Not Missing a Beat

Posted September 9, 2010 in Music

There’s a certain affability that comes through during a conversation with Leah Shapiro, an easiness that is readily identifiable even over the telephone as she uses jokes and laughs in place of pauses and punctuation. She speaks with the tone of someone who is truly and utterly happy, at peace with her surroundings.


And why shouldn’t she be?


Normally a touring drummer, Shapiro joined California drone-rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in 2008 after the band parted ways with longtime drummer Nick Jago (for the second time), and hasn’t missed a beat since, performing all over the world and recently appearing on her first BRMC album since joining the fold, March’s Beat the Devil’s Tattoo.
“During [BRMC’s] Baby 81 tour, I was playing with my old band in New York called Dead Combo, and we were opening for the guys for, like, two weeks in the U.S., so that’s how we met,” says Shapiro during a brief respite before BRMC embarks on a tour supporting Stone Temple Pilots (with some headlining dates peppered in between, including Wednesday’s date at The Glass House in Pomona).


“I ended up staying in touch with them, especially [vocalist/guitarist/bassist] Rob [Levon Been], during that tour. Right after I finished that tour, I got picked up with the Raveonettes, and I did a couple of tours with them, so I kept running into the guys at different random places in the world. I knew they were sort of having some problems and needed someone to take over [drumming duties] because I guess it wasn’t quite working the way it was supposed to, so Rob called me and asked if I’d be interested in learning the songs, and I said, ‘Of course!’ [Laughs] And I locked myself in a room for a bit and came out to L.A. We didn’t have very much time to rehearse before the tour started.”
If there’s anything Shapiro seems at ease with, it’s working efficiently under pressure, finishing her drum parts for Beat the Devil’s Tattoo in an astounding four days, just a bit quicker than her bandmates.

“The drums were recorded in four days and then we flew back to Philadelphia, and the boys took a lot longer finishing their parts, while I was just trying to be moral support and wait patiently,” she laughs. “So the actual drum tracks were recorded pretty quickly, but I think that’s because we had a good amount of time to play and to really get to know the songs.”

For a lesser band, it might be difficult to find something to make a new release stand out (especially considering Beat the Devil’s Tattoo will be the band’s sixth full-length album since their debut, 2001’s B.R.M.C.), but, according to Shapiro, the process the band used to write the album contributed to a unique, organic feel.

“When we started the writing process, we didn’t sit down and say, ‘Okay, we want it to be like this.’ We didn’t have that specific vision, just because everything was still changing at the time and I was still fairly new to the band, so we just started playing and let the music come by itself,” she says. “So for me, it has a very natural feel and a very natural sound where it’s not us forcing anything to come out because we had this pre-existing idea of what it had to be; it just kind of happened by itself. It was really amazing to get to experience something just flowing and taking on a life of its own. I love it for that.”

Whether it’s dealing with personnel issues or unfortunate tragedies that have a way of manifesting themselves (Levon Been’s father, The Call’s Michael Been, passed away after a heart attack at Belgium’s Pukkelpop festival last month), the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will roll on, beginning stateside and then heading overseas.
“We start on the 15th in Pomona, and then we have a string of dates with STP with a couple of headlining dates in between them, and then we have a little time to come up for air, then we head to Europe and we’re out through the end of the year, and that’s 2010. As for next year, I’m not quite sure what will happen. I guess we’ll see.”


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club w/Jeffertitti’s Nile at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802;, Wed, Sept. 15. Doors open 7PM. $20.


Be the first to comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.