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Indie rock group rides into SRU

By Colin McGuire
Rocket Life/A&E; Editor

Issue date: 2/10/06 Section: Entertainment
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Robert Levon Been is tired.

Though he and his band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, have only been on the road for a little less than a week, he is beginning to feel the ever-so-tangible feeling of wear and tear that touring can bring.

"The challenge is beginning," he said. "We have only done two shows so far, and I am already beginning to feel like this is starting to become a tour."

That tour he is talking about, featuring his band, along with New York pseudo new-wavers Elefant and the spacey, Pink Floyd-like up-and-comers The Morning After Girls, is set to make its way into Slippery Rock University's Multi-Purpose Room at the Union this Saturday as part of a concert sponsored by the SRU's radio station, 88.1 WRSK.

College shows are not something the guys from B.R.M.C. have been accustomed to. In their nearly 10 years of touring, the band has only played a handful of shows based solely in a college atmosphere.

While most bands work for years to play in the biggest rooms possible, Been insists that the smaller venues are where the most fun takes place.

"Sometimes it can be really tricky to play at a university," he said. "At one end, it is completely different from what you are used to and no one really knows what's going on. But at the other, it lets you be more loose on stage, which can bring a lot more fun to the show.

"It's just a bunch of kids getting together to have fun. Personally though, I enjoy the smaller, dirtier clubs over the bigger places to play. That's what rock and roll is supposed to be."

While this may be their first college experience in a while, the band members have had some not so memorable moments around this area. The last time they were in Pittsburgh, a group of people went to their merchandise area and took down all of the memorabilia they were selling, making their last memory of Western Pennsylvania anything but pleasant.

"The last time we were in Pittsburgh a group of kids came up and took down all of our shirts and stuff," Been said. "They wouldn't let us sell anything at the show, and said that if anyone saw kids wearing any of our shirts that they would beat them up. I guess it had something to do with us not being an actual motorcycle gang. They felt that it was a disgrace to real gangs."

Though their experience may have been remarkable enough to possibly never come back around this area, there have been no hard feelings between the guys from B.R.M.C. and the city of Pittsburgh.

"Everything turned out all right," he said. "We got all of our merchandise back and it worked out. I mean, even though that (situation) wasn't good, we still met some really cool people that we look forward to seeing again this time around. And this time we promise to keep our merchandise up the entire time."

Experiences like that are bound to happen when you tour as much as the guys from B.R.M.C. They began their touring careers spending their time in a van traveling across the United States. Quickly, their lives began to change as they signed to a major label and toured Europe. During their time in Europe, they found that success came a little bit easier than it did in the United States.

"The first time we went to Europe it was different," Been said. "We weren't playing to many people whenever we toured America the first couple of times, but when we went to Europe, all of the shows were sold out, and they got us out of a van and into a tour bus. It was almost like it came too easy over there.

"That (going to Europe) was the first time that we really felt like we made it. The next time we toured throughout the states was the first time that people began to come out. It was all kind of weird."

And to give back to those fans that finally began to come out to their concerts, the band decided to treat them to a Christmas gift this past December. On its Web site, the band posted a brand new song, "Whenever You're Ready," for everyone to download. Unfortunately, once their record label found out about this free song being available to the public without its permission, it forced the guys to pull it off of their site.

"We wanted to give our fans a Christmas present," he said. "So we decided to do something ridiculous and release this song only through our Web site. We thought it was funny because we figured that our label would make us take it off, and we were right. When you sign that contract you sign a lot of things away."

The track differentiated a lot from what their most recent album, "Howl" sounded like. While "Howl" showcased the band's gentler, softer, more stripped down side, "Whenever You're Ready" was a powerfully, spaced-out collection of sounds and words. So with that said, one has to wonder what the fans can expect from the next B.R.M.C. record.

"We have been trying to keep it a mystery," he said. "But I think the secret is out that it will be a pretty straightforward rock record. We have been working on some things in sound check that we really like out on this tour, and its looking like the next album will be louder."

So can we expect to hear some of these sound check experiments this Saturday when they come to SRU?

"Some of them might just be ready by the time we get there," he said. "You never know."
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