Interviews

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: "An Artist . . . Can Barely Deal with the World Most of the Time"

Like the volumes of Edgar Allan Poe and Allen Ginsberg that inspire Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's dark lyrical oeuvre, Robert Levon Been's music has often dealt directly with death. So it's only natural that the band's latest album, Specter at the Feast, fearlessly approaches the Dark Angel, but this time there's a devastatingly personal perspective.

While in Belgium in 2010, Been's father, Michael, BRMC's touring sound engineer and former lead singer of '80s cult outfit The Call, suffered a fatal heart attack. He was a mentor and father figure to guitarist Peter Hayes and percussionist Leah Shapiro, and his death deeply impacted the whole band. Been describes his return to music as somewhat reluctant, but following the sound is what got him and the band through those bleak, white-knuckled moments. We spoke to him about how music can pull you through those dark moments, how it helps search for meaning and how music can be there during your last moments of life. Here is the full interview below, which couldn't all make it into the print version.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is scheduled to perform tonight at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah