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Black Motorcycle Rebel Club - Interview Part 2

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 21 / 10 / 2005

Black Motorcycle Rebel Club - Interview Part 2


In the second part of our interview with San Francisco rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Rebel Club, bassist Robert Been talks about the band's recent split and getting back together with drummer Nick Jago and their appearance in film '9 Songs'

PB : I believe this album was mainly recorded by you and Pete. Was Nick kicked out or did he leave and then he rejoin... ? RB : We don't know exactly. We haven't bothered to find out. We were grown up enough just to say "Let's not bother with who started it." It's water under the bridge. We are not completely closing our eyes because there was some real problems going on and we lost sight of some important things just through being on the road and travelling a lot. PB : I know that travelling can take it out of you. RB : We wanted to play and to respect each other and the music, and we weren't doing that too well, so that is the way it happened unfortunately. It was good to step out of it. We are in a real different head space now, and a lot more positive and and are enjoying what we do again. PB : There were rumours that you said if this album didn't do well and if you stopped selling out shows that you would quit. RB : If this album didn't do well ? No, no, no, not all. We have already started recording the next one. Once we got Nick back in the fold, and the record was done, we felt really inspired by it. Hopefully our biggest fans will be. It's given us more life and fuel to keep going. PB : : I was thinking maybe that because you're on Echo now, which is a smaller label than Virgin, that they can't afford to hire out venues like the Brixton Academy for the current tour. Would you want to play massive venues like that again ? RB : We like playing smaller shows, just because it is where it really happens for us. The spirit is always there at those shows. You can feel out of body when you're playing some of those too big places or at festivals. But maybe I did say something vaguely like what you are thinking. I was kind of being a bit cheeky. I was saying something more along the lines of this album can go two ways. If it is really successful then everyone is going to want the same thing again and it's going to put us under a lot of pressure and strain. If it bombs, as we have already started on the next one, which is more rock 'n roll, everyone's going to think we have done a rock record just so that all our old fans will like us again. I was thinking we can't win either way, and that we are going to get shit next time around whatever we do. PB : A lot of bands change direction and experimentation doesn't hurt them. RB : We won't win unless we can keep flying under the radar and keep making music in our own time. Success is a fucking two-headed snake. You have got to watch out. There is a balance to it. All these burdens come from different sides and usually it doesn't help the music but takes bits away from it. You can't get enough money to record a new record if your last record was unsuccessful and if it is too successful you have all these other hands in it and all this other shit to deal with. It's best just to float under it and just keep on making good records and keep on making music. That's all that matters. PB : You're on Echo Records now. Are you on the same label in America ? RB : No, it is RCA in America. PB : They haven't put any restrictions on you, have they ? RB : No, we tried to get out of the Virgin contract about a week after we signed it(Laughs). We ended up being there for a couple of years in a system that we didn't want and with people we didn't want to be with. We didn't believe it was the right place for this music and we wanted to go elsewhere, somewhere looser maybe. It was bad blood and we finally got out of there with a handshake because our lawyer played golf with one of their main guys. We were out the next day. We were really happy and at the beginning we felt really free, but then the reality set in. We were still on tour at the time and we had to pay for it. The record 'Take Them On' really suffered. We only had one single out from it. That was the main reason it didn't do well, because there were another two or three singles to go. It didn't stand a chance. We toured on our own, got through that, and paid to make 'Howl' ourselves. We asked favours. We did whatever we had to do, as we didn't want to sign a deal until we had finished recording as we knew people would be expecting another rock record. If we had signed to a label and then gone and made this record, there was no guarantee that they would want either us or that record. We decided that we would finish it, make it great, and then we would walk into record company offices and say "Put this out or fuck off" and that's what we did. A lot of people fucked off, but Echo had been kind of courting us since we had left Virgin. We still hesitated just because we wanted to do the record justice, but we finally gave them the record and it blew their mind more so than they or we expected. That was the best reaction that we got. We have had genuine support from them. PB : You were in a recent movie called '9 Songs', which which caused a lot of controversy due to its hardcore sex content. It is basically a love story though with real sex in it. RB : It's not hardcore. Hardcore is... PB : Over here it is... RB : It is a love or hate film. It's supposed to make you take a side. I like it if films can do that. I like the idea of it. PB : I like the idea that you were at the start and at the end of the film, because it's like the start and end of the relationship in the movie. RB : It was funny how it happened because we were playing this show and this guy came up and said that they were shooting this film.They had no script and all the dialogue was improvised. I thought that was a cool fucking idea, to start filming without anything. We didn't even know it had happened. We didn't know they did it,because they asked permission and we never saw them in the crowd. All the cameras were hand held and we never heard about it again until it was in the theatres. PB : Did it do you any good it being in cinemas? RB : It was weird, because the 'Dig!' film came out at the same time and Pete is all over it he was in the Brian Jonestown Massacre, who appear in it, a long time ago. We didn't expect that one. Maybe it helps. I don't know. PB : Future plans ? Are you going to be releasing more singles from the album? RB : Yeah, we are debating at the moment about what it is going to be but we are happy with every song on it. PB : There's a very limited version of 'Howl' with a felt cover and a book. Was that your idea or the record label's? RB : No, I designed that. I'm really proud of that. PB : It is really nice. It's lovely. It's a bit pricey though, £5 on top of the standard issue. RB : (Laughs) It is worth it because you get lots of words which aren't on the other one. We wanted to go back to the original book of poetry with it. PB : Would you like to get involved with DVDs ? RB : We have talked about it. We have some really good stuff. We are waiting for the right time. We would like it to be something unique. There are so many bands sticking them out left, right and centre that we are looking for a new way of doing it. PB : You have made a lot of videos. Some of them are uncensored. Some aren't RB : Oh, that's because we put out different versions for the UK and US. The new video for 'Ain't No Easy Way' has hardcore sex in it. That is the new theme for us. It's good to alarm people (Laughs). PB : Thank you for your time. RB : Thank you. Special thanks to Robert Been who gave this interview after midnight at an acoustic gig at the London Camden Barfly after a long week of gigs and promotion for 'Howl'. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club play a two and a half hour gig at the London Astoria on Tuesday 22nd November. Tickets are still availiable.

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Black Motorcycle Rebel Club - Interview Part 2

Black Motorcycle Rebel Club - Interview Part 2

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Interview Part 1 (2005)
Black Motorcycle Rebel Club - Interview Part 1
In the first of a two part interview Anthony Strutt talks to Robert Been, the bassist and vocalist with San Francisco rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, about his new blues-influenced third album 'Howl'


Howl (2005)
Stunning third album from San Francisco's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, which finds moving away from their previous distorted sound and looking to country, soul and gospel for their influences
Stop (2003)

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