Interview: Rinoa

Since forming in 2007, Essex post-metallers Rinoa have gradually established themselves as one of the most hardworking, well-respected bands within their genre. The five-piece’s remarkable level of dedication towards their craft is reflected not only in the relentless extent to which they have toured the UK over the past three years, but also in the impassioned, wonderful vibrancy of their live shows. I witnessed the latter on Monday, 15 November, when the band stunned Glasgow’s Ivory Blacks with a memorable performance that many of their peers can barely aspire to replicate. Sadly, however, such occasions are numbered, as Rinoa announced in October that they would be going their separate ways after their recent UK tour. This has come as a major surprise for many fans, especially considering the fact that the band are approaching the end of what has been their most successful year to date, as it marked the release of their awe-inspiring debut full-length ‘An Age Among Them’. Prior to the Glasgow show, I caught up with some members of the band to discuss their split, the album, the highlights of their career, and much more.

JJ: This is, of course, Rinoa’s farewell tour. How have the shows been so far?

Perry Bryan (vocals): Good, really good. People have been really receptive. Two of them sold out. People have been as sad as we are, I think.

David Gumbleton (bass): The Barfly was incredible. London was really good.

JJ: You’ve all been in bands before, of course. What initially brought Rinoa together, and what made you decide to form this band?

David: Our drummer James and I have been friends for years, and he gave me and Matt [Holden, former guitar player] a call. He had known us from our previous bands. He asked us if we wanted to start something, so we all got together and had a practice. James worked with Perry in H&M selling lovely little clothes and folding stuff, and we all gelled and worked really well.

JJ: You announced last month that you would be calling it a day, which came as quite a big shock. What were the main reasons behind the decision?

Perry: We were in Holland playing some shows, and one of our guitarists turned to us two hours before a show and said, “I’m done, this is my last show.” That was it, really. We then got home thinking we were going to do a two-week tour, and a week before we left for the tour, he just turned around and said he definitely wasn’t doing it. Hence our friend Gurneet [Ahluwalia, stand-in guitarist] has stepped up and is completing the tour with us.

JJ: The tour was booked before your decision to split. Did you ever consider cancelling the shows, or did you always intend to go ahead with them?

Perry: Well, we always wanted to do it. There was a moment when we thought we wouldn’t be able to because Matt was leaving, but fortunately we’ve got friends who could step up and help us do these shows.

David: We wanted to say goodbye, and we have loads of friends who would have wanted to see us. We didn’t want our last gig to be in Holland, so we really wanted to do it. At one point we thought we might have had to cancel it, but luckily we didn’t have to.

JJ: How were the shows in Holland? I know you said that one of your guitarists decided to leave the band during this time, but how were the shows generally?

Perry: Well, of course that put a downer on it. The first show was quite a quiet one. It was in Zaandam, and it was really good fun but it was low-key. The second one was with a band called Oceansize. It was in a big cathedral with a capacity of about 800, and there were a good couple of hundred people there.

David: I think it was sold out, wasn’t it?

Perry: Was it? You see, I’m no good with head counts!

David: Oceansize were amazing, and really nice guys. I’m a big fan of Vessels and they were supporting as well, so it was a great show. We enjoyed it.

JJ: As we said, you have all been in bands previously. Do you think it’s easier or harder for bands today to make a living, compared to when you started playing in bands?

Perry: I don’t know, it’s hard to say for me. When you’re younger you look at things in different ways, and it’s not until you start touring and having realisations about certain things within the music industry that you start to think differently. I’ve only realised certain things in the past year that I never knew before, regarding music and touring.

David: From my point of view, I would say that if you look at the last 20 years, it has definitely become harder for bands to make any money. Nowadays, no bands make any money from record sales. We’ve made hardly anything apart from the money we’ve made from shows, and everything we make from shows is either put towards the band, or used for food.

Perry: Or it’s used for buying new merch, and stuff like that. It’s always just being reproduced in the overall cycle of things.

JJ: I was going to ask about merch actually, because that has obviously become the cornerstone of a lot of touring bands. Do you think it is imperative these days for bands to sell merch in order to make money?

Perry: Of course.

David: Yeah. We’re literally taking money from merch and putting it towards food.

Perry: That and petrol.

David: If we didn’t sell any merch, we would struggle to pay for the band, and I know it’s the same for most of the bands that we play with. It really means a lot when people come up to you and buy a t-shirt or a CD.

Perry: But you’re absolutely right, it really is the cornerstone.

JJ: Your debut album, ‘An Age Among Them’, was released in March to rave reviews, and I’m sure that it will feature heavily in many people’s “Albums of the Year” lists. When you were making the album, did you suspect that it would make such a huge impact?

Perry: When we started this band, we didn’t have a clue about whether or not people would be into it. The same goes for the album. We just composed it, put it out, and hoped for the best. We’re really appreciative that people are into it.

