The Bloody Beetroots is an Italian electronic dance music group established in late 2006 by Robert Rifo, known professionally as Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo. The name the Bloody Beetroots is both used as a pseudonym for the solo projects of Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo (production, guitar, keyboards, DJ), as well as his formation with Tommy Tea (sampling). When performing as a group, they are also referred to as Bloody Beetroots DJ Set. The duo are well known for their black masks, reminiscent of Spider-Man, Venom, and Grendel, that they wear during performances.
As I listen to the band’s latest album over the last few days, it’s taken me back to changes in music that took place I would say in the mid-90s, early 2000’s when you got bands like the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy really making a big difference in the charts and that time I remember seeing the Prodigy on the cover of Kerrang! for the very first time. It was a move that shocked a lot of old school rockers but found a lot of new fans as a result. Fast forward to 2017 and the new album from the band, The Great Electronic Swindle takes everything that was good about that era and brings in some fantastic modern guest musicians to present an album that should be heard by rock, dance and metal fans alike.
The collaborators on the album include Gallows, Anders Friden of In Flames, Deap Vally and JET who banded together for their first recording in seven years with the double single “My Name Is Thunder.” There are also appearances from Greta Svabo Bech, known for her angelic vocals, pop’s Eric Nally (Foxy Shazam) and Mr. Talkbox, plus Rival Sons’ Jay Buchanan who takes a twist with the ballad “Nothing But Love.” Also included on the 17-song collection are three instrumentals “The Day Of The Locust,” “10,000 Prophets” and “Saint Bass City Rockers.”
We spoke to the mysterious Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, founder of the band, a man who always remains masked when performing for the public.
AH: When Fat of the Land came out, it was such a genre crossing album shouldn’t sound this good. It almost seems wrong. This can’t possibly be right because you have the independent guys. You have the dance guys. You have the metal guys and you could never mix anything up and then the Prodigy come along and all of a sudden it fits.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: They made it.
AH: There’s something, they joined everything together don’t they. Your music on this album very much feels like that, desire to blend things together again. I mean Pendulum have been doing it similar for a few years now, in recent years. They played Download 2-3 years ago. So clearly, with your musical style, you’re going to appeal to a rock crowd of festival, metal festival crowd things like that. Is that always the intention, is it to push electronic music more towards the sort of the band side of things rather than the pure say, dance music side of things.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: That was the purpose. I was kind of tired of listening to rock music without the power of electronic music, you know I’m a listener first of all. I want to experience something better from rock music. I said, wow, I like this but I don’t feel this is contemporary anymore. Because it doesn’t sound as much as an electronic track sound. My Name is Thunder (on the new album) is like the manifesto of my album, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Crossover two genres, using the power of rock and roll, and the power of electronic music in terms that I wanted to use the transients of electronic music, and that those transient to rock and roll music. That was my main intention, try to get to that point.
AH: You certainly seemed to be following that trend where I could easily see you on the main stage of DOWNLOAD with the sea of people in front of you. I mean, they’ll bounce wouldn’t they? To your music and the artist that you’ve got working with you clearly in an intention, there’s a lot of heavy hitting names there from that world that have worked with you. I mean, Tommy for example it’s a second time you’ve worked with him. You did in the last album–
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Yes, two– I mean, we’re friends. I mean all the people there in the album are friends first of all. We had a commitment to do something new, but also with the story of life, if it makes sense in English so, I wanted to call them all. I said, “Listen. I got this good story to tell which is like four years life and do you want to join this? You’re a great vocalist. First of all, you’re my friend but you’re a great vocalist. Should we blend my style with your style and see what happens?” They all said, “Yes let’s do it.” I’m glad, I mean it was a long journey. Took like almost four years to get all the pieces together and also to keep the focus to have that kind of sound. That kind of intention and I’m super happy now.
AH: I’m not surprised, I mean tell me as a good example I mean what he’s done in the past let’s say, Methods of Mayhem, again fits very closely with what you’re working on isn’t it?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Yes, Tommy knows me very well and he understands very well what I want to try to do. But also, the others. I think even Jason [JASON AALON BUTLER (LETLIVE/THE FEVER)] ,from The FEVER I mean what they’re doing in The FEVER is very very similar to what The Bloody Beetroots are doing right now. Trying to blend together 2 genres and get it to the next level. Sonicly talking.
