Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 

Sixty seconds with Robert Levon Been

Indy: You parted ways with your original drummer [Nick Jago] before doing the upcoming Beat the Devil's Tattoo album. How different does it feel with your new drummer [Leah Shapiro] on board?

RLB: It's strange to me that it works with Leah, not in the practical sense that she can play the songs really well. But it spooks me out that, at least when we're together and we play as a band, it actually feels like a band. Because I guess, I know the history of rock bands and most of the time when you lose an original member, a big part of the band doesn't come back.

Indy: How did you meet Leah, and what stood out about her?

RLB: She was in a band called Dead Combo, a great New York band. And they were touring. We had them support us on the first tour for Baby 81 [the band's fourth album, which was released in 2007]. And I just remember we were watching her play and she was just hypnotic on stage. There's this focus and intensity that she has that, you kind of have to see her play to believe it. But it just stuck in our brains.

Indy: How long did it take when you started work on Beat the Devil's Tattoo to feel that the group was going to work musically?

RLB: There were the first couple of days where we couldn't have been more nervous. We didn't know if we'd have to walk her through stuff or what ... I think the second day, we wrote the song "Mama Taught Me Better," which was the first song we wrote all together. And it was done and finished in about 15 minutes, and that was something that rarely ever happens so fast. I think that was some sort of proof all of us needed, to know that we were headed in the right direction.

At Englewood's Gothic Theatre, March 2.


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