David: The last three years have been awesome, in the sense that none of us had expected or predicted anything. We’ve just been incredibly lucky. In all of our previous bands we did okay, but my old band never got signed. We tried really hard, and we would send CDs to record labels every night. Everything seems to have fallen in our laps with this band. We’ve worked hard at it, obviously, with the amount of touring that we’ve done, but it’s nice that things have actually come of it. I think it’s the classic saying: right place, right time. There are so many good bands out there that haven’t been as lucky as us.

JJ: The album was produced by Jonny Renshaw from Devil Sold His Soul, a band that you have often toured with and have cited as an influence. How was the experience of working with someone whom you hold in such high regard?

Perry: Intimidating at first. It’s often like that when you don’t know someone, but we soon became friends, and after that we felt a lot more comfortable when recording with him. By the end of it, it was a joy.

David: He’s a really great guy. I think it really helps when you’re working with someone who is into the music that you’re into. You can definitely tell that he enjoyed producing it.

Perry: He had the same outlook on the outcome.

JJ: Back to this tour, you have brought While She Sleeps out on the road with you as support. What prompted you to approach them in particular?

David: We’d heard a few songs of theirs. We were chatting to a booking agent, and thinking of bands that we’d heard of that were up and coming. They definitely seemed like that sort of band. Since we booked them on the tour, they have grown in popularity by a huge amount. I can see them going quite far actually. I think they are the kind of band that a lot of kids would be into.

Perry: Yeah, it’s a good mix of people coming to see While She Sleeps and people coming to see Rinoa. Hopefully people are into both bands.

David: Yeah, because we have quite different styles obviously. It’s good that we can get quite a different crowd. If we just toured with bands that were of a similar style to us, then we would get the same crowds.

JJ: You mentioned earlier that you have done a large amount of touring. Looking back over your career, which city or town would you say has been your favourite to play?

Perry: Good question. Personally I think my favourite might be Nottingham, because throughout a whole evening, I always find that I have fun there. London’s always good as well, because we’re all from there.

David: The first Devil Sold His Soul tour sticks out. The whole tour was amazing, because we got to see one of our favourite bands every night. It just felt like we were completely lucked out with that one. I love playing at Underworld [Camden, London]. We played a gig with *Shels and The Ascent of Everest at Underworld, which was awesome. *Shels are such great guys, and there was a really good atmosphere. I think it makes such a big difference when you get on with the bands. If everyone gels really well, you have such a good time.

JJ: You played Sonisphere this year as well. I read many reviews that said you were one of the highlights of that festival, so how was the experience for you?

Perry: Fantastic. We always wanted to play a big festival. We played Offset in 2009 and it was great, but it’s nice to step up and play an even bigger festival. The crowd was great. It was an awesome weekend.

David: The camping was fun. We had a few drinks. We played the Strongbow tent so it was nice to get some free beers. It was just a really awesome time.

JJ: You mentioned that you played Offset, which is obviously a very different festival in terms of scale. Of the two festivals, did you have a preference?

Perry: I always judge shows by how I feel at the time, and the crowd participation. Sonisphere was great, but Offset really kicked it off for me. There were a lot of people watching us, and when you finish a show, you can really tell at that moment whether or not it was a good one.

David: What I really liked about Offset was that the band before us didn’t have that many people watching them, so we were worried that there wasn’t going to be anyone there. When we walked out and started setting up, there were more and more people coming in, and it was pretty packed out. Everyone really seemed to be into it, and the atmosphere was really good.

JJ: Looking back throughout Rinoa’s existence, are there any other significant highlights that you would like to mention?

Perry: Being with your friends and playing music.

David: What about you, James? Are there any moments that stick out for you in the last three years?

James May (drums): When we played the Barfly recently. That was a really good show.

David: Yeah. There was crowd-surfing, and everyone was into it. That was incredible.

JJ: Final question. In your recent MySpace statement which confirmed the band’s split, you stated that some of you would be continuing with music. Can you give me any details about this, or are you sworn to secrecy?

Perry: Well, we’re all musicians. That’s what we live for, and that’s what we want to do with our lives, so we’ll all be carrying on with music, one way or another. Whether or not you hear about it as much I’m not so sure.

David: Some people are joining other bands. Some people are doing their own thing. I can’t elaborate too much.

Perry: Yeah, it’s early days yet. We’ve got to let this one settle first.

JJ: Cool. I think I’ll wrap it up there. Thanks very much for your time.

Perry: It’s a pleasure.

David: Thanks man.

‘An Age Among Them’ is out now via Eyes Of Sound.

R.I.P. Rinoa: 2007-2010.

     

About JJPorter

JJ is a 20-year-old student hailing from Scotland, who lives and breathes music. His favourite genres include a variety of styles of metal, as well as hardcore, punk, and just about everything in between. Contact JJPorter on Twitter or via Email.

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