Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 72 - Interview with John 'Rhino' Edwards (Status Quo)

JOHN 'RHINO' EDWARDS


John 'Rhino' Edwards has been the bass player for legendary British band Status Quo since the mid-1980s, where he has contributed rock solid rhythms, backing vocals, and several co-writes with the group. In 2000 he released his first solo foray, entitled 'Rhino's Revenge'. Now, thanks mostly to Quo's hectic schedule, some fifteen years later the sequel has arrived. James Gaden spoke to Rhino to hear all about 'II'...


John-Rhino-Edwards


I really enjoyed the album and in preparation for speaking to you, I re-read the interview I did with you in Fireworks #48...

We've spoken before have we? What was that for?

It was for the QuoFest Christmas Tour you did back in 2011 when Kim Wilde and Roy Wood were on the bill.

Blimey. They must have been fucking hard up for someone to talk about that if you ended up getting me then!

(Laughs) Nah, you were great, and you actually mentioned in that interview that once Christmas was out of the way, you were going to begin work on this album... which is now out four years later.

Really? How bizarre! Because it turns out you're my first James... this is my first interview for the new record.

Excellent – I hope I'm not the last.

(Laughs) Me too!

So back in 2011, you told me you were roping in your son Freddie, in fact several members of your family, to work on this record, but you had to fit it in around school times.

That's right! That's exactly what I had to do. My other son, Max, who is the drummer, he's got a brain the size of Richmond. He's on his fifth university now, he's done Cambridge, Harvard, UCLA, he's just come back from a year in Berlin ...

And he's been expelled from all of them?

(Laughs) No, no, no! He's twenty eight and still at Uni, he's just left to go to San Diego for five years, all that time in the sun, the little shit. So yeah, he gave me some time, I had to use him before he had to go, so I got ten days out of him before he went back to his studies. My other son Freddie has become a very much in demand guitar player, and he gave me twelve days. It was great, having them play on it with me, one of the best experiences of my life.

When Freddie started showing real ability on guitar, did you then have to tell Max he'd have to learn drums so you would have a ready made band?

(Laughs) No, it is funny, Max naturally gravitated toward drums and Freddie to guitar. When they first started playing, I think Max was eleven and Freddie was nine. I decided we could play some really simple together, so I thought about it and we played 'Waiting For My Man' by the Velvet Underground. So the first song we played together was about scoring heroin. I'd probably be arrested for that nowadays! (laughs) When we were making this album, Max asked me about a fill, and I never thought I'd ever make a Rock album where the drummer would turn around and say 'Dad, what about this?' It really was a big love in, the three of us, my best mate Mike Paxman producing, who does a lot of the Quo stuff, and one of the kid's best mates is the other guy in my band, and I got my daughter in on backing vocals. So it was very cheap!

That's the best way, and it sounds great! I also really liked the lyrics, I think some of the lyrics here are just brilliant.

Oh really? Thank you very much, I do place a lot of emphasis on that side. I don't see the point in listening to songs that sound like they were written on the back of a napkin in a nightclub. I can spend three weeks on a lyric, and I'm pleased you've listened to them.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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They were quirky, witty, acerbic... I really liked 'Famous' because I totally agree with your views on "celebrities" in the mainstream media.

Most of them are like Christians being thrown to lions as far as I'm concerned. How fucked up is somebody going to be if they've been on 'The X Factor' or 'The Voice' or whatever, and they have a number one... or like that Irish kid, who was stopped from having a number one by Rage Against The Machine... where will his head be two years down the line, when he's playing in front of twenty people for £80, and being billed as 'The X Factor Winner!' Fuck off. And most of these acts are just re-hashing old material. Where are the new songs? I know there will always be talented song writers, but they don't get the exposure. I appreciate I sound like an old git, but even a lizard can make a record nowadays, it's not difficult anymore. I'm a luddite, I don't use a computer, loads of people do, but I think the machine is dictating what's going on, and I don't like that. I like to rant in my songs. 'New New New' is another one of my rants. Don't get me started!

I really enjoyed 'All The Girls Love A Bastard' as well, the words for that were spot on.

And I really wanted to put that out as a single. I think it's quite funny and very ironic, and I'd like to put it out simply to see if any of the po-faced brigade got hold of it and branded it disgraceful, sexist etc, when in fact it's the opposite. But I've decided I'm going to put out 'Black Widows' instead.

Good choice! 'Cougar' is a great song as well.

And that's just a peon to older ladies. I wrote a song for Quo called 'The Oriental' and that was a peon to Oriental women, I love them, I think they're gorgeous. But that's all they are, peons, it's easy for people to get the wrong idea about what I do.

