The band, which includes guitarist-bassist-pianist Been, bassist-guitarist-harmonica-and-keyboard player Peter Hayes (with whom Been shares duties on vocals) and drummer Leah Shapiro, will rumble into Reno on Saturday to perform the band’s underrated rock in promotion of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s March 9 release of “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo.”
When asked how the band’s sound might have changed with the new album and the addition of drummer Shapiro, who replaced drummer Nick Jago, Been takes a deep breath and a long pause before he answers.
“Well, there is a new drummer,” Been coyly said. “It’s a big question because for people who don’t know us, that would be the most plain truth, if you really know our records and how it’s kind of changed over the years. I guess for me this album is like a first album.
“We didn’t know if after we split with Nick what we were going to do or if we were going to call the band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club,” Been added. “When we started playing with (Shapiro), we were a little surprised and when we realized that we sounded more like ‘us’ than we did before, if we called the band another name, people would say that we were just ripping off Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and that would come back to bite us on the ass in the long run.”
The title single off “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” came as a bit of a shock, Been said.
“It was the last song written for the album, so it was done really suddenly,” Been said of recording the song less than 24 hours before handing a completed album to record executives. “People seem to really like it, but I guess I’m still trying to figure it out.”
The song, which seems to elegantly meld the sounds created by previous Black Rebel Motorcycle Club albums such as “Howl,” “Take Them On, On Your Own” and “Baby 81,” literally jumped off the pages at Been. He said the phrase “beat the devil’s tattoo” stood out to him from the 1839 short story “The Devil In The Belfry” by Edgar Allen Poe.
While the album ends calmly with the instrumentals fading out, Been said the song “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” resulted in a harried rush of writing, recording and mixing.
“It’s bizarre, it usually doesn’t happen like that,” Been said, adding the song was heard and a single released in what seemed like record time. “You usually don’t have an immediate reaction.”
Been’s honesty hints at the reason he wandered into music. Growing up in the suburbs of the Bay Area, Been said he wanted to explore, travel and — to put it plainly — leave. The band has helped him do just that.
“It’s been a blur and hopefully it will continue to be a blur and you’re welcome to blur along with me,” Been said. Since 2000, he continued, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has played more than 800 shows, including a show in Reno opening for Stone Temple Pilots in the fall of 2008.
“It’s like a dream, it’s like you’re not living a normal life,” Been said. “We’ve been doing this for about 10 years, and it’s not quite reality and it’s not quite fantasy, and it doesn’t have to do with any of that drug bullshit.
“I should write some psychedelic book about it sometime,” Been said. “I don’t quite have a novel in me yet.”
In the meantime, Been said, along with his band members, he will continue to write songs and make music.
“We tell our tales just in more of an abstract way I guess,” Been said of the band’s eclectic sound. “Our music isn’t for everybody, intentionally. We don’t really write, we write for the kids who are pissed off in Reno who don’t really want to be there.”
Been said that urge to keep moving is what inspires him.
“That’s really were the music comes from,” Been said. “It’s for the people who want to be somewhere else. I’m hoping it finds kids who are looking for something else.”
For those wishing to explore the world of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, doors open for the Saturday show at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. with opening band The Whigs taking the stage.
Tickets are $15 to $17 and can be purchased by visiting http://re.knittingfactory.com.
For more information about Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and to hear the single “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo,” visit www.blackrebelmotorcycleclub.com.