Brewtown #23: Big Rhino

Big Rhino is a funk band name and not metal? from left to right: Andrew Gibson, Paul Gibson, Bendelow and Pugh

Big Rhino is a funk band name and not a metal band? from left to right: Andrew Gibson, Paul Gibson, Bendelow and Pugh

Shall we have a bit of fun today? Let’s do so by having a look at an upbeat band based in Nottingham but with members from around Burton so it does count for this section and not another What Else Is Out There, so nyer! Either way, be careful not to get trampled by Big Rhino!

Richard Bendelow (lead vocals/guitar), Andrew Gibson (lead guitar), Paul Gibson (drums) and Miles Pugh (bass) make up this four piece party rock band who despite having set up camp in Nottingham, most of the members are Brewtown through and though and perform in Burton quite a bit!

But with a name like Big Rhino, you’d assume that they can bring a lot of noise and stomping to wherever they perform and have a right silly time along with it. Let’s explore and see what we can get out of this piece on these guys!

If we can't, we at least have this brief summary image!

If we can’t, we at least have this brief summary image!

The history of the band stems from a number of places, both geographical and musical, with each band member having their own story to tell before they got to be a part of the giant rhinoceros.

Bendelow, the Gibson brothers and Pugh all eminate from and around Burton, Yoxall, Barton and Coton-in-the-Elms more specifically. They also studied at John Taylor High School where members from Get Cubs and Max Raptor studied which has been covered in this piece about the latter.

Paul Gibson and Pugh were once business partners at their own local promotion Pink Boards Records which in essence was meant to add some much needed colour to a quite harsh and angry scene. This idea however does clash with Gibson’s band around that time called Invey who described themselves as a “hate fuelled, hard rock band.” Can’t fault diversity I guess!

Nor the brightness of those lights!

Nor the brightness of those lights!

Invey themselves have had a lot of success themselves as a Midlands band, touring all over the country from the mid to late 00s supporting the likes of Children of Bodom and Nightwish.

But of course this is still about Big Rhino so we should probably get back to them. Richard Bendelow and his brother Rob were a part of a revival of the successful 80’s Derbyshire band Saracen. After they decided to call it a day around 2012, Richard met up with good mates The Gibsons and Pugh and thought about forming their own band.

They each thought about bringing together a big four way rock band dynamic whilst still maintaining the fun spirit of Pink Board Records to form a party rock band (LMFAO and Andrew WK would be loving this!) and this is how Big Rhino came to be.

Not before some assisted planking though.

Not before some assisted planking though.

They started writing and recording in the Autumn of 2012 in Base Rehearsals in Nottingham which is why they would be known as a Nottingham-based band although most of them were Burton-based to begin with.

Their first gig came in Nottingham as well with the Creative Christmas Party in December that saw them being well-received by the audience even though they were on first which is always a good sign.

As 2013 came, so did their first EP that they had been working on towards the end of 2012. Turn Around Baby was released on January 11th and featured songs such as Perfect Guy and Tom Bombadil.

Bombadil’s mushrooms must have been passed around at some point!

After the EP release, they released their first music video for their song It’s Just The Way We Are in February which has over 2000 views as of this date. This along with their free EP release had garnered a decent amount of buzz amongst their friends and Midlands music fans that they expanded their reach from just Nottingham.

Speaking of, they also were working with and gigging with other local musicians at this time such as recording with Dan Shipley of Burton metal band For The Kill and performing at The Shed in Leicester on the same bill as Exile84.

Throughout Spring, they would do a few gigs in Burton such as the Star and Garter in March and the grand re-opening of the Wetmore Whistle in April along with the aforementioned Exile84 and Great Scott.

Grand re-opening? Let’s tear the place down! Wait…

A very positive review came for the band after they performed at the Dot to Dot Festival in May at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham where they were described as “a highlight, playing a fun and uplifting set that ranged from surfer rock to indie pop that at times wouldn’t be out on place on the soundtrack to a Tarantino film.” Django Unchained 2, you have some party scene BGM!

In the Summer they played everywhere from Ashby’s Bunka with with The Decade Runners and a protoypical Red Monroes, Waterfest in Nottingham and Summerfest in Derby. Definitely full momentum for this Rhino!

Careful now!

Careful now!

A weekend mini tour came for them in September with Murphmania at Barton on the 6th, Amazement Festival at Nottingham Racecourse on the 7th and the Barefoot Walk In The Park at Woolaton Park, Nottingham on the 8th.

