Q&A: Donovan Borne of Feed The Wolf

Frontman riffs on his bands, the solo album, potential soundtracks and the art of shredding

     
By William Welfare
Friday, 16 May 2014 09:07
Donovan Borne
Donovan Borne
facebook.com/donovan.honeyborne

Hailing from Pretoria, five-piece rock outfit Feed The Wolf – Donovan Borne (vox), Jako Loots (drums), Illimar Neitz (lead guitar), Juan Le Roux (guitar) and Jonathan Georgiades (bass) – pride themselves on their primal and "original sleaze rock anthems".

Turns out frontman Donovan Borne has also been exploring some other avenues. Rolling Stone had a chat with him about the art of "shredding", his other band (Bright Lights Big City) and his haunting new solo album, Greatest Hits Vol. 2.

Hey Donovan, how're you doing?

Still here, pal.

When I listen to Feed The Wolf I hear some hints of Primus, Queens of the Stone Age ... even some Nick Cave. Would I be right to assume that these artists are influences? What are you guys listening to currently?

I always enjoy this question. We often get asked about our influences and get compared to other artists, and everyone who does so hears something else.

It's a good sign for us as a band who try to keep things versatile and unique. I am actually a huge QOTSA fan and am massively influenced by Nick Cave, among others. But the rest of the guys all have their own, very different, influences. Some guys like Tool, others Iron Maiden, Miles Davis, Faith No More and Mr. Bungle et cetera, et cetera. It's a strangely eclectic mix. We've never been asked about Primus. I don't personally know their music, but I'll go give it a listen.

What do you think audiences get out of a Feed The Wolf concert?

It's a weird thing we've noticed that happens when we perform: the audience does grow, which is always good, but there's also this perplexed look that comes over them. Our songs aren't very well known, so no one really sings along or anything, but they do seemed intrigued. And it looks like they get into it and enjoy themselves, which is important. But from what I can gather, the main thing an audience will get out of our shows, is a good show and a new and different musical experience. We're happy with the fact that everyone hears something different they like.

You also front a band called Bright Lights Big City... Any connection there with the Jay McInerney novel of the same name? How would you distinguish Bright Lights Big City from Feed The Wolf?

The name is derived from the blues song of the same name, the most recent version of which can be heard as performed by Gary Clark Jr. Maybe that's where the title of the song came from, who knows? Feed The Wolf and BLBC are miles apart. [They are] two very different bands, both in genre and in the approach to the music. I also try and approach the vocal portions in a different way. The one is progressive Rock and the other is good old dirty Blues.

"People don't listen to music anymore, they want to watch it". What do you make of this statement?

Music videos and visual media have, for better or worse, become a part of our world. It all depends how you use it I guess. Different genres lend themselves in different ways to the "visual" aspects of music, and of course, never underestimate the power of listening to music on your ace with the headphones on. That being said, this undisputed best way to "watch" music is still to go out and catch a live performance. Nothing beats watching an artist at work.

On that note, any plans to make some Feed The Wolf music videos?

Definitely. It can be an expensive exercise, so we're still planning ways to be clever with it; make something simple, but effective and powerful.

You recently dropped a solo album [Greatest Hits Vol. 2] that was two and half years in the making. It's a haunting album with a vast sonic spectrum. How do you approach those songs live?

Tough question. I haven't yet decided to perform that music yet. I do the odd solo acoustic performance and throw in one or two from the album, but as for performing the material as it is on the album ... well the jury is still out. The album was never made with that intention. It was more about putting music that I was proud of out there, simply for the sake of it being out there. However, that doesn't mean that I won't perform it. And if I ever do I'll try keep it simple and definitely utilise a couple of multi-instrumentalists. Keep it country, keep it raw. [Scroll to the bottom to listen to the album.]

This album sounds like the soundtrack of a movie yet to be made. What do you think the synopsis of that movie should be?

Cool question. I get the movie comment a lot with this album. I studied drama, so that might be why there is a dramatic element to my music. I'm not really sure about the synopsis. I actually have movie and soundtrack plans and ideas, but not for this album. What I can tell you is that this movie would be ironically quiet, set in a remote location, maybe a bit dark and moody and would use underlying graphic and unseen violence as a theme. I'm a big fan of violence in stories. Not blood and guts, but violent tensions. I think it's a fair reflection of the capabilities of human beings and society.

On "Book of The World" you sing: "Rest assured, we're only as real as the stories we've heard and I'm just a word, a word in the book of the world". How do you think this line applies to how our stories being told via social media in this day and age?

This is a bloody good question probably suited to someone a bit smarter than me, but I'll try my best to answer.

Social media is sort of a personification of being only a word in a book of the world. Now, whether or not that's a good thing ... that remains to be determined. Social media has given everyone a platform to say anything. It's a place to be bold and opinionated, but that also leaves you exposed. It's easy for good ideas to become saturated and overshadowed by agendas and endless arguments in the comments section of a page. This can lead to desensitisation. So if we can be only a word, what word will choose to be? And, more importantly, are we a word in a book worth reading, or should we rather just click on the link below to watch that video where that guy does that thing....

You hang out a lot with Griffin from Watkykjy.co.za these days and then you guys shred some songs and put the result up online. Is there an art to shredding? And how did you get hooked on it?

[Laughs] Griff gave me a call one day and invited me over to do some "work". I'd never even heard of shredding until he exposed me to it. I think there is a subtle art in compiling a good shred, but mostly it's just a massive piss-take, with a surprising feeling of satisfaction that washes over you after you achieve the perfect lip-sync. Also, the more you do it and the subtler your approach the better. It's a good laugh. Just for shits and giggles. No offence to anyone we shred. Well, almost everyone.

Feed The Wolf will be playing at STRAB next weekend. What bands are you keen to see?

Sho! [I] always enjoy Mr. Cat and the Jackal and Black Cat Bones. I'm also keen to check out Jack Hammer again. I enjoyed playing STRAB when I was still a member and it will be cool for a chance to watch them again in that environment. I'm also keen to see any and all acts I haven't seen before. I hear you'll be playing as well, so I'll be keeping an eye out for your set.

Last question is a Bernoldus Niemand lyric: "How do you live in this strange place?"

Mmm... I don't, I'm just waiting for the bus.

STRAB - The Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience - is one of kind music festival in Mozambique will take place from 21 - 25 May 2014. Bookings are now open.

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