Sunday, 15 May 2016

Rhino and The Ranters. A dirty taste. Music gourmets come running.

Rhino and The Ranters as a rice dish? Forget Risotto Milanese. Gotta be Louisiana Dirty Rice. 

Photo: Gavin Wray
14 months ago, I was at the Spotted Dog in Digbeth for Rhino And The Ranters, pretty new and already highly recommended, at Dylan Gibbons' Thursday Blues club night. They played to the regular Spotted Dog crowd: musos and interested types. They shook it up nicely. We talked, and I recorded a couple of songs for a 2015 blog post; there's one of them below, along with a brand new mix Ryan Webb kindly let me have.  

They were all over town, busy establishing themselves at any venue that would have them. We talked at length about that whole process. It wasn't long before they were pulling serious numbers. 

This summer, the gigs are fewer – it's all part of the process - but they're a lot bigger, and these days they're getting paid. Good going. Time for a catch-up?

Ryan Webb is quietly pleased at the the band's progress. It's fuelled by his very broad tastes in music, and by the band members he now plays with. This is Rhino And The Ranters mark 2, Mark1 was a London outfit, but when Ryan shifted base from London to Moseley, things rather changed for the better. 
Ryan: We'd got some new members, working out what worked and what didn't. We'd got the sound, and we liked it. Strangely enough, one of the mark 1 members has just moved to Moseley from London – an accordeon player. I've asked him to sit in with us live. Bit of Zydeco might go down nicely - we've got a Mardi Gras thing coming up. But you evolve, you move on. 
What did the new Ranters bring to the package? 
They brought experience. Excellent musicians. Richard March of Pop Will Eat Itself, and Bentley Rythm Ace. Brilliant bass player, faultless. Don't tell him I said that. And Pete Hammond – everybody in Birmingham knows him from the Au Pairs and Steve Ajao's Blues band. He plays his kit like a piano. Intelligent, creative drummer. And Loz Lozwold – some of the things he comes out with on that mandolin are astonishing. I had this new song which I was working out when we met, Guajira, and I'd played around with it. He said 'Give Me A Second', walked out for a moment. Came back with the most unbelievable introduction. Mind-blowing, and he did it - in three seconds. 

Ryan and band in full flow. Recorded on a portable at the Spotted Dog in 2015 

To recap - you already had a band, and clearly a solid idea of what you wanted to do, trying to get traction in London. But that place has more competition, less gigs, very expensive accommodation, London costs and difficult venues. 
I don't know how anyone does it. But I've always loved Birmingham, so it made a lot of sense. I was back, got myself somewhere to live, and then went looking for musicians. All the musicians I've worked with have been very conscientious and supportive. Birmingham musicians are the hardest-working musicians in the world! 
Everyone's in multiple bands.
They are! If you think about Richard – he's doing three sets in one day with three different bands at Lunar Festival!
But it's been productive. From playing to handfuls of punters, suddenly the band are packing out venues.
I can't work it out – but it's great. Where did all these people come from? And are they really coming for us?

Sure looks like it. And now the summer beckons. The plan is gigs – quite a few; they're listed below, and the first one is immediately above. I LOVE whoever does those designs for them. Then, more work on a new album, and spreading the name and reputation further afield. London is attractive but hideously uneconomical. Costly or not, getting a foothold is essential. But so is getting a reputation on places beyond Brum. 

Trouble is, gigging out from Brum starts to get expensive, and you've done Brum a lot...
There are only so many venues to play. And we've done them all. So we don't ant to over-do it. We're thinking Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham. We're being offered gigs in London, but they don't pay very much. Travelling down to London, paying petrol and staying over... for fifty quid a gig? We're going to have to do it though. Maybe a mini West Country tour would be nice. 
And hopefully that's where festivals, if not this year, then maybe next year, will come in. This year, Lunar and Moseley Folk will both showcase the band. Next year? Maybe the album. I hope so, if early samples (below) are anything to go by. It's a bit of dilemma, though. 

The band are distinctly down and dirty, and the studio is clean and clinical. How do you handle that?
Badly! I've always struggled with that. I like the dirt, the bleeding, I like the scabs. I'll maltreat a mic when the engineers aren't looking. But we are developing, layering. So we got a different way of looking at it from our DIY punk sound. I love to play things live. But I like all the things you can do in the studio. It's the age-old thing. 


Rhino And The Ranters website and facebook


The Blue Piano (support from Harry Jordan), Birmingham 29 May
Lunar Festival, Tanworth In Arden 3-5 June
Moseley Folk Festival, Birmingham, 2-4 September


Ryan cut a show for Brum Radio earlier this year. 

More music posts on Radio To Go


Tue 17th, 4pm: Big Wheels: Steve (City Boy) Lunt part 1
Wed 18th, 11pm: Live and Local:  Hannah Brown 
at the Hare and Hounds. 
Repeated Sat 21st
, 11am. 
 20th, 3 pm: Muso Takeover: Brian Travers (UB40)

After airing, these can be found on Brum Radio's Mixcloud page.

All Radio To Go shows are listed here


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