A particularly glowing review came for them after their Amazement gig: “It’s impossible not to smile and have a cheeky dance to their surfer gypsy pop rock. The most striking thing about the band is how much they clearly love to perform, always a must for any band worth their salt.” Gypsy pop rockers, haven’t Green Fortune got that honour?

No amount of praise would prepare them for October’s Big Money gig at The Star Foundation in Burton though! A huge charity even with a Jools Holland type of set-up of multiple stages with two acts a stage also featuring the likes of Black Wolf Catch, Exile84 and Get Cubs.

Oh and a back-up singer from Jon Coulton's Re: Eat Your Brains! All in good flesh-eating fun!

Oh and a back-up singer from Jon Coulton’s Re: Eat Your Brains! All in good flesh-eating fun!

One last huge gig for 2013 was post-Xmas at the Wetmore Whistle with their 2nd EP launch simply titled The 2nd EP. Straightforward I guess. Supported by For The Kill and Sleaford-based math rockers Bear Makes Ninja, they were met with rousing, happy na-na-nas through to the New Year.

Now to this current year of 2014, they also received good feedback for their music video for first track from their sophomore effort People which featured footage (stock or made by the band themselves) from around the world!

With their EP being made available to stream on Soundcloud in February, the followed that up the next month with a big card on a bizarrely placed gig. Phoenix Salvation‘s last gig and free EP launch saw BR as well as Star From Ivy and Black Wolf Catch feature in The Goodridge which is a Burton-based Wetherspoons chain.

Who said pubs have to have unique identities?

Who said pubs have to have unique identities?

In between recording their next batch of material, BR supported New-Zealand alt-rock band Kobosh (best have been worth the millions of miles!) a Nottingham’s Chameleon Arts cafe in April, as well as finding out they’d once again be a part of the Waterfront Festival (which takes place July 12th) after a successful BroadgatesFest near Nottingham Uni in June. Kobosh!

But after all that charging through the scene, how does Big Rhino hold it’s horn (stop snickering!) in said scene? Deep down, everybody wants to have a little, silly fun once in a while and if that had silly fun had an iPod, Big Rhino would somehow always come on shuffle!

With the aforementioned label of ‘gypsy pop rock’, Big Rhino take surf rock, funk and reggae to make a joyous sound that always seems to win over even the most cynical of audience members. Bendelow’s enthusiasm combined with the Gibson bros’ and Pugh’s wily musicianship will get people on their feet, spilling their beers in the process of partying hard!

The first of two recommended songs is Just the Way We Are, the final track from their debut EP. The spinning opener Turn Around Baby and Tolkien toe-tapper Tom Bombadil were good bracers for this track which brings an end to a short, but worthwhile party bringing a sense of togetherness and acceptance to the proceedings.

With a rhythm and bass line that will remind you of BBC Test match cricket (no seriously, look up the theme by Booker T and the MGs and listen), the light-hearted nature of the song is a great solo introduction to their sound and will prepare you for the live merriment!

Dreaming ain’t the only way to fly

Reaching ain’t the only way to climb

I’m climbing higher and higher and higher

I’m for hire yet I play my songs for freedom

Definitely not one to be taken seriously, but would they want it that way? It’s the good time that counts and you will have this listening to this one!

The second song to recommend is People from The 2nd EP which does allow them to be a bit more diverse with their sound with tracks ranging from blues rock (Under The Sun) and a bit more an indie flavour (Over) and while a sing-along stomper does sound like it fits in with their previous party anthems, it still stands above them as a bit more socially conscious while still being humourous and carefree.

The tone can change lyrically be it from serious (Let’s sing songs about things, songs about the people that we love and the predicaments they find themselves in) to downright silly and lewd (Let’s go down to Tesco! We’ll buy a bottle of rum, have some fun on the desk that I took your virginity on!), but musically it stays at an easy yet brisk pace until it goes into a Capella way-ohs from the audience before we call it a day!

The video featuring all kinds of footage helps the universal feel to this song showing that we are all just people who have our own lives and what’s up with a bit of a break in that monotony to just relax, have a drink, have a sing-song and then go home? If you feel that way, give it a listen, or not depending on if you value my opinion in any way, shape or form!

To finish up, Big Rhino are there for you if you need a shindig, rave or hootenanny (maybe even a box social!) and some fun, catchy music. While Nottingham may be their stated home for now, Brewtown is way they originated so…you’re welcome Notts! This has been Brewtown Music, serving another fresh batch of local tunes.