AH: How does your music suits at the opposite end of the spectrum where electronic and dance music is typically linked together? Can you play a dance festival and get a good response or do you typically want to push more into the rock space with electronic music?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: I think we’re right in the middle the perfect fit for The Bloody Beetroots live is to play after a rock festival and before the electronic tent opens, you know. In that space. That’s the right space for The Bloody Beetroots Live. So, we’re going to close the main stage of a rock and roll arena but just before the electronic music drops and opens the tent.
So right there, it’s a crossover.
AH: And you keep the crowd going as, well don’t you?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Oh, yes.
AH: You’ve got live dates coming up how do you take a show like yours on tour when you’ve got so many guests on the album?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Well I always say that The Bloody Beetroots Live is an experience of past, present and future. I try to blend everything, of course I single the screamers I mean all the screaming parts I handled myself, but for the rest I have backing tracks. But it’s almost like, it’s not a classical live concert when you get to release a full album is a blend or [inaudible]. It’s a blend on the blend. It’s a non-stop 90-minute show of a journey.
That’s kind of a journey in my mind and expresses 100% what The Bloody Beetroots is.
AH: Got you. And do you have live musicians, instruments on stage with you?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Yes, my drummer–
AH: So it’s not like a DJ’s set?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: No, nothing like a DJ set. We have live drummer who plays real drums, plus electronic drums. I have a guy who plays at 2 synths, talk box, and guitar, and bass. I play myself 2 synths, talk box, guitar, and bass, and I sing. It takes lots of energy and lots of effort to make it every night but it’s very satisfying.
With the live shows, well we’ve been experimenting We’re going to do North America. We’ll be back in Europe in December and next year we’re hope to do the rest of the world.
We’re missing Japan, now Australia, what else? South America. So, we’re ready to take a journey and go destroy the world I mean with this new album.
AH: As I’ve said, we have things like Pendulum playing UK rock festivals. You feel like a natural fit for something like Download for those as well.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: That would be amazing I mean I’ve never played rock festivals in the UK.
AH: Definitely, tell me a little bit about the album tracks themselves but jumping straight to say Bay City Rockers for example you name check the band in there as well, is that your anthem? Is that the one that you would say you will always play because it symbolises you guys?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Maybe, maybe that’s, it’s crazy because that song means many things like Saint Bay City Rockers which is Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, which summarises also my alter ego as SBCR which is like a DJ project. I composed that song specifically for SBCR and I understood that it was a right fit for the new Bloody Beetroots album and I was composing that song while I was travelling as SBCR looking at what I didn’t like about electronic dance music. I say, this is not electronic dance music and more, this is a journey.
Whilst I was touring as a DJ I say, okay I need to do, I need to make electronic dance music. I lead a band for myself and because I really want to listen to my journeys. I want to take a stab that I can tell something even without lyrics, through a different type of music.
And I made Saint Bay City Rockers which is yes, we can say that as it’s a little manifesto.
AH: Talking of manifestos and politics, one of the lead singles of the new album is Pirates, Punk and Politics [with Perry Farrell]. There’s quite a message with this one as well as I understand it?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: You know when I met Perry, 4-5 years ago at Lollapalooza, we became friends and he’s like an….., I’m going to say, he pays attention about the human condition and then I think he tried himself to distort the human condition as well. When we get together, we started talking about revolutionary messages to give to new crowds and talk easily about what’s happening in the United States of America and we want to have a voice about it. That was the main purpose for that song. It’s an easy listening song because it claims a little bit of Rage Against the Machine and places it alongside what Jane’s Addiction did in terms of melodies.
