Thursday, June 3, 2010

Leah interview in Berlin



So, being from the land of the free, have you heard anything about Berlin or been here before?

I used to play in a lot of electronic bands a few years back and we used to play in a lot of huge warehouses here in the city and there is one in particular that has since been shut down we used to play at a lot. Actually, Rob and I nearly got arrested here when we were playing last time in February. We were tagging a wall with our album name, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, and we wanted to tag here because it’s Berlin and you’re surrounded by graffiti – we thought people didn’t mind that so much here! Of course, our luck as we were doing it, not just a cop car pulled up but a whole big van of about 10 cops pulled up and took us in the van and Rob made up a story how we were getting married so wanted to tag our names on the wall. Because the cops showed up when they did, we only got to write the first two letters of ‘BEAT’ (B and E) and then somebody went back and finished it later – Rob actually has the picture of the finished piece on his phone – but it wasn’t finished by us.

That’s cool – so someone actually finished the letters with the album name then, rather than some random non-sensical rubbish on the wall.

Yeah exactly – so we made our mark here – sort of!



It’s a shame that the police stepped in though to stop the artwork in progress!

They were trying to convince us that it was unacceptable to make graffiti art but it’s kind of hard to take that advice when it’s literally in the city everywhere!

We’ve just come through our May day protests here in Berlin – you know where people pull up rocks in the streets and chuck them at the police and each other.

Yeah but I’ve always really liked that. I particularly like, as I said before, the chaos of using all of the empty spaces as music venues – I like the vibe where you can just do whatever you want – to see how far you can get. It seems here that there is more of a freedom to do what you want. I know a lot of musicians moved from New York to be here in Berlin because New York was becoming increasingly uninspiring and also too expensive to live so people moved on mass.

Ok enough of the freedom and D.I.Y that we both love so much – what do you think of the ’singles’ generation (aka people that are more likely to buy/download just one track and not buy an entire album)?

Well, I think it all depends on what you want to get out of music. When you buy the single you are getting a snapshot of the album. This may not apply to all albums but when you listen to some of them they are better regarded as a whole – like a story – so when you only listen to one tiny piece of that story something definitely gets lost. In buying the single you only get a small chapter of it rather than gaining the full experience of it. But then again, if you aren’t looking for that, then just buying the single is ok – it really depends on what you want out of it.

Do you think that this singles mentality is partner with our being dubbed the ‘A.D.D’ generation?

Yes totally. It’s like instant gratification. When you sit down and get a little bit deeper into something whether that be what you read or watch on tv or films, it’s all like fast food for your brain.

…and the golden question – what do you think about iTunes and Apple as a whole – seeing as they have such a muscle in the music industry these days?

Rob and I were actually discussing this the other day. There seems to be the impression that quality these days is determined largely by numbers in the music industry – whether that be in sales or in the amount of money you make for your label or your managers or whatever. I’m not sure if iTunes directly has something to do with that or not. It’s a strange situation with iTunes because there are other stores where you can buy the same things (Amazon mp3 store being one), but iTunes are by far the biggest. I use iTunes and I like it – it’s a quick way to get your hands on something particular that you need. But it’s totally not the same as actively going into a record shop – and it never will be – because you have no real relationship with what you are buying. Smaller bands can benefit from it too though as they can be a part of it.

What do you think of illegal music downloading?

I think its fine – people can share it and use it however they want. Again, it goes back to what kind of experience you want to get out of your music. Some people might just illegally download that one single and get that one hit off the record or whatever and some people want to feel it and listen to it and hold the vinyl or go through the experience of listening to the whole album. This is the reality – it’s happening and you just have to deal with it. For a while there was this illusion that musicians were making a lot of money and that money was going on buying fast cars and fancy houses and I can understand why if you’re outside of it you think, ‘why should I pay for the music if it goes towards all of that excess’? What’s the point of that? Those people don’t need money. It’s kind of the industry’s fault that people have that attitude towards what the value of the product is. There’s this kind of idea like we musicians have too much – so we have to pay for it.

Now on to your latest album, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, what’s the title all about?

We couldn’t for the longest time figure out what we were going to call it and there were weird things floating around but we didn’t have anything that we really liked and stuck with us and a friend of ours was talking about making an album with different musicians doing Edgar Allen Poe poems and I have this big book of short stories and poems so we were going through that and I was always obsessed with Annabel Lee so that was why I even had the book in the first place. I gave the book to Rob and he was reading the Devil In the Belfry and he came across the phrase of beating of the devil’s tattoo and he went on to research and discover that it had several meetings. Back in the old days it was the beating of the drums to call the soldiers back home and then it later became how you refer to someone who is twitching or about to jump out of their own skin. It hasn’t been used in a while and it stuck with us. It was something that made sense and it fit.

A toughy – how is it HONESTLY being a girl in a rock n’ roll band? Especially one as strong and immense as BRMC…

I think it’s no different than being a guy in a rock n’ roll band. When you are working, gender never plays a role in any of what we do – it’s about the music and creating what you do and presenting yourselves in the best way possible. What you have to contribute doesn’t change whether you are a boy or a girl – it’s the same job and requires the same input. There’s no special treatment given or expected. It goes beyond gender.
Another totally random one, but because you share the same gender, what do you think about Lady Gaga?
I think the music is absolutely appalling. It’s awful – really fucking awful. I think it’s probably some of the dumbest lyrics I have ever heard in my life and it means absolutely nothing to me. I’ve seen some live clips of her and she can definitely sing and I’m sure she’s got talent of some sort – but that kind of music doesn’t touch me in any way shape or form – it makes me want to cut my ears off. It’s a shame if she is in fact really talented if that’s how she uses her gift – if you want to talk about fast food music or junk food music – I think her music equates to Mc Donalds – but just with trashier outfits.
Make sure you go and check out Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s latest album, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo – it’s fucking serious. I bought it twice AND a t-shirt too which was printed on 100% organic cotton and is guaranteed green – how rock n’ roll are they?!
Go to the band’s website now for full details.