 

BIG RHINO’s stuff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigRhinoMusic

Bandcamp: http://bigrhino.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/big-rhino-music

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu3-RCZLw3trAR7aBz-JvJQ

Rhino sign

What Else Is Out There #5: Just James

Just jamming from left to right: Kerridge, Anthony, Reeves, Child, Young and Mehew

Just jamming from left to right: Kerridge, Anthony, Reeves, Child, Young and Mehew

For the fifth edition of What Else Is Out There, we’re off to Nottingham to greet a dance act who aren’t entirely what you’d expect from the genre, especially when performing live! Though there’s six of them, it’s Just James.

Alex ‘Motormouf’ Young (rapping vocals), Ella Reeves (singing vocals), Ben Kerridge (guitar), James Child (bass), Jake Mehew (keys) and Joseph Anthony (drums) form what is quite a unique combination; the sounds of live rock music and house/drum n bass tunes brought together to make a storming impact on the Midlands music scene.

Since their own formation in 2010, they have stopped by Burton a number of times to deliver their brand of electronic/dubstep/rock/hip-hop/soul/zydeco/leetcore/whatever the hell else music (they dubbed themselves ‘science fiction rock and roll’ if that’s easier) and that is why they are featured on Brewtown Music!

That and Motormouf's pits here give Jack Poxon's a run for his money!

That and Motormouf’s pits here give Jack Poxon’s a run for their money!

But the tale here begins before all that though, we have to go back to 2008, where the public performing days of a young lad called Alex Young began and developed into being an instrumental (pardon the pun) part of the urban music scene of Nottingham with his style of human beatboxing that was looking to emulate the likes of Beardyman and Dub FX.

His main inspiration though was American beatboxer Rahzel, former member of The Roots and known for his vocal work on SSX and SSX Tricky. So much like a lot of musicians, Young’s beatboxing was self-taught…not that I know of many beatbox teachers anyway!

The big solo highlight came when Young entered into the Midlands heat of the Vauxhall UK Beatbox Championships in 2010 where, after some very impressive and funny beatboxing, got to the heat final but unfortunately lost to LucasTheBeatbox. I think my thoughts on his loss are summed up here.

Oh well, 3:42 will let that news go down easier!

Towards the end of that year, Young was invited to watch his college buddy’s (Child) band Just James play at a Christmas party in the Stealth club in Nottingham. He was very impressed with the band’s unique sound and after Anthony invited him for a jam to see what it would sound like to have a rapper in the group, he impressed so much that they decided to have him on as the sixth member of the band.

Just James themselves formed in October 2010 and Young had his first gig with them in April 2011 (the same month as a gig at the  after a shining first few months of performing that earned them a spot on the shortlist for the 2011 YNot Festival (Dammit how many more times do we have to hear about that one?!). Unfortunately though, they didn’t make the final cut.

After a good few months of recording, the band put out their first EP Keep Calm and Rave On Vol 1 on June 24th which they would promote at festivals they were performing at that Summer which were Ripley Music Festival in June and the Nottingham Waterfront in August.

Keep Calm and Rave On: Zack Ryder approved!

Keep Calm and Rave On Vol 1: Zack Ryder approved!

In September, they would headline at The Maze music bar in Nottingham with Notts ska giants The Breadchasers and post punk indie band Tribal Suns. Being a Nottingham based act, they would be frequent performers at The Maze throughout their run as an act with their first gig there being in May.

In October, they had two very important gigs, in the context of this article of course, as they performed at battle of the bands competition in Derby for a chance at a record deal and their very first gig in Burton at the good ole Wetmore Whistle! Everyone goes there!

Just as a way to plug another Midlands music lover, Nottingham live music promoters Nusic had the band on their show also in October to promote them as well as perform an Invaders Must Die-like number called The Bassment.

We are the Just James!

The band began 2012 with some very good news. Through their shows in Derby and their battle of the bands competition, they were signed to Belper-based independent record label and music production team Sound Hub! Other bands signed to this label are Derby-based independent rock acts Whitemoor and James Warner Prophecies.

Two more notable gigs in Spring included a charity performance for Oxfam that also included Derby MC Eyez in April that raised £430 and a big performance at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall on June 1st for the Queen’s Jubilee that was more of a play on the word queen for a Gay Pride concert!

But in a major highlight in June, they became a part of the 2012 Burtfest (redundancy is redundant I know!) performing on the Arch Stage on Saturday 16th June that also featured Great Scott, The Vibe and Riding the Low.

But we all know who the stars are…the band nobody there had heard of!

They would end up returning to Burton, to the Star and Garter specifically, later in the month to attempt to save the Wetmore Whistle after Burtfest left the former Whistle owner Ben Brettell in massive debt with a fundraising gig along with The Vibe, Get Cubs and Kitten Pyramid.

