Rhino’s Revenge : Interview with John “Rhino” Edwards

Rhino starts by telling us he “overserved” himself the night before, a sore head that couldn’t have been helped by the loud soundcheck coming from upstairs. The band had spent the previous evening enjoying a few bottles of wine in a country house hotel outside Dumfries and after a quick search for some curative tea bags and putting the kettle on we start our chat. Rhino asks if we know the other band? We don’t but we guess from the name they might be a tribute band but we’re not entirely sure.

They’re called Status No.

JRE : I think one of my lads in my band has just wound some of them up.

CB : Has he told them what they can and can’t play?

JRE : No, he’s a very staunch defender of me, I’ve known him since he was very young, we’re very close and he sees bands that have people in them that really don’t like me because I’m not the original bass player so they dislike me.

CB : Yeah, that’s probably been done to death so I wasn’t going to ask..

JRE : No, no, don’t bother. Pardon my french but I do’t give a fuck.

CB : If you’ve been somewhere for 30 years then how can you not belong there, how can anyone look at it like that ?

JRE : You tell me

CB : A lot of people wouldn’t have been around in the first place, what do they say? He wasn’t there but I wasn’t born

JRE : I didn’t fit when I joined, I know that but I know how to play rock music and that’s what I was doing. That’s the main thing.

CB : So obviously you’re better known for your other band

JRE : The Mothership

CB : Quite a big deal, and quite a good thing to be part of.

JRE : It’s brilliant.

CB : I have to ask, how did it feel when a few years ago Quo went through a pretty big renaissance. Suddenly you showed up at Hellfest in France, you played the Download Festival here. How did that come about, who thought that would turn out to be a brilliant idea?

JRE : It was when the original band had got back together, and I don’t know why but they didn’t play it. We played it and I was rally thrilled that we did because at the end of the day you can’t beat a good tune and Quo is not exactly short of a good tune so we went and tore it up, it was brilliant.

CB : It was certainly one of the highlights, especially at Download I was just at the right stage of drunk for it to be just about the best thing I’d ever seen.

JRE : You were there? Yeah it was good, we were good that day as well. I don’t know who we were up against but when there are a lot of other bands on but sometimes, we’re old hands and you got to show them how it’s done. I know a good band when I see one and I know a band who are pretending to be good.

CB : And what’s happening in the world of Quo now? Can you answer that or is that a question for Francis if we ever meet him ?

JRE : We start again the week after next. We’ve just come back from two and a half weeks in Scandinavia, then a rescheduled one in Paris then we’re out again, dong acoustic then electric.

I think we we’re all a bit surprised, nothing to do with Rick, but we’re all a bit surprised that we’re still doing it funnily enough. There was talk of it stopping a while ago but we were like no, another year, and it’s still like that now. My family is like “yeah, yeah” when I say next year is the last year but I actually do think this year could be, if not the last year then a winding down. I’ve got my bus pass, I become a pensioner next year and it doesn’t work unless you do it full on. Some bands just end up standing there and it’s no fun. Quo only works one way and that’s full on.

CB : Ok, moving on to the reason you’re here, Rhino’s Revenge

At this point the support band crank it up a notch…

JRE : I’ll just shut the door. Not that I don’t like Status Quo but I hear a lot of it.

CB : We first became aware of the band with the new album. The first album was 2000 then 15 years later you’ve dropped another one

JRE : Hmm, that difficult second album.

CB : Did it take you 15 years to make it or did you sit there a week beforehand and think “right, let’s write another album”. It arrived via your PR people and it’s one of those things that, if something hooks you you’re in. I was sitting in the office and just burst out laughing, and it was Stan

JRE : Oh yeah. He hated me you know

CB : Sorry

JRE : Stan, he hated me.

CB : Stan was real ??

JRE : Yeah, he was my dog, well he was the family dog. If we got another dog that would just be mine and my wife’s dog but that was the dog we got when the kids were young “we want a dog, we want a dog”, “well you’re not getting one” and we turned up with one and they loved him and he loved my Fred, he was besotted with Freddy.

