Bloody Beetroots: "I Don't See Dance Music as an Hedonistic Escape"

As the boil of EDM becomes ever more bulbous, new variations of the scene need to be explored. Well, look no further. Italy's Bloody Beetroots provide a blast of molten punk anarchy to the normally euphoric genre, fueling an incredibly intense live experience that's heading straight to Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.

Their penchant for wearing Venom masks during performances on the surface might make them seem like another gimmicky electronic outfit. However, the band, which is the brainchild of Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, has already released two well-received albums that defy genre classification, leaving lazy music journalists in quite a tizzy.

Rifo is a classically trained musician who applies his eclectic talents to the latest album, Hide. The 15 tracks are a pulsating maelstrom of samples, effects, piano solos, and vocals that are sometimes hushed, frequently roared. Like a Medieval bladesmith, Rifo uses his talents to bludgeoning effect. None other than Paul McCartney appears on the single "Out of Sight," an electro-rock mashup that briefly wipes the saccharine warblings of "Silly Love Songs" from the memory. Other collaborations include Flood, Peter Frampton, and Tommy Lee.

Expect a full band to keep the pace constantly at frenetic and the snooze button to be sonically smashed as Bloody Beetroots mine the subversive qualities of electronica, energizing the EDM crowd into a throbbing mosh pit. Bloody Beetroots will definitely drag EDM out of the sterility of the mainstream and retool it as an aurally progressive, propulsive, and even political instrument of musical madness.

New Times: What can we expect from your show at Revolution Live?

Chaos and confusion.

You have wonderfully married the punk aesthetic with dance music. What are the similarities between punk and dance?

I don't see dance music as an hedonistic escape. This is shared adrenaline as catalyst and call to action, so, in that way, I saw it similar to punk. 

I do feel a sense of disappointment with how the electronic scene has been taken advantage of by the music industry. My efforts now are to restore the dignity and the true form of the genre, so we don't lose sight of why we all do this. 

Your recent album Hide contains some surprising collaborations. How did the collaborations on the album (especially Paul McCartney, Tommy Lee, and Peter Frampton) come about?

Working with all the collaborators on Hide was a pretty big accomplishment. It felt like I was opening the doors and feeling a huge draft of wind sweep me by, except it was with music. My goal with this album was to create a bridge between different historical generations of music using old and new musicians. 

With Paul, the collaboration actually came about because of a mutual friend who I was in the studio with. He asked me who I would want to collaborate with, I said Paul McCartney, and the rest is history.   

The idea of working with Tommy Lee came from the desire to make new original music combining old school and new school sounds. Tommy Lee adds a strong history of rock and roll music which is priceless. Like it or not, history is a universally recognized value. He has his own unique way of playing the drums and has definitely destroyed the original version of the song, and that's the reason why we called it "Raw." The song totally kicks you in the face and then comes at you with this disco section, that was the plan with the song from the beginning. It is an oxymoron by definition. 

Working with Peter Frampton was a dream come true! I have a lot of respect for Peter and hold him in great esteem, our relationship is like uncle and nephew. He's a wonderful musician and a wonderful person with a soul which is equally wonderful. One of the really interesting things which actually came out of our collaboration was the talkbox instrument, which has always been a passion and curiosity of mine. Peter uses it for his vocals, and it's amazing. I learned a lot of new things from his performance in the studio.

When talking about the Hide, I've read that you want "collect cultural elements" to fill a "hole in the current generation's musical sensibilities"? Could you elaborate on this?

Hide wants to built a generational bridge, making history contemporary so it isn't forgotten. We've forgotten a lot of history, so my aim with the Bloody Beetroots project is to bring together the old generation of music that personally influenced me -- musicians like Peter Frampton, Paul McCartney, Tommy Lee -- and try to build a bridge with their music through mine to keep a new perspective on what I create. We need to remember history, they created something substantial and important. That's why I don't actually classify my music as one genre anymore, it doesn't make sense to me to do that, and I think my new album makes that very clear.

I've read that you are admirers of Cesare Pavese, the Italian poet and novelist. Are there elements of his political messages that you think resonate today?

Pavese is my most favorite poet of all time. He was very politically engaged, he was openly antifascist and was a member of the Italian Communist Party. He was writing during and immediately after the Second World War, so in a moment where Italy was going through a very deep political and I would say "moral" crisis... Kind of what's happening today, really!

Do you think that music failed in responding to the economic crash of 2008, the rise of austerity in Europe, and the radicalization of right in America? 

I would not say that it's just a problem that affects music, but it is something more general.

In the 1960s and 1970s, people hit the streets to voice their opinion. Now, they do it in 140 characters or less. Having being born in the '70s, I've seen this change. There's a strong cultural shift and maybe even a human laziness. and as a result, I believe a revolution, albeit an unconventional one, is needed to overcome it. We need to learn to how to make people aware of the social and culture importance in music. 

There's definitely a political element to some of the new tunes -- "The Furious" -- could you tell us about that?

When I started working on "Furious," I was literally furious! So I started writing that into the song. The song is about the racially imbalanced American prison system. In "The Furious," I had the honor to work with one of my favorite punk icons, Penny Rimbaud. Again, I have to thank my friend Youth of Killing Joke, the same who put me in touch with Paul McCartney. 

We were in the studio together, and he asked me if I was looking for people whom I'd Iike to have on my record, and told him I had two names in mind: Penny Rimbaud of Crass and Paul McCartney. Because, I mean, you never know. It couldn't hurt to ask. And it actually worked!

What's your songwriting process? Has it changed over the years?

The real magic of creating music is that your hand guides you as a composer. I always imagine I'm travelling or see myself on a colorful journey and that sometimes quick-starts the process. 

I try not to get stuck in the studio all the time, but yeah sometimes I do have to just go and work. But with a song, it's all about the title. Once the title is there, there is a story waiting to be told. I don't really know why it's like it, but that's how it happens for me. The title comes to me and after that, it's done. I know the beat, the chords, everything, it's been composed. It's always been like that. 

Is there a song on Hide that best epitomizes who you are at the moment?

I would definitely say "Out of sight."

Has increased success allowed you more autonomy in the artistic choices you make? How do you avoid "playing the game" of working in the music industry?

I've always been very concerned about my artistic freedom. I'm just simply very clear from the beginning when it comes to making deals.  

What's next for Bloody Beetroots?

I'm just about to begin my Live world tour, starting from the USA, which would keep me very busy. For the rest, chaos and confusion, same as always.

Bloody Beetroots. With Chaos and Confusion. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $28.50 plus fees in advance and $30 day of show. 18 and older. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net.

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