Category Archives: Uncategorized

Interview Robert Levon Been – 2017

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

We Caught up with Robert Levon Been in the middle of BRMC current European tour, at l’Autre Canal in Nancy on November 11th. BRMC’s new album “Wrong Creatures” will be out on January 12th.

Hello Robert, how are you doing?

Well, good, except as soon as I got here I got my traditional throat flu and then I had to try to get over that again. It’s just like déjà vu… I get it every single time I’m here. I think I just have a thin Californian skin, so I can’t handle actual weather and real life, which tends to be what you get when you leave the Los Angeles area. But besides that, good.

Let’s begin with a few questions about the new album.

Ok, have you heard any of it besides the live?

Well, we’ve heard Little Thing Gone Wild, Haunt and Question Of Faith.

Oh yeah that’s all that’s out yet. Yeah that’s it. And then the live ones, ok. Were you… Were you?…

Yeah, I think you’re thinking of the show in London.

Yeah I did Circus Bazooko in London.

Yeah, that was surprising (He laughs.) and interesting!

It was a little disorienting, I didn’t do it quite right but I kinda wanted to show people how the song had started. It’s a song that was built in a looping world and then we took it and we made a whole proper band thing out of it. But yeah, it was loops and loops and loops.

So, on the album it sounds different, there are the three of you playing on this one and drums and Peter playing guitar as well?

Yeah I just thought it would be fun to tease people a little more. It’s one of those songs that came from months of Pete and Leah being late to rehearsal and so I would just be sitting and waiting and I just started playing that sound, kinda circusy… At least it felt like it was in my mind, staring at the wall. And I started doing another loop over that and then it just started to give me a song and every time they were late I’d just keep going back to this, adding a little more to the story each time.

Each time you were waiting for the circus to join you!

Yeah! Yeah, I should have called it waiting. That’s, you know, a never-ending loop of waiting. I hope people will get that one… And that All Rise and Spook and Calling Them All Away will be ready for the US tour, that’s when the album comes out, so, we’re not doing everything over here.

Can you tell us how it was to work with the producer Nick Launay? What did he bring to the album and to you dynamic as a band?

I knew him for many years, I wanted to work on something together since Take Them On, On Your Own and then it never really happened. We contacted him for Specter At The Feast and he wasn’t available. So, this time he came by and we had a lot of the songs written except for words and he was very minimal in the beginning, you know, just supportive of what we had already made versus saying “Oh I can tell you the secrets of how to change everything and make it great.” His approach was something more respectful like “Don’t mess with it, just record it in an honest way.” So, we collaborated and he kinda became like Switzerland or something. He was neutral… When all of us were fighting over what the part should be, he would usually break the argument and say “ok we’re gonna go like this”. Then someone would be pissed and someone would be like “Oh thank God”. When for the life of us we couldn’t agree and move on… Yeah, he brought some sanity and there’s a few things that I’m really glad he helped with and other things I’m not so glad because I lost that day, I lost the battle. (He smiles.)

We were also wondering about the song Bandung Hum because you have played this one quite a lot during the last American tour and recently during the UK and Euro tour but it’s not on the tracklist album. What’s up with this song, are we gonna get to hear a recorded version of it?

We recorded it and we ended up recording too many songs, Peter thought. And we started throwing them overboard in the last minute and rather than throwing over the ones we liked the least, we felt it would be more interesting to put aside some of the strongest ones. They’re all similar to Bandung Hum they’re like with super adrenaline, skull crushing, you know, full rock’n’roll… And we’ve been talking about a way to get those songs out, maybe releasing and EP or something that has its own life versus a B side or a giveaway thing. They get usually forgotten and so we wanted to, yeah, give the album… We wanted to make the album not feel, you know, three and a half hours long and then we wanted to give these other songs their time.

Cool! That’s cool.

Yeah?

So we’re gonna get another EP maybe!

You will, yeah.

Like you did with Howl or the Baby 81 sessions.

In a different way.  It’s not gonna be like the Howlsessions… Or kind of but we’re gonna…  I don’t know, we have a few tricky ideas. I won’t say what they are. But it might be on the… All day and night for the last couple of months we were working on this vinyl box that has those secrets and… (He laughs, not wanting to disclose the secrets.)

