Black Rebel Motorcycle Club interview

The interview was originally published on MTVIggy.com (which was sadly shut down and removed by MTV completely in November).

In the middle of our interview with 2/3 of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the backstage of Danish Tinderbox festival an inevitable question comes up: what does ‘rock’ even stand for in 2015? “I think there’s a difference between rock, rock’n’roll and a rockstar”, says vocalist and guitarist Peter Hayes of the San Francisco-born band, dressed in all black and sitting next to the drummer Leah Shapiro, “If we’re talking rock’n’roll, it’s important to have the roll with it, they have to go together. Rock is completely different from rock’n’roll. Neither of those really go anywhere. It just seems like you have to go deeper and deeper underground, to smaller clubs, to find it all. And that’s okay”.

One thing for sure: this trio has rock in its blood. Since its foundation in 1998, BRMC enjoyed all the pros and cons of the rock lifestyle: critically-acclaimed records, backstage fights, line-up changes, rehabs and label struggles. We’re talking about the band who had earned the nickname ‘the band that broke the floor’ after almost collapsing the Leeds Town Hall during its concert in 2003. How many rockers can say the same about themselves? All of this makes it quite hard to believe the musicians still leads a pretty normal life. But they do. “It’d be a fucking nightmare!” Shapiro exclaims when asked what her life would be like if she was followed around by the paparazzi. “It seems like sometimes it’s a little bit of a choice whether you want to hold yourself that way”, says Hayes regarding the ‘celebrity’ rockers, “Because there are people who think that have that, but they don’t. And they don’t know they don’t, because they’ve decided to kind of act like they do, so people around them shelter them from the truth. I don’t fuck around with that shit”.

The shit these guys (and a girl) want to fuck with is solely music. Even though it’s been awhile since we’ve got a new BRMC record: Specter At The Feast came out more than 2 years ago, although the fans were treated to the Live in Paris DVD/CD this June. They haven’t started recording the new album yet, but they’ve already started worrying about it. “Right now the thought of having to start the process of writing the new album and thinking about what I wanna do and where we want to take it as a band is the biggest challenge”, says Shapiro, “There are so many directions you can take. And figuring it all out can be a bit daunting”. Hayes listens to her, thinks for a bit and then adds: “Challenge comes down to just making a decision. You can get stuck in wanting to do something different so badly that you do nothing. And so you gotta forgive yourself even when you feel you’re being repetitive ‘cause you have to get it out”.

Can American politics still bring a much-needed doze of inspiration? Back in the day BRMC were known for their political-minded numbers such as 2003’s US Government, while their better-known song Beat The Devil’s Tattoo found its place on the God Bless America movie soundtrack, 2011’s blackest comedy about the excesses of American pop culture. “It’s never about resent. Never!” Hayes stresses when asked about his attitude towards the pop culture, “We’re not judging anything or anyone. We question it. We question its use and purpose. As much as they gonna question mine. But I’m useless to them. Who the fuck am I?”

Back in 2008 the band’s career took a drastic turn, when BRMC announced they will be releasing an all-instrumental album The Effects of 333 independently on their own label Abstract Dragon. Is another instrumental record in the cards? “Not for the main album but I would really like to do an instrumental record actually”, says Shapiro, who joined the band after The Effects of 333 release. As for the independence, the band is not going to give it away for sure: they plan to continue releasing everything by themselves. “With help”, Hayes corrects, “It’s a partnership. We’re not business-fucking-people. We don’t have names and numbers. And those names and numbers change every month. We’re pretty awful with that kind of shit. So it’s nice to have people helping you”.

“No one’s gonna give as much of a shit about your music as you”, Shapiro agrees, “It is like running a business which is not much fun, but the more you can take on yourself the better off you’ll be”. So the fun part is still hours and hours of jamming. When asked if they still get the chance to get together for a good ‘ol jamming session, Shapiro smiles: “All the time! That’s a very good way to move past the place where you can get stuck”. Hayes gives us one final rock lesson: “That’s how the records are made. A lot of people may not know it, but every song that’s been condensed down to 3-4-5-minutes started out as jam about 2 to 3 hours”. And if you need any more proof we’re dealing with real rockers here, here’s a fun fact: by the time we were finished there was a little spider trying to escape the glorious web of Hayes’ hair.

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Posted on by Mikey Moscow in Interviews, Music

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