GEORG DOLIVO INTERVIEW:
November 26, 2008
Few hard rock bands have been able to capture the feeling of classic AC/DC as well and for as long as Rhino Bucket. Vocalist/guitarist Georg Dolivo has been with the band from the start, offering up a non-stop supply of dirty rock music. After a five year hiatus Dolivo and Rhino Bucket (www.rhinobucket.com) returned with the same sound that made them cult rock classics, and in this exclusive interview done by Jason L., Georg talks about the future of the group which includes a brand new album.
Sleaze Roxx: So you guys are working on a new album?
Georg Dolivo: Yeah absolutely. We’re in the final mixing stages right now. We were excited about it while we were recording because it sounded really well. But now that we’re mixing it all together it’s pretty life affirming. I don’t know how to say it. It’s the best album we’ve ever done. Reeve Downes and Brian Forsythe really stepped up during the song writing process so it’s really really awesome.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s been the inspiration for the songs this time around?
Georg Dolivo: We’ve always tried to put out the best songs possible and do the best shows possible. For a long time the main song writers were Greg Fields and myself. When Greg left, we still kind of stayed a little bit in that same mode. Reeve has been in Rhino Bucket since day one and Brian used to be in Kix, but has been in Rhino Bucket for the last 7 or 8 years. With them coming in and bringing their own twist to it, it’s kind of changed everything. It’s still got that Rhino Bucket beat and of course I don’t sing, I scream, but there’s a little bit more flavor to it. We kind of like threw some yellow curry on it.
Sleaze Roxx: What are some ways Reeve Downes and Brian Forsythe have contributed?
Georg Dolivo: To be honest with you it’s always been a band thing. Even back in the day when Greg and I wrote most of the stuff, we’d still get together with Reeve and Liam Jason and create the songs as a band. The difference really with this album is that this time, they came in with complete songs. So what was usually my responsibility, to come in with a song with lyrics and all that sort of stuff, they did that too. There was still collaboration between all of us but it certainly had a totally different twist to it and it sounds great. I went down to the studio last night and listened to it for hours with Simon Wright. We have Simon Wright with us on drums this time. We haven’t had him with us since ’92, for the Pain album. Ronnie James Dio has pretty much let him take a little break from Dio to come play with us. After two hours of being there last night we were both going wow, this is awesome.
Sleaze Roxx: I read on Brian Forsythe’s myspace blogs (www.myspace.com/brianforsythe) that you guys were recording the album at his house. Is that right?
Georg Dolivo: Yeah. We recorded the bed tracks, what they call the beds, at his house. That was the intention, to do that. But then we ended up recording all of it at his house. It was kinda cool. There was kind of a Rolling Stones vibe to it because it was a house and Brian’s dog was there. We’d have barbecues and stuff. It was really cool. The best thing about a situation like that is that you’re not looking at a clock. You don’t have a studio manager sitting there going, “hey guys you’ve done your 12 hours today, you’re now running overtime with assistants and all that kind of stuff.” There’s a lot of freedom in that. Maybe a little bit too much freedom. We started this album, I pray to God it was this year. It may have been the end of last year. We’re still mixing it. We just went haywire with it and just had a blast. If the mixes I heard last night are any indication of what the rest of the album is going to sound like, then after this I can retire happily and just drink beer on some fishing boat in Finland.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there one of you guys in particular who likes to work the knobs and produce?
Georg Dolivo: We actually have a producer/engineer guy. This guy named Stephan Siggurson, he did “And Then It Got Ugly.” He’s like this…how do I explain this, he’s crazy. But he’s extremely talented so you gotta deal with his lunacy. He truly is talented. He adds an element to the band like none of the other producers. We’ve worked with some really good guys like Brendan O’Brien and Terry Manning. Those guys are excellent and extremely successful and all that kind of stuff but Stephan has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ or whatever you want to call it. He just gets you going. He is a master at it. He makes the studio an enthusiastic and creative place.
Sleaze Roxx: You guys have kind of a unique situation with drummers. You have kind of a revolving spot there.