To build towards an album release, they released a single on July 16th called Red Light Means Go which is notable for climbing all the way to #11 on the iTunes Electronic charts! That’s not like Reverbnation’s country/county divisions either, that’s official!

Arguably, one of the biggest crowds they have ever played to came towards the end of July with their performance at the Nottingham Pride Festival where they played on the main stage in front of 20,000 people and supported Basshunter of all people!

Suddenly Burtfest feels pretty small right now!

Suddenly Burtfest feels pretty small right now!

Two more big gigs in November closed out 2012 for them with the first on Nov 2nd at Nottingham Rock City supporting Follow You Home and Sonic Boom Six and on Nov 22nd headlining at the Nottingham Bodega along with support from Great Scott and The Afterdark Movement. These also promoted a new free downloadable song See It Through released on the 27th.

2013 gave them a mini-festival at the Derby Assembly Rooms in January that had House of Thieves and Kitten Pyramid on the card…but due to heavy snow, it was re-scheduled for March 23rd where Jamie Joseph and Get Cubs were added to the mix! It even snowed THAT day too but it didn’t deter the willing!

On April 14th, they released their new single Limitless which when released also made a pretty good push up the iTunes Electronic Chart making it #29 this time and had it’s own music video released on the 21st.

Wherever they are, The Prodigy are not far behind, or in front...eh whatever!

Wherever they are, The Prodigy are not far behind, or in front…eh!

After performing again at the Whistle with The Sixth Letter at the start of June, they ended the month being a part of XStatic Festival in Swadlincote which also featured Get Cubs, Raptorial and We Were Ghosts.

But that was not the biggest festival announcement they had, as their already exciting announcement of them performing at Strawberry Fields Festival wasn’t big enough, they were told they would be opening the Festival on Friday on the Main Stage! Get Cubs were at this festival too as well as more mainstream acts The View and The Enemy.

After a big summer of festivals, they were set to perform what they said was their ‘biggest gig of the year’ at the OxJam Soiree set for 29th October which was promoted with a humorous little Youtube ad.

Though I don’t know what gave me more whiplash, the camera pans or Young’s line delivery!

With new songs in the pipeline, a gig supporting the legendary Dub Mafia at the Maze and a summer festival season announcement of Bearded Theory to come, who knows what else is set for Just James in 2014?

Buggered if I know, so let’s just look at the music itself now! Midlands Music Maniacs described them as the ‘Who needs class A’s when you’ve got these lot’ lot! Yep, I’d say that sounds about right!

Just James‘s sound has a massive presence whether being performed on stage or simply being blasted through your headphones. With influences from The Prodigy (of course!) and Pendulum spurring their sound on, their music commands your attention whether it be the rock base sound, the electronica buzzings, Young’s lyrical drops or Reeves’ soulful singing.

One song to listen to is their first single Red Light Means Go which already seems like something the high guy meme would say and that contradiction forms a good basis for song and immediately hits you full-on with the bass blares at Young’s furious rhymes!

Young’s lyrics, which I’m not even going to list they’re going by so fast, are delivered in a way that makes you think that this guy is not going to let anyone tell him to stop what he’s doing since he’s going by at such a pace, it’d be like an OAP kindly asking a truck from Maximum Overdrive to slow down!

The instrumentation is just as hard as the vocal performance from Young, but Reeves’ singing give it an almost calming quality despite the fury still remaining!

I can lose half my beard to this!

I can lose half my beard to this!

Another track to look at is Limitless which judging by that title is already going to be as ‘full-on’ as the previous track and the JJ lot don’t disappoint! Drum and bass are officially approved on Brewtown Music!

The keys riff at the start provides a steady flow to the energy to follow which the band provides in spades and can be seen done in the music video. Dan Lowe, the producer and mixer at SoundHub also needs recognition for providing their music as well as this one with great care and consideration to make the most hard-hitting track possible!

With Young’s flawless flow providing the verses and Reeves’ chorus line of “To know no bounds, is a merry-go-round”, the vocal work does give the band’s rock/dance sound it’s own unique identity and prove that EDM is not the only option for those who want to mosh to dance music! Still though, check them out and judge for yourself!

In closing, Just James give rock and dance another great union and have graced Burton with their presence a good number of times along the way! With more tracks and big festivals on the way, they’ll be sure to get everyone moving and opportunities could be limitless! A hardcore serving of Brewtown tunes to you, from Burton and beyond!

 

Just James’ Stuff

Official Website: http://www.wearejustjames.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreJustJames

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wearejustjames

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreJustJames

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreJustJames

Just James logo