Peter Hayes: guitar, bass, vocals Robert Turner: guitar, bass, vocals Nick Jago: drums, percussion
The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club began in 1998. They are a San Francisco-based group who have been performing constantly since that time . The group's distinct sound is a mixture of hard rock and psychedelia. The introspective lyrics and inventive musicianship separate them from the noise of their contemporaries. Their debut record came out in April and has since become one of the most talked about records of the year.
The band has many noticeable influences including Bob Dylan, The Stones, Joy Division, Velvet Underground, as well as more recent bands such as Ride and The Stone Roses. The B.R.M.C. named themselves after Marlon Brando's motorcycle gang in the 1950 movie 'The Wild One'. Originally The group was originally named The Elements. Robert and Peter met in high school. It was there that they started writing and playing together making four-track recordings in their tiny garage.
They needed a drummer to complete the group. In 1998 they met drummer Nick Jago and began recording together. They recorded a full-length demo with no record label backing. In the summer of 1999 the band concentrated on Los Angeles, playing live relentlessly for the next six months and becoming one of the most talked about bands in LA. Their music is dark, heavy, and mesmerizing. I was able to talk to them on the phone while they were in Seattle. They are currently just starting a tour with Warlocks and Vue.
AL: How did you first start the band?
Robert: I met Peter in high school and we were always talking about forming a band. We had played in a few bands before this. We had a few different names. We played in one band called Wave. There were several people involved. We had no songs. We would just show up with equipment and start playing. Some songs lasted thirty minutes. Peter and I always wanted to do more song based stuff.
AL: You were involved with Brian Jonestown's Massacre. How did that happen?
Robert: Every musician seems to have been in that band at some point. We played with Anton for about a year. It was always temporary. When we met Nick Jago, we were able to quit these previous bands and concentrate on our own material. We recorded a demo. That was floating around for a while and people were quickly interested in what we were doing. People like The Dandy Warhols heard it. Soon, we were playing with them. They took a chance on us. We love playing live with other groups.
AL: Were you listening to some of the stuff that Anton of Brian Jonestown Massacre was into, like Spaceman 3 and Spiritualized?
Robert: I like those records. But Anton is a big music fan and he has moved on and is into new things. That time with Anton was really good and we played some really great shows. You'd have to catch up with him on his new ideas.
AL: When did you start recording the album?
Robert: We started with the demo. At the same time we were playing a ton of shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. We developed very fast as a live act and we wrote a lot of songs. We were trying to make something happen and get the message out. We soon got a lot of attention from the record companies. It was good. We were able to do the music the way we wanted to. We produced the record ourselves because it felt right.
AL: You were talking before about Wave. Is there an improvisational aspect to the music of BRMC?
Robert: Yeah, it may seem that way. We try many things out in the studio. But we are songwriters. Our music has hooks and melodies. It's not just spontaneous. There's a lot of substance to the songs. The songs have a mysterious edge to them as far as their content and sound, and what they are about.
AL: I just bought the Joy Division box set, Heart and Soul. I was reading the booklet. They were saying how Ian Curtis would be able to spot a tune just in rehearsal. They weren't taping it but he could find the songs in just what they were playing. Songs like "24 Hours" or "Digital" were songs that Curtis noticed. They could have just forgotten them.
Robert: I like Joy Division. I am going to let you talk to Nick because he's a big Joy Division fan. We do this all the time.
Nick: This is Nick.
AL: I was just talking about Joy Division and how Ian Curtis could spot a good tune. I was wondering if BRMC is anything like that?
Nick: Peter and Robert are great songwriters and we have a lot of ideas.
AL: In Joy Division the bass guitar is lead instrument and the other musicians react to that.
Nick: That is brilliant. I do that instinctively because I am presented these songs by the other members.
AL: Some of your songs get into a groove that's like a car wreck. They go off into the wilderness. You guys are really into feedback and noise.
Nick: Yeah. That's important to our sound. We have a very natural response to each other. We have a similar vision and many of the same influences. I went to art school. I think that I listen to more music than the other members. After school, I just got back into music and playing drums. Noise and texture is very important.
AL: There is atmosphere to your music which recalls taking drugs?
Nick: I guess there is an aspect there. We aren't a drug band. You don't really need to take drugs to enjoy the music. You could. I play drums so it's very important for me to be sober.
AL: What about some of these other bands you are linked with, like The Strokes? They seem to be like a band from 1977, dropped right in the middle of now.
Nick: We played with them a few times. They are good. I can't see how you could NOT like them. They are really good at what they do.
AL: Are there any bands you've played with that you especially like and respect?
Nick: The Strokes. We are playing with The Warlocks and Vue on this upcoming tour. I like what they do. I am looking forward to playing with them. The shows should be really good. People should like it.
AL: The record came out a while ago, but there are more and more people getting into BRMC and going to the shows. Why is that?
Nick: We sort of deliberately did it that way. We released the record sort of quietly. Then we started doing a few different tours. Every few months more people would show up at the same venues. We have been across the US about six times this year. We went to Europe too. Through word of mouth we built a following. We just want to keep on playing and see what happens.
AL: How have the shows been?
Nick: They have been great.
AL: What's the rest of the year like and when are you going to put out another record.
Nick: Well, we will finish this tour.
We will play into early next year. Then next Spring we will think about