Georg Dolivo: Yeah Simon Wright (of Dio and AC/DC) did all the tracks on the album. I spoke with him today and I’m going to get together with him again tomorrow and go down to the studio. He’s real enthusiastic. We also have Tony Biuso, or Tiny as some people call him, who plays with (hed) p.e. He plays shows with us live. Dusty Watson from Agent Orange handles some duties as well. It’s a little frustrating because I wish I could just keep one guy. But the situation being what is, it can be kind of exciting. Simon Wright is Simon Wright and it doesn’t get much better than that. Dusty Watson is Dusty Watson. In a totally different type of flavor it doesn’t get much better than that. And then there’s Tony who is like a little bit of both. It’s always enjoyable to play with any of those guys. They are all equally talented. It keeps it interesting that’s for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s cool that those guys can come in from those other bands which are different styles, and do the job for you guys.
Georg Dolivo: I’ve known Simon for a long time now, almost 18 years. I’ve known Tony for longer. Dusty I’ve recently had the pleasure of meeting through the Supersuckers who are a great band. It is cool, they go and do their own thing. It sometimes gets a little sketchy and one day I may need to get another drummer again. It’s kind of hard when you can pick from three such talented and cool guys to then settle on someone who isn’t one of those three. We’re kind of caught in a catch 22 there.
Sleaze Roxx: Your last three albums were released by Acetate Records (www.acetate.com). Is the new record going to be on that label as well?
Georg Dolivo: Yes. They’re a great label. They’re smart. They work fast. We have great communication with them. It’s very enjoyable to have that fellow communication whereas in the past with the major and one indie label we worked with, the communication level was extremely lacking in what we wanted. With Acetate, I have the actual president’s home number, cell phone number, and his office number. If ever there is a concern he takes the time to talk to me a bout it. So that it is greatly appreciated.
Sleaze Roxx: I can see that being important.
Georg Dolivo: Yeah it is because sometimes stupid things get brought up. And you’re like, “no I don’t think we should be dressed in safari suits and call this Deep in the Bush, I think that’s a dumb idea.” That was an actual idea pitched to us at Warner Brothers. It’s better to be able to call the president directly and say, “um, can you make them stop this?”
Sleaze Roxx: What was the concept?
Georg Dolivo: We made a joke about calling the album “Deep in the Bush.” Back in ’89 that might have been funny. They came back with this concept saying, “hey let’s dress you guys up in like safari outfits and put you in this jungle setting and call it Deep in the Bush!” We said, “ah…we were joking.”
Sleaze Roxx: Has there been any talk about putting the first two albums out on Acetate?
Georg Dolivo: We talked about it with Acetate and we contacted Warner Brothers. They want a phenomenal amount of money for us to license those albums. It’s aggravating because you’re like, “but they’re my albums.” It’s unfortunate because they’re out of print and they’re sitting in a vault in Burbank. I know there are other companies that have tried to contact them independent of us to just put them out. I don’t know why they put such a high value on them because they are just keeping them in there and not letting anyone do anything with them.
Sleaze Roxx: Does that mean you can’t put them on iTunes either?
Georg Dolivo: No we can’t do that. The first two albums right now we can’t touch. That’s part of the reason we put out the compilations. Those are alternate recordings of the songs and we own them. Eventually we may just re-record them but even then that’s just not the same thing. An album is like a mile sign on the highway of your life and to just go back and redo it, it won’t be the same thing.
Sleaze Roxx: The album No Song Left Behind has a bunch of live stuff on it. Can you tell me where those recordings were done and when?
Georg Dolivo: Off the top of my head I have no frickin idea. They were done predominantly from what I remember with the original line-up. They would have been done in a place like the Coconut Teaszer Club in L.A. It was nice to listen to. I hadn’t really listened to anything I’d done with Greg Fields live in so many years. It was a pleasure to sit down and mix and master them and remember what a vibrant guitar player Greg was also.
Sleaze Roxx: As far as playing live, what has been the highlight this year?
Georg Dolivo: This year we haven’t done a lot of shows but we’ve had some really fun shows. We’ve had some great shows in places like Boston and LA – great people, great clubs. But the highlight had to be Safari Sam’s in Hollywood with us, Junkyard and Little Caesar. That was a fun great show. The place was packed, the vibe was good and all the bands got along. We’re good friends with Junkyard and they’re good friends with us. We all get along well with Little Caesar. It was really one of those cliche feel good moments.
Sleaze Roxx: You guys played a couple festivals in Wisconsin this year. One show was in Denmark, a suburb of Green Bay.