Isn’t there going to be an harmonica in this box? That’s what we’ve heard.

Yeah! You heard about the harmonica? Yeah yeah, and there’s something else and a full book of photos and lyrics, all this stuff that we wanted to have substance and then those songs might get stuck on that too.

That would be great. We haven’t ordered the vinyl yet because we are waiting for this box.

Yeah, I hope that everybody is! I feel bad because we’re so behind. That’s because we started daydreaming and getting in the more and more crazy ideas… and every time we got a crazy idea we had to wait a week to find out if it was humanly possible to do it and some things were, some things weren’t and we had to wait another week to hear back, so… You suffer for having to many ideas.

It means that we’ll get to here these songs in January maybe if it’s in the box set, so that’s good news!

Yeah, if it is, yeah!

Robert Levon Been - BRMC

©Maud Félus

On a few songs Peter and you switch the bass and the guitar. So we were wondering, how often do you write songs on the electric guitar and Peter on the bass? How does that work, in your writing process?

Hum… We don’t think about it, which is why I don’t have a snappy answer.

It comes naturally?

Well… Yeah, both instruments take you to different places so, one day, you know,  in rehearsal, I will feel like playing guitar for a minute and maybe it will be like “uh, no”… and pick up the bass or the key organ piano. And whatever I start with usually he has to do the opposite and vice versa so even though we both do guitar in some songs like Berlin… We don’t think about it, it’s really… It’s almost like murdering someone. You don’t really think about what you’re feeling that much until after because the process of murder is probably more emotional than it is practical. Or it is for some people. (He chuckles.)

Yeah, I don’t think I’ve met a lot of murderers so I don’t really know.

(He chuckles again.) Yeah, well I’m sure some of them are technical oriented, for others it’s more passion. The tools are an afterthought.

I was wondering this because of Question Of Faith actually, because the first time I heard it, it really reminded me of American X.

Yeah!

And the first time I heard it I didn’t know you were playing guitar.

That’s why.

I don’t know, the style of the guitar is very similar.

It’s close to the same tuning. But I do a lot of songs in that tuning like, As Sure As The Sun, Head Up High, Suddenly, American X… When you’re working on the same tuning there’s, I don’t know, there’s like a… Like if Peter was writing a song and I was trying to find a guitar part for it… If I was playing it in standard tuning it would have ended up being a very different kind of song. It wouldn’t sound like American X at all… ‘cause these tuning they kinda lead you different places… (He laughs) it’s like if you’re chopping someone with an axe, you know, you’re probably gonna get full body parts, very specific places and that’s gonna leave a certain mark. It’s totally different if you’re lighting them on fire! It would leave a different impression… Or strangling them… Just with your bare hands.

You often say that you play the bass as if it were a guitar, do you think that this tuning kinda allows you to plays the guitar as if it were a bass? You see what I mean?

Yeah. Yeah, hum.

‘Cause on electric guitar with this tuning you’re not gonna play the chords, the classic…

Yeah, you do but you’re actually right, they are more… a little closer to… So like, usually with this I can play the lowest couple strings that are open and they drop down closer to a range that the bass is in. The other ones aren’t but they keep you from going to traditional chords that are like the expected places that become really cliché really quick. You always hope you’re not taking the easy choices. But yeah… Kinda… Yes, definitely the lower aspect, I can bring tricks similar to the bass using that rather than a standard guitar.

And Peter doesn’t use this tuning much or does he?

Yeah a lot… He has his own approach to it, so his songs don’t sound so similar to mine. It’s actually the magical tuning. That’s what we kinda call that one: the most special secret tuning, but we’re in a never-ending fight over who came up with it first. And I know I did. I know it because I can prove when those songs were written first, and he swears that he was the first that came up with that tuning. And we’ll both go to our graves…

Believing that you were the one…

Yeah, it will be on our graves, on our tombstones, right next to each other. So… We’ll see who gets the last word.

We were also wondering if there is something that you do outside of music that contributes to your musicality? That helps you cultivate your creativity?

