real detroit weekly - 30 september 2003
Sounding more like moppy-haired Euro gents than a brooding trio of Bay Area brats, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have been hailed as music’s answer to all those asking, “Whatever happened to my rock ‘n’ roll?”

Wielding seductive psychedelia over whirling white noise, throbbing rhythms and dreamy lyrics of love and disillusionment, the San Francisco based threesome -- vocalist/guitarist/bassist Peter Hayes and Robert Turner and British-born drummer Nick Jago –- offer up a bracing splash of searing rock reminiscent of The Velvet Underground and The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Taking their name from the classic Marlon Brando film The Wild One, B.R.M.C. first formed in 1998. Up until then, high school friends Hayes and Turner were hanging out and making music of a decidedly different breed. “Me and Rob were in a band in San Francisco called The Wave,” Hayes drowsily whispers from his room phone at the Howard Johnson Inn. “It was a real trip-out, half hour song kind of thing. The whole point of it was to destroy techno,” he languidly laughs. “So we’d play raves and take on the machines. It was definitely different than what we do now, but we learned a lot. There’s something to be said about trance and just rhythm itself.”

After only a year of playing the local club circuit and recording a 13-song demo, B.R.M.C. not only had people like Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher singing their praises, but they also had major labels clamoring to get a piece of the action; something that is still somewhat bemusing to Hayes. “We got written up in a magazine in San Francisco and the next thing you know someone from MCA calls. So we took a meeting, said what we wanted and it wasn’t gonna happen ‘cause it was like, ‘well, you guys are good, but we’ve got a bunch of people who can make you better,’” he laughs in that classic Jeff Spicoli kind of way. “It was that whole thing where they take you and groom you and we didn’t want to do that. And we really didn’t have any indie offers, which was interesting. The majors happened to jump on it first, and we really didn’t care who it was. The whole idea was to jump down the belly of the beast and cut our way out.”

Eventually deciding to cut their way out with Virgin Records, the band emerged with their widely lauded self-titled debut in 2001, garnering as much attention for their deceptively British-tinged rock as for their almost religious adherence to an all black dress code. “It’s all very well planned,” Hayes sniffs, no doubt just arm’s length away from his black leather jacket and Harley boots. “We grew into it, really. It’s all part of it. There’s nothing horribly wrong with it. I mean, you do what you do and you don’t concentrate on it too much. That’s the only point to try to get across. Of course you’re gonna think about your image. Of course you pick your nose for a picture if you’ve got snot in it. Of course you zip up your pants,” he laughs.

Much like its predecessor, the group’s recently released second full-length album Take Them On, On Your Own is a musical blast of dense, reverb heavy tracks that pummel the senses like a freight train. “It’s pretty similar musically to our last record,” concedes Hayes. “There’s more old school, straightforward rock ‘n’ roll, but there’s also some trip out stuff and an acoustic song called ‘And I’m Achin’. It’s just another outlet [for different musical formats], you know. That’s the great thing about this band – it’s an outlet for whatever.”

Though the songs indeed maintain that sort of fuzz-in-your-ears quality that first caught audiences’ attention (once again the band had no outside producer or engineer) the lyrical direction has taken some sharp turns on previously untrodden paths. Tackling "death, guns, drugs, religion, family, politics, music and sex," the songs find a newly mature writer in Hayes, who goes from a sneering dissident in “US Government” to a disheartened Generation X-er in “Generation” to a starkly introspective raconteur in “Shade Of Blue.” “Everything’s fair game when writing a song,” he discloses. “The whole point of art is to question what's going on.”

Though Hayes seems to have perfected that sort of early Brando-esque insouciance, he does admit to being just a little nervous about the road ahead for B.R.M.C. “We’ll just see what happens. I’m pretty happy, you know? There’s always room to do more, but I’m just thankful to be have been able to make another [album] and get on the road again to tour. The inspiration is just to keep on moving and living. Hopefully there’s reason and purpose to what you do. That’s always something that you kind of want – to be able to reach people.”

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