AH: It’s such a distinctive voice as well, you immediately know it’s him.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: It’s him, and he doesn’t change a thing since the golden age of Jane’s Addiction. I was super happy to listen to the melody and say, “Wow we got Perry, the real Perry.” So we can make something new here. I brought my crossover, thinking and I said, Perry we got to do this, are you down to this? Yes, let’s do it. We want to give a message to people. Yes, to the new generation, okay let’s do it. Let’s it to journey.
AH: You must be so pleased with the end result?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Oh yes, he wants to use it the track for his new album too.
AH: Yes, will it be changed? Do you think? Will he take a different take on this?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: I think it’s going to as Jane’s Addiction would do it. He’s going to make it sound different.
AH: Yes, but that then for the fans it’s fantastic, isn’t it?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Oh, yes, we can get to know different crowds. I don’t have the crowds of Jane’s Addiction and Jane’s Addiction doesn’t have the crowd of the The Bloody Beetroots so we wanted to create that blend too. We have two versions. Okay, let’s talk with different people and get them together in the same boat.
That’s the meaning of music at the end of the day, you know. Get people together.
AH: You mentioned about the ideal spot for you on a festival where you know the rock side’s closing. They just about to open the dance tent after hours and Enter the Void, seems like that song triggers that point in the night?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Very true, it’s very much a kind of stadium sound. That was the purpose of that song. To create a stadium song with big voice and Eric [Nally, Foxy Shazam] fits perfectly in that song.
He has the character. He is super nice to people, he understood in one second what I wanted to do, or what I wanted to express in that song and we made it.
AH: With Eric I mean, what’s he doing now? Because Foxy Shazam has come to a halt, where is he going next? It’s great for me to hear his voice on something new.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: I think Eric is a very complex and creative mind from what I experienced. He needs to express himself the way he wants to do it. Sometimes, for some people, that’s not music sometimes it’s art. I think his world is just art, it doesn’t matter if he expresses himself in other ways than music. He has maybe different tastes maybe music sometimes, maybe art and at the time.
AH: Was it difficult therefore to get him to work with you on this?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Absolutely not, I’m a big fan of meeting people. Meeting new people, I love talking to people. I love listening to people as long as we take that kind of thing between us, so we create empathy. And when empathy– and we got their empathy, then we’re able to create something together. It’s natural, completely natural. There’s no problem, it’s no heart. As soon as we’re in, in a same mental space, does it make sense?
AH: Yes, as soon as you got that connection then you’re both looking at it the same way.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: And I call that empathy, I mean it’s probably one of the most important thing in life. An empathy.
AH: Yes, and you mentioned this that covers four years of your life and you need that connection and the empathy. It’s presumably present your life story for those four years the way you wanted on the album itself.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Absolutely, also because I needed to talk to those people, to those friends try to get them into my world. Try to find out a way to express what I wanted to express in depth, with a common experience.
Every song has a story to tell. Has a story of a year, a story of a love story. A story of something that happened to me. It’s– music will speak. For the first time in The Bloody Beetroots world, music will speak because we have the lyrics now.
And we worked so hard in the lyrics and so hard in the music to get it together at the same time that I can finally say, we have voice.
What happens in this new contemporary that we’re living, people don’t take care about time. Time is quality. The more time you spend, the more you’re going to be able to produce something substantially with quality. That’s why it took me four years to make this album. My guess it’s a message that we can really tell people. Time is important, time is everything. If you want to do something with substance, sometimes I get the feeling that I’m in a swing door. And that’s the reason why I call my friends because I don’t really understand what’s going on, I mean electronic music deserves a better chance to be seen. A better chance to have some substance and contents that matter.
AH: You want to re-align how it should be.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Exactly, I mean 10 years ago, we started electronic music as a revolution. We have no money. We play in little sweaty clubs but everything grown so fast, and so crazy, that now electronic music is a new pop. When our genre becomes pop, it kind of gets flat in the way it expresses itself.
AH: Nobody really sort of punches through and makes a statement anymore do they?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: Exactly, so I took the time to do something diverse and it is pretty much the story.
AH: Now your performances, I take your face is never been seen by the fans. Is that right?