I used to kick him

CB : You… Erm…

JRE : Not hard you know,  I loved him he had real charachter he was really arrogant you know. In the park I’d say “come on”, “I’ll come when I’m ready”. We were devistated when he died and I wrote that song and I’d forgotten about it totally. When we came to do the album and there was one song that the producer didn’t like so I said maybe I’d try to knock something else up. We were just about to go into the studio and he’d checked all the files I’d sent him and he kept hearing this other thing. He’d found the demo for Stan and that’s exactly what the demo was and I’d totally forgotten about the song

CB : Wow

JRE : Sometimes you write a song and it comes quickly, and that one I wrote it and finished it in a evening and never thought about it.

CB : One of the things with the album is it started off with Stan but after listening ot it, and we listen to it a lot as it’s one of the few things we agree on for driving music, it’s an album that’s got a lot of variation. Some times it’s hip hop, some times it’s rock, sometimes it’s Quo, it’s never the same thing and the themes are about as eclectic as you can get, from a horny dog to suicide bombers in Chechnya. How do you manage to put all that together. It almost shouldn’t work but it does.

JRE : I think you have to really work out the order, I’ll take that as a compliment by the way, as it’s so eclectic you have got to go along with it’s different moods.

CB : You go from being the new Notorious BIG and by the time you get to Black Widows and Take ‘Em Down they’re relly dark subjects.

JRE : Yeah when I wrote Take Em Down I was watching a lot and reading a lot about the battle for Kabadi between the Kurds and the Islamic State. IS were sweeping everything else before them but they could not get past the Kurds so I kind of wrote it from the position of the Kurds, a Kurd rallying call if you like. I really like it, I really like those words they’re very stirring.

CB : As an album it could be easy to dismiss it, if you listen to Stan or you listen to Secretary you may think it’s a light album, but there’s more of a message there than you might think.

JRE : Yeah, a lot of it is deep and meaningless, some of it is deep and meaningfull. On the first album I did a song called Sapcemaker and that’s just about how we’re ballsing up everything and New New New is a very serious song.

CB : And Famous for being Famous ?

JRE : Yeah, that just really pisses me off, all that cult of personality. It’s not even the cult of personality. it’s just…

I really love my song All The Girls Love A Bastard too. I’d really love someone to attack the sentiment but you can’t beacuse it’s the truth.

CB : The question is, how far is your tongue in your cheek at that point?

JRE : Well it is and it isn’t. Like a lot of hip hop, it’s like Eminem, who I love, I’m a huge fan.  Now there’s a poet. His tongue is firmly in his cheek at times but at other times he can be very mysogenistic and I don’t like that kind of thing but yeah, tongue firmly in his cheek. I’m not putting myself in his calss but he’s making the point and if that’s the way you have to go around making your point then that’s what you do.

CB : And you’re making your point tonight in Glasgow. How’s the tour been so far ?

JRE : It’s been great fun. The band, we are amazing.

CB : It’s always great to watch a soundcheck because you peek behind the scenes. You see soundchecks where there’s no chemistry or spark. This is your band, your name is on the label..

JRE : No, no. We are Rhino’s Revenge. It’s all different incarnations you know

CB : It’s always interesting from our side to see that dynamic. Some bands have a front man and some hired hands but you lot were all laughing and joking and looking like you’re really enjoying it.

JRE : They’re so good I’m too scared of telling them what to do, they tell me

I call the shots in that I say what songs we’re going to play and if someone isn’t playing something the way I want to hear it then I tell ’em but they’re such professionals. Maybe I’m wrong but I think they’re really into it.

It’s a good laugh and it’s good when you put a different dynamic of people who didn’t now each other. I know them all, i’ve known Matthew for yers and I know Russell, I’ve toured loads with Uriah Heep and he’s one of my favourite drummers and I phoned him up to ask him if he knew any drummers because I didn’t think he’d do it. He said “who you got” and I said I was ringing up to ask and he said “what about me?”

I said “don’t take the piss”

No, he said “I’d love to do it” even after I’d told him how much it was for.

Same with the guitar player. I phoned up my mate in a band called FM and asked if he knew any guitar players and I said “I’ll do it, love to”

JRE : So what you’ve got here is a classic rock’n’roll supergroup ?

CB : Yes, i spell it soup- with the accent on the chicken noodle.

And with that we left Rhino to enjoy his Big Mac and get ready for the gig. And the tea bags definitely worked because the hangover was well and truly gone by showtime, and Rhino’s Revenge well and truly rocked Glasgow