Georg Dolivo: Those people were great. When the band goes to do a festival for the first time we’re always wondering if they have their act together. We walked in there and it was great. They had some kind of monster tractor derby. That was awesome. That was fun. Then after that, in June we did a show way up there.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah the place is called Eagle River. That’s way up there. You mentioned you’re good friends with the band Junkyard. You did some shows already this year with them and you have some shows booked in November to play with them again. What’s your history with those guys?
Georg Dolivo: We’ve known Junkyard from day one. They got signed to Geffen and they’d come down to our shows before we got signed. We got to know them and when we recorded our first album for Warner/Reprise Brian Baker, who was in Junkyard at the time, would come over and hang out and all that kind of stuff. It was really a birds of a feather kind of idea there.
Sleaze Roxx: You also mentioned Little Caesar. Are there any other groups from that era that you guys have stayed friendly with?
Georg Dolivo: Brian Forsythe is friends with everybody. He’s in Kix. Reeve Downes is friendly. I’m currently this weird little hermit guy. I’m good friends with Jizzy Pearl from Love/Hate. I just saw Love/Hate the other weekend in LA. I know all the guys. We’ve played gigs with Jetboy. They’re good guys. Pretty much for me that’s it.
Sleaze Roxx: You said you liked the Supersuckers. Are there any other groups in particular that you’d like to go out on tour with?
Georg Dolivo: I’d like to go back out with the Supersuckers. They were great. They treated us extremely well. They’re just like amazing guys. They put on amazing shows every night. We kind of morphed into like one back line. We started out the tour with setting up two back lines. By the third show we were like screw it, let’s do it with one. We shared everything. I’d love to tour with them again. If the Supersuckers call me up, we’ll go anywhere to play with them. I’d like to do some shows with Airbourne. I think that would be a good show.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah those guys listened to a lot of Rhino Bucket I think.
Georg Dolivo: (laughs) Yeah but you know it’s like once again the birds of a feather thing. What’s that old joke? When the Macintosh people accused Bill Gates of stealing their work he said, “yeah, yeah we all stole from Atari.” It’s the same thing with Airborne. It’s all cool. The album is great. I love it. Let’s all just like send a dollar or two every week to Angus Young and the boys and say thanks.
Sleaze Roxx: I read somewhere that you guys toured with Blondie at some point. What was that like?
Georg Dolivo: Actually we did a gig with Debbie Harry at the Roxy. It was this last minute thing. We had just got signed and we were in LA. Our lawyer called us and said they needed an opening act because the opening act pulled out. It was this huge deal. You gotta remember that this was like 1988 or ’89. Debbie Harry fans are Debbie Harry fans. The Roxy sold out so there was like what, 450 people. And they are there to see Debbie. There was like one guy in the whole crowd the whole time we played that was cheering us on and he was drunk off his ass. The rest of the people looked at us like we were cancer. It was awesome.
Sleaze Roxx: Brian plays in Kix, Simon’s in Dio and Dusty is in Agent Orange. Do Reeve or yourself currently have any side projects going on apart from Rhino Bucket?
Georg Dolivo: I’m not, because Rhino Bucket pretty much takes up my whole life, as it always has. I’ve always toyed with the idea to do this or that or play with some other people. I did a thing while Rhino Bucket was on hiatus with Harry Cody from Shotgun Messiah. That was really fun. Reeve and Brian have another band called the Snakehandlers. This guy named Bryson Jones, a good friend of mine, is the singer. They don’t seem to play a lot anymore. I’m like a one trick pony. The one trick is Rhino Bucket so I’m going to keep riding it.
Sleaze Roxx: Does it ever get frustrating for you to have the guys with all the other irons in the fire? You’re trying to steer the Rhino Bucket ship and you have to make sure everyone else’s schedule is clear.
Georg Dolivo: It used to. When it first started happening a long time ago it was like, ya know, let’s all get on board here. But I realize the sacrifices that these guys make on a daily, weekly, yearly, and lifetime basis to participate in the musical idea or vision that I have. It’s like if they want to go and take time to do something else to feel better about coming and hanging out with me that’s fine. It’s kind of like I’m in this band and I’m in this marriage. But it’s kind of like a swinger’s lifestyle. It’s all cool guys. Just make sure you’re here at my gig. A lot of times it’ll work to our advantage. They all go and do these other projects and go to these other places but when they come back they’re like, “God I’m glad to be back in the fold here. Let’s go rock out on some Rhino Bucket.” So it’s all good.