Hum… Films… I’m into visuals so… What inspires me in writing is how free your imagination can be. I feel like that’s often like a more visual projection for me, that maybe some writers would be more literarily based, you know, for them it would be reading a good book or poetry. Poetry inspires me as well but usually just to write more poetry not music. Music I see it more. So I’ll watch a lot of movies. Someone actually brought that up the other day because “Ninth Configuration” is a film title and I stole that. And “Circus Bazooko” is taken from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas… That part of it only stood out because it was like my favorite scene of the movie when they walk into the circus casino and like they can’t move their bodies. I like that and then it was a circusy song so it would help me start picturing where this strange story could go.

Ok, yeah.

I used to paint and draw but…

Oh you don’t do it anymore?

Yes, pretty much as soon as I started playing guitar, I just… It took over or something. I didn’t get the same thing out of it.

You never draw now?

No, there was a time when I was gonna go back to it and then I was so hard on myself I wanted it to always be perfect and that’s the wrong thing to bring into painting. It’s a bad idea because then there is someone criticizing it, “oh it’s not quite right”, and it’s horrible for me.

But it can be the same with music…

Yeah, I think maybe I’m more in control of it, if someone doesn’t like that part I can change that.

Yeah, once it’s painted you can’t change it.

Once it’s painted, the whole nature of that is… You have to start over.

Still, you’re a perfectionist in music as well.

Yeah but I’m always fighting again that, so… I don’t actually let that side of myself take over. I only give it a few occasions where it gets to have its way. You know, it’s like a little kid that every once in a while you let eat all the candy and stay up past the bed time, but you can’t do that every night or your kid will be a brat.

What kind of things did you paint?

I was just trying people portraits and, at school, more abstract things but I couldn’t tell if I was getting more abstract because I was good or if I was just trying to see if I could cheat having to learn how to paint properly and get away with it.

You mentioned poetry earlier. Would you consider adapting another poem into a song like you did with Annabel Lee?

I’d love that, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I tried many times and failed 99% of the time. That Edgar Allan Poe poem did all the work because the rhythm was mathematically perfect to keep a set of rimes within that frame work but usually my poems and most poems I love don’t keep such a rule, like an iambic stanza thing. You can cheat sometimes, but to do a whole song… Then you have to force a melody to fit its purpose and you can always tell. Nick Cave gets away with it pretty great but he also might not be entirely human.

Can you tell us which poems you tried to adapt?

Well, usually my own.

Your own?

Yeah. Other people’s, hum… A couple of Poe’s… Oh, Yates, I grabbed a couple ones.

So, when you write songs you usually start with the music and when you start writing words it turns into a poem but not a song. That’s kinda what you’re telling.

Yeah and often you get more response back from people with music. If you’re lucky, now and then a poem will resonate in certain ways with people but it’s, I don’t know, I don’t wanna say it’s more one dimensional because it’s not fair, you can take it just as far but yeah, if I’m gonna be working and like pour myself into something, I do hesitate because I will be like “Oh I can feel I’m going I’m gonna spend the next two weeks writing this poem. That’s what you have to do to just do it properly but I should probably be writing a song…”

Because you don’t publish your poems.

Well, some of them we’ve used in ways but writing words to songs is such a labour of love that I get drenched pretty quickly. It’s the one part of music that doesn’t come to me easily and I always feel like that’s the way God’s punishing me for all the gifts I was given. “Oh you wanna play bass? You’ll learn it in a couple of days and you don’t have to break a sweat or work hard.” It’s just like, you know, “you can do this thing, guitar, and it’s like nothing, it’s not work at all” and I always feel like I’m paying for that through the torturous process of having to sit with myself, my god-awful words, like six hours straight, seven hours straight and then go to sleep, try again the entire day. “It’s getting worst, the words are getting worst, I’m a joke, I should stop doing this, I never should have done this in the first place…” Then go to sleep, try again… “ I don’t know why I’m doing this, I don’t even like music, I don’t like the people I’m with and I don’t like any of the shit in my head, I’m a failure” And it’s like that for months, then it starts getting good somehow. Then it’s like… “Oh wait, oh! Ok, maybe that could be cool”. I started realizing that a lot of writing has to do with how long you can sit in your own shit and stand the stench of all the worst of you, and can keep trying. And I think that separates the good writers from the bad because, yeah, I don’t mean it’s a masochistic thing, it’s just… If I can break through that psychological thing when I think that everything I do is just shit, then… so far, I’ve proved myself wrong but it’s my brain which is a terrifying place to have to live in. I think a lot of people are like that, you know, because our surface level conscious state is very hard to break through and you start thinking any boring conversational words, you know… It’s like cheap rhythm, cheap expressions and used-up words. But we do it for productivity and speed, to get to the point, but you know, that has a pulse and a rhythm itself but it’s an ugly one. When you strip away all the layers that are actually pretty needless there’s actual feelings underneath all that.

