Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Interview

Interviews | Hip Online | May 21, 2001 at 10:18 pm

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club doesn’t propose to save music, but they don’t think that would be bad either. With hybrids of music changing the face of genres and blurring the lines between headbangers and popsters, BRMC hopes to make rock real once again. The days of rock being exactly what it was when the term was first coined has been seemingly lost. BRMC wants to remind all of us why we love rock so much and just what they are going to do about it. Read on as we interview the three members of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
:Robert Turner (guitar/bass/vocals):

Guess they got you guys pretty busy today.

They have that worked out, yeah. (laughs) We are just starting to realize how it’s set up now.

Is this your first big press day?

Well, we did have one in LA last week, but it was a little more laid back, I guess. This one is pretty much regimen.

You’ve been crossing the country to get to this, doing shows, right?

Yeah, pretty much. It was almost a full on drive. We tried to get some shows for the way here but it didn’t work out.

How have the shows been so far?

It’s been really cool so far. We’ve been playing our asses off.

Where were the roots planted for the group?

The band started in San Francisco about three years ago. That’s when all of us came together for the first time. Me and Pete knew each other in high school, so that goes back quite a ways. Three years ago Nick came along and we lived about five minutes from each other. Time finally caught up with us and we started the band.

What got you into playing?

It’s really only worth it if you like the music you are making, you know? The sound the three of us are able to make is what I fell in love with. I wouldn’t want to be in any other band. This is really the thing that inspires what I’m doing.

What groups got you into playing instruments?

Ride. That was a really big inspiration. Nirvana. I try and draw from new and old. I love Dylan and the Stones.

Did it take you a while to learn an instrument?

I learned in like junior high. I kind of learned it, but when me and Peter got together is when I really started learning how to play. It was cool. You teach each other just from doing something that much. We were writing and playing.

What were you guys doing when Virgin approached you?

Well, we made a record and put it out, some people call it a demo, but it was a record to us. We gave it out to our friends and people at San Francisco shows. We were playing wherever we could and then Virgin was just coming to shows. There were other companies who were interested and were really what sparked everyone else’s interest.

Did it happen fast?

As a band, three years can go by really slow or really quick. It’s been a lot of hard work so it was sort of a slow three years. We really struggled and sacrificed a lot to make it and to not make it some half-assed bullshit hobby band. There is too much of that music out there and we wanted more.

Were you really involved in the studio?

For the most part you put your thoughts out and play with things, but you want to approach it as an experiment. But it’s not really an experiment because when you finish you realize it was actually something real. Then you get into the never-ending cycle of details and perfection and that can really take time.

Has the road been everything you expected?

We went out with the Dandy Warhols like in November and that was fun. You got to get out into the world and start playing. I always felt we were doing something important.

What is going on in your head when you have fans like the Dandy Warhols and Noel Gallagher (Oasis) and yet there is still no album out?

Fuck. It’s a bit of a head fuck. You don’t expect that to happen so quickly. It’s a really great incentive. When you get something like that from people you respect, you feel really good and recognized. Everyone wants that. It’s great to feel like you are making a mark somewhere.

:Nick Jago (drums):

How is New York?

It’s kind of spooky being at the record company. There are a lot of weird vibrations in the air.

Have there been a lot of surprises now that you’ve become more involved in the business side of music?

Yeah. I’m trying not to be too surprised about the business. Like the way it works, I’m trying to get a sense of what it’s about and to keep my wits about me. It’s just people.

What inspired you to play drums?

I went to a house party with friends back in England. I played drums there. There were two bands having a battle of the bands and I just jumped in and played the shit out of the drums. That planted the seed for playing drums. The kids wanted me to play drums with them, but I went to art school and dropped out then moved to America out of mental disorder. As much as I loved doing art, I loved that seed that I planted with the drums. It just led to this mental illness that made me crazy so I had to play music. I moved to America to recover and see some family. That is where I met Peter and Robert.

How good were you at that point on the drums?

I had always been good, even before I played the drums. (we both laugh) It’s all in the mind.

You have a natural rhythm?

Yeah. I’ve been studying tap dancers all my life (sarcasm?). I know all about it.

When you started playing in the group, did you do it for fun or to make it real?

The intention was to be the best band in the world. Why would you want to be in a band unless you don’t think you won’t be one of the best bands in the world? We’re working on it still.

How has the road been?

It’s been really fun. It was fun to see the Dandy Warhols getting into our music. We were in the van and they were all bobbing their heads to our music. It meant your peers like your music, so it was something unreal. It’s something you always look forward to.

Did they offer you any good advice?

Yeah. Courtney told us to have as much as possible and that we have to live. He said you have to go out on the road, so you might as well have fun doing it. That was genuinely sweet.

Especially from a band with so much experience.

I know. They spent a lot of time in a van before they ever got a tour bus.

:P eter Hays (guitar/bass/vocals):

How does the songwriting process work for the group?

Any which way. (laughs) Sometimes someone comes to practice with a song in their head. Sometimes we just work it out.

So you have a democracy.

Yeah.

Do you think it gives you a better sense of being a band because it’s not just one guy doing it all?

We just want to give each other respect. That is what’s it about. I’m just thankful they are so involved.

Do you want the listeners to come away with their own ideas of what the songs mean or do you want them to know what you are saying?

If they get their own thing from it, I think that is great.

Listening to the album I’m curious myself about some songs, like what comes to mind about the song “Rifle”?

A dream.

“As Sure As The Sun”.

Um, another dream, actually. (laughs)

“Love Burns”.

Experiences.

“Salvation”.

A question.

That song in particular peaked my curiosity. Where did it come from?

It’s an old song really. It was written about five years ago. I’m not sure where it was going. (laughs) I’m not trying to be hard or whatever and not answer but I’m not really sure about how it came to where it is.

It just evolved?

Yeah. It started out acoustic and developed into what you hear.

What about “Red Eyes & Tears”?

It actually started out as a jam and that was the first thing that came out of the mouth of somebody. We had to work a bit to finish it, but it was one of the first songs we wrote as a band.

Was “Whatever Happened (To My Rock & Roll)” set up purposely as the third track so that you build gradually to it and then, boom, hit them over the head?

Kind of. It was sort of planned out. We definitely wanted it to jump out. Another art form in music is kind of placing songs together. So we are still learning how to do that. We want to keep your ear interested while you listen to the whole thing.

I think that song completely sums up the album because with all the hybrid music there doesn’t seem to be much pure rock anymore.

Yeah. Honestly I try not to think of music outside of us too much. (laughs) It just makes me angry so I stick to what we are doing. I try not to take what others are doing and think about it. They do what they do and I don’t necessarily enjoy it.

How do you take all the accolades?

It’s very nice.

Is it your goal to save rock ‘n’ roll?

Well see what happens. I don’t want to jinx it.

+ charlie craine

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