Interview with Robert Been (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) – 09.06.2015

Suicide’s easy, what happened to the revolution?

I’m glad to finally see you in Berlin this year after 13 years since my last BRMC show. What led you to the idea of an additional concert to the planned festivals in Germany?

We were going to keep it pretty short and sweet, but we wanted to add a few more shows of our own. Festivals can be fun but they’re also really tedious if that’s the only thing you do day after day after day.

You’ve released ‘Specter at the Feast’ in 2013, which was a quieter but still amazing album. May we expect a new album soon and will you stay in this direction or go a bit back to the roots and a rougher sound?

There’s actually a couple different directions the next album could go, it just all depends how much of a risk we want to take with the production. It’s a little scary to go against the natural rock sound of the band, which is what people expect, but sometimes that’s not what’s right for the song. I can’t say how many heads this beast is gonna spout before the end though.

‘Howl’ was an album where you added a lot of Gospel, Folk and Blues influences. Will we be able to hear more of this kind again or was it just an experimental phase?

Well we’ve included a few songs like that on each album since ‘Howl’, but we haven’t dedicated an entire record to that roots style. I actually think one of the main reasons we haven’t made ‘Howl 2’ is because everyone would call it ‘Howl 2’, and that’s reason enough alone to stab your own eye out.

You always had an incredible talent for creating harmonies. ‘Returning’ for me is one of the best songs ever made, because it’s perfectly balanced— what is easier for you: writing lyrics and adding melodies to convey the emotions or feeling the song through the sound and adding suitable lyrics to it?

The music either leads the way completely, or they manifest simultaneously. The words almost never come first. I’m always pretty blown away by people who can take poems and fit them into music. Returning in particular wasn’t an easy song to write, but the music fed the emotional link to the words.

You’re in the music business for 17 years now. Are there songs you’re already tired to play and that won’t get on your set list again, maybe because you’ve lyrically or formally grown out of it?

Not really, I mean there’s songs we don’t play normally live, but that’s usually because they aren’t built as much to be live songs, or they’ll fall flat in that setting. Or it’s just because we’ve forgotten the guitar tunings and can’t remember very well, that’s happened more often than I’m proud to admit.

Changes can influence the whole sound of a band. But you remained true to yourself since Leah accompanied you. Was it a familiar feeling and flow from the beginning?

In some ways it was strangely similar, just in that sense of 3 people playing off each other instinctually to help take a song where it needed to go… There were some aspects that were different though, i remember Nick always having this feeling like he was gonna fall off the drum kit at any moment, so it would make you play more rigid. With Leah however she holds down the fort more, so Pete and I are able to be a bit wilder and push the envelope at times on guitar and bass.

The song ‘Done All Wrong’ was played in one of the Twilight movies, which really surprised me—especially because it’s not on any of your albums. Why did you choose to add some of your songs to the soundtrack of a kind of teeny movie?

Well the soundtracks to those films had actually pretty respectable reputations, even if the films themselves didn’t. But you don’t exactly watch a Twilight film because you’re looking for your lives to be enriched, unless horny sparkling vampires are what’s really missing in your life.

A lot of interviews are like ‘What do you like on country xy?’ what meanwhile might be boring for you. But you named one of your songs after the German capital ‘Berlin’. Is there a special connection to Germany for you?

We write a lot of songs while we’re touring on the road, and most of the time they don’t have names in the beginning. So we’ll title them either Berlin, Rome, or Greece, or wherever the very first time we played it was. And I guess ‘Berlin’ was just our way of tipping our hat to that old tradition. However I guess songs written in ‘Delaware’ or something might need a little more touching up.

Rock’n’Roll means sex, drugs and devastated hotel rooms. Do you notice yourself getting calmer as one gets older or is the wild side still prevailing?

I think rock bands today could use a lot more sex, and drugs and debauchery, it’s crazy to me the amount of bands who’d rather tweet than fuck, or smoke e-cigarettes rather than real drugs or even real cigarettes. And I’m not talking about just getting drunk or fucked up, I mean real drugs that open your mind and question the world around you. But it just doesn’t feel like people are out there living their lives enough to make the real mistakes that lead to the real answers. And you don’t always need to fall down to learn how to pick yourself up, but most bands do need to get their asses kicked. If not for their own good, then just because there’s not a good enough reason not to.

Interview conducted by Maria


2 Gedanken zu “Interview with Robert Been (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) – 09.06.2015

  1. Schönes Interview! Da merkt man, dass dir wirklich was an der Band liegt und du Interrese daran hast, und nicht einfach schnell ein paar Fakten über sie gegoogelt hast. 🙂

    Gefällt 1 Person

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