are deep in the underground and nobody cares, because they aren´t hot new thrashers.  They don´t play reheated nu metal of 3rd division and aren´t copycats of Pantera or Lamb Of God or Machine Head, which seems to be what people like. Oh! And don´t forget all those bands trying to be Meshuggah, Djent you say?? Aaaah, come on!!!
What are your influences musically and artistically?
All the music I listened too, since I was a child, influences me in one way or another. I have present my roots and keep listening to that good old songs, but the new ones I discover everyday influences me too! Obviously my main thing is aggressive music, rock, metal in general, I´m in love with death metal, thrash, doom, hard rock…Even pop! I know that this isn´t true or underground enough to some purists out there but I don´t give a shit of what people think, you know? And comics! I love art, I used to draw my own characters and do comics but never published anything and music won the battle, I prefer to be in sweaty rehearsal space, than in front of the drawing board for hours! I like Dan Seagrave, Frank Quitely, Adam Kubert, John Byrne, John and Sal Buscema, Frank Frazzetta...and of course Rafa Garrés. The cover art of our records are an important thing. If you think your music´s worth the listening, get a good package!
You were in a band before HOTR, what were they like and how has your style changed since then?
I was in quite a few bands before HOTR, but the previous one was Left Hand Riders. We recorded a 4 song demo called Rhino and the style was more rock oriented but in the last days I was going back to do it more aggressive and the new material ended being the first songs for Rhino.

You had to change the band name? Why was that?
We were in the studio recording Weight Of Coronation when the shit hits us. We found legal obstacles to register the name, copyright issues and all that stuff. Maybe we could have fixed it and fight for it, but would cost us a lot of money and since we are such a small band we can´t afford something like that. Anyway, the solution was to modify the name, not to change it. At first I was mad with all this issue but it is water under the bridge now, and the new name sounds terrific, don´t you think?

I totally agree and have to admit, the band name drew me to the band.  Grengus is your fourth record and second under the moniker of HOTR, do you feel it is your best and why?
No, cause I don´t see our own records as our best or our worst. Each album is the representation of a period in time, in life. Another story is the production; you could like more this or that. Apart from that every record is different between them. I can tell you that Grengus is the more uptempo and violent album, cause has a remarkable death metal influence in the writing and production wise.
Why should people buy your record?
Because we are the genuine article, man! We are an honest band, we play what we want. We don´t jump in trends, we don´t give a flying fuck about revivals or the music is playing our neighbour. And we play from the heart. Yes, is a horrible topic, but personally I can tell you that I write what I feel cause even I don´t need a guitar to write. I don´t put myself in my bedroom for hours trying to glue some scales or shit like that. I write what I feel is right at the moment, capture the feeling you know? And we don´t sound that bad I think, 2.000 fans in FB can´t be wrong, isn´t? Hahaha!!!
It's your most aggressive, was that a conscious decision?
Yes. We came from doing WOC which is a really fat and slow record and we feel the need to do something more violent, barking, crushing! But sounding the way we sound. Actually it´s not that different from our previous records.

Grengus appears to be getting a lot of good feedback? What are your thoughts? Is it your most successful so far or too early to tell?
So far is the most talked about of our albums, yes! So much great reviews, a few not so great, but people keep talking about the goddamn disc, that´s cool! It´s the way to go, Doomentia are doing such a great job promoting the album. Everyday the name of the band is a little bigger, I think.
Talking of Doomentia, how did  you hook up with them?
I purchase some of their LP’s and go “Wow, what a great piece of wax and package we got here”. So I e-mailed them and too my surprise the guy at charge knew about the band. Told me he wanted to listen to new material so I gave him a demo of a new song. The rest is history
You write all the songs? Do the other band members contribute arrangement ideas?
At the time of learning the songs everybody put a little of their own, to perform them in their own way, although I write all the material, yes. I´m always writing, in home, taking a walk, driving, working...always thinking in music and related stuff like images for the artwork, shirts, concepts for lyrics...You asked me if the band was full time? For me it is, although is not my day job and I don´t generate any money from it.  Driving a band like this, is what I wanted since I was a little kid playing around in my bedroom filled with posters of Judas Priest, Kiss and Black Sabbath.
This is the second time you've worked with Xanpe, your producer? You said he is a big deal in Spain? How did you get to work with him? Why him?
Oh no, he´s not such a big deal, I said he´s big for us cause we think he´s a great great producer, he´s not that renowned. He was in this band PiLT playing drums and now and then he plays with a band of punk rockers, but he has Koba studio, a great place where he works with all kind of groups. He´s a fan of HOTR, likes that we always want to try new things, new sounds, and new brutality. In some occasions he´s our sound man in the live camp.
You have an amazing vocal range? Who influences you? What vocals do you prefer singing?
I try to do my best and, like music, I sing what I want and feel. I´m not a trained vocalist, I just do vocals the way music tells me. I like Glenn Hughes, Ian Gillan (in Born Again this man was inhuman!), Kyle Thomas, Glenn Danzig, Martin Van Drunen, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Brett Hoffmann, John Corabi, Chris Cornell, etc... Depends on the mood, sometimes is great to sing clean and high to kill posers, and sometimes you want to go deep and dirty and low through the realm of chaos, if you know what I mean?

What are your ambitions for the band?
Well, I know what we are and where we are, and we are in a difficult position, but as long as we can do what we want, I don´t mind. Of course, it would be great to be renowned in the same way some bands out there, and play summer festivals, and be well paid for the gigs haha!! But I´m glad of what we make; too crush every band that crosses our path, to be a real band doing dangerous music, to keep making great records filled with great songs.
You got any interesting stories from your tours?
Not at all, we are a relaxed type of band. And the ones we have are of private nature. Sorry.
No worries.  Have you got any plans for new material?
Right now I´m writing the next album. I´m totally into it. No stop, just riff after riff and great great stuff!!
What do you reckon to people downloading music for free? Would you consider releasing your album for free to get more people listening to your music?
Yeah, it´s great to have more people listening to your music, but please, buy the albums and support the bands. I´m tired of all this kids wanting all for free, downloading complete discographies of bands just for the sake of having them. Nowadays, people want all for free. The other day we meet a guy asking for one of our vinyls for 3 or 4 Euros cheaper of its real value, and the guy was in a band! What the fuck is going on??
Where have you toured? And plans for shows on the UK?
So far we played a lot in our country, some gigs and festivals in Portugal and Austria.
We´ll be in Oxford in November 3rd to promote Grengus on British soil, so get ready!!
Last question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?
Thanks everyone for your constant support!!

There you go guys.  Think it's safe to say, that was a brilliant and amazingly frank and honest interview.  It goes without saying, I have to say a big thank you to Javier and the HOTR guys for taking the time to answer my questions.  I think they're top guys and if you get the chance, you should check them out live in Oxford on November 3rd. The tickets are £6 and you can buy them here.  HOTR are an amazing band and if you like their music you can check them out on the links below.  You can buy their records here.  There is also an amazing track below to remind you how awesome they are.