Friday, November 18, 2011

BRMC Roar Into South Africa...interview with Leah

Contributed by: News

The name Black Rebel Motorcycle Club doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But it perfectly describes the rough and ready trio's down and dirty garage rock sound they've peddled since 2001.

Now they're bringing that in-your-face power to South Africa's Synergy Live festival.

"You never really know what to expect with a Black Rebel show," says drummer Leah Shapiro on the line from Los Angeles. "It's a festival so anything can happen but you're going to get a good rock 'n roll show," she promises.

Her excitement is obvious.

"I've never been down there and I have absolutely no idea what to expect," she continues. "I'm so blown away that we get to play music all over the world - we've been to China, we're about to play in South America, so it is a head trip that this is really happening. It doesn't feel real."

It's a feeling that echoes her call-up to the band three years ago - when drummer Nick Jago walked out weeks before a 2008 European tour, Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been called up Shapiro. It was 1 April.

"I thought they were f***ing with me, but it turned out they weren't," laughs the drummer who has been playing since the age of 18.

"It's a little nerve wracking walking into a situation like that because people who have been working together for that long have a way of doing things so you have to be very careful at the beginning to try and find out what the dynamics are," she remembers.

"I tried not to think too much about the pressure and the stress because I knew I'd just end up psyching myself out and then you increase your odds of not doing so well. It's better just to walk into a situation with nerves of steel."

So within a month the former Raveonettes drummer had learned 30 BRMC songs and was ready to tour.

"We had about half a year where we were on the road to get to know each other and I could understand their playing styles and learn to communicate with telepathy as you have to do when you're in a band," Shapiro recalls.

But, three years down the line and having survived the trial by fire, she still freely admits to getting nervous before shows - and having luggage issues.

"I'm a really bad packer," she laughs, "and I always bring too much crap in general. I always end up with a gigantic suitcase full of stuff I absolutely do not need. And then if I end up in a book store along the way, I buy far too many books."

Not exactly a rock 'n roll stereotype. Neither is her attitude to partying on the road.

"We do occasionally, but to tell you the truth - it's going to sound a little bit boring - but you need to be a little careful with that stuff. It's easier to do when it's a one off - when we've got nothing to do the day after - but if there are five shows in a row and you go out and get sh*tfaced on the first night you're setting yourself up for a pretty rough week.

"But in South Africa, there's only one show so maybe we'll have a bit of fun afterwards," she says.

* Catch BRMC having a party onstage at Synergy Live Festival, 25 to 27 November, Boschendal Wine Estate, Franschhoek Valley, Western Cape. Tickets are available at