B.R.M.C. Rebels Without A Cause

News Feature 2001 09 18

They originally called themselves the Elements, but quickly changed it after discovering many other bands had shared the same title and stole their new name from the Marlon Brando biker gang who stormed into that dusty California hamlet in "The Wild One".


Yes folks, it's yet another one of those über-hyped rock 'n' roll bands from the States. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, or B.R.M.C. for short, have been lumped together with a group of similar-minded bands such as The Strokes, White Stripes, Trail Of Dead etc. But even though they all pretty much look the same, and sound similar for newcomers, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Robert Turner says they are a very different beast:

"It's great there are all these bands getting exposure, showing people that there is an alternative. I think some kids just don't know better. They just take what's on the table. But we're trying to say more with the music... without saying too much..."

BRMC have been around since 1998 when high school buddies Hayes and Turner hooked up with British drummer Nick Jago in a San Fransisco bar. Just a few months later they began performing live and by 1999, B.R.M.C., had recorded a 16-track demo, which began making the rounds. A Santa Monica radio station heard the demo and gave it some airplay and soon interest in the band spread across the Atlantic. Noel Gallagher heard it and wanted to sign the band to his Brother Records. But Robert Turner just laughed at it:

"Especially because he got the name wrong," Turner says, thinking back to the Oasis guitarist's comments in Mojo magazine in 1998. "But people always get our name wrong."

But after inking a Warner/Chappell publishing deal, they were fielding offers from interested majors and indie labels, ultimately choosing to sign in March 2000 with Virgin Records. After a short U.S. tour with the Dandy Warhols, the band entered the studio and produced a self-titled debut, 'B.R.M.C.', which was issued in August 2001.

The record bristles with a determination to reinvent rock 'n' roll. It has a psychedelic sound of the kind that not many U.S. bands make anymore - distortion and feedback wrapped around haunting melodies and lyrics that express hope as often as they do rage.

'Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll' was the first single to come out of B.R.M.C. [released October 15] and between the punk rock assault on that song, the garage band swagger of "Spread Your Love" and the soaring, ethereal "Awake," B.R.M.C. hearkens back not just to British bands like the Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine but also to original psychedelic rockers like the 13th Floor Elevators.

Turner calls the group's sound "new Americana," a mix of U.S. and British influences that ultimately sounds like nothing else but itself.

"We kind of all do our own thing, but we come together for the music," Turner says. "And hopefully, in 10 years, we'll still be sitting here together."

/Niklas Wallenberg

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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