The ultimate road dogs, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club harness pure garage punk energy and mix in rolling riffs and dirge-laden rhythms to shake you to the core and make you want a cigarette afterwards. Recently the band celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their self titled debut album and for the past two decades through nine studio albums, Black rebel Motorcycle Club have been at forefront of the psych-indie rock resurgence. Tracks like the anthemic Whatever Happened To My Rock N Roll, the latter day Beatlesque-like Spread Your Love and the hypnotic Beat The Devil’s Tattoo define a band that was made for the stage. It was with great excitement that we could speak to Leah Shapiro about playing Under The Southern Stars.
It is so exciting that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are coming back to Australia for Under The Southern Stars. It must be a surreal feeling getting back on a plane to go out on tour?
Yes! It was a weird feeling seeing our gear shipped off from here, packing up our gear and putting on a truck to be shipped here has been like lifting weights. It has been a bit surreal but we are excited to be here.
Do you feel nervous not really having played much over the last couple of years and then going international to play a major festival run?
Yes I am indeed starting to feel the nerves kick in. It’s not just the bands but I’m getting that vibe from crew as well. It seems like some of the guys have not done a whole lot of shows during this time are getting a little antsy as well.
How was the energy during rehearsals?
It went surprisingly well considering that we haven’t played a show. The last time we played a show was the summer of 2019. That is a hot minute! I started rehearsals before doing full band rehearsals to get myself physically prepped. I was pleasantly surprised how quick everything seemed to come back when we were in the room together.
Is it a bit like muscle memory with how quick it all comes back?
Muscle memory is definitely part of it and getting that back. It is somewhere in the brain, you just have to dig it out. Usually for me, just the physical stamina of it all takes a little bit longer. We don’t always play the songs exactly as they are on the record or exactly the same from show to show. Some of it is remembering exact parts and certain songs were a little more free flowing.
Will your sets on the Under The Southern Stars be leaning towards a particular album?
We’ve tried to grab a little bit of everything but we only have forty five minutes. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room. It’s only like nine or ten songs and it is a bit tricky picking things up. I think you’ll definitely get some of what you’re probably wanting to hear.
It is great just to be having international bands back in our country and hopefully this starts the ball rolling?
Yeah, I see the Foo Fighters beat us to the punch! They are awesome live and great guys.
Do you think it will be a mixture of emotions when you are up on stage in Australia?
Absolutely, we are very close to the guys who we work with on tour and we haven’t seen them in years at this point. None of them live in LA so getting to see them when we all meet up at the airport will great and I can’t wait to see those guys again. It will be a different experience on this tour compared to what we are used to but in a good way.
Are there a lot of protocols in place behind the scenes to be able to keep the tour going?
Yeah, the organisers are doing everything they can to be responsible once we are here and keeping everyone safe. I think it would be a nightmare if someone tested positive or someone gets stuck in a city. Also we want to be respectful of the community that we are passing through and not creating some sort of bad situation because of us being there. I wouldn’t want that. The organisers are doing everything they can from once we got on that plane to avoid other human beings.
Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to when you are in Australia?
The shows are number one, the last couple of weeks have been so crazy with getting all the last logistics prepped and rehearsals done, the gear shipped out, it feels like my head is spinning. Now, I know everything is ok, we were all on that plane to Australia. That will be the first big deep breath I will be able to take of relief knowing we are all here and ready to go. It will be fine…
As a band did you have much of an opportunity to celebrate reflect on the twentieth anniversary of your debut album and how important that album was at the time? I know you weren’t in the band at the time but you have brought an incredible dynamic to the band since.
Of course, for me it was a slightly different experience than Rob and Pete. I really like the way they put the reissue of that record together with the couple of demos put on there, the photos like a photobook of pictures from back then, they were kids, so young, it was impressive what they were able to do. Twenty years later people are still wanting to hear songs from that records and the music is still appreciated which is amazing.
Has the band been working on new material during this period?
Not quite yet, I got to be honest, I know a lot of people have been really good with picking up lots of new skills, learn languages and all kinds of things but I have found myself in the polar opposite headspace in not being able to focus that much and having a hard time being productive at anything. I wish I had been able to learn two new languages, learned some new skills and written and album. I wasn’t able to focus much on anything.
Do you check to check out any of the other awesome bands on the bill at Under The Southern Stars?
I think this is where the Covid protocols come in, I don’t think we are meant to be on site until a certain amount of time before our show and out after a certain amount of time. It is a shame but totally understandable. I would have been nice to catch some of the local Australian acts that maybe we don’t know so well. When I first started with the band did a bunch of shows with the Stone Temple Pilots back then in the US, they are a fantastic live band and really nice guys as well.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Grab your tickets for Under The Southern Stars and be a part of history…