Is there one particular author whose words or style really resonates with you or that you that you associate with the band?

There are things that inspire me but I use those like, you know to… to get out of myself and what we do and then I push it somewhere else like not so much they write like in the world that we make music in, in that similar Leonard Cohen’s poetry and stories, that’s speaking from a place in me, that I understand. Sometimes that’s in the music but I don’t think that’s what we make as a band. That’s definitely not where Peter comes from usually. He ‘s got other pages in his head… Yeah, whispering other things. And there are poems like I don’t know, more gothic kind of things but I always feel cheesy naming writers like that ‘cause they’ve been appropriated by so many… Like, Marylin Manson, My Chemical Romance and terrible dark emo bands so… It’s stuff I don’t want to do.

Robert Levon Been - BRMC

©Benoît Thévenin

You collaborated with several bands. You worked with The Night Beats, with Dark Horses and with Peter Holmstrom from The Dandy Wharols and Peter recently worked with Null + Void, I don’t know how you’re supposed to pronounced that name…

I don’t know either, that one was… That was Pete… I think Pete added like a guitar to one of the songs, maybe Leah did something. I wasn’t in on that one. And I heard they were a little disappointed that they didn’t use more of what they gave.

Because they worked on several songs?

A couple.

There’s only one on the album,“Falling Down”, isn’t it?

Maybe that’s why they’re upset. I don’t know. Did Dave Gahan… Like, it’s kind of his project right?

Yeah.

I think they… We’re fans of him so it was exciting to be… I think they were just up for whatever, you know, just comes of it.

So, my question about these collaborations was, does it have any impact on the music you do with the band? Or is it a way for you to step out of your comfort zone?

It takes time away from BRMC but it tends to heal BRMC at the same time, in a way… Yeah, just being able to do something without certain rules, things that this band comes with, you know, so… And they’re good rules, they keep us what we are… So, yeah, I think everyone gets a breath of fresh air, like “oh I don’t have to be this one way or approach music this one way”. It’s always fun and then sometimes you do it and you get sick of it and you think “oh I do miss this about BRMC.” It makes you appreciate to do it sometimes. The thing with Peter Holmstrom was like a promise that I was trying to keep for six years. He played me this instrumental track I just fell in love with and immediately I had this melody and the beginnings of the story and then I was like “oh man I got this, don’t let anyone else mess with it”. But a lot of other things started to get busy with BRMC like touring and the record, so, years and years kept going by and I kept saying “Yeah I’m gonna get back to him” and I missed it on the first album so I’m really glad it made the second one. And, yeah, I think I felt I owned him more than just something easy so I really put a lot into it and I’m glad he got it out. I really like this song.

And, so, you worked on the last Night Beats album, I guess American people or gonna be in for a treat for the next tour! You’re gonna play Vultures, aren’t you?

Oh I hadn’t actually thought about that until Jakob texted me and told me we were gonna do it. I don’t know if we’ll do it, maybe, sometimes… I’ll do the Peter bandana trick and completely fool everyone. We’ll see, they’re a really good band.

Yeah, they are, we saw them in Paris the last time they were there. It’s nice that you take this band on tour, and Dark Horses as well. I think you played “Radio Offshore” once at an Italian festival and I would have loved to be there.

Oh in Sicily?

Yeah!

That was amazing, yeah, you would have liked that. Clinic played, Dark Horses and we did the song… I’m actually more thinking that I hope I get to sing “Radio Offshore” because that one was really fun to sing and I don’t have to play guitar. It’s nice sometimes.

We were wondering if there is a song that you’re happy with the recorded version but that you find tricky playing live, because I know that the other way round is true. Like, there are songs that you’ve tried to record many times but you haven’t been happy with the result.

Hum… I’m most nervous about the ones that are coming up, like Circus Bazooko and All Rise. Those were the kind of songs that I approached thinking “I don’t care how the hell we’re gonna pull this off live. I’m just gonna keep putting more shit to this thing” and so it’s physically impossible to play them without nine people on stage. But every time I’ve panicked with songs like those, as soon as we start rehearsing somehow, I start realizing which things aren’t maybe as important as others for just getting the spirit of the song across. And with that said, I also kinda feel like as fans we really wanna hear what that album is and might never get to. In the same way, there are songs of Howl that don’t really sound that much like the Howl album when we play. Or just about every song we play. So, hopefully at the very least we make a different version of it live that is just as good if not better.

We’ve taken a lot of your time already, so maybe one last question.

That’s ok.

It’s a classic question but I’m gonna put conditions to it. Can you recommend a few bands to see live or whose latest album you like? But you can’t mention any band that are have ever opened for you or that are going to, or bands you worked with.

Can I say A Place To Bury Strangers?

No! You’ve played with them!

‘Cause it’s been so long! They’re so good! But they lost most of the members that I played with, there’s like one guy left.

Yeah that’s true…

It’s pretty much a new band… Oh, Dion Lunadon from A place to Bury Strangers, his solo album. Technically that counts! (He laughs.)

Technically, ok!

He put that out a couple of months ago and it’s really cool. I played some of it in a DJ thing before. Hum… ok so, I got that one in! Death Grips, Fat White Family, Moonlandingz, Amen Dunes, The Horrors, Suuns… Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Moon Duo…

Yeah, they’re all great bands.

And I never worked with them! I don’t even think we’ve played with them so I think I passed the test!

Yeah, thank you! You answered the question and you respected the rules.

Yeah, that’s right, that’s right! I cheated a little.

Yeah but it’s ok.

There’s gotta be others… Oh! There’s Trouble. There’s a band called Trouble. It’s one of the guys from Dirty Beaches, the son of David Lynch and some other guy. And they only recorded two songs. I think they just showed up to do like a couple of songs for Twin Peaks, for the end of the show. And that was one of the greatest things I’ve heard in years. It’s all instrumental, baritone sax and if any wish could come true, it would be that they come back together and do a whole record. Because, yeah, that should be where music’s going next. Like kinda loungy, like rock’n’roll, like kind of dirty jazz but just mean and fucked up. Different.

 

Interview & photos : Maud Félus & Benoît Thévenin

Interview – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in Nancy – 2014

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Robert Levon Been and Peter Hayes, l’Autre Canal, Nancy, February 2014 –  interview: Maud Félus & Alan Van Brackel / pictures: Alan Van Brackel.

 

They’re in Lille for the end of the Specter At The Feast tour. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC) took time to answer some of our questions. For timetable reasons, we couldn’t really meet them in Lille before the gig, and we finally do the interview in Nancy, where the American band plays at l’Autre Canal, a bright coloured middle-sized venue near the river. This is another Les Nuits de l’Alligator night. This year the festival has booked BRMC, Kid Karate and Dead Combo. The festival-goers will be there later ; for now we can only see some black-leather jackets and motorcycle boots in front of the venue.

We are now backstage and after a photoshoot with the whole band, the drummer Leah Shapiro stays at first and leaves when Robert Levon Been sits at the table. We finally ask our questions to Peter Hayes and him. They all are tired and a bit sick – the next day they will have to cancel the show in Besançon because of the flu. However, they  are very kind and friendly. As usual.

Les Nuits de l’Alligator are a good occasion for BRMC to do a first proper French tour. After Nancy, they still have three gigs to go before heading to a couple of other european countries. We are curious to know their feelings about it.

 

nuits-de-l-alligator-2014

How did the French tour go so far?

Peter (immediately): It was great. It was pretty fucking amazing! Yeah, full on tour, I feel like we have now toured France, I think. I think we can say that.

Robert: I don’t think there’s anywhere we didn’t go or aren’t going.

Peter: Well there is a bunch of more cities but I don’t know what about them.

Robert: Cities or villages?

They both laugh.

Peter: Maybe both!

They both laugh again. Nothing wrong there, Robert’s questionable humour being part of him as much as his natural curiosity. Curious, they were, about France and the public they could find there.

Hum, [French fans] are more internal.“, says Rob. “It’s more like some controlled chaos. They are more cerebral. It makes you play better because you are nervous and people are actually watching and paying attention rather than just getting drunk and stumbling all over each other. Although there’s still some French that believe in that.” Peter qualifies what Rob said : “Yeah, they’re great, yeah! There was… There’s a mixture of both. There is a lot of people who mosh pit. You know, people dancing and causing ruckus. it’s great. I think it was every night too. It was appropriate times for all of it.

Quiet enough during the acoustic songs?

Peter: Yeah.

Robert: Sometimes.

Peter: The majority of the time. Yeah I mean that’s everywhere. There is plenty of people that just don’t want to fucking hear it. (He laughs). You know, they just go talk. That’s fair. (He smiles.) It’s fun to hear people going “Shut the fuck up!”. You hear little whispers of that going through the crowd sometimes and then that makes those people talk louder.

BRMC guerilla!

For their fans, they have launched an operation called BRMC guerilla. The idea was for the fans to print posters and receive other printed posters. Then, they would stick them to the walls in cities where BRMC would play, and even in more cities.

It was mainly in France at first and the tourbus was parked in front of poles with BRMC pics on them. The guerilla was however a good occasion for fans from all over the world to play and at the moment we have done the interview, pictures still were arriving. We liked the posters guerilla a lot, so, we wanted to know what the idea behind it was.

Robert: The posters… It was originally a fan in Indonesia that started just making some for fun and Ian sent them over to me and I thought they just had a good spirit to it. I figured it would be a fun thing if people wanted to do that out here for the shows coming up. That we could not just suggest it but send people posters if they wanted to do that (nota bene: after the first posters printed by the people, hundred of posters were sent by the band’s management to a lot of French cities). And then it just kept getting more and more out of control. Other people wanted to do it all over the world and not just in France. ‘Cause part of it felt kind of like some self-serving … We didn’t want it just to be a practical thing, like getting the word out, but something that would allow people to come and see sound checks, to get tickets to shows and be a bit more involved than just, come to the show and go home. So it was nice. It’s like it’s been a nice way to meet people and find out about just a little more of their passion and sharing that a little bit more. You also get to see a lot of cool artists that do their own posters or create things on their jackets or all sort of random stuff. I like how many of our fans are also creative. I think that’s the best thing.

So, who chose the pictures and the texts for the posters?

Robert: Kafukk, he made a lot of them, and Ian suggested a few.

Kafukk is the Indonesian fan?

Robert: Yeah. And I don’t know, it ended up taking more time ‘cause we made more of them than we thought. So we ended up sending him some money for his time and he didn’t want to take it ‘cause he said it wasn’t about that… but we forced him to take it anyway. (he smiles)

A different setlist every night

A lot of gigs and a different setlist each night, composed by some bests that can still move, some songs from the new album, some older songs and even some surprises: b-sides, rarities, everything is possible with BRMC. Since the beginning of the tour, we had seen different live versions for a different mood each night. But how do they choose the setlist for each gig by the way?

Peter: It’s a mix. Well, we try to keep everybody in mind, you know. First time fans and long time fans. We’re trying to do a little bit for everybody… and for ourselves (nota bene : sometimes they play songs only for the soundcheck and sometimes they play them later… or never). We’re trying to keep everybody in mind doing that and sometimes it’s down to voice. With what’s a little bit easier. You gotta think about that a little bit or else you’re gone by the last one. So it’s just a little bit of that too, practical.

Robert, what made you choose the bass and not another instrument when you first started to play music?

Robert: ‘Cause there is less strings and I thought it wouldn’t be as hard… and… and I was right! (He laughs.) I knew that if it was gonna feel like work I would have quit and not… you know, it wouldn’t have been fun. And I just listened to other records like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains and I tried to learn the bass lines that I heard and copy them and I was surprised that… like that wasn’t really difficult… And I didn’t learn guitar for years and years later, just in case.