Sleaze Roxx: You guys are endorsing PRS guitars and Satellite amps. Can you tell me how that came about?
Georg Dolivo: The Satellite amps thing came about from Ron “Rontrose” Heathman of Supersuckers. He had one and we were playing the Limelight which is now called the Avalon in New York. I had this old vintage Mesa and it blew up. He had a back-up Satellite and he’s like, “here check this one out.” It sounded great. I was like ‘wow’! It was like a week and a half or two weeks later that we had to part ways. They went their own way and he told me just keep it, go for it. I called the Satellite guys and they were cool. They were like, “yeah, yeah you’re a Satellite artist now.” The amps are fantastic. With PRS, Brian Forsythe knew Paul Reed Smith. Brian knew Paul before he had a factory and a brand name and all that. Brian knew him when he was making guitars in his garage. I was looking for a guitar. I used to play Gibsons and then switched over to Fenders for years. Paul let me hear this one guitar. I strummed it and that’s all it took. The craftsmanship on those guitars are amazing. They’re awesome. Some people complain that they don’t like the headstock, the design of it. I’ve played vintage Gibsons and vintage Telecasters for years and the PRS guitars kick their asses. There’s really no comparison.
Sleaze Roxx: Are there any other brands of gear that you are particularly fond of, like pedals for example?
Georg Dolivo: We don’t use pedals, Brian or I. That was one of those things with us. Greg Fields never used pedals. When we needed someone to replace Greg, Brian was really the natural choice. He lets the guitar and him do the talking. It’s a real simple set-up. It’s a good guitar, played straight into a good amp, with no pedals, and show me what you’ve got. Neither one of us uses effects or any of that stuff, even in the studio. It lends itself to our type of music. I understand the need for pedals and effects and that type of stuff for other types of music. If you have an audition for Rhino Bucket do not show up with any kind of pedal. The audition will end before you get done plugging that pedal in.
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s go back to the beginning. Can you tell me a little of how you grew up and what led you down the path of music?
Georg Dolivo: I was born in Finland in Helsinki. My parents moved here when I was young. Then I’d go back and forth. My uncle was in a variety show, this group. There were always musical instruments around his house and I was there for like 3 or 4 months out of the year. I saw through his example, they had a TV show that was really successful for the Finnish market, that he could do this. I was always tinkering around. I really wanted to be a soccer player but at a very young age I realized that guys in bands get hotter chicks than guys on soccer teams. Which at this point I think that might be wrong now. Back in the day that sort of was the case so I switched over there. I think if you like football you hang out with people who like football. If you’re into skateboarding you hang out with skaters. If you play music you’re going to hang out with musicians. We all have our first band which I still remember fondly. But it was horrid. Eventually you weed that out and work your way through it. Then you start playing clubs and all that kind of stuff. It’s a weird thing to think about when you’re young, all the anxiety you have just trying to get that one gig at that one club. Like the Troubadour on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood and then sit here all these years later and say, “OK, we’re working on our 5th album.”
Sleaze Roxx: Were you always a singer?
Georg Dolivo: Yeah I always ended up being the singer because none of the other guys ever wanted to sing. They’d say, “you can play guitar and you can sing. Why don’t you do both?” I always got caught up in that. It was cool. Back in the day though, when I used to party a lot, I kind of wish I could have been just the rhythm guitar player because I think I could have partied a lot more. You kind of have to take care of yourself if you sing.
Sleaze Roxx: For the style of music it’s kind of unique that you play rhythm guitar and sing. I think that’s really cool.
Georg Dolivo: Thanks. The thing is I really really enjoy playing guitar in that respect. It’s one of those things that maybe other singers really don’t get to experience. I get to connect with the band musically right from the first note. I’m playing with them. You’re never wondering when to come in or anything stupid like that. It kind of makes things easier in a weird way.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s gotta be easier for the song writing process. When you are bringing a song to the band for the first time you can actually accompany yourself.
Georg Dolivo: Yeah that’s a big thing. I would go nuts trying to sing a guitar part to somebody.
Sleaze Roxx: Can you tell me where the Rhino Bucket name came from?
