Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Not Losing That Sense of Urgency.
The show lands in Philadelphia on Monday at The Fillmore.
Our Brendan Menapace recently caught up with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been. They talked about going back on tour, health setbacks, the process of writing a new record and taking a more independent approach to writing and recording.
You guys are going on tour with Death from Above 1979 right now. Can you tell me about how that tour came up?
We were talking about it for a while. It kind of seemed like it could be a good kind of show, a real balanced, real rock n’ roll show. A balanced affair.
Sorry, that’s Fox News.
We’re working on a new record and they’re doing the same, so it was kind of, I don’t know, it doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Just kind of music for the sake of music rather than promoting something new and all the shit that goes with that kind of marketing machine. But, it’s just music for music’s sake, and it’s gonna be good, I think. I hope.
So, your last album was 2013. Can you tell me about the stage you guys are at with the new record?
We’re recording. We’ve got a good amount done. We’ve still got a ways to go. I don’t know. We’re starting to take our time more. I feel like we may have felt rushed because of other people putting their agenda on us, so now we just kind of do things our own way at our own pace, which is a really big luxury to have or even get to say.
But my hope is that it makes the music a little more necessary or a little more complete when we finally let it go. It feels right. So we’re just waiting for that feeling, that time.
How long have you been working on it?
I feel like it’s been about a year or so, solid, because Leah [Shapiro], our drummer, had a pretty serious surgery she had to have done, and it took her out of being able to work or play. By doctor’s orders, she couldn’t play drums for eight months or so. So that kind of knocked us back timing-wise. But it’s all right. We kind of worked on songs in different ways and kept going.
It’d be good to play some things live, too, for people.
Do you think you’ll play this new stuff on this run?
We hope so, yeah. It’d be good because you do learn things once you start playing them out live. And maybe something will kind of change or grow, and you can always learn something about that, rather than figuring that out once you release the record and regret it for the rest of your life, which has happened.
You said you’re doing things on your own schedule and plan. What lead you to that point of wanting to do it that way?
We’ve always kind of, you know, done it ourselves. We’ve tried to kind of steal and fight for every engineer that we’ve worked with, and steal tricks and whatnot. And the idea was to kind of learn so we could be come more and more independent with how we made the records.
At the same time, it’s like, I don’t know … there’s still always pressure of people leaning on you. And there’s even kind of a feeling of wanting to just get stuff out because there’s a lot of people still holding for new music—fans that we know, and we want to connect with them with new music, not just kind of be in our world but stay present in their lives the way they stay present in our lives through that music. It’s just a good thing.
But also, we don’t want to sell it short. We want to do it our own way and at our own pace so that we feel like it’s a significant offering, something we’re proud of, not something we’re making excuses for.
What do you think these fans who have been with you for a long time can look forward to the most from this record?
Just praying to God that they won’t regret all the tattoos they’ve gotten on their bodies and all the times they’ve fought for us and stated that we’re worth the salt. And trying to not be one of those many cliché bands that just lose it.
It’s so common for bands to lose that urgency and just try to start resting on your laurels and phoning it in. That, for me, is making sure that we honor those people in that way. The ones that stuck with us, you know?
Does the album have a name yet?
No, actually. I like to wait until it’s done. I don’t think we’ve ever named anything before it’s finished because it’s kind of hard until you can see it in its whole scope. You’re never quite sure?
Any release date in sight?
Early part of the new year, we’re hoping. As soon as the tour’s done, we can start mixing it all and getting it done.
And what are you personally looking forward to the most out of this tour and record?
It’s been a while since we’ve played more than a show here and a show there. And, in the studio, it’s nothing like it. You can’t simulate it any other way in life. Playing live is just … I don’t know, I miss it. I’m excited to hear what these songs sound like up on all fours. That’ll be cool.