He later explained to us that he often uses his bass guitar as a guitar. We can add that the BRMC bass lines are not always easy to play.

How are you involved in the lights choice? How do you work with Ben, your lights guy? Because they are not the same every night…

Peter: He’ll get the album before we go out on tour. He’s done that at least twice now. He goes to Omaha, I believe, and he sets up a stage with a lightning kind of package. It’s how much money we can give him for it. (He laughs.) That’s all there is, like, sometimes the more the merrier. And so then you pick out what you can get and there is always stuff that we’d like to do that we don’t do. We still haven’t got videos, and the projection isn’t that well the way we kind of wanted it… And then, once our first two rounds are down, that’s usually when we start running out of money. Because it costs a fucking fortune, you know. And so then it’s kind of what’s in the room. So that’s why it changes then. But he’ll sit and listen to the album for a good long time by himself. He’s done that. And then a little bit of back and forth with us… Rob’s a bit more involved than I am.

Robert, you don’t seem to agree.

Robert: No… Well, I get fussy about it.

Peter: I don’t mean it in that way. It’s just actually more some of the actual building of the look of the set.

Robert: With the band, when we started, we kind of fell in love with live… We used lots of strobes and smoke machines and it would blind you a lot. I just remember those first shows and loving how it was… We kind of got to disappear with it and disappear with the sound. We’re still always trying to capture that even though we’re also always trying to have it evolve, which is hard. And it just gets down to money a lot of the time, which is a shame ‘cause we have all sorts of big schemes that we can’t afford yet… But someday… Someday we’ll all be on little trapezes flying around with our guitars and doing somersaults over your heads.

BRMC, creative process

Between Beat The Devil’s Tattoo and Specter At The Feast, we hear a difference concerning the drums. Did your creating process evolved little by little with Leah being in the band? Or did you worked differently on the two albums?

Peter: “Yeah. Yeah, we worked differently. Beat The Devil was more… We were still using two-track drums for the most part, all the way through it. I don’t know if that makes sense. Usually when you record, well, since 19… Well no, in the 60’s there were… Throughout the years anyway they keep adding microphones so you can have more control over sound, you know, and all that and… And we’ve been kinda indulging into it in and out throughout the years and always kind of come back as I go “well we like the sound of just two microphones”. You know, they’re just kind of shitty and this dude was helping us with the record… Chris Goss. He came in, in a certain way we were trying… We don’t wanna shy away from beautiful songs and… You know, that’s a side of this band.

Peter adds : “You know I consider that Too Real is kind of a beautiful song although the recording’s kinda shitty… and Salvation, the recording’s kinda shitty but you take that and you bring it into a studio and put it on a bunch of mics you know, you can then open it up into an even more beautiful, kinda like a landscape rather than contain it with a particular sound. So, we were already thinking that and when he came in, Chris Goss said ‘Well yeah, I kinda hear that. You guys haven’t really done that yet.’ It was true. So we went there and then went back to the two-track drums sound you know for… I don’t know, that’s probably Teenage Disease and… But yeah, also Hate The Taste, a bunch of weird sounds. You know, fucking around with rhythms of guitars actually and using them as percussions. That might be things you’re hearing. I love tribal, hypnotic stuff… and so I’m always trying to… I think we all do, you know. So that sound’s in the beat itself and then that’s trying to get it out of everyone’s every instrument. You know, extra shakers and tambourines really kind of create a depth in rhythm. Beat The Devil’s Tattoo has a lot more of that than Specter At The Feast actually.

On the Beat The Devil’s Tattoo Tour you had a lot of songs ready for a new album. You played a couple of them live in Germany actually, in 2010. I know you were working on a lot of new songs at the time because I saw you play like 10 new songs at sound checks but then they never came out. So apparently you started from scratch for Specter At The Feast. Did you record some of them? Do you plan to do something with them?

Peter: I think one of those was called Spook and then one of those from that tour turned into Hate the Taste. And the others I can’t remember. Were they acoustic songs? Or were they loud?

No, loud.

Robert: There was a different kind of version of Lullaby for a little while that I remember was starting up but there wasn’t really new words yet. Yeah, we kinda had a few things but we ended up just starting from scratch and then some things came back around but… a lot of times, things bridge in from other records. They kind of overlap but this one has had the least of that… Our memories are also bad (he laughs) so if you are telling me something else, you might be way more right than I am if you were there. I don’t remember that much of the past anymore.

Do you write a lot of your songs while touring?

Peter: Well… I’d say it’s fifty-fifty. This whole album wasn’t really written on tour, you know, Specter wasn’t written on tour. It was written sitting at home, just jamming. Some of the ideas were brought in but the majority of them were really put together. So it’s fifty-fifty. It’s whenever you get lucky, you know, and stairwells are the best things. This place has great stairwells for hiding in, so…

Do you feel like the place you are when you write has an influence on your writing?

Peter: No… It moves too fast for that. I think life moves too fast for that for anybody really. That’s not really my experience. I’d like to say ‘yeah, Joshua Tree had a huge effect…’ It sounds cool, it sounds really fucking hype but it’s not the truth! We were there, we did some songs, it’s inspirational… You say it’s fucking beautiful but you’re not there long enough or living in it to actually get through truth of inspiration. It comes after the facts. It’s like your mind will be sparked : ‘Oh yeah, I remember that rainstorm, you could see the lightning’. You know, that kind of things, or maybe some sounds coming from that kind of thoughts. And my only proof of that is Ain’t No Easy Way. It was written in a stairwell in London. Sounds nothing like fucking London right! (He laughs). So that’s why I tend to believe that.

Robert: I think it’s more inspiring to tell people that the place has little or nothing to do with the things you create. ‘Cause I think if I was reading it and I was stuck in some suburb in the middle of nowhere in my bedroom and thinking that I have to go somewhere else to be something you know… You don’t! You can create it just within yourself, in the worst circumstances and I think that’s inspiring. More inspiring than ‘You gotta be in New York in 1960-whatever’. ‘You gotta move here to be around all these people. That’s where things are really happening.’ That’s just something people sell you… It does create opportunities and if you try to meet other people and find people to work with and collaborate with I’m sure that it can increase your odds but it’s… you know, it’s like online dating. It’s like ‘Yeah, you’re gonna meet more people if you sign up to such and such cupid.com’ but are you gonna find the person you love? I don’t think the odds are ever more or less in your favor that way. But yeah, I think it’s a good thing to tell people that you can be stuck in a place and it’s coming from you.

You can be creative, be inspired.

Robert: Yeah. It’s just life experience. Some of it is life experience, some of it is just being crazy in yourself without any other experience (he laughs) to con. You’re just fucking nuts and it doesn’t matter what happens to you. You have emotional issues and this is the only way you can call on a little bit of sanity that day. It’s through the writing, the making something.

You recently worked on a soundtrack. If it could be the other way round and you could ask someone to make a movie to illustrate your music, what would you like the movie to be about?

Peter: I think you could… Wow… get a different answer from all of us on that one! I don’t know. Well I guess today… Hum… Well… Hum… What would the movie be about? Hum…

(with a little smile) Rob, you like movies…

Robert: That’s why I’m not going near this question! (Everyone laughs) No… I… It could even just be something, a story that inspired you but that you couldn’t have imagined yourself, you know. That’s what I like the most about working with others, that’s kind of the most interesting thing about adding your music to a film. They’re bringing something that, you… The actors and the writer, the director, and everyone that’s creating something that you couldn’t ever have come up with on your own. And just being a part of that great big parade, it’s a cool thing. I would like to… I think Gaspard Noé, the director, would be the finest to try and create something. It’s… You know, his imagery contains a lot of mystery… with feelings and very abstract and dark things and it’s all the right points without… overbearing storylines, and precise, you know. I guess I like abstract more than storytelling…

Peter: Yeah…

Robert: Dreamlike…

Peter: Yeah, more a poem I guess, that would be like… like either a chain of poems into a movie or one poem like… you only get sparse words throughout the whole thing you know, a couple lines and then twenty minutes goes by and you get a couple lines there.

Peter and Robert are being so nice that we could go on and on. However, they told us an hour earlier that they shouldn’t be talking in order to rest their voice. This is why at this point, we thank them for their time and their incredible kindness.

 

See the pictures from the interview with BRMC there