Georg Dolivo: People have asked this for 20 years now. I’m just going to tell you the true story. We used to have a top 10 list and make all these jokes about it. Ya know basically just lie. The reality of it is we had the band…Greg was not yet in the band. We had Reeve, myself, and two guys named Bob and Rick. We had just started the band and we had been trying to get into this local club. They called us back and said, “OK we want you to play, what’s the name of the band?” We said, “oh shit! We’ll call you right back.” The drummer who was from Hawaii wanted to call it Rhino Chaser, which is a long board, like a surfer thing. Greg, the eternal optimist, wanted to call it Bucket of Lard. This was a typical band meeting where there was quite a bit of beer involved. So we called the guy back. It was supposed to be for one gig only. We told him, “hey man we’re gonna be Rhino Bucket.” He said, “no that’s the lamest name I’ve ever heard in my life!” We said, “no we’re gonna be Rhino Bucket!” They finally said OK. Now here I find myself wearing a Rhino Bucket T-shirt on stage all these years later. Warner Brothers told us years after we left them that they wanted us to change the name but they couldn’t legally tell us. I said what? Tell me outside the office, Jesus Chist! If it was that big of a deal for you guys.
Sleaze Roxx: Who’s the artist? Who came up with the Rhino Bucket logo?
Georg Dolivo: We waited a long time to finally find a logo that we were happy about. Deme (Demetrius) has been like our 5th wheel for a long time. He’s been our road manager, handles our merch, and did some booking for us at one point. He used to be a drum tech back in the day. He’s been with us since the stone ages. He was looking for just something with a rhino. He came up with a skeleton picture of a rhino like that. I have some skills, I used to be a layout artist. We just went to town one night. Then all of a sudden finally we had something that everyone in the band was happy with. So it was a collaborative effort between Deme and myself.
Sleaze Roxx: Knowing what you know now about the music business, what might you have done differently back when Rhino Bucket got started?
Georg Dolivo: It’s all just a crap shoot. It’s all just Vegas. There are a lot of talented people. Any idea that is successful is always a great idea. But that idea is no different from the ideas that don’t work. It really is gambling. I have to say the one thing I would’ve probably changed is not keeping the band going after Greg Fields decided to leave. We took a five year hiatus and I would have kept the band going. I think at that point we could have maintained a touring schedule with Supersuckers or Jackyl or someone like that. But the fact that we took a five year break and then about two more years to get an album out, maybe it was even longer than that. That hurt us as far as people being aware of us. But I was pretty burnt out at that point myself so…
Sleaze Roxx: What do you think of MTV now?
Georg Dolivo: Ahhh whatever. MTV was there for one purpose only, to make money. If they make money by playing music videos, that’s fine. If they do it by playing TV shows, that’s fine. All they want to do is make money. They’re not there to support music. They don’t care or have any kind of concern about the state of the industry. All they want to do is make money. That’s the reality. I don’t really watch MTV. I don’t watch any actually. I watch quite a bit of Fox Sports Soccer channel. That’s my little obsession.
Sleaze Roxx: That leads me to this question: What types of things are you interested in doing apart form the band?
Georg Dolivo: I watch Manchester United (Soccer Club) religiously. That is like my heroin. It drives people nuts. Well, like earlier, Deme had a bunch of tickets to the Dodgers game here in LA. And he’s like hey come on down I got all these tickets. I’m like nah can’t go. I’ve got to go online and find out what’s going on with Manchester United. I’m real obsessed with it.
Sleaze Roxx: Besides a new album, what can fans expect from you guys in the New Year?
Georg Dolivo: We gotta get this album done. Then we are actually gonna do a video for this one. Then we’re gonna hit the road. We’ve had some offers from Europe to play some festivals. We’re talking about a couple festivals in Australia. But the most important thing is to go out in the van or bus or whatever and really hit the road in America because this band works best when it’s working. If you leave us alone to our own devices a bit too long then bad things happen. There are court cases and all that kind of stuff. So you just gotta get us in a moving situation and give us a one night stand all over the country. So that’s my plan.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans before we hang up?
Georg Dolivo: Thank you so frickin much for coming to the shows and supporting the band. I promise that at each and every show we will do the best we can. I’m not trying to get a mansion in Beverly Hills. I just really appreciate it. I’ve gotten some really really kind letters and e-mails from people expressing their gratitude for keeping this band going for their moment of pleasure in their otherwise chaotic lives. I’m sure there are other bands that give them pleasure too, I hope. So yeah just that, thanks. We’re gonna get this album out. I hope you love it. We’re gonna hit the road and I hope I see you.
Thanks to Georg Dolivo and Jason L.