Story: Jack Foley
BLACK Rebel Motorcycle Club were immediately hailed as the most
exciting young things to emerge from the world of rock for a long
time, following the release of their debut album, BRMC,
Singles such as Love Burns and Whatever Happened To
My Rock 'n' Roll? set out BRMC's stall as a fiery, anti-establishment
bunch of rebels, with something worthwhile to say.
Well, now they are back, and sounding better than ever, no doubt
having benefited from the experience of touring with groups such
as Oasis since the recording of their first album.
Take Them On, On Your Own is released on August 25 and
has already been hailed by the NME as a masterpiece. It is a brilliant
Described in its publicity as 'an important and fiercely brilliant
record, both because of what it has to say and the way in which
it chooses to say it', the BRMC have most definitely proved that
their illustrious debut was no fluke.
If anything, they are getting better...
Formed in San Francisco in 1998, the BRMC is comprised of Robert
Turner (bass/vocals), Peter Hayes (guitar/vocals) and Nick Jago
The three of them had all gravitated to the city on the Bay from
different parts of the globe.
Peter grew up on a small farm in Minnesota, while Nick spent
his childhood in Devon. Robert, meanwhile, grew up deep in the
woods of the Santa Cruz mountains, where he lived with his father,
Michael Been - the former frontman of 80s new wavers, The Call
(and nowadays, the band's sound engineer).
From the outset, the band perceived themselves as outsiders,
not interested in finding their way into the mainstream.
Peter and Robert initially worked with a drum machine, before
the arrival of Nick led to their first incarnation, as The Elements.
That, in turn, mutated into Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (the
name, of course, hailing from the Marlon Brando classic, The Wild
One), at which point the trio set to work on a 13-track demo,
which was met with blank indifference.
"It was really hard to be doing something new," recalls
Peter. "People weren't looking for that. Trying to do something
different didn't really fly and it's fair to say we weren't very
In 1999, the band relocated to LA and their luck began to change.
Around Christmas of that year, they signed a deal with Virgin
that promised them full artistic control.
They set about making use of that pledge as quickly as possible
and, without any outside instruction, constructed their dense,
multi-layered, self-titled debut.
"When we recorded that album, the speed of our lives was
deathly slow," continues Robert. "When we listen to
it now, we don't feel that there's much life coming from it.
"It's a great record, but maybe it could have benefited
from us going outside every now and again while we were making
Nevertheless, the album struck a chord with the right people
and developed a massive following, making the expectation on the
follow-up that much greater.
In order to do so, they moved to the UK and began work on it
at the Fortress Studio - a cramped, dank shoebox of a space in
the backstreets of east London.
Every night, from 6pm to 6am, they set about making Take Them
On, On Your Own, aiming for a taut, propulsive rock 'n' roll record
with 'faster tempos' and 'no fat'.
In their own words, they wanted it to be a statement, a step
on from what they'd done before, and an attempt to distance themselves
from the competition.
"We were really conscious that the content of the music
wasn't being discussed anymore," explains Peter.
"What does most music give people aside from a good feeling?
We wanted to know where the substance was. What makes a band great
and lasting isn't the way they look or act, it's about what they
have to say."
"We've put a lot of heart into this record," concludes
Robert. "And we want it to be taken with all seriousness."