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo: That’s right, I made a choice 10 years ago. I say, I want get people to know my music and I need to find out a catalyser? To bring people in my music But I also want to protect my privacy. Because I believe all my frustrations, my way of living, and the purposes to make music are because, I’m a guy from a little town with a normal life. Who enjoys to stay with family with the beloved ones with friends.
Sometimes we forget that. Success and fame makes people alienated and they detach themselves from the reality. I cannot do that, that is my first source of inspiration because I live a life. I want to protect that normal life. That is gold for me. That’s the reason why I wanted to cover myself. I didn’t want to show my face, I want to protect that and also want to have a catalyser to bring people’s attention in my music.
If you want more proof, check out the final track listing below:
The Great Electronic Swindle:
1. My Name Is Thunder THE BLOODY BEETROOTS + JET
The “My Name Is Thunder” double single represents the various genres that define
The Bloody Beetroots with the first version driven by heavy synths and
electronic beats while the other is led by JET’s gritty guitar-driven rock and roll
2. Wolfpack Ft. Maskarade
Maskerade is the project of Brandon Allen Bolmer, a renaissance man of the modern
art world boasting credits as singer, composter, graphic designer and visual artist
previously of Yesterdays Rising.
3. Nothing But Love Ft. Jay Buchanan
Jay Buchanan is the lead singer of Rival Sons, a blues rock band often compared
with greats like Led Zeppelin and The Animals.
4. Pirates, Punks & Politics Ft. Perry Farrell
Perry Farrell is the frontman for alt. rock legends Jane’s Addiction as well as holding
the title of creator of Lollapalooza.
5. Invisible Ft. Greta Svabo Bech
Greta Svabo Bech is a singer-songwriter who gained notoriety for her work with
deadmau5 on “Raise Your Weapon” and “Chronicles of a Fallen Love” from The
Bloody Beetroots Hide album.
6. All Black Everything Ft. Gallows
Gallows are a hardcore punk four man band from England who have had repeated
chart success in their home country.
7. Irreversible Ft. Anders Friden
Anders Friden is the singer-songwriter frontman of the four time Swedish Grammi
winning band and Metal hammer Golden Gods winner In Flames, a melodic death
metal/alt metal band with a career spanning over two decades.
8. Enter The Void Ft. Eric Nally
Eric Nally is known for his career with Foxy Shazam whom Alternative Press
compared to Queen, My Chemical Romance and The Darkness. He’s known for his
vocals featured on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Downtown.”
9. Future Memories Ft. Crywolf
Crywolf embodies the current indie electronic tidal wave taking over the industry with
a self-awareness and awareness of the music.
10. The Great Run Ft. Greta Svabo Bech
11. Kill or Be Killed Ft. Leafar Seyer
Leafar Seyer is from Prayers, the SoCal Chicano goth group which focuses on the
societal realities of growing up in the street and gang life.
12. Saint Bass City Rockers
13. Hollywood Surf Club Ft. Mr. Talkbox
Mr. Talkbox us the stage name of Byron Manard Chambers, Bob heard Byron’s work
on 24k Magic by Bruno Mars and knew he had to work with him, a passionate artist
who has master urban contemporary gospel and R&B music with a balance of funk.
14. The Day Of The Locust
15. 10,000 Prophets
16. Drive Ft. Deap Vally
Deap Vally, the Los Angeles alt rock duo, have been described by the BBC as "a
scuzzy White Stripes-meets Led Zeppelin” and have toured with Garbage, Muse and
the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
17. Crash Ft. Jason Aalon Butler
Jason Aalon Butler is one of the most physical, and powerful front men in music
today. He cut his teeth in Letlive and now continues to cement his reputation as a
high energy live performer with his current punk rock band The Fever.
North American dates for the “My Name Is Thunder Tour” are:
10/27 Music Box San Diego, CA
10/28 Independent San Francisco, CA
10/29 The Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, CA
10/31 The Depot Salt Lake City, UT
11/2 Summit Music Hall Denver, CO
11/4 First Avenue Minneapolis, MN
11/5 Concord Music Hall Chicago, IL
11/6 Magic Stick Detroit, MI
11/7 Opera House Toronto, ON
11/9 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY