For nearly two decades Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has belted out solid rock hits, and have performed several sold-out venues on their tours. Their fall tour includes a Nov. 5 (7p.m.) performance at The Masquerade with opening band, Death from Above 1979. The band has released seven studio albums, along with several EP's and live albums. Their tour is currently supporting their most recent album, Specter at the Feast, including selections from their previous albums. We chatted with Leah about their upcoming album, tour, and love of playing the drums:
AXS: You guys are in the studio recording your new album, correct?
Leah Shapiro: Yes, well we haven't been in the studio for a long period of time, but we've recorded some songs that are not finished yet, but we're in the process of recording them for the next record.
AXS: There's a little bit of a ways to go for the release of the new record, I'm assuming...
LS: Yeah, there's a bit of a ways to go, but we're getting there.
AXS: You guys are currently on tour, promoting your last and most recent album, Specter of the Feast. What's it like going on tour, performing songs from this album, which is still relevant to fans?
LS: We have a fairly large amount of songs to choose from, so we can switch stuff out. When things start to get a little stale; we tend to not play things as they are on the record, we leave room for improvising, and letting things happen, however they do. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not. That keeps it fresh, and I think that keeps the songs alive much longer, and when we've overplayed one song, we can play another one.
AXS: I love that you play the drums (my favorite instrument), and that you're a female playing the drums, because I think it's rare.
LS: It's empowering, and it's cool to learn something that you have a brain-block, and think this is something you'll never be able to. From my experience teaching, it's really cool to see people get through that, and all of a sudden they're just kicking a**.
AXS: Who in the music industry do you think is the best drummer, thus far?
LS: Currently I think the best living drummer is Josh Freese, no doubt about it. I saw him with Nine Inch Nails and with other bands. He's incredible no matter what music he plays. He can do anything on the drums, but he never overplays, or comes at it flashy. I wish I could play like him!
AXS: Who's influenced you the most, to encourage you to play the drums?
LS: I always say that the drums pick me, more than I picked the drums. I started kind of late, and had no idea what I wanted to do, after high school. Two of my friends were going to music school, and by chance just started playing drums, and started going to that music school with them. I became completely obsessed with it and that was it. I think the drums picked me alot more than I picked the drums. As far as who's influenced me, are those that I've played with over the years, and mentors like Robert's dad, who really shaped my drumming in many ways. He put in a lot of work into me, which I was run down and grumpy about when it was happening, but I really appreciate it now, because it helped me a lot. Michael was one of the biggest influences, and Rob and Pete, because we make music together.
AXS: What's it like being the only woman in a band with men?
LS: On this tour, there's just as many women as there are men, and we've toured with them before, and they're quite amazing girls. To be honest, I don't really notice it, and I don't think anyone else really notices it. It's fairly civilized. We're all equal.
AXS: Where are you guys looking forward to playing?
LS: All of them really, and it's been awhile since we've done a US tour. I don't think there's a particular stage where I'm like, "Ah, I hope we do a really good job with that one," but I'm excited for all of them, honestly.
AXS: Who was your first concert, and do you have a favorite?
LS: Oh my gosh, my first concert is too embarrassing for me to say publicly. It would ruin my credibility that I have, it's that bad. My favorite however, it would have to be, either between in the early stages of me playing with the band, and we played a festival. Iggy & the Stooges were playing on the side stage and it was amazing. I don't know how to explain it; it was happy, positive, and completely chaotic at the same time. Between that and Nine Inch Nails in Santiago, while Josh Freese was still playing with them. It was an incredible show. Oh, there's another one..I'm going to throw in Jonsi, the lead singer of Sigur Ros, who I saw at a festival in Japan. That was probably one of the most beautiful shows I've ever seen. It was just incredible to see how much attention to detail they put in to every little thing in the production. It was stunning.
AXS: Are there five bands or albums that you wouldn't want to live without?
LS: I think Tom Waits, Slow Change, any kind of Nine Inch Nails live record from a DVD or audio. I also would not want to live without Beatles' Revolver, Jonsi album for sure (I forget what it's called, but I prefer the live version than the recorded version). The last one would have to be something with Patti Smith, in general. I have one more, just for good measure; "Spiritualize" by Ladies and Gentlemen, and We Are Floating in Space.