Saturday, 2 August 2014

RAW LOVE: Our exclusive feature on Rhonda's debut album! Featuring interviews with the band and a review from us!

Below is our exclusive feature on Rhonda's highly-anticipated debut album, entitled "Raw Love". The band have had a strong year, supporting Paul Weller at several shows, signing a recording contract with PIAS and of course, this very strong album.
We catch up with bassist Jan Fabricius who discusses the album with us and also with singer Milo Milone who tells us some of her favourite music, films and TV shows in our quickfire round. We have concluded the feature with our very own exclusive review of "Raw Love".
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Hi Jan, it’s been a while since we’ve had a chat with you. What’s been going on with Rhonda since the last time we spoke?
Jan: "Goodness... a hell of a lot! I'm glad to tell you we had the chance to do some extraordinary things. I'd like to mention recording a debut album and even finding a record label to put it out. We're on PIAS Recordings now, we signed close to Christmas eve. That was quite a present... I'm sure you know that nowadays it`s become very difficult to find partners that care and support the creative process while giving you the freedom to write and play exactly the music you like. We're stunned by them."
Jan: "And talking about live: we played several shows with Paul Weller. It's easy to imagine this was a thrill. And no shit, he listened to each and every Rhonda show. Currently we're talking about another live coop. Wow!"
You are currently going through a very exciting time in releasing “Raw Love”, your debut album. Where did the title of the album come from? Is it related to the content within the songs?
Jan: "Are Milo and I doing this interview like blindsided, so no one knows what the other says! If so, that might turn out funny... Milo came up with the title and you can imagine we been thinking about 'the' perfect title awhile. Simply put, 'Raw Love' totally matches our love of opposites and first of all the essential forces of life."
In a previous chat we had you told me that the album was being recorded in a legendary studio in Hamburg. Can you tell us a bit more about the studio?
Jan: "It's not exactly Hamburg. It is a legendary schlager studio from the 50's in a city called Bremen. It's located in northern Germany an hour from Hamburg. We stayed in a band flat that had been conserved like from back in the 50's. We felt like starring in Twin Peaks... the place is called Studio Nord Bremen and I can just recommend it to everyone looking for vintage sound. Man, they got mics..."
Jan: "Everyone who'd like to see the main recording hall where we did everything should have a look at our video for the current single tune 'Camera'. We shot it right there, of course after hauling out tons of equipment, pianos, cabinets, tables, cables and stuff. Exhausting days these were..."
Did the studio have an influence on the album? The fact that it was a legendary studio in the 50's that is.
Jan: "Gregor Hennig, our producer, is more from the indie/alternative/weirdo scene and it was an interesting experience to work on the album's sound together. We had loads of discussions about how dirty a soul sound may get today and then gladly stuck to the good old way of tape recording on a 1950's analogue console. Combining this with our hammonds, vintage guitars, vox amps plus real horns and strings just did it! We're thrilled while knowing this is quite a tough and risky decision: German music scene often seems to be quite narrow minded when it comes to newcomers running hot on those real credible scratchy old-fashioned sound aesthetics. But we know it gotta be rock 'n' roll! it`s direct and warm and close."
When listening to the album, the listener is exposed to multiple styles – from soul to bossa nova to jazz. Was this intentional and what do you find appealing about mixing all these styles together?
Jan: "Imagine recording an album for seven weeks and then doing unintentional things on it... no, we just like opposites and interesting elements adding a certain colour to the big picture. For example, we decided to use horns on some tracks but for Christ's sake not on the entire record... we are nothing like the 'typical' retro soul combo with a front singer. We're a real band with pretty diverse roots in punk, rock, jazz and 60's sound. We give everything and do the only thing we can. For us there's no use in copying so-called soul classics while not adding special flavours and your own personal character to it. We don't copy but we surely feel inspired by real soul music from back in the day. I mean we live in 2014, we have seen many a so-called retro act go by and I can tell you: we are lucky we don't have to search for inspiration by the charts. We just do what we want. It's quite simple: we love dirty old soul, we love rock 'n' roll, we love movie scores by Ennio Morricone and we love to create. Oh, one thing: we have everything on the record from bottles of wine to children's pianos - but bossa nova I really cannot spot there. You tell me..."
The artwork for the album stands out quite a lot as it has quite a retro look to it. You as a band also have quite a retro look to you. Is this intentional?
Jan: "Of course it is. You know, we been looking a lot at those very old family pictures from the turn of the 19th to 20th century when photography just had been invented. In fact, we as a band feel like some family, at least we're friends and maybe therefore should behave like family... we like the warmth in those old portraits, and Carlos Fernandez laser, the photo man, was absolutely able to transport this kind of warmth into today."
The lead single from the album is entitled “Camera”. What is the track about and what influenced it? Absolutely sensational tune by the way – very catchy.
Jan: "Thanks man. I guess for the lyrics you better ask Milo, our singer, but as you may see it is influenced by roots music that kicks your ass and never let's you sleep while at the same time there's a certain sensitive component to it."
Favourite Beatle?
Milo: "Ringo Starr."
Favourite band?
Milo: "MC5"
Favourite new band?
Milo: "Memoriez... you have to check them out."
Favourite song?
Milo: "I've Got Dreams To Remember from Otis Redding because of this incredible women's choir in the chorus."
Favourite album?
Milo: "Mink Rat Or Rabbit from Detroit Cobras."
Vinyl, CD or download?
Milo: "Sure thing! Vinyl."
When you press shuffle on your iPod, what is the first track that comes on?
Milo: "Memoriez - Angered Eyes or a nice Black Sabbath song!"
Style icon?
Milo: "Santigold."
Favourite film?
"All Indiana Jones movies."
Favourite TV show?
"No TV!"
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Milo: "Hopefully Jane Fonda dressed as Barbarella!"
Favourite food?
Milo: "Pepperoni pizza (that's how we call it in Germany, it's like jalapenos but a bit less spicy)." 
Football team?
Milo: "You mean soccer? I would choose Werder Bremen. a local team based in the town I used to live as a kid. My grandfather was a huge fan of that team and never missed even one game. I watched them all with him. It's kind of a personal sticking to it. Romantic, huh?"
After much hard work, gradually building up their reputation and fan base, Rhonda have released their first official studio album. Entitled "Raw Love", it was recording in seven weeks at a vintage German studio near Hamburg. The album itself is a spectacular showcase of a variety of styles: soul, 60's rock 'n' roll, jazz, ska and many, many more. 
Album opener, "Terrible Lie" sets the tone perfectly. It is introduced by a drum pattern almost directly lifted from The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and is almost simultaneously joined by a driving, garage hammond organ. Milo Milone's vocals really get the album going - soulful, energetic and heartfelt, they really make this album something else. The lead single off the album, "Camera", also provides another highlight and comes with a catchy chorus. Meanwhile, there is pop on show in "Sound Of Soda" and jazz/ska on "Bruno". The album does not let up either or have any 'filler'. Right to the last track, "I Need No Sleep", Rhonda power out their own unique take on the classic soul sound. All in all, a fine debut album from a fine band.
All photographs provided by Jan Fabricius, bassist in Rhonda.
Be sure to pick up your own copy of "Raw Love" on iTunes or get yourself a physical copy on Amazon - you won't be disappointed!
Hope you enjoyed this feature on Rhonda!
Be sure to check out our previous feature on Bel Esprit!
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