With you saying you don't use computers, how do you go about writing when inspiration strikes, do you jot things down in a notebook?

No computers at all, everything was recorded using this very strange method of us all being in the room at the same time. (laughs) I rarely write when I'm on tour with Quo, I think 'Cougar' was the only thing I wrote on the road. I go walking in the park, or I walk by the river and just write stuff down. I also have a room, which my wife is constantly on at me to decorate, she thinks it's horrible, but I don't care. I have a favourite wall to stare at in there and a lot of it comes out there. An idea will form and I'll spend a long time with it, a lot of attention to detail.

With you having particular emphasis on the lyrics, do they come first and you write music to fit them?

Nah, without trying to sound glib, it's all Rock 'n' Roll to me, I have no hard and fast rules for song writing, other than I have to like it. There's one track on the album, 'One Note Blues' and a lot of my mates who love Quo are saying is really good, and I think it is, but it's nothing that Status Quo couldn't have done better.

That one was one that leapt out for me to ask you if any of them were considered as Quo tracks originally.

No, none of them. I know from working with Francis and Rick for so many years, I've written with Rick before and I've written the lyrics for him to sing, and he's found it difficult. 'Creeping Up On You' was one we wrote completely together and that worked great, but there have been other songs Rick has sung and to me it sounds like someone else had written the lyrics. 'One Note Blues' is something we could do with Quo musically, but I'm not sure Francis would believe in the lyrics, considering the idea for the song was to create a new dance craze! It's could be the new Macarena!

Well, if you do a video and it's goes viral, it could happen, look at 'Gangham Style'.

Funnily enough, I'm planning a video for 'Black Widows', and there was a funny tent scene in Austin Powers where it appears he's pulling items out of women's arses, so we want to do something like that – not women's arses, but we want to use a funny idea, I don't want one of those terrible serious videos saying 'Look at us rocking out!' I hope I can get some radio play with 'Black Widows' because it is a good song.

You started as a session musician, before joining Quo in the 80s. Did you always want to front your own band, or has that come out of a desire to find an outlet for your own songs?

Absolutely, and Quo aren't going to go on forever, I'm a bit younger than them. I read a great interview with Keith Richards, and he said that he was never going to retire, because all the Blues guys he looked up to, like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, they basically played until they died or were incapacitated. I love playing and being on the road, my career has taken me all over the world.

You mentioned earlier about Mike Paxman being producer, and he has done lots of Quo stuff. Aside from the obvious bonus of him being your best mate, what is it he brings to the table?

Well, he produced my first Rhino's Revenge album, and he tells me clearly if he doesn't like something. I wrote a song which was quite close to home and involved the kids and he said 'You can't put that on there.' He looks at things objectively. There were a couple on there he didn't like, but that was tough shit, because I was insistent, and he said after it was done I was right and he was wrong. He prefers things a bit more improvisational, like at the end of 'New New New', I had everything up to the bit with the trumpet, where it goes all Beatles. None of us knew where it was going after that, so we just started playing in E. I just jammed live, with my kids, recording it, and it was great, it doesn't get any better.

That's how all the greats work, Rock was built by bands who went into the studio with one or two ideas and just jammed stuff out.

Yeah, and that's great but you often find people wandering around the studio, deep in thought, saying 'How about this?' - particularly on lyrics. So I had all the lyrics done before we started, which made it all fun, most of the writing was done and anything else was embellishment. It's all happening now. We've just got a distribution deal so you'll be able to get the album, all the details are on the website, or you can just buy it from there. We've done some gigs, by the time this comes out we'll have done the Status Quo Fan Club Convention at Butlins in Minehead, that will be a right laugh. We did a little tour and I've got another one coming up. We're going up a gear, we're playing slightly bigger venues and we're supporting Hayseed Dixie, so that will be great. When Quo finish up at the end of the year, I've got some more shows in February, playing with Eddie and The Hot Rods. And as Max is in California, I've got my nephew drumming. Jobs for the boys! (laughs)


'II' is released on October 23rd. Rhino's Revenge play the following dates with Hayseed Dixie:

Tues October 20th: Bury St. Edmunds, England - The Apex
Thu October 22nd: Southampton, England - The Brook
Fri October 23rd: London, England - O2 Brooklyn Bowl
Sat October 24th: Frome, England - The Cheese & Grain
Sun October 25th: Tunbridge Wells, England - Assembly Hall

For more details, February tour dates, or to order the album, visit www.rhinosrevenge.com

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