Deaf Rhino may be one of the hardest working rising bands today. Out of New York, their debut full length record- Dirt, Rust, Chaos releases on May 5 and frontman Adam Schlett took some time to talk to The Front Row Report recently to discuss the band\’s upcoming album release.
FRR: The debut, the full length debut, it’s coming out in about 2 months. Cinco De Mayo. Dirt Rust Chaos.
Schlett: We call it Cinco De Rhino!
FRR: Even better! Love it! It’s funky, it’s psychedelic, it rocks. It’s a great, great debut man! It’s been a fun road to get to this point for you, man. What does it mean to have Dirt Rust Chaos finally releasing to the public, and what does it say about you guys?
Schlett: We’re proud of this one through and through, everything about it. We’ve always been, sometimes to a fault, a little cocksure on our ability to play rock and roll and I think you get humbled really quick when you go out in the scene and start playing and you work your craft. This record, we made a bunch of EP’s and a bunch of demos over the three years leading up to this and there are moments on that that I listen back to today and I’m like “Oh, actually that was fucking dope!” and moments where it’s like “Oh, that fuckin was not good!” So this one, I feel like we found our songwriting, our chops are a lot tighter, the ability to be heavy and riffy, but still catchy and accessible, it’s not easy and that’s something that I really love a good song is what pieces it all together- a great song. So we’re really happy with the songs. I’m happy with where my voice is, totally and as a lyric writer, what we’re doing organically locally and regionally the work we’ve put into it.
Everyone says “oh, we’re a DIY band” but we really are. I don’t want a DIY sticker, I don’t want to wave a flag for anybody, it’s out of necessity. There aren’t a lot of rock bands out there that are unique and different I think our album, obviously we tip our cap to a lot of our influences a little more directly in certain spots, but I think our sound is definitely our own and I’m really proud of that. We want to get out on tour. We want to start really rocking. We do all the booking ourselves, other than the promotion because it’s just a necessary having a PR even as an independent these days. But we move records, we play really good rooms regularly, and we fill them and we’ve done it by ourselves and our family- the people who love us and support us, our fans and people you meet. We’re patiently very ready to see if our shit really don’t stink that bad in the national market and hopefully the international market.
FRR: Awesome. Bringing in Brett Robinson and Jason Hughes, obviously he’s worked with Soundgarden, he’s worked with the Ramones, Iggy. Great resumes for both of these guys. What was it like working with them and what did they bring to the table to add to the album?
Schlett: So Jason is a house engineer at Barber Shop which is a topline studio in Jersey, an old gutted church. So Brett does a lot of production on top of the Avalanche stuff he does. So he knew us and our sound and was like “I’m telling you, this is the guy. He will help us get the sounds we want knowing he came from there.” So it was a nice package deal. Brett actually was coaching these wannabe producers, and one of his “students” approached us like two ago to help us put an EP out and that chick bailed like day 2 realizing what went into production and what it’s like when you’re in a pre-production rehearsal space. 4 dudes with heavy opinions trying to make the best album you can make, it can be tense. Brett filled in and was like “I wasn’t going to let you guys not make a record. I wasn’t going to not help you, especially after you guys were kind of committed to that path.” And as we worked together on that project we just became friends and we have so many musical similarities and differences.
You ever meet someone who so clearly understands what’s important in life, and the things that matter and the pursuit of your happiness while still being a good person to the people around you? Away from his abilities and his musicality, which he is very, very talented, he’s just a zen dude and we trust and value his opinion greatly. We have the freedom to push back, saying, you know, I don’t agree, and that’s really nice having a 5th member come in and tell you where your songs are strong and where your songs aren’t, I bet you’d be better and have honest conversation about not only how to do it but doing it.
We’re quirky dudes but we work really fucking hard at this thing so it’s nice having someone who understands that and appreciates that and dig what we do. You know when Brett looks over and has got like every take and is like “that’s great!” He pulled us in at the end of the session, it was the last day like 3 in the morning. We finished tracking the last backing vocal and he pulled us in and was like “I think you guys have something really special with this record, keep your phone close. I think this can help get you where you want to go.” So hearing that from a guy like him, it’s dope.
FRR: It turned out so musically diverse in a lot of ways, but still focused on one solid sound at the same time. It’s a really fun and interesting record to listen to. I think fans are just going to freak when they hear, from the very beginning, it’s going to be awesome.
Schlett: Thank you!
FRR: You guys recorded this in five days. Was that tough to do?
Schlett: We did pre-production for three months. The songs were written, about 50% of the lyrics were written, but we came in and tracked everything in about 5 days. Then the chick who played piano is this really talented singer-songwriter from Boston, her name is Sara but she goes by Annabel Lee, as her new stage name. We added her into the mix because we knew we wanted the dynamic of keys but none of us are really good key players to sit there and change sounds and like approach the instrument in a couple of different ways that good of key players we tracked the drums in like a day and a half, and then it was bass and guitars, and kind of intermittently doing guitars, bass, and vocals. It was like 5 straight 14-18 hour days.
FRR: Good God!
Schlett: It was awful! It was a gutted out church on a lake in the summer so when you weren’t tracking you were on a deck. We all wore Hawaiian shirts and hats cause it kind of lightened the mood of everything. You can get a little too hot and heavy into it and it kind of starts negatively detracting from the work when you start to lose your personality, which is, we’re a little bit of goofballs.
FRR: Plus, Hawaiian shirts and hats, how can you not have fun with that? When you look up and see your buddy rocking out in Hawaiian shirts and a big hat, it’s hard to stay pissed off and stressed out when it’s that kind of environment, cause that’s just fun.
FRR: You guys have a lot of shows coming up, and you’re going to have a lot coming up after the album releases. Obviously I haven’t had the opportunity to see a Deaf Rhino show yet, so take me through a Deaf Rhino show, and what that environment is like and what you guys do when you hit the stage.
Schlett: So there’s 2 kinds of shows in my opinion. There’s our shows that we build with bands we love for our hardcore 150-200 people that are our fans. those are like family gatherings where you know everybody in the crowd and it’s a boozy, saucy affair.
When we play out and we play an “away game” so to speak, I personally like those a little more, because they they’re a little bit more serious with what we do. We have the opportunity to go into every show and leave people saying “Who the fuck were those guys, that was fucking awesome!” That’s what we want to do every show. It’s not competitive, but I want the band that comes on after me to go “We have to follow that?!” That’s what we do and that’s what we go for every time. We want blood, man. Jack’s a monster, Bobby’s a fuckin monster on guitar, Tommy is so subtle, just an awesome bass player, just the energy man and being real. Obviously putting on the show for the people, but having them see when it’s us jamming as a cohesive unit as a real band. Not one guy fucking with a backing band. You’re watching 4 people play together to make one awesome sound.
FRR: When you go on to stage with that mentality that, like you said it’s not a competition but you want the band after you to work their ass off to top you. You want the fans to go away remembering you more than the headliner, and when you do that you’re pushing the next band to the limit and they’re gonna step their game up and push the next band to the limit. Everybody wins that way. The fans are going to walk away with more than their money’s worth from the show and with more bands that they liked than they went into the show knowing they were going to like. I think those are the best shows, by far.
Schlett: We definitely look like rock and rollers, but we don’t have tattoos, we’re not inked up we don’t look like the typical scene band, but we come in and just put on. We’re students of our instruments and I practice every day. I practice my singing every day, I practice my guitar every day. We’re tone freaks. I want it to be a great experience for the venue, for the fans and for the bands. We want to be fucking great. We want to be considered one of the best rock bands in the world, and that’s cocky and arrogant, but that’s the attitude you’ve gotta have. We want blood, man. One of my buddies, we played a show 2 years ago and he was like “dude that was a great show, but I want blood man, I want blood!” It really just resonates with me even to this day- we’re coming for blood dude, that’s the best way to put it.
FRR: Awesome. Well the new album is outstanding, there’s no reason it won’t blow up. The new album, Cinco De Rhino, there’s gonna be dirt. There’s gonna be rust. There’s gonna be chaos everywhere! It’s gonna be awesome.
Schlett: All over her face.