Peter Hayes prolonga cada pausa antes de ofrecer una respuesta. Su tono de voz es tenue y lánguido, como si contemplara el pasar del tiempo mientras hablamos. Hayes es una de las voces y mentes creativas detrás de la banda americana Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC), y más importante aún para nosotros hoy –su guitarrista. Tras un largo respiro, nos ofrece otra respuesta algo vaga, y a la vez completamente sincera: “Es una conversación larga para tratar de explicar por teléfono. Tendríamos que tenerla con un trago…”
Pero fue por teléfono que nos tocó hablar en esta ocasión, sobre la formación de BRMC con su amigo de la escuela superior y bajista del grupo, Robert Levon, sobre el sonido neo-psicodélico que fueron definiendo en su discografía, y brevemente, hasta de su tiempo dentro de la influyente y explosiva agrupación Brian Jonestown Massacre. El pasado 11 de octubre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club salió de gira junto a Death From Above 1979 y Hayes mencionó la posibilidad de intentar algunas nuevas canciones durante la misma. A continuación, nuestra conversación.
Puerto Rico Indie (PRI): What kind of motorcycle do you ride?
Peter Hayes (PH): I’ve got a Honda 560, Robert (Levon, BRMC bassist) has a Honda 650 and Leah (Shapiro, BRMC drummer) had a 650 or 750. She sold hers just a little bit ago. I had a Harley a while back now.
PRI: So you guys are an actual motorcycle club.
PH: Ha ha! If we start clamming that we are going to start getting into more trouble with the biker gangs than we’ve already had. We’ve had fans of ours who’ve been threatened with a beat down just for wearing t-shirts with our name. They take it very seriously…
PRI: You and Robert met way back in high school. Who were your musical heroes back then?
PH: Yeah, let’s see… Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, Syd Barret. Robert turned me on to The Verve as well.
PRI: Have you had a chance to meet some of them?
PH: Yeah –Trent Reznor and the guys from the band. Neil Young, we did a show with him. Bob Dylan, we did a festival with him as well. For a while our original drummer couldn’t get into Europe because of passport problems, so the drummer for our first European tour was The Verve’s Peter Salisbury.
PRI: The Verve’s a great band, we are hoping to interview Nick McCabe soon.
PH: Yeah? He’s great! I’ve ripped him off all the time.
PRI: BRMC has put out albums every couple of years for the past decade, building your following the hard way by touring and recording consistently. Is that a fair assessment?
PH: Yeah, that has been our main way for staying alive and build the fans up. We don’t necessarily sell a whole lot of records and we don’t get played on the radio that much. I think we get played more in Europe that we get here, which is a nice thing. Slowly but surely, hopefully you keep building up an audience. Come see the train wreck or come see a good show! I’m not sure which one it is but either way people are coming.
PRI: And you guys are getting ready to start a new US tour this month. Can fans expect to hear some new music on these upcoming shows?
PH: That’s the hope! That’s the hope! If we get our shit together! We never seem to get our shit together all that well. That is definitely something we are not good at. Putting the albums together and taking a bit too long. I don’t know if we have an excuse besides I get too frustrated in that I keep searching for something I haven’t said before. You really have to be comfortable learning how to say something that you’ve said before in a different way. But sometimes it can be hard to do.
PRI: I know what you’re saying. How did you end up getting the Brian Jonestown Massacre gig? You were pretty young at the time –was that your first experience touring?
PH: Yeah, with a band. I was actually living in my car, playing music on the street for money, before I joined that band. What that band gave me was the ability to travel and do music besides just going up and down the west coast in my car.
PRI: Was it weird watching yourself on DIG! [Ondi Timoner’s directorial debut, widely considered one of the best music documentaries ever made, which follows both Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols as their careers grow, intersect, and implode. -Ed], having been in that band for such a short period of time?
PH: Yeah, I feel a little bad for Anton (Newcombe, Brian Jonestown Massacre leader) because the girl who made it ended up getting a little too personal and she really only picked out a lot of the bad things that she’d come across with Anton, and he is definitely not a one-sided character. Like anybody. There’s choices that he made, that he had to make along the way… but she also missed how the whole thing actually fell apart by a month. She stopped shooting a month before the actual band fell apart.
PRI: I would imagine you have a lot of stories from that tour.
PH: Yeah, yeah… Definitely memorable. Great memories.
PRI: Do you listen to new bands?
PH: Rob and Leah are better at finding new bands than I am. I don’t have a whole lot of people turning me on to music. So I rely on them to turn me on to new music. I like to listen to old country, old blues, old gospel… I try to follow that where it leads.
PRI: Today there are more options than ever for listening to music, be it streaming, vinyl, CD, etc. How do you best enjoy it? Do you consider yourself a purist or do you just blast it out the car stereo?
PH: Well, in the car I mostly listen to news. It’s my way of catching up with what is going on outside in the world. In the house… No, I’m not a purist at all. I’ve got the record player, iPod, computer, and whatever is easiest at the time to turn the music on and get what I need. Whatever is closest at the time to get me in the headspace I want to be. Whatever it takes.
PRI: If you could sum up your guitar tone in maybe three effects, which would they be?
PH: Delay with looper and tap tempo, reverb, and a distortion.
PRI: Any in particular?
PH: Well, the one I use live is an Akai Headrush with looper. As far as distortion goes I’ve been using TC Electronics Dark Matter. As far as reverb that doesn’t particular matter to me.
PRI: You usually use Gibson 335’s and it gets pretty loud at times, don’t you get feedback problems?
PH: Oh yeah, it’s a constant fun dance that goes on. A lot of the thundering sounds you have to make a mental note of all those spots while you’re walking around on stage to make it take off. The fun part is the things that happen that you don’t mean to happen. That’s the true freedom of letting music live as its own entity. I don’t know if it makes sense.
PRI: It does, you’re talking about making each show different. It’s good that not everything is planned, and you have a little freedom.
PH: Yeah, for sure. And letting music have it’s freedom too. It’s fun to have weird shit happen, sometimes it’s embarrassing –like “what the fuck was that?”– but it’s all part of it. It’s fun to say: “Oh shit, I have no control over this!”
PRI: Maybe you’re looking to recreate that on a different show and you can’t get it.
PH: Yeah, totally… that’s always a frustration. “Fuck, I can’t get that back!” That’s what makes it special, you know?
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club se encuentran actualmente de gira por los Estados Unidos. Mantente al tanto de la